June 28, 2006
I was reminded the other day of an important dimension of how we put ourselves together. A Greek philosopher once noted that there were three zones of possibility for humans.
First, there is who we are, our sense of ourselves, the realities of what we intend and whether those intentions ever get fulfilled as behaviors in our lives. This is the most intimate and ultimately the most important part of ourselves.
Then there is who we aspire to be. We all have our dreams, hopes, and sometimes demands on ourselves to be certain ways, to achieve certain goals. This is the area where we focus much of our labor over our lives to bring those aspirations into some kind of tolerable reality.
Lastly, there is the way that other people perceive us, how others think of us, appraise us, judge us. This is the dimension farthest from our control, since the views of others are not simply mechanical recordings of reality like a video camera, but they are views that pass through the prism of that person's own beliefs, expectations, hopes, disappointments, etc.
The task is to create as much congruence as possible between our hopes and desires and the outcomes of these hopes and desires. The bigger the gap between what we intend and what we actually achieve, the greater the chance that we will experience grave emotional upset of various kinds. So what can we do about this?
Well, first we can realize something quite simple but critical: we don't control the world. We don't control the world in terms of how other people think of us, the degree to which they will cooperate with what we want or actively work against what we desire. We don't control many aspects of our own intentions, since many of our intentions spring from beliefs that we are not even aware are running our lives.
Thus the most important thing we can do is become aware of how we stand in our own way through what we actually believe about ourselves and the world. Often there are general themes that humans manifest as problems that hinder the development of congruence in their lives. The theme "there must be something wrong with me" is one of the most powerful and the degree to which that is operating in our lives will determine to a large extent whether we experience our lives as happy, joyful, creatively productive, or just the opposite — useless, depressing, meaningless, painful and pointless.
Now you may raise the point: hey certainly there are things wrong with some of the people I know, and maybe I can see some things about myself that are not too great either! Yes, all true, but the starting point for much of what becomes problematic in others and in yourself, I am positing, is precisely the degree to which you begin your life with a guiding sense of your own unworthiness.
As I noted, you may not be aware of this in precisely those terms, which is to say, you may discover them in your behaviors, in the ongoing failure of intentions becoming reality, in the felt lack of congruence. So what about "insect dreams?" Oh, well check back here next week to see what the connection might be and let me know what you think.
Frank Mosca Ph.D. is a life coach and a marital coach with a practice in Hampton Bays and Garden City. Look at his site, frankmosca.com and reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.