Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Another Social Shortcoming: A Lack of Extrospection

Ah yes, I seem to be totally over that funk now. It's strange how one can have seemingly random swerves like that. I think that, in being successful in altering my premises for my emotional health, my negative premises one more before they actually die. Frustrating, but perhaps a good sign of progress in itself.

What was most interesting about that funk is how much I learned about myself. I never noticed that I had so many potential repellents before. Just identifying them and working just a little to incorporate them into my life seems to have worked wonders already so far, just as identifying the Vegeta Mistake has. It's always hurtful to shine a light on one's flaws, but the rational man appreciates those incidents as an opportunity to remedy them.

Still yet I've come across another one: I've noticed that, in dealing with people, I have a semi-hard time switching between extrospection and introspection, and will sometimes stubbornly cling to introspection as a way to shut people out.

Since that term isn't widely known, what I mean by "extrospection" is the awareness of one's five senses. In other words, you extrospect when you concentrate on what's going on in the outer world. Introspection covers only the inner world. To contrast, imagine holding an image of a zebra in your head versus actually looking at a live zebra. The imagery of a zebra in your head is under introspection's jurisdiction, whereas actually seeing a real one is under extrospection. (And if you actually participated in this example, that's introspection too.)

While of course it's possible to deal with people in thinking terms, having intelligent conversations and all that, a great deal of extrospection is also required: Eye contact, awareness of another person's reactions, attention to their speech, etc. You can engage in introspection with another person, but a degree of extrospection is required, and I think I've been failing on that count big time.

What I've noticed in my own behavior is that sometimes I'll not only immerse myself in introspection, but also do it in a rather stubborn manner as a way of shutting others out. For examples, sometimes while thinking I'll give extremely short or even one-word answers to another person's conversation, as a way to indicate I don't want to talk to them. Or, in most questions, what I'll do is openly render myself nearly oblivious to the presence of others, immersing myself totally in an inner world, and probably cop an aloof and inattentive appearance to others. What I've realized is that this type of behavior is probably contributing to my loneliness, as such conduct would likely push people away since I'm both withdrawing and displaying myself as unwelcome to initiation.

Such a habit came into being probably from my stressful childhood. I had so many negative people in my life in the past that I think crawling into an inner world was the only way I could reduce the stress on command. I remember dealing with my grandmother was so stressful that I wouldn't notice that I had left the windshield wipers on while driving with her after the rain stopped. Introspection was my barrier.

But now it's a wall to others, not a barrier. I no longer live with negative people or am trapped with them, so the barrier is obsolete. What I need to do is better orient myself in extrospection so I can show more awareness to others around me, and be more welcoming. I don't need to rule out introspection, I just need to better switch from one process to the other one. Introspect while alone and unengaged by others, switch when addressed or addressing someone, or even just simply passing by.

Easy enough, but it's still amazing how such seemingly small aspects of oneself can go unnoticed for years.  

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