I am going to post the email transcript of what I wrote on Self Love, the Edited for Blogging version of which appeared here just two posts ago. Besides being interesting, it’s a demonstration for comparison on how things appear when I edit my own material. This is a huge issue for my book, since editing tends to stifle the original flow, and yet often my reason insists on pedantically doing just that.
Friend: You’ve been thinking a lot about self-starter and I’ve been thinking a lot about unconditional love and acceptance of self. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Me: Well I guess acceptance of self depends on self-awareness first. You can’t accept what you’re not aware of. Self-awareness is stifled both by a lack of feedback and a lack of introspection. A baby learns what a person is by watching other people. Eventually it realizes that it is one of those things it sees walking around and talking. Therefore people are not as aware of themselves as they are of the people around them. What I always strive for is self-awareness, but that is extremely hard. I’ve invested years of my life just trying to gain an adequate amount of self-awareness.
Another thing to think about is the protective barriers the psyche creates in order to promote its own well-being. All beliefs in (a loving) God are such a protection. So it’s important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t live in reality, but must erect defenses which allow them to love themselves. Obviously these barriers can be damaging, because they blind the person from reality, allowing them to hurt other people in the process. But from this point of view, very few people can actually love themselves – most have to lie to themselves instead. So is it ethical to lie to oneself and thereby gain the self-confidence which comes from believing false things? Or is it better to have the life force sucked out of you by confronting the truth? It’s a choice each individual has to make (I basically chose the latter).
Acceptance of self is most required when no one else accepts you. The more you’re accepted by others, the less self-accepting you have to do. But how to do it without holding any delusions? Well, one of the best techniques is to acquire some secret knowledge. Some secret knowledge is fake, but the person ignores that fact because having a secret is far more important to them than whether their secrets are true or not. Hence all the talk about the Illuminati and other conspiracy theories. But these are delusions. Other secret knowledge is actually true, and this kind can give you a legitimate boost to your self esteem. If you gain secret knowledge, it can help a lot. That’s how I get a lot of my self-esteem.
Beyond secret knowledge, what can you do? Well, it’s easy to say “Find where you belong!”, but anyone’s who’s done that probably doesn’t need self-love. For a lot of people, maybe they don’t belong anywhere. And then what? Well, we could take the opposite approach and make a list of all the things which prevent you from killing your own body. In other words, stare death straight in the face. People don’t want to do this because maybe their reasons for living will turn out to be delusions. But if you’re really committed to self love, you could make a commitment to kill yourself if you can’t find things which really and truly keep you from doing so. In other words, forget everything anyone says about why you should live, and confront the matter on your own. You will find self-love or you will die trying! Honestly, that’s probably the best way to approach the topic, because now it’s just between you and you. You want self-love? That’s how you find it.
Let’s say you’ve chosen to live. Okay, now you have your baseline. Now we want more things. Maybe we can’t get them, but we’re alive, so we might as well try. Where does love come in here? I guess more love equals more confidence, hence greater risk-taking and better chances of reward. But there is so much competition for the rewards of life. Why would anyone love you who was competing with you? Can we expect people to love us when we are competing with them? No. Therefore you can only expect love from people who are not competing with you. Maybe you can get love from people who are striving for other things, but maybe not. Obviously self-love is good when you can’t get it anywhere else. But when you are competing, people will have less compassion for you, because they will not see you as needy or desperate, so why should they love you? Only unusually strong people will be able to love someone who doesn’t help them directly.
Most of life is unfortunately a barter system, where people use each other to meet their own needs. Unconditional love is very rare indeed. Usually only babies receive unconditional love. And that’s an enormous amount of hard work! That’s a good example of how hard it is to unconditionally love someone. It’s not easy, and that’s why it’s rare.
Okay, just some thoughts off the top o’ me head there.
Friend: Wow! I just read your email like it was some kind of movie thriller!! Hanging on the edge of my seat and waiting (not so patiently) for what comes next!! I will turn this around soonest but I did want to thank you in advance for your thoughtful and really insightful response. My Goodness – WOW. I’m looking forward to responding!
Hope you’re doing really well, Zack. 🙂
Friend, a week later: Hi there! How are you doing?? […] I’m headed back to Esalen this Saturday […]. I’m nervous! In the singing one, you have to get up in front of the group and sing a capella with no music. In the dancing ones, I want to try to express myself – not chicken out. These things get me antsy! Does that ever happen to you? Any suggestions??
Me: Well, I hear alcohol removes both your inhibitions & your skill. If only it would remove just your inhibitions! I guess you could meditate upon the cosmic irrelevance of everything. That’s it, just ponder the cosmic irrelevance of everything. That oughta do it…
Friend, two weeks later: Hi there! Hope you’re doing well! I owe you an email and I will get that to you soon. I just wanted to quickly mention something from my trip. (I got home last night.) I was talking to two people about your email. Separately. (And, btw, I don’t go around sharing what you write to me with the whole world but I was really FLOORED by what you said – in a GOOD way – and I really wanted to bring it into the light.) When I told the first guy about your “cosmic irrelevance” comment, he said, “Wow. Only someone REALLY SMART can write something like that.” I said – I know!! The second (a retired psychotherapist) said – Oh my God. What insight. I said – I know!!
Wanted you to know!
Me: Thanks! Just rereading my long email made me wonder why I wanted to edit it when I put it on my blog, because it flowed really well just as is. I think I’ll repost it! Thanks so much for this feedback. It’s just like I said above – I couldn’t even see myself when writing that and needed an outsider. Fascinating!