Hump Day Crush: Without ‘I’

Last week we talked a little about our voyeuristic tendencies when it comes to other people’s relationships.

The simple fact is, we are social creatures and generally interested in the world around us.

Sometimes, though, that external interest serves as a distraction from our own internal world.

Our focus on–some may say obsession with–the relationships of those around us, from old friend to celebrity, may be the biggest obstacle to understanding our own internal relationship with ourselves.

We spend every minute of every day with ourselves. There’s really no avoiding that. Even when we’re asleep, it’s our own subconscious we’re lolling about in. It’s a fact we can easily forget because we’re so immersed. Very much like not being able to see the forest through the trees.

In such a state of unawareness, we let our relationship with ourself slip into a passive mode. It becomes, at best, an afterthought. That allows it to slip into many different directions without our noticing. When we let our relationship with ourselves slip, it isn’t long before our ability to positively relate to those around us follows.

To avoid this, I’ve found it becomes very useful to step out of myself every now and then. To, in effect, look at my relationship with myself the same way I’d look at my relationship with another person. How? Mostly by talking about myself in third person for a little bit.

I know, it sounds kind of silly–we’ve all done that at one point or another as a joke. Doing it with a purpose may feel silly to begin with, but the perspective shift helps bring things into focus.

It doesn’t have to be done out loud and it most certainly doesn’t have to be done in public. I’ve found that exercises like this can be most effectively done in a written/typed format. That gives us the chance to flex the more analytical bits of our brain and to create an easily reference-able record. Having a record on hand really helps later on to gauge the change in our relationship with ourselves.

The exercise itself is simple: write about yourself as if you were an external observer. Don’t use the words “I” or “me” or “my”. Refer to yourself by name or second person pronoun. Describe what you see as you watch yourself go through a day. Watch from outside yourself as you interact with others.

After you’ve gone through a few paragraphs (or pages, depending on how into it you get), go back and re-read the narrative. Do you recognize the person you’ve been writing about? Are their actions strange to you?

Most importantly, do you like what you see?

By removing the “I” from our experience of ourselves, even for a brief moment, we begin to clear our preconceptions of who we are and get a more clear picture of what everyone around us sees.

Knowing the “I” that the rest of the world interacts with gives us a baseline for building an honest internal relationship with ourselves. One that will ultimately help us find better relationships–romantic and platonic–outside of ourselves.

  • fiferjanis

    Re: Our human interest in relationships

    Through data structuring, organization and architecture for a variety of classification schemes for abstract concepts, I deal with this on a daily basis. It’s not the relationships between humans I’m dealing with, but relationships between “entities.” Object, subject, relationship — ontologies.

    It’s a fascinating area of information science, because it’s an attempt at artificial intelligence, and making sense of “data” and turning it into meaningful information. The relationships seem to be the main piece for making something “informational.”

    Without relationships, data is data. A set of descriptive attributes that can help us identify some “thing,” but does very little to describe why we should care, and its “place in the universe.” To understand its place in the universe, we need to care about its relationships to other entities in the universe.

    To study our relationships is to study our place in the universe. And, being from a socially-dependent species, our relationships within social contexts are especially of interest to us.

  • fiferjanis

    Re: Our human interest in relationships

    Through data structuring, organization and architecture for a variety of classification schemes for abstract concepts, I deal with this on a daily basis. It’s not the relationships between humans I’m dealing with, but relationships between “entities.” Object, subject, relationship — ontologies.

    It’s a fascinating area of information science, because it’s an attempt at artificial intelligence, and making sense of “data” and turning it into meaningful information. The relationships seem to be the main piece for making something “informational.”

    Without relationships, data is data. A set of descriptive attributes that can help us identify some “thing,” but does very little to describe why we should care, and its “place in the universe.” To understand its place in the universe, we need to care about its relationships to other entities in the universe.

    To study our relationships is to study our place in the universe. And, being from a socially-dependent species, our relationships within social contexts are especially of interest to us.

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