Headline, October 16 2021/ ''' '' SELF AWARENESS SEAR '' '''


 SEAR '' '''

ONE OF THE MOST UNSETTLING FINDINGS of modern psychology is that we often don't know why we do what we do. You can ask somebody : Why'd you choose that house? Or why did you marry that person?

Or why did you go to graduate school? People will concoct some plausible story, but often they really have no idea why they chose what they did?

We have a conscious self, of course, the voice in our head, but this conscious self has little access to the parts of the brain that are the actual sources of judgment, problems-solving and emotion. We know that we're feeling, just not how and why we got there.

But also don't want to admit how little we know about ourselves, so we make up some story, or confabulation. As Will Storr writes in his excellent book '' The Science of Storytelling '' :

''We don't know why we do what we do, or feel what we feel. We confabulate when theorizing as to why we're depressed, we confabulate when justifying our moral convictions and we confabulate when explaining why a piece of music moves us.''

Or as Nicholas Epley puts it in his equally excellent ''Mindwise,'' ''No psychologist asks people to explain the causes of their own thoughts and behaviors anymore unless they're interested in understanding storytelling.''

I confess I don't like this finding. It hurts my sense of dignity. I like to think that -my conscious self-  am in some way living my own life for reasons I understand. I'm not merely some puppet on neural strings.

I also like to think we can in fact understand why we do what we do. For example, George Orwell wrote a great essay called ''Why I write'' that offered compelling reasons for why he became a writer : he desired to appear clever in public, he liked to play with language, he liked to understand things, he wanted to alter the directions of events. I like to think the rest of us can achieve at least half as much accurate self-knowledge into our motivations as Orwell did.

Finally, I feel bad for all those people - from Rene Descartes to modern commencement speakers - who said the key to life is to ''know thyself,'' ''look within'' and ''do the inner work.'' This advice seems like  narcissistic nonsense in light of recent research.

I contacted a bunch of psychologists and psychotherapists I really admire to help me reject the reigning theory so I could feel better about myself.

I asked Mary Pipher, the legendary therapist and author of ''Reviving Ophelia'' and many other books, if she asked her patients ''why'' questions. She said she prefers ''what, when, where and how'' questions : When do you notice feelings of inferiority? Basically she wants clients to become closer observers of their own behavior.

She isn't really asking them to engage in introspection as we normally understand it. She is asking them to use the mental equipment people might use to evaluate the behavior of others and to use it to get out of the deceptive rumination spirals of your own self-consciousness and to think about yourself in the third person.

She also takes it for granted that telling stories about ourselves is the best we can do. She says people come to her with ''problem saturated'' stories and she tries to move them to different stories that will give them a sense of control and pride.

Then I contacted Dan McAdams, the Northwestern scholar who specializes in how people tell their life stories. McAdams also doubts that we can ever really know why we do anything, so we are compelled to fall back on narratives or what he calls ''personal myths.''

These narratives are inevitably problematic. Our pasts are not a stable body of evidence from which we can derive explanations for our actions. We are constantly reconstructing our pasts based on current goals. Moreover, our explanations for our behavior may simply be wrong or self-preserving.

A guy may think he fails at relationships because he never got over the girl who dumped him in college, but it could be that he just has a high degree of neuroticism he's never dealt with.

For McAdams, some stories are better than others. Stories that are closer to ''what really happened'' are more reliable than ones that are distorted by self-flattery and self-affirmation. On the other hand, here's the tension, we want our stories to be positive and affirming.

Humans tend to tell redemption stories - I was rising, I faltered, I came back better.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research and Writings on '' Is Self-awareness a Mirage? '' continues. The World Students Society thanks author David Brooks.

With most respectful dedication to the Global Founder Framers. Leaders, Grandparents, Parents, Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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