FORCING INTROSPECTION FOR INSIGHT
“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ― Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology
I just got over a rough bout with a stomach virus. The first two days were spent in utter desperation, doing what one does when extremely ill, trying to hold down some liquids so as not to become dehydrated and pondering some not so useful thoughts about life. In other words, I was in survival mode.
Then, on the third day, I begin to think more clearly and became aware of what I was thinking about. My thoughts still drifted to mortality but, with some reluctance, I begin to think about where I was in life and where I wanted to be. I thought about the precious moments I enjoy with my wife, my relentless drive to create and TIME. I thought about how much of my behavior might be driven by old insecurities and how much is driven by passion. Am I having enough fun? Am I making a difference?
I reflected about the years of peak-performance coaching I have done and the hundreds of business presentations on breakthrough-thinking and creativity. I realized that the greatest obstacle I’ve had to deal with is – that most people do not like to turn inwards, to reflect on their beliefs and to question their assumptions. That’s challenging, especially when I speak on thinking about thinking.
I’ve discovered that it is often easy for others to, without awareness, spend a lot of their thinking time judging others or blaming circumstances for what they have helped create in their lives. Don’t get me wrong. I am not judging this to be life-defeating or evil. This avoidance of introspection is a function of the primitive, defensive, fight or flight part of our brain – the old part. That part, unfortunately or fortunately, influences most of our decisions. But, it is also the part of our brain that can be mined for insightful information if – one is willing to ask the right questions.
Overcoming this natural resistance to self-introspection takes both courage and work. The good news is that the newest, ever-evolving, malleable part of our brain, called the Neocotex, has the right stuff. We can ask ourselves questions. And, great questions equal great answers, equal great insight. Think about it.