I feel like sharing more small tweaks that have entered my thinking routines since recently. Like the one I shared yesterday, this one is coming handy when I need to make a decision. In the recent drifts I drifted away towards rationality and it kind of fits where I am at the moment. I had quite an intense emotional and bodily awareness. And it seems like in order to put everything in order some rational tools could be of real help. I would like to emphasise that I am quite far away from being a full-on rationalist, but their approach definitely resonates with me on various level. I find it a reliable addition to solidify the structure of my thinking. So that the nebulous stuff can hang on top of it. Both are important - nebulosity and the pattern, abstraction and concreteness. Recently, I came across a wonderful book called Replacing guilt written by Nate Soares. He unfolds the concept of guilt, looking at it as something highly unproductive and unnecessary, and proposes to repeat it with intrinsic motivation. I encourage you to dive into it, I took a lot of useful insights to help me shift my focus and not get stuck in vicious circles of self-perpetuating guilt.
I have to say that guilt is one of those things I thought I didn’t experience that often. But after my honesty deep dive, I realised that I was wrong and some of my decisions/non-decisions where informed by guilt. I think on the surface, when something happens in the moment, I rarely feel guilty. For me it accumulates in the background and becomes this invisible adviser who affects my decision making. The proposition that Nate makes in his series is to replace guilt with intrinsic motivation. So, instead of going into this unworkable space, it is wise and less immobilising to remember why we were actually doing whatever we were doing when guilt appeared. Besides working out the guilt issue there are many other great thoughts in the book exploring, obligations, should, trying and other not very liberating and helpful concepts to practice life in service of something larger.
There is another move that helps me to work out guilt. It is related to my belief that there is no free will. I have clear awareness, not always manifesting in action, though, that my being, actions and decisions are all manifestations of the cause and effect relations. Seeing myself not as the centre of events but merely as an entity which is woven into the fabric of life, I have little / no control over, is liberating. To quote Sam Harris You can do what you decide to do — but you cannot decide what you will decide to do. It resonates. It also helps to soften the guilt and maintain the active mode of being moved by intrinsic motivation.
Now finally to the mental move I use, to stay in sync with the bigger picture when things get messy and too narrow. It is a rule called yes no yes It is a simple triad of equations I keep in mind when potential problem in decision making arises. First yes is the Yes to my values. How does the decision I am going to take fit with the set of principals and beliefs I consider important. Obviously those have to be in place. Seems like a big thing but try writing a few, it is very easy to come up with the list, once it is there we can always amend it once in a while. Can be abstract, as well, by the way. Viscosity for example is one of my values, it says a lot to me, but perhaps for others is meaningless. Second is No to this particular thing. Very often when we say no, it feels uncomfortable because it is happening right here right now. It is bound to the feeling of rejection, loss and possibility guilt. It is good to remember, though, that this moment of no, is one of many and if it doesn’t fit with our value system and intrinsic motivation then it should go. No matter how unpleasant it is, but in the long term it is better. The third is Yes to togetherness in general. This one is an important one as it refers to the values of a higher order. Sometimes it can overrule my own principals, but it makes sense to give them away to work for the bigger picture directly.
A simple check yes no yes can lift up the worries and bring more lightness to life while being in touch with the world in more profound way.