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Archive for the ‘Inner Life’ Category

On Personality

I’ve added a new category, “Inner Life,” for posts like the last one, that aren’t really philosophy or pure psychology.  Here’s an interesting observation that, once I read it (I don’t remember where) I started noticing in people:

How one relates to oneself will necessarily spill over into how one relates to others.  Personality has a tendency to be pervasive.   If one is the type to rule oneself with an iron fist, unforgivingly quashing unwanted emotions and feelings, he will judge others harshly in the same way.  But if one is gentle and forgiving of oneself, he will be gentle and forgiving of others.  If you are careful and gentle with your own inner voice (to borrow a term from the last post), listening to it, validating it, hearing it, you will do the same to others, seeing them and accepting them for who they are and not rejecting them because of who you wish them to be.

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Fromm on Self Awareness

Continuing on the Erich Fromm theme:

One cannot learn to concentrate without becoming sensitive to oneself. What does this mean? Should one think about oneself all the time, “analyze” oneself, or what?…

If we look at the situation of being sensitive to another human being, we find the most obvious example in the sensitiveness and responsiveness of a mother to her baby.  She notices certain bodily changes, demands, anxieties, before they are overtly expressed.  She wakes up because of her child’s crying, where another and much louder sound would not waken her.  All this means that she is sensitive to the manifestations of the child’s life; she is not anxious or worried, but in a state of alert equilibrium, receptive to any significant communication coming from the child.  In the same way one can be sensitive toward oneself.  One is aware, for instance, of a sense of tiredness or depression, and instead of giving in to it and supporting it by depressive thoughts which are always at hand, one asks oneself “what happened?”  Why am I depressed?  The same is done by noticing when one is irritated or angry, or tending to daydreaming, or other escape activities.  In each of these instances the important thing is to be aware of them, and not to rationalize them in the thousand and one ways in which this can be done; furthermore, to be open to our own inner voice, which will tell us – often rather immediately – why we are anxious, depressed, irritated. [Emphasis mine]

Fromm points out that simple knowledge of your mental state may be of limited use if you can’t figure out why you are feeling what you are feeling, and end up having to work backward to figure it out (“rationalizations,” in his language).  It is the immediate noticing when something changes in your emotions and inner state, combined with the “openness to your own inner voice”, which results in real self-awareness.

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