Befriending oneself

 

The research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. Preliminary data suggest that self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight.

– from NY Times, Go Easy on Yourself

One of the main keys to healing, maturing and even awakening is to befriend oneself and the whole field of experience in general (AKA the world).

The reason is simple: When I am not a friend with what is, I am caught up in resistance and beliefs, and that’s what (re)creates wounds, keeps me locked in old patterns, and it comes from identification with stories which prevents what I am from noticing itself.

So when I befriend what is – through allowing experience, noticing I already am the field of experience, inquire into beliefs, find clarity to live from my inner guidance and so on, there is an invitation for healing and maturing, and it may even be easier for what I am to notice itself.

(more…)

The weirdest people

 

“If you’re a Westerner, your intuitions about human psychology are probably wrong or at least there’s good reason to believe they’re wrong,” Dr. Henrich says.

After analyzing reams of data from earlier studies, the UBC team found that WEIRD people reacted differently from others in experiment after experiment involving measures of fairness, anti-social punishment and co-operation, as well as visual illusions and questions of individualism and conformity.

– from Westerners vs. The World: We Are The WEIRD Ones.

This quote is from an article based on The Weirdest People in the World? (PDF) published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences earlier this year.

I haven’t read the paper yet, so but it looks interesting and it is an important topic. When we do behavioral research, we most often study WEIRD people – Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic. It is important to be aware of this, take it into consideration when we analyse the results, and make an effort to include other groups in our studies.

This is nothing new. It is mentioned in just about any research paper: we cannot easily generalize to other populations than the one we studied.

There are practical reasons for using WEIRD people. Most researchers are themselves WEIRD and they work in a WEIRD environment and culture, so WEIRD people are most easily accesible. And resources are limited, so in some cases, there is a choice between using WEIRD people or not do the study at all.

Finally, most behavioral and psychological research is done by and for WEIRD people. We can take just about any study published in psychological journals, ask who benefits from this research?, and find that WEIRD people benefit the most. It’s good to notice and be honest about this, not the least because it may help us question our priorities.

(more…)

The World’s Happiest Countries

 
RANK
(BY % THRIVING)
COUNTRY REGION PERCENT
THRIVING
PERCENT
STRUGGLING
PERCENT
SUFFERING
DAILY
EXPERIENCE
1 Denmark Europe 82 17 1 7.9
2 Finland Europe 75 23 2 7.8
3 Norway Europe 69 31 0 7.9
4 Sweden Europe 68 30 2 7.9
4 Netherlands Europe 68 32 1 7.7
6 New Zealand Asia 63 35 2 7.6
6 Costa Rica Americas 63 35 2 8.1
8 Switzerland Europe 62 36 2 7.6
8 Israel Asia 62 35 3 6.4
8 Australia Asia 62 35 3 7.5
8 Canada Americas 62 36 2 7.6
12 Brazil Americas 58 40 2 7.5
12 Panama Americas 58 39 3 8.4
14 Austria Europe 57 40 3 7.7
14 United States Americas 57 40 3 7.3
16 Belgium Europe 56 41 3 7.3
17 United Kingdom Europe 54 44 2 7.4
18 Mexico Americas 52 43 5 7.7
18 Turkmenistan Asia 52 47 1 7.5
20 United Arab Emirates Asia 51 48 1 7.

The five happiest countries in the world–Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands–are all clustered in the same region, and all enjoy high levels of prosperity…..

“The Scandinavian countries do really well,” says Jim Harter, a chief scientist at Gallup, which developed the poll. “One theory why is that they have their basic needs taken care of to a higher degree than other countries”…..

A reminder that egalitarian societies tend to have the highest levels of happiness. When our basic needs are taken care of – health care, free education, economical safety net – we are free from many of the most basic survival fears, and free to live our lives in a more meaningful and joyful way.

(more…)

Ongoing processing

 

draft……

It is something we all are familiar with from daily life:

The brain continuously processes and digests undigested material – whether it is new information, beliefs in friction with reality, unresolved situations, or conundrums of any sort.

The signs are plenty, for instance when something is resolved without much conscious processing. The process may be started consciously, then left to digest on its own, and the result presents itself in its own time.

Attention is naturally drawn to undigested material, inviting and allowing processing and digestion, as noticed through everyday attractions, aversions, ruminations, and day dreaming.

(more…)

Quick boost in well-being from outdoors activities

 

Just five minutes of exercise in a “green space” such as a park can boost mental health, researchers claim.

There is growing evidence that combining activities such as walking or cycling with nature boosts well-being.

In the latest analysis, UK researchers looked at evidence from 1,250 people in 10 studies and found fast improvements in mood and self-esteem.

– from the BBC article Green exercise quickly boosts mental health

We all (or most of us!) know this from our own experience. And yet, it is good to have it conformed by research, and also explore it in more detail. For instance, through these studies they found the most benefit from the first few minutes of outdoor activities, an additional boost if there is water nearby, and the largest effect for young people and those with mental health problems (they have more room for improvement as well).

Another article is available from Environmental News.

Magic Mushroom Research

 

Scientists are especially intrigued by the similarities between hallucinogenic experiences and the life-changing revelations reported throughout history by religious mystics and those who meditate. These similarities have been identified in neural imaging studies conducted by Swiss researchers and in experiments led by Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins. …..

Since that study, which was published in 2008, Dr. Griffiths and his colleagues have gone on to give psilocybin to people dealing with cancer and depression, like Dr. Martin, the retired psychologist from Vancouver. Dr. Martin’s experience is fairly typical, Dr. Griffiths said: an improved outlook on life after an experience in which the boundaries between the self and others disappear.

In interviews, Dr. Martin and other subjects described their egos and bodies vanishing as they felt part of some larger state of consciousness in which their personal worries and insecurities vanished. They found themselves reviewing past relationships with lovers and relatives with a new sense of empathy.“It was a whole personality shift for me,” Dr. Martin said. “I wasn’t any longer attached to my performance and trying to control things. I could see that the really good things in life will happen if you just show up and share your natural enthusiasms with people. You have a feeling of attunement with other people.”

(more…)

Values in Action

 

Values in Action (VIA) comes from positive psychology, and is a way to rank our individual character strengths. What is important to me? What am I good at? How can make use of it in everyday life? What ranks lower for me? How can I strengthen those?

The VIA test can be taken at the Institute for Character website, or at Authentic Happiness which has a wide range of tests.

Here is my current Values in Action score. I have guesses how it relates to NEO PI in parenthesis.

Your Top Strength

Creativity, ingenuity, and originality (may be similar to high in Openness to Experience in the NEO PI)
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.

Your Second Strength

Love of learning (related to high in Openness and Conscientiousness)
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

(more…)

TV: Replicating Milgram

 

A French TV documentary features people in a spoof game show administering what they are told are near lethal electric shocks to rival contestants….

Although unaware that the contestants were actors and there was no electrical current, 82% of participants in the Game of Death agreed to pull the lever.

Programme makers say they wanted to expose the dangers of reality TV shows.

They say the documentary shows how many participants in the setting of a TV show will agree to act against their own principles or moral codes when ordered to do something extreme.

Source: BBC – French TV contestants made to inflict ‘torture’

As the article points out, this is a replication of the famous Milgram experiment from the 60s: when ordered to inflict pain on others, most people will do so even if it causes them considerable distress.

There are many ways of explaining this.

(more…)

Research: Meaningful conversations make people happier

 

Would you be happier if you spent more time discussing the state of the world and the meaning of life — and less time talking about the weather?

It may sound counterintuitive, but people who spend more of their day having deep discussions and less time engaging in small talk seem to be happier, said Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona who published a study on the subject….

But, he proposed, substantive conversation seemed to hold the key to happiness for two main reasons: both because human beings are driven to find and create meaning in their lives, and because we are social animals who want and need to connect with other people…..

Next, Dr. Mehl wants to see if people can actually make themselves happier by having more substantive conversations.

“It’s not that easy, like taking a pill once a day,” Dr. Mehl said. “But this has always intrigued me. Can we make people happier by asking them, for the next five days, to have one extra substantive conversation every day?”

– NY Times blog, Talk Deeply, Be Happy?

It may be that happiness prompts us to deeper and more meaningful conversations. Or, as the researcher suggests, that deep conversations leads to happiness. They help us find meaning in our life, and connect with others in a more meaningful and intimate way.

And it may well be that this is another tool for happiness: A prescription of one more meaningful conversation in a day.

(more…)

Why does attention go to what bothers us?

 

When I get a small rock in my shoe, attention goes there allowing me to notice it and do something about it.

And that is an example of a much more general pattern. Attention goes to what bothers me, so I can notice it and do something about it.

Sometimes, I do something about it in the world, like removing a pebble from my shoe. Other times, I notice and inquire into a belief. Or there is a combination.

So why does attention to go what bothers us?

In an immediate sense, it is easily explained. Something feels off, so attention goes there so we can do something about it. If it is resolved, attention moves on. If it is not resolved in a satisfying way, attention will tend to return.

(more…)

Brain and boundaries

 

By observing brain cancer patients before and after brain surgery, researchers in Italy have found that damage to the posterior part of the brain, specifically in an area called the parietal cortex, can increase patients’ feelings of “self transcendence,” or feeling at one with the universe. The parietal cortex is the region that is is usually involved in maintaining a sense of self, for example by helping you keep track of your body parts. It has also been linked to prayer and meditation.
Discover Magazine blog

Its a rich and interesting field, finding physiological correlates to whatever goes under the “spiritual” umbrella: A sense of awe, gratitude, compassion. A widened sense of “us”. A stronger and more mature sense of ethics. A reduced sense of boundaries, or recognition of boundaries as imagined. Effects of meditation or prayer practice, such as a more stable attention, improved self-regulation, and recognition of thoughts as thoughts. States of various kinds. And much more. Each of these are most likely related to short- and long-term changes in different and specific brain regions, and also the endocrine system, immune system, cellular function, and so on.

(more…)

Research on The Work

 

The Work shares much with cognitive therapy, and has also many similarities with forms of inquiry found in Buddhist and Advaita traditions. In some ways, The Work is a Buddhist flavored form of cognitive therapy, or a cognitive therapy flavored form of Buddhism.

There is a great deal of research on cognitive therapy, of course. And also on Buddhist forms of meditation. There is very little, or perhaps no, research on inquiry as found in Buddhism or Advaita.

And there is nearly or actually no research on The Work. A quick Google Scholar search only turned up a general overview.

Why do research on The Work? There are many reasons. It would make it interesting to more therapists. It would gain sufficient support so it can be included in interventions, including large scale interventions to increase health and well-being and prevent illness. It would give it a foothold in the academic world, opening up for further research into The Work and similar approaches.

(more…)

Mysticism Scale

 

I came across this mysticism scale which I believe is from some decades back. There are probably more updated ones out there.

Questionnaires are notoriously difficult to construct. They need to be clear, appropriate to the topic/culture, refined through studies and research, and even then, it is usually possible to interpret the questions in many different ways.

1. I have had an experience which was both timeless and spaceless.

Even such an apparently simple statement runs into problems quickly. Timeless and spaceless, yes, although a timelessness that allows for (the appearance of) time and a spacelessness that allows for (the appearance of) space. And is it really an experience? Isn’t it really what experiences happens within and as? And what about the “I”? Is there an “I” there that it happens “to”? Isn’t that “I” also content of experience? That which happens within the timeless/spaceless?

(more…)

Stable attention

 

Inviting attention to stabilize is a potato among practices. It can be used for almost anything.

A more stable attention helps with other practices such as prayer, shikantaza/choiceless awareness, inquiry, self-inquiry, yoga, and service in the world.

And a more stable attention helps us with just about anything in daily life.

Already now, there is research on some of the effects of a more stable attention.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if that is not going to be a growing field of research in the future. Especially since a more stable attention can be invited in through very simple practices that just about anyone can do independent of age, religious background, education and so on. And since it – most likely – can support just about any aspect of our lives, and can be combined with just about any other tools and approaches.

For instance, what are the effects of a more stable attention on well-being, physical and mental health, learning, work life, adhd, athletic performance, addiction prevention and interventions, self-regulation, anger management, sleep problems, anxiety, relationships, experience of physical symptoms, and so on. The list is endless.

Maybe more importantly, what is the effect of a more stable attention on these things when it is combined with other – often more traditional – tools and approaches?

(more…)

Support of torture among the faithful

 

The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.
Source: CNN

This is a small study so not much can be said based on the data, but it would be interesting if other studies looked into it further.

I wonder – based on my own prejudices – if not self-righteousness is related to support of torture. The more certain we are that we are right and others are wrong, or even worse, that we are good and others are bad/evil, the easier it is to dehumanize them in our own mind and justify torture. (And ignoring the obvious: Torture gets people to say what they think you want to hear, whatever it may be.)

The question with these things is always: How does this relate to me? How do I find it in myself and my own life?

When do I think I am right and others are wrong? What happens then? What am I afraid of would happen if I didn’t see myself as right and them as wrong?

(more…)

Aware = free will?

 

I read a Discover article called could an inner zombie controlling the brain?

The topic is interesting, and the article also reminded me about a few things.

First, journalists don’t always trust that stories are interesting enough on their own, so they give them a helping hand. In this case, by pretending that something we all know from daily life is a new discovery, and by using metaphors more for attracting attention than accuracy. (Nothing wrong in that. It does attract readers, at least for a while, until they catch on and some chose to go to publications that treat their readers in a more fair way as more intelligent. But good to notice.)

The gist of the story is that we sometimes go on autopilot. When a task is familiar to us, and simple enough to go on autopilot, it often does, and that frees our attention to go elsewhere. At times, it may go into daydreaming or spacing off, but other times, it may go to something quite practical and functional.

We all know that from daily life, so that part is not new. But the research mentioned is interesting and sheds more light on it.

Then, a couple of other things. For instance, the word consciousness is used to mean content of experience, and in particular some of the workings of the psyche. This seems a little odd to me. It is unnecessary, for one, since we have perfectly good words for those dynamics. And also, it uses up the word for content of experience so it is not available for that which content of experience happens within and as.

And then another assumption: Autopilot means no free will (fair enough), and bringing attention to something means free will (hm…).

There is no denying that bringing attention to certain dynamics and workings of our mind can (apparently) lead to real life changes in how we chose and act. It has a very practical value.

I may notice I go to the fridge when I am stressed, and by noticing this, I can (apparently) chose another strategy to deal with that stress. I may go for a walk instead. Talk with a friend. Deal with a situation I have put off dealing with. Find a belief and inquire into it.

So there may be a sense of free will here. Attention is brought to a particular dynamic. There appears to be a choice between going on autopilot again, acting in familiar ways, or acting differently. Then choosing and acting on that choice. Or not.

But is there really a free will there?

When I look for myself, I find infinite (plausible) causes for any actions and choices, whether on autopilot or not, so no free will is needed. (This assumes causality, of course.)

Also, I find that it is all happening on its own, so again no free will. There seems to be no “one” needed with a free will.

And that the sense of a doer, which may seem so real and substantial, is a gestalt, a combination of sensations and images. That any connection between a choice or action and this doer is yet another image and story. And that any idea of causality is just that, an idea. I can find correlations, but no causality anywhere.

(more…)

Deep patterns in movie preferences

 

There’s a sort of unsettling, alien quality to their computers’ results. When the teams examine the ways that singular value decomposition is slotting movies into categories, sometimes it makes sense to them — as when the computer highlights what appears to be some essence of nerdiness in a bunch of sci-fi movies. But many categorizations are now so obscure that they cannot see the reasoning behind them. Possibly the algorithms are finding connections so deep and subconscious that customers themselves wouldn’t even recognize them. At one point, Chabbert showed me a list of movies that his algorithm had discovered share some ineffable similarity; it includes a historical movie, “Joan of Arc,” a wrestling video, “W.W.E.: SummerSlam 2004,” the comedy “It Had to Be You” and a version of Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House.” For the life of me, I can’t figure out what possible connection they have, but Chabbert assures me that this singular value decomposition scored 4 percent higher than Cinematch — so it must be doing something right. As Volinsky surmised, “They’re able to tease out all of these things that we would never, ever think of ourselves.” The machine may be understanding something about us that we do not understand ourselves.

From an interesting NY Times article on the quest to improve Netflix’ recommendation software. 

(more…)

The qualities of hate

 

A new study published in PLoS One today reveals that hatred isn’t the blind, irrational emotion it might seem. In fact, hate activates the brain regions associated with higher reason and the ability to predict what other people will do.
Source: i09

Hate isn’t the same as anger, but may be close enough for what I’ll explore – briefly – here.

(When I look at it for myself, it seems that hate is just a particularly persistent and strong form of anger, one that is fueled and maintained by stories taken very much as true, and that the essence of it is anger.)

Academic psychology is still in its infancy, and is still exploring the basics, which is good. In many cases, research helps confirm and refine common perceptions, and it sometimes also come up with quite counter intuitive results – which is even more helpful.

In this case, the general findings seem quite close to how we – or at least I – experience anger.

It clears out the cobwebs. Brings clarity. Focus. Single pointed attention if needed. Energy. And a “get things done” impulse.

(more…)

Beliefs more important than life itself

 

Another story from New York Times:

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem,” Albert Camus wrote, “and that is suicide.” How to explain why, among the only species capable of pondering its own demise, whose desperate attempts to forestall mortality have spawned both armies and branches of medicine in a perpetual search for the Fountain of Youth, there are those who, by their own hand, would choose death over life? Our contradictory reactions to the act speak to the conflicted hold it has on our imaginations: revulsion mixed with fascination, scorn leavened with pity. It is a cardinal sin — but change the packaging a little, and suicide assumes the guise of heroism or high passion, the stuff of literature and art.

What makes us want to end our life, and in some cases actually do it?

As usual, the basic answer seems very simple, yet has a great deal of complexity in how it is expressed.

The simple answer is that a belief becomes more important than life itself. A belief that makes it seem hopeless to live on in the case of conventional suicides, and a belief that makes an imagined cause more important than life itself in the cases where people give up their life for a cause.

That may be why other animals don’t do it. They have the worldless level of mental field activity developed to a certain extent, the one guiding us in our daily life in the form of interpretations, wordless quesions, memories and scenarios. And it seems that they may believe these wordless mental activities or not. (Easy to notice if an animal has been traumatized.) But they don’t have the verbal version of thought, so they don’t elaborate it or get caught up in it the way we humans do.

And it is that elaboration, and getting caught up in it, that can lead to apparently “irrational” behavior such as suicide. (Although these behaviors make a lot of sense if we look at the stories leading to them, and what happens when we take them as absolutely true.)

(more…)

Compensation

 

When we take ourselves to be this human self, we inevitably have a quite limited and skewed self-image, and there is inevitably some attempts at compensation going on. We think we are missing something, and try to compensate for it by seeking it out there, seeking to gain and accumulate it here, and manipulating the image we present to others and ourselves.

And this is brought into our relationship with spiritual practice as well.

For instance, I have since childhood felt uncomfortably different and special, so my attempt at compensating for it is to try to be as ordinary and normal as possible. And that is a tendency I bring into the spiritual realm as well. I want it to be as ordinary and unremarkable as possible and tend to emphasize that aspect. It is helpful for me to notice this, and also consciously acknowledge the other side.

For others, it may be reverse. Or if they started out with balance in this area, a balance around this too.

Sense fields at the levels of who and what we are

 

So far, I notice a few different effects from exploring sense fields…

At the level of who I am (this human self), there is a release from being caught up in habitual patterns, and also a softening of the patterns themselves.

So in a purely psychological sense, it seems that exploring sense fields can be helpful in a range of different ways. There is a release from being caught up in habitual patterns, including taking stories as true and its effects such as reactiveness, compulsions and more. There is a release from being caught up in content of experience, including emotions and moods. And there is a release from being caught up in narrow identities, and its effects of being in struggle with oneself and life in general.

Especially noticing what is happening in sensations, how the mental field overlays interpretations and stories, and the difference between taking those gestalts as real and substantial, or seeing how they are made up of sensations and mental field activity, seems helpful.

When I take the sense field + mental field gestalts as real and substantial, I tend to get caught up in them and be identified with content of awareness. When they are seen as gestalts, and I notice what is happening within each field distinct from the other, there is a softening and release from being caught up in it, and identified with content of awareness.

(I am not the first person to notice that, which is why these types of practices are being used more in psychotherapy.)

At the level of what I am (that which experience happens within, to and as), exploring the sense fields helps what I am notice itself more clearly. For instance, I can explore impermanence in each sense field, see how it all is in flux, and that what I am is not in flux. Or I can notice that what happens in each sense field is awareness itself. Or that a sense of an I-Other, center-periphery, inner-outer, all comes from a mental field overlay on each of the fields.

And at the transition between taking myself as who and what I am (the shift from one to the other), I can explore impermanence in each sense field, and find that I am not content of experience. I can notice whatever is happening within each sense field as awareness itself. I can notice how the mental field creates an overlay of I-Other on each sense field, and see that too as content of awareness as anything else, and what I am is not quite that.
(more…)

Well-wishing and social anxiety

 

One of the many “open secrets” out there is that well-wishing for others tends to calm social anxiety.

If I am in a situation that triggers social anxiety in me – such as giving a talk or teach – and I take the time to find sincere well-wishing for others, the nervousness subsides.

And if I know in advance that I will be in such a situation, I take some time to find the well-wishing to others in general and specifically to the ones who will be there.

How do I do it? As it becomes more familiar, it is just a matter of shifting into it. But there are also tools for inviting in that shift, such as finding the sincerity in statements like “may all go well for them”, visualizing others as healthy and happy, or doing a practice such as tong-len.

I am not quite sure what mechanisms are at play, but I suspect it has something to do with the miracles of an open heart.

When my heart opens, it opens to whatever is happening. For instance, if it initially opens to my body – through the Inner Smile or some other pointer – it opens to the whole of me as a human being, to others, and to life as it is.

In this case, my heart initially opens to others… and then naturally to myself. There is a sense of coming home, of allowing all of who I am as it is, of the sense of drama falling away, and a softening of the sense of I and Other.

So even when stories about me come up – stories my personality doesn’t particularly like – the sting goes out of it.

In sincere well-wishing for myself, I take the information in those stories seriously and make use of them in whatever ways seem appropriate, but there is little or no sting there.

Torture doesn’t work?

 

It is well known that torture doesn’t work. All it does is breed resentment and make people say whatever they think you want to hear.

Yet, is it true that torture doesn’t work?

It seems that torture works well if what you want is that feeling of revenge and to vent frustration rather than useful information.

In the same way, the Iraq war is a success if the aim is to establish an US foothold in the middle east, and keep a large army there for a long time.

It can be helpful to look at politics and one’s own life in this way.

If there is support for a policy that doesn’t seem to work, in what way does it work? What do we get from supporting that policy?

Similarly, on a personal level, when I keep on doing something that doesn’t seem to work, in what ways does it work for me? What desirable results do I get? Maybe I can find another way to meet those needs?

It can help us understand the dynamics a little better, while keeping in mind that these are just assumptions. Questions rather than answers. A what if that may yield insights and suggest different strategies/solutions to try out.

It goes without saying that in conversation or public discourse, assigning views and motivations to others they themselves don’t admit to is a recipe for disaster. It too easily derails the discussion and fuels defensiveness.

Much better then to stay on topic, informed by the new perspectives we may have found through these explorations.

Personal DNA entertainment

 

I took a Personal DNA test and the result seems familiar enough. I am not quite sure what it is good for, apart from taking my strengths and weaknesses into consideration when I make decisions, and also bring some additional attention to the weak areas. The drawback is that it can reinforce identification with a self-image that leaves a great deal out.

This also reminded me of why I often find it difficult to take these tests.

They ask how I behave generally, but it varies a great deal with the situation.

They ask me to make an either/or choice between two characteristics that for me are both/and.

They ask me if I ever do something socially undesirable that everyone do. Are they testing if I am willing to admit to it, or whether I do it a lot or infrequently? In the first case, the answer is yes. In the second, it may be yes or no. (I answered yes because it happens now and then, and that may be why my answers rated high on openness.)

They ask me if I can tell what people feel even if they don’t tell me. Are they testing if I have relatively accurate hunches, or if I realize that I cannot know unless I ask? In the first case, I would say yes. In the second case, I would say no. (I can’t really know, even if I had the most accurate hunches in the world.) (I answered no because – even if others do say I have a pretty good sense of what is going on for them – I don’t like to make assumptions and I cannot really know. This may be why my answers rated less highly on empathy.)

[My personalDNA Report]

Impostor syndrome

 

The impostor syndrome is apparently quite common these days, and maybe for good reasons. After all, almost no matter which area we work in, most of us know only a fraction of the knowledge that is out there, and we know very well that even all current human knowledge is only a fraction of all possible knowledge. We are only scratching a surface that is only scratching yet another surface. It was simpler when most folks were farmers, fishermen and craftsmen.

We feel like an impostor, because it is true! No matter what we do, independent of culture and setting, it is true in several different ways. And it is a perceived problem only if it is not seen through, when it is only half explored.

So one way of working with it is to more thoroughly see how it is true, with specific examples. This takes out the stress of feeling that we have to defend against the story that we are an impostor.

Then, we can explore equally thoroughly how the reverse is true, in what ways are we not an impostor. And that takes out the stress of being stuck in just one of the permutations of the impostor story.

We are freed out of the dynamic through seeing that each permutation has some truth in it, and none is close to having the whole picture.

(more…)