I don't know if you are still reading here or maybe at least get a notification.
(I hope so! I very much liked your contributions in general. But then you left in a huff, feeling somehow generally insulted apparently, because of some other topic, I guess. [I had already on many occasions wanted to criticize you for being too thin-skinned and prideful. "Typically Indian", I had thought many times, feeling reminded of some quarrels that I had had with my boss (an Indian), where I had insulted him just by some simple casual (and not entirely positive, but not even meant as criticism directed at him) remarks.
I think there are some incisive cultural differences between Indians (and probably related cultures) and "westerners" (which probably make up the majority of the people here) and their behaviour in a crowd, and how they relate as individuals to the crowd, and how much they may feel bothered by what some other individuals say in the crowd. This is probably a very stark generalization, but my impression is that in a "crowd" environment westerners tend to have less propensity for feeling bothered individually by "what people say". But that is another topic maybe.])
(I could have written this in a PM, but that is an extra level of complication and interaction that I don't want to engage in at this point. May I be forgiven, and I think it is still somewhat on-topic as well. But now I'm going on into a long rambling monologue about myself, which I just had the thought might be vaguely related to this topic here and I should share. And I have own questions in relation to it. If it is deemed off-topic overall, may the admins feel free to move it to another thread. But I actually think it fits here.)
Actually, some weeks ago, I had written a lenghty reply to this topic, telling from my own experience, but then, as the thread went on felt it to be off-topic (as happens oh so often).
Anyway, just now, another thought (actually a question) occurred to me, and I thought it would fit into this topic. (As a question also directed at anyone else who reads this: I am interested in your answers.)
My question is: How do you talk to yourself?
The question came up after having read somebody else's retold and written down "conversation with himself" (in his own thoughts). And I noticed that he addressed himself as "you" (in the second person).
Of course, I guess, that is pretty normal to do that. I do that as well from time to time. But only occasionally. And it has to do with this topic in so far as the habit of how
(and how often! and how seriously!) I talk to myself appears to me to be a strong indicator for my current sense of self-respect.
As I mentioned, I had earlier written a lenghty reply to this thread in which I told about my "history" of my relationship to myself. And the gist of it was: Earlier in my life, I usually liked myself very much. I had a good feeling about myself, because I tended to keep my mind clean. Good virtues: honesty, integrity, humility, patience, endurance of painful and unpleasent situations... equity and fairness, goodwill, harmlessness and general friendliness, cultivation of fearlessness... I had such qualities, such values held in high regard, and cultivated and kept in constant fostering care in my mind. I always looked at my mind and its good qualities and strenghts and kept good care of them, because they were my source of happiness. And I talked to myself about it... a lot!
It was my life's primary concern and top priority occupation, to keep my mind good and clean and virtuous at all times, my whole attitude at all times and all the tiny thoughts throughout the day - I kept them in check! (And as per this sutta
, I had a very clear and tranquil mind - so much space to observe with quiet absorbed interest just how this consciousness flows, and how it works, and a good amount of joy and fascination with [and well-deserved pride in] it.) I had a very high sense of self-respect and a sense for "nobility", honor, integrity, self-reliance, very much concerned with cultivating and upholding a "noble, honorable" character. And seeing an admiring what is noble and admirable in others as well: Humility, patience, contentedness, honesty... such good qualities, when observed in others, I also had a lot of joy from, an overflowing happy feeling from such admiration of others' good qualities. (I had a lot of good examples around me when I was a teenager. I had good classmates in school, a really good community. And I also had a good amount of pride in that, because it was also for a good part a result of my own good attitude and mental behaviour and care, and my influence through own acts of care and goodwill that this group, this kind of "family" around me with its good sense of community and friendship and general all-around mutual respect had grown into the state that it was. I could see how much my own influence was in this. [My earlier years had been more shitty in regars of good friends and community. But my character was good, and my good karma had ripened somehow, and I could even trace it back, how this and that all came together in a fitting way.] That was my secondary focus, noticing, admiring, rejoycing in the good qualities of others (besides my own mind, which was my primary focus), and talking about it with myself!
But my primary concern was talking with myself regarding my own development, or what I had to do, or to amend and improve my mindstate, my attitude, my intentions, my morality, talking to myself very seriously, continually, throughout the day.
And as I just happened to notice: Back in those days, back in these good old times, I used to address myself in my mind in the second person all the time: Encouraging myself, scoldng myself, criticizing, reminding, keeping thoughts and intentions in check, also at times maybe consoling myself (but not too much; very very rarely at most; I took much pride in being patient with what is painful and unpleasent, be it mentally or bodily; in fact I could always enjoy this again, developing this kind of strength). My own attitude towards myself was one of serious concern for my own well-being, but primarily for my conscience, because I knew this as my source for happiness. And it worked very well. And I could rely on myself, and I could talk to myself seriously, addressing myself in the second person, as if there was another person in my head whom I could address in this way.
I am sure you know similar mechanisms. I just wanted to point out the little habit of talking to oneself in the second person, because it seems somehow important to me. Because, my story goes on:
The only problem I had with myself was my pride. Sometimes I just felt too good about myself. I don't know if it is because we have a very self-deprecating kind of culture, we are taught not to get elated and prideful about ourselves, and also I was proud of, ironically, my general sense of humility. I kept scolding myself when I became too proud about whatever good quality of myself. (And it was good to do so! This was mostly of concern when I was alone and it was disturbing my concentration when I became too elated with feeling good about myself.)
So, (because of that, but also for some other strange reasons) one day, I came up with a plan: I wanted to "kill myself". The story about this is a bit silly and complicated, but I was very serious about it. It was extraordinarily frightening, totally abhorring such a thought. I thought in all seriousness: Why can I not kill myself? Because somehow I was convinced in my mind, that this problem was "myself". I just had to get to the very bottom of it and cut it away somehow, how and where it comes up in the mind. I want to cut it at its very base. But the circumstances are a bit silly and really complicated to describe and try to trace back the thoughts and intentions. The thing is, I really wanted to eliminate this sense of self. The most blunt and direct way of attacking the problem was to kill myself physically. The exercise was simply to entertain this thought very very seriously, really trying to get through with it: Why can I not do it? I was so abhorred, so absolutely frightened, with every movement, every step and intentional movement in the proceeding. Of course I would not know what comes afterwards. There was just so much resistance. I could not go through with this silly idea. Why do I have no full control over my intentions? I thought about such things and thought I had found a perhaps suitable external method to analyze it all to the end by trying to get through with this. So that maybe finally I would find some kind of "enlightenment" in the process. It was a very quirky kind of paradoxical thinking. I cannot really explain it.
Anyway, I could not kill myself, physically. I just could not do it. So I decided: I will kill myself mentally. I will first of all thoroughly destroy any kind of self-respect that I have, any reason to feel good about myself: my good and admirable qualities that I always take so minute care of. My sense of honor, of integrity, my conscience. I will act in ways that I find so despicable that maybe I will actually end up killing myself, feeling so thoroughly disgusted by myself. I wanted to make myself feel so thoroughly disgusted by myself, so mentally tormented, that maybe in the end I will not see anymore any other way than to actually wipe out my existence. Oh, it was so abhorring to think those dark and evil thoughts. It was so horrifying, just devising this plan. It was thought as some kind of trick: Maybe I can do it this way. Trick myself into it more from the outside, externally. I will try to force myself in this direction, in a way somehow, trip myself up in some crazy twisted way, that there will be no easy way of turning back. I will assassinate my own character.
I do not want to describe here what I did exactly in order to accomplish this. I did not really hurt anyone else directly, but of course there was a lot of collateral damage
over time. It was all more self-destructive behaviour. But I succeeded in feeling so utterly and lastingly ashamed, embarrassed and disgusted with myself, that I (and not only I!) suffered from it horribly for many many years.
Anyway: The thing that I noticed just now (and noticed earlier already on several occasions) is that I apparently have lost my habit of talking to myself seriously, confidently in the process of this strange kind of "self-assassination". Because I just did not have enough respect for myself anymore. I had to start to rely more on others, and what they seem to think and how they see the world, and how they may see me, etc. I started reading a lot, from philosophers and all, after that time, trying to see how they understand the world. I had lost my own way of seeing directly, or the confidence, and the cleanliness and clarity in it. I came upon the teachings of the Buddha in the Pali canon in the course of this (while reading Nietzsche, just for the thrill of immersing myself into such a mostly abhorring, but in parts also [positively] impressive mindset; at some point, he mentioned the Buddha, making some dismissive remark, but was somehow not able to be as dismissive and condescending as usually, which intrigued me), finding finally some sort of reliable exterior guidance in it (and immediate faith, that this was the true way, shown by a [or maybe the
] great sage who truly found enlightenment), but also so much horror in thinking through all the consequences of these strange twists in my life. But I had distrust of my own thoughts and intentions. From the three governing principles
mentioned in the suttas, the first one, the "self" was severely damaged.
Only in recent years, through the help of a certain kalyanamitta, who somehow gave a good and trustworthy almost all-around counterpart of the other two "governing principles" could I somehow gain enough confidence again to rely on myself, my own conscience, my own thoughts, my own sense of judgment, sufficiently again, that I am not horribly afraid and insecure of my own future and mental development for most of the time. I do talk to myself more again, encouraging me, scolding me, spurring myself on, directing myself confidently in better directions. It is good to talk to oneself in the second person, having oneself as a reliable friend, working on being reliable towards oneself. That is the foundation of goodwill for oneself. Serious concern, and earnest "discussion" with oneself, even only in tiny fractured sentences, about what is good, and what is bad, what is honorable, what is dishonorable, and so on... the trust and confidence in oneself to have such internal dialogues on a constant or regular basis. And if we have lost that somehow, we need an external environment of others to rely on and learn from again, and maybe their validation, and also need to come to trust in the validity of their validations. (Of course that cannot happen anywhere. It seems to me one needs the other two "governing principles" for the first (the self) to become really confidently reliant, and then has thereby (by having become self-reliant and reliable to oneself), I think, automatically the first prerequisite in the instructions in the Karaniyamettasutta
fulfilled (which I think is actually the same as metta for oneself, by keeping onself, the self, in check):
I actually have the impression that you are self-reliable enough, though, and don't know if you would even bother to come back here to reply, (certainly I don't expect it), @No_Mind
, but am just putting this all out here in your thread as some food for thought.
For anyone else, I still have the question: How do you talk to yourself?
Do you address yourself in the second person? Do you do this a lot? I have noticed, as I mentioned, that I lost this good habit for the most part. I find myself more talking about
myself in the first person
(in my mind), usually employed for the purpose of talking myself out of trouble or defending myself and my pride. Which is something I would have rather rarely done "back in those days" when I was a good and honourable self-reliant person. I talk to
myself in the second person when I have some serious (and mostly wholesome, I reckon) concerns and need to do things, need to instruct myself, direct myself to accomplish something good, ward off something bad, which then is often urgent, so my level of concern is heightened. In my youth I almost constantly and normally had this sense of "urgency", albeit in a mostly calm and composed, habituated manner: It was all about keeping my character good and honourable, my thoughts clean and pure, my intentions good. I was almost all the time routinely (and generally joyfully) concerned with it. After my attempted "self-assassination" I lost confidence in myself, became much more lax in regards of being honorable and good, "cleanly" on the inside. (Another aspect of this, which just now comes to my attention is the fact that, "back in those days", I always wanted to share my mind with others. I never had much to talk to others and usually enjoyed quietude among the crowds. But I always had this wish: "Oh, if others could just look into my mind, see through my eyes, have this experience. It is so beautiful here." I had nothing to hide. I would have loved to be able to share my mind completely with others. But later on, after this "self-assassination", and still continuing to this day: There is a lot of ugly stuff that has crept into my mental stream and will not go away easily. I would not like to invite anyone here into my mind to come and have a look on any day. [But it is getting better actually.])
Suffering (and appropriate reflection on and guidance by the Dhamma) has to hit hard now more usually to get to whip myself up and out of this dejected state of mind, lacking self-respect. Lacking self-respect, I do not talk to myself with serious concern anymore as much as I did when I was young and innocent. And instead I write a long text like this here, seeking external thoughts, ideas, perhaps some sort of validation, and maybe guidance on that matter. This is a very poor substitute for my trustworthy and reliable internal dialogue with myself that I habitually had in my youth (interspersed with good stretches of blissful and contented silence, which I also have not much of, if any, nowadays, anymore).
So, to repeat: How do you all talk to yourself? Do you address yourself in the second person? How have your manners of internal dialogue developed or been influenced throughout your life and perhaps some extraordinary and incisive events?
I am very interested in your answers to those questions, thinking they stand in close enough relation with this topic here. (But if it is deemed more appropriate, I'd also happily settle for pursuing them in another thread.)