Friday, 17 February 2012

I, Me,& Mine = The misery of taking things personally

Case 1- If you get a hit on the back of your head and then spin around and see that it was caused by a small tree branch that fell, then how do you feel?
Case 2- If you get the exact same hitting sensation on the back of your head and then spin around and see that it was because you were struck by someone holding a small tree branch in their hand, then how do you feel?

Do you quickly rub your head and then get on with your day in the first case?
Do you take the second case personally and does it then result in a rush of intense potentially long lasting negative uncomfortable feelings compared to the first case?

What does it mean to take things “personally” and all the unwanted baggage that goes with that?

“How could she talk to me like that!”
“I can’t believe he treated me that way!”
“Who do they think they are?!”

Is it possible that being unhappy/miserable/suffering boils to down to taking things personally? But how could I not take things personally when someone just did or said something to ME?

I think this points to the question of who we think we are (and sometimes we are even told exactly that (often in a very loud voice) as in; “Who (the hell) do you think you are!” Maybe the best answer to that is; “Good question!”

Who am I?
  • Am I my body? – If so then if certain body parts are removed or change am I less myself?
  • Am I my thoughts? – If so then my thoughts (and even core beliefs) have changed since I was born – does that mean I am not “me” anymore?
  • Am I the totality of my life experiences? – If so then would I not be “me” (the me inside that observes & remembers) if I had had different experiences (e.g. grew up in a different country)?
  • Ask the same question (i.e. “Am I this, Am I that?) and the answer always comes back as  “Well,  yes and no”. It seems that nowhere I look do I find a stable enduring sense of “me” other than just this “feeling”.

Have I said and done things I never imagined I would ever say or do (answer = for sure!).
So is it possible that even I myself am not 100% sure who “I am”?
I think so.

If even I myself am not sure who “me” is then how could anyone else really know who “I am”?

If no one else can know who I am then how could anything they ever do really be “to me”? Whatever they do is, at worse, being done to their version of who they think I am, as opposed to the “real” me – which is not even really knowable anyway.
Add to this that most of us spend our time worrying and thinking about how everything relates back to ourselves (the internal narrative that is mostly an ongoing story of “me”). Given all that then whatever goes on is likely not really about “me” at all. That does not mean that things are to be ignored but rather that seeing them for what they really are means seeing that things happen as a result of all kinds of factors that do not all revolve around “me”.

So if you come at me with a stick I will still run or turn to defend myself, but I will do so with trying to see what is happening from an understanding that trying to hurt  me is not so much about “me” and likely more about what is going on in the other person. Taking things less personally in this way feels like a path to less misery. At least it has for me so far  as I continue in my “n of 1 trial” that is trying to answer/live out the question: “How to live?”

What do you (whoever “you” really are!) think?

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