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Tempting justifications of self

Is there something to the human perspective, to human psychology, that makes us choose and defend our own stance in life? As if, seeing things through our own eyes and making sense of them with our own brain, it’s a flow of thought we can’t have broken.

Maybe we need the psychological security of feeling our perception and logic to be flawless? The fundamental reassurance of not bringing ourselves into question or admitting any errors. It seems “reasonable” the mind would like to know it can trust itself; that our view of life and what we take things to mean is something we can rely upon (Notes One).

In terms of the self, don’t we seek similar security? The recollection of our past and the plans that carried us through it “needing” to be this coherent, unbroken, upward arc of our growth, agency and wisdom. Don’t we rely on our storyline plus the accompanying narration of our thinking, conclusions and interpretation of meaning to feel good about ourselves?

The mind seems funny like that: seeking to place ground beneath our feet. Ways of thinking surely reinforced by modern culture’s emphasis on evidence-based assessment: we “are” what we’ve done and what we say we’ve learnt from it. The spin we put on life is powerful (Notes Two), as we strive to turn everything to our advantage and shift focus until we’re somehow the key actor and star of the show.

Especially in today’s “cancel culture” where making a mistake can see people’s “existence” effectively wiped out. Isn’t that a kind of “death”? This ostracisation of shame, labels and blame, where we assume a mistaken word or action speaks “the truth” of a person. Condemning people without allowing them the grace of emerging with deeper understanding seems problematic in a fast-moving, blended culture.

Doesn’t social judgement create personal insecurity similar to before? That risk of losing ground and feeling our sense of self is on shaky terms with our community. As individuals, our standing in relation to others could be akin to that inward feeling we have about the integrity of our experience and what it “says” about us: if our storyline’s compromised, who are we? (Notes Three)

How human is all this, though? To expect or claim perfection. To contort situations so we emerge victorious regardless of truth or consideration for others. What are we pushing aside or pushing under with this way of thinking? Is it self at the cost of truth, of others, of everything? How far can we go in justifying our behaviour simply because it’s ours? Does our culture even let us do otherwise?

It’s just a strange situation when identity, self-worth and social standing are tied to this thinking. Defending or rationalising ourselves, our conditioning, seems an odd way to go about living: aligning thought – truth – to our own, necessarily limited experience. Could we not, somehow, shift to a place of allowing humans to be flawed? Learning, evolving, moving beyond a simply personal understanding of life.

Notes and References:

Note 1: The value of a questioning attitude?
Note 1: Caught in these thoughts
Note 1: David Bohm, thoughts on life
Note 1: The sense of having a worldview
Note 2: Ways thought adds spin to life
Note 2: Complication of being human
Note 2: The struggle with being alive
Note 2: Letting people change
Note 3: Problems & the thought that created them
Note 3: Humans, judgement & shutting down
Note 3: The way to be
Note 3: All we want to do passes through community

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