“To find a mountain path all by oneself gives a greater feeling of strength than to take a path that is shown.” ~ Karen Horney
It is no easy matter understanding oneself. Self-realization is strenuous. It’s a lengthy process, arduous, painful, existentially upsetting. It’s a collision of agonies smashing into polarities. The self is not a fixed entity but a set of “intrinsic potentialities.” It’s masks all the way down perceiving illusions all the way up. And each individual self is more unique than a fingerprint.
The tricky part is that only you can experience these masks, agonies, polarities and intrinsic potentialities. Nobody else can experience them for you. They are subjective. Your experience of them will always be primary to anyone’s interpretation of them. Not even the best shrink in the world can know them as well as you can.
That’s what makes self-therapy, and the self-realization that comes from it, so important. Therapists are, at best, guides. Self-therapy is what a therapist directs you towards anyway. So, you might as well make that attempt to begin with.
A therapist is good for keeping you on track and preventing you from getting stuck, but there’s nothing saying you cannot learn strategies to do it yourself. That’s where self-therapy come in. That’s where self-inflicted therapy enters the scene to flip all scripts.
It’s a process of dauntless self-realization. It’s taking ownership of your own therapy. It’s a deep understanding of Terence McKenna’s advice: “You have to take seriously the notion that understanding the universe is your responsibility, because the only understanding of the universe that will be useful to you is your own understanding.”
Taking responsibility for understanding the depths of you, especially the way you perceive reality, is a vital step toward overall health and mental stability. But it requires courage. It requires questioning your worldview, your values, your relationships. It requires the ability to admit that you have been wrong about a great many things. No easy task.
Self-inflicted therapy cuts deep. It’s not comforting or pretend-forgiving. It’s ruthless and upsetting. Comfort zones are liabilities. Playing it safe is a psychological handicap. Remaining in the box is a prison sentence.
Self-inflicted therapy has three core strategies. Let’s break them down…
“In the act of provoking people to think differently, philosophers make it clear that we are not fated to live within the often-stifling systems of thought that we inherit. We can change the subject.” ~ Raymond Geuss
Self-interrogation is about digging down to the roots of the human condition, particularly your own conditioning. It’s a method that aggressively asks mind-opening, heart-expanding, soul-shocking questions.
It proactively outmaneuvers cognitive dissonance by staying one step ahead of sentimental emotion through a ruthless form of higher reasoning that never settles for answers. Instead, it tears them apart.
From the carnage, it honors what validates universal law and discards what doesn’t. But such honoring is still not an acceptance. Rather, it is a deep consideration for higher probability while still respecting the possibility of wrongness.
Self-interrogation turns everything inside out. It unconventionally twists the conventional by questioning to the nth degree. It nixes notions of certainty. Truth is elusive, but it is less elusive when you’re coming at it from more angles than those that you were conditioned to adhere to.
Solitude and meditation
“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Out beyond the things of man, beyond the status quo agenda, there is a state of intense solitude where you can become so completely isolated from all the layer upon layer of cultural conditioning that you’re able to fully realize the power of being connected to everything. It’s a place where you’re able to shed the superfluity of codependence and fully embrace the power of interdependence.
Heavy from aggrandized civilization, we go into nature seeking medicine. We discover it by simply being present (meditating) and embracing solitude.
In the wild, Truth and Mystery grow together, robustly entangled, speaking a language older than words. When the clanking machinery, blaring car alarms, and whining sirens fade away, our brains get lathered in this mysterious language and Nature’s medicine washes over us.
As Rumi powerfully stated, “There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.”
“Mastery is an asymptote. You can approach it. You can home in on it. You can get really, really close to it. But you can never reach it. Mastery is impossible to realize fully.” ~ Daniel H. Pink
Enlightenment attracts precisely because enlightenment eludes. Like mastery, perfection, and completely understanding the Self, it can never be fully realized. But that’s okay. Because the journey is the thing.
Self-overcoming keeps the discovery of the Self from ever growing stagnant. It constantly overcomes the fixed and rigid self by embracing the flexible and adaptable self. It’s proactive about improving upon who you were yesterday.
It’s taking Nietzsche’s idea of the Overman and running with it. It’s a personalized Fibonacci sequence, where your own development is predicated upon an individualized progressive evolution that will ultimately contribute to the evolution of the species.
Self-overcoming is a vehicle that compels you to become robust and wise despite your inherently fragile and fallible nature. The ego wants to keep you safe in your comfort zone. But self-overcoming tears down that comfort zone and teaches the ego how to become a flexible tool of self-improvement rather than a rigid tool of self-preservation.
Self-overcoming is the daily act of letting your ego know who’s boss. It’s letting your ego know that you are awake to its syrupy placations. And no amount of comfortable coos and warming sentiments are going to lull you back to sleep.
The tables have been turned. In the poker game of the Self, you’ve called your ego’s bluff and now you’re holding all the cards. Your self-preservation has taken a back seat to your self-improvement. There’s an initiation at hand. Your ego is ready to become a mighty tool toward leveraging self-realization into self-actualization.
Art by Eugenia Loli
Self-direction by CHENGXIANG SHANG
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