How Use Introspection as a Tool for Personal Empowerment
In the first part of this series I discussed how in order to move towards the things we want in life we must first understand what we don’t want.
This is radically different from the standard fare out there when it comes to setting and achieving goals.
Here’s why it’s important: if you do not understand what you don’t want in life you have no foundation for future action.
That is a bold claim but keep reading, I’ll justify it below.
Our shared human desires
I just made a really bold claim. Let’s walk through it.
I would bet a lot of money on the fact that the vast majority of us share the things we want to avoid.
No one wants to be fat.
No one wants to be lonely.
No one wants to be poor.
These are deeply rooted desires for reproductive fitness, social acceptance and material comfort. On some level, we all share the same motivations.
The problem with these biological drivers is that if we do not have them well defined in our own minds they can very quickly lead us to envy and a life of unhappiness.
The reason for this is that there is no objective definition for any of the three criteria I listed above. My idea of fitness may be radically different than your own. If you want to be generally fit and I want six pack abs, the way we live our lives will be completely different.
If you don’t know that you don’t want six pack abs, then you’ll feel unhappy that I have them and you don’t.
So how do we avoid these feelings of envy? If we all share the same base desires, won’t we get trapped in a cycle of feeling inferior to those that have succeeded in life more than we have?
Most people do get trapped in that cycle. I want you to break it.
In order to escape we must get our subconscious mind and conscious mind into synergy.
We do that through holding up a mirror to ourselves and inspecting what we want. We create synergy through introspection.
Introspection as a tool for understanding
In my first post I asked you to paint a vivid picture of what you wanted to avoid in life. I asked you to do this because in order to create that picture you would simultaneously have to construct a mental image of your ideal life.
It is the image of your ideal that I want us to turn to now.
The first thing we must do is scrutinize it. Is that ideal image of your future something that you constructed out of your own desires? Or is it something that was influenced by external actors?
This is incredibly important to address as that image is going to be what joins the conscious and unconscious minds together. It is the meeting point between the two minds. It couples the biological drive of the unconscious mind with the rational, forward thinking portion of our conscious mind.
These are the images that we must cling to if we want to live a happy and empowered life. They may change as we age and acquire new knowledge but they must be our guiding light.
Without them, we will be yanked about by every success that people around us have. But if they are flawed and constructed based on external influences they will also lead us down an unhappy road.
This is why we must practice introspection. We must take time to understand who we are so that we can perform the actions that will drive us to our end goals.
The curse of busyness
Currently, modern societies use busyness as social currency. The busier you are the more social weight you carry.
I think that is absolutely monstrous.
Most people go through their lives doing things they hate to impress people they don’t really like to get something that they don’t want. They never stop to take a breath to see if what they are doing is something that they actually want to accomplish.
What a waste of a life. I mean honestly.
Let’s be real with each other for a moment here. I don’t care what religion you subscribe to or what you believe happens to us after we die there is one constant: this life that you are living now is your ONE shot.
Your one shot to do something important and most people spend their time trying to impress other people or keep up with the Jones’.
This is why introspection matters so much. Without it you get sucked into a toxic cycle of doing things you don’t like for rewards you don’t want.
When you take the time to stop and think about your life you can start to say no to the things that do not move you towards your desired ends.
There is a great quote that it attributed to Richard Feynman that goes:
“You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake, not my failing.”
This is the mentality you must adopt if you want to be happy in this life.
How to forge your own destiny
I have always liked to view my life like I’m a blacksmith. I am the master of my own life and I get to shape it with each hammer blow.
However, I don’t view my life as a single project. I view it as an armory. Sometimes I need to make a sword, sometimes armor and other times horseshoes and nails.
This is how I think about it in my head: I take the raw material (my biological drivers) and heat them in my furnace until they are ready to be shaped (introspection). I then begin to hammer the metal into the shape that I need it to be (skill acquisition) then I sharpen and polish it (mastery).
If you skip the introspection portion you will never be able to get the end product you desire. You will hammer away on a raw chunk of iron and that will shatter under your strikes.
Yet this is how most people approach their lives.
They have a general idea of where they want to end up and so they just start beating on the raw material, hoping that it will form the shape that they need. In the end, they destroy their material, exhaust themselves and don’t achieve their aims.
Looking deep inside yourself and finding out where you want to go in your life is the only way you can be truly successful and empowered.
I have put together some resources to help you with introspection.
The first is an eBook about learning how to be alone and developing a habit of introspection. If this is all new to you I would highly suggest this option. Download your eBook.
The second is a one-page resource sheet on different techniques I use to get to the heart of what I want. Download your resource sheet.
And, as always, if you want to support this blog you can do so by buying through my Amazon link. Everything will cost the same and you’ll get to support a great blog!