Who are You?
With the Randomness in the World, it has never been more Vital to Discover our Inner Self
When you think of who you are, what comes to your mind? Many things make up our internal existence: including one's struggles, ideas, dreams, beliefs, motives, thoughts, feelings and perceptions. Motives are an integral part of our internal existence as they drive an individual; they are the reason as to why we do or don’t do something. Motives can be simple, but we can struggle with identifying and understanding them as they can be outside our awareness. They tend to go hand in hand with behaviour, and we often try to infer motives from behaviour.
Over time people tend to form mental shortcuts that facilitate fast problem solving and quick judgement. The shortcuts are known as heuristics and though seemingly efficient, are not optimal as they lead to biases. The bias comes from the simple fact that we usually do not have the complete picture/information about an event or an individual. Objectivity is therefore impaired by heuristics, making it is hard to gauge whether one is making a truthful conclusion. When making conclusions of others behaviours using heuristics, one tends to compare the behaviour to personal experiences. They often lead one to make flawed conclusions about people, as people may portray similar behaviour, but their motives differ significantly. Heuristics are often assimilated into one’s belief system and used to make moral judgements of behaviour.
Case in point, you have just moved into a new neighbourhood, and a neighbour brings a cake to you as a welcome gift. If you are distrusting of people who gift you, you will automatically try and look for anything about the neighbour's behaviour that is distrustful. You will look for evidence to prove your heuristic true. Later, the neighbour might come back and ask if you enjoyed the cake and tell you about their bakery business. Your distrusting heuristic will conclude that they are selfish and are marketing their trade. You will filter your every interaction with the neighbour through the conclusion, gradually forming a belief, if not challenged. You will pick out behaviours that fit your deduction even when false. That same neighbour who you term as selfish may, in truth, be a generous person.
Heuristics often leads to classifying people, and consequently, as an individual, you will also group yourself into a set group. The issue with grouping people is an assumption that the group share similar motives. One will automatically assume they understand peoples motives from their exhibited behaviour. It also puts one in a bind as you believe that your motives align with group motives. However, to understand one's or others motives, you need to focus on the individual and not the group.
The main issue with most groups is that they run on an overall assumption that the behaviours and motives of every group member are similar. It is the reason people become outcasts when they go contrary to group norms and ideals. The outcome is that many people result to wearing masks to fit the purported group ideals. These masks tend to be dynamic as group norms are often not constant and subject to change if not grounded on truth. Therefore, a group grounded on the truth is accommodative even to individuals that challenge the norms. In group dynamics, the leader embodies the group motives, and there is a fragmentation of the biases within the group. The consequence is that such groups promote pretences and are not genuine as no two people can have an exact similar motive even if they exhibit similar behaviours.
To develop a genuine relationship means rejecting the mental shortcuts that promote groupthink and acknowledging the individual is more significant than the group. People tend to be free when they feel safe in a relationship, as their meaning is respected. Such relationships require both parties to be genuine to foster respect. They need a sustainable ground that is enduring, which Love guarantees. Love will create an environment of safety as it is patient and kind; does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way (not self-seeking); it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing (evil) but rejoices with the truth.
Placing ourselves and others in groups means one can avoid assessing their motives. The grouping of people by perceived similarities in thoughts and feelings means avoiding real and deep connections. Deep and flourishing relationships require developing an understanding of your internal existence. A true relationship means peeling off masks and being genuine in your interactions; being true to yourself. Truth is a constraint that evades many interactions in modern times as many do not want to face themselves genuinely; their internal existence. Embracing heuristics and groupthink divert us from our own selves. However, it’s the focus on our internal existence that allows us to see ourselves fully, confront ourselves as we develop an understanding of our very own motives and shape ourselves into a version that gains sustainable peace that is constant.
To develop the constant means facing your thoughts and feelings. Thoughts and feelings are the tools of consciousness, of internal awareness. Avoiding one's thoughts and feelings permits one to give external locus of control even to things within our control. Assessing one's thoughts and feelings makes you aware of your inclement towards good or evil, as consciousness is the ability to discern between good and evil. Groupthink can fill one with false comfort that all is okay as it acts as an escape from internal existence. Thoughts and feelings express our internal beliefs and structures, making them a perfect tool for discovering of self.
The state of our internal existence is what we project outwards when interacting with people. If our internal self is full of spite, we shall be spiteful and see spite in the world. If we dislike our internal existence, we shall dislike others as well. If we do not want to try and understand our internal existence, we won’t try to understand others. Our internal existence is vital to facilitate a full awareness of our outside one. If we don’t care about objectively understanding ourselves, how can we the external world?
We live in an age where most things are random, and people fake their behaviours as they are scared of challenging the norms. Groups take on many shapes, from family, friends, peers to work, political and religious sects. To challenge a group even with the truth means facing possible rejection. The upside to this is discovering your internal existence, a doorway to achieving peace and healing. Things blinding or blurring our experience and understanding of our internal existence will consequently do so to our external one. In our new series Who are you, we explore all the lies that bar us from fully experiencing ourselves, others and reality.