On Being Full of Shit

I often feel a dissonance between my ideals and reality. And I see this in everyone else too. It’s easy to deceive oneself into thinking that one’s ideal is reality, thus becoming blind to reality. The most extreme examples are the monsters of human history.

The ideal consists of higher principles, always for the benefit of others. And when selflessness is too unbelievable there’s the superficial admission of selfish motivation (usually not the real motivation, though) framed as something that also benefits others (the classic win-win situation).

Reality is that I’m selfish and usually not concerned about others except when our selfishness is allied, or when I need someone to get what I want.  You’re no different.

I want to think I’m the ideal, but then I’ll do something or say something I’m not proud of, and sometimes they’re whoppers.

What happens with this dissonance? My first reaction is to project it on to others. But blame can become moral arrogance, which is a means of justifying my actions to diminish the dissonance. But it only leads to more actions that fail to conform to the ideal, and the vicious cycle begins again.

So, what should I do about it? I think it takes effort to remind myself of reality, and that my ideal is not reality. Still, ideals are useful to orient myself toward what is less destructive, much like a compass won’t get me to true north but can get me started in the general direction.

I need to learn to acknowledge my emotions when they happen, and try to observe them without reacting immediately.

I have to learn to recognize projection as it’s happening to stop myself from blaming others.  Or, when I see myself blaming others (especially in a general way, or when the blame is directed toward a group rather than an individual), and holding myself up as an example of the ideal, I need to remind myself that I’m full of shit.

I have to be honest with myself about what my true selfish motivations are (not the superficial selfish reasons that serve as a convenient lie), and be willing to step back if it will harm others.  Or, if there really is a win-win solution then pursue that without pretending I’m doing it only for the benefit of others.

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2 thoughts on “On Being Full of Shit

    1. The difference is that I’m saying selfishness is human nature, while Rand says selfishness is morally good. I disagree with Rand on that point, as I think selfishness can often be destructive. Put another way, one does need other people to keep oneself in check.

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