Finding the Path to Self-Awareness -
Developing Introspective Thought &
The Morality Question
The key to discovering your ultimate purpose - the source of happiness - finding love - building success - in attaining your goals in life can be achieved through finding the path to self awareness.
This is the 4th card in this series.
In the previous 3 cards I've shared definitions of reality, truth, and the power of thought. All of these things work together to form the basis of understanding for the most important element of being self-aware; building and maintaining a strong introspective thought process for the purpose of understanding your priorities and where you are in achieving the goals you have set for yourself.
The FRAMEWORK for analyzing the significance of any external event or influence that will affect your Personal Reality is built from the clear identification and classification of your personal priorities and sense of morality.
Why is it important to define your priorities and assign them moral value? I know that most of you will be familiar with the saying, "To thy own self be true" - the famous line from "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare. It is vitally important that you define what ideals, values, priorities, and beliefs you hold dear/subscribe to if you are going to be honest with yourself about your choices and the path you choose to attain your goals. It is by identifying these key concepts - your moral values - that you can establish a sincere self dialog concerning the choices that will be placed before you as you work towards your goals.
If you do not take the time to establish your priorities then how can you expect to navigate your way to successfully reaching your goals - whatever they may be? This is the primary failing of many, many countless people around you.
WHY DOES ONE NEED TO ENGAGE IN INTROSPECTIVE THOUGHT AND DEVELOP A SELF DIALOGUE?
You wouldn't set out on a drive across the country, visiting places you've never been, without consulting a map/GPS, etc... first to identify the route you are going to take; identifying your priorities and values/beliefs before setting out to accomplish your life goals is no different. Think of your core beliefs and the priorities you assign them as the map for your journey. Now think of introspective thought and self-dialogue as the means by which you read your map and stay on the correct course.
It's that simple. If you take the time and energy to identify and prioritize the core values that you want to live your life by and you keep connected to these values by constantly assessing your success in adhering to them, you will NOT get lost on your journey through life.
Just as you wouldn't set a course into your GPS for a very long and complicated drive across the country and not ever bother to consult with it as you are driving; you will need to stay connected to you core values and priorities as you journey through life.
I know that each of you has had experience with someone (a family member, friend, or acquaintance) that you have witnessed walk into a difficult situation and their reaction is completely unexpected and you are shocked by their surprise and disbelief. When people act out in a manner that is not congruent/consistent with their past behavior the most common explanation is that they suddenly found themselves in a situation they were not prepared to accept. Yet more often than not it appears that they where steaming full-speed ahead into that situation and everyone around them could see it coming.
Why then did they not see it coming? In most cases they had not been engaged in any sort of introspective thought or self-dialogue to assist them through the complexities of their decisions/actions and therefore they had not asked themselves questions regarding what the outcome(s) of their behavior might bring about. Thinking about their actions in a truly honest and introspective manner then discussing the various potential outcomes with themselves (inside their own mind) could have helped them make better choices and been better prepared for the outcome.
HOW DO YOU ESTABLISH YOUR CORE VALUES?
If you've never really given much thought to the things that are important to you regarding what you want to get out of life, you probably still have a general idea of what matters to you simply through the experiences you've had and the way(s) those experiences have affected you (either positively or negatively or both).
MORALITY - Morality is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions an individual chooses where each can be assigned a positive or negative value. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion, or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person develops that is individual to their own sense of self (their Personal Reality).
How do you choose what is morally important to you? There are plenty of sources for establishing a code of moral conduct in the Consensual Reality that we all participate in.
META-ETHICS is a branch of ethical study (which is a branch of philosophy) that seeks to define the ethical properties of a person's statements, attitudes, and judgments. Meta-ethics is concerned with questions such as, "What is goodness?" and "How can we tell what is good from bad?"
Meta-ethical moral relativists believe that individuals will disagree about moral issues because words such as "good", "bad", "right" and "wrong" do not stand subject to universal truth conditions. Meaning that one individual's definition of what is "good" or "bad", etc... will differ from another individual's definition of the same words/concepts. It is because the meaning of these concepts are relative to the traditions, convictions, or practices of an individual or a group of people.
SOURCES OF MORAL STANDARDS
The most common sources are our immediate family bonds. Most individuals will adopt a large percentage of their parent's values and moral attitudes as they mature. This phenomenon can be attributed to a variety of external sources such as the laws (legal boundaries) of the area in which they live, religious influences such as church beliefs or dogmatic indoctrination/sectoral beliefs, cultural and social beliefs, and personal bias based on individual experiences. All of these influences represent consensual reality presence in the individual's Personal Reality and whereas many of the key moral concepts (let's use the example of murder being morally wrong) will never be tested on an individual - Personal Reality level, they exist as part of the individual's understanding of Consensual Reality.
JUDGMENT OF MORAL QUESTIONS AND THE PURPOSE OF ESTABLISHING MORAL PRIORITIES
In developing a set of core ethical standards we will always need to involve the cognitive process by which the situation or dilemma presented is evaluated and compared against our understanding/beliefs and a judgment must be rendered. Basically, you look at the situation or choice you are presented with and in evaluating your options you decide which options will not be in keeping with your beliefs.
Using the example of "murder is wrong" from above and adding the moral belief that "it is an individual's duty to protect their family", what would happen if an individual has been indoctrinated by their family, the laws of their country, and their religious preference into the acceptance of these moral beliefs; making them part of their core belief system and part of their Personal Reality. Now place them in a situation where they are forced to defend their family/loved ones from an escaped convict, a convicted murderer, who has forced his way into their home and is threatening to murder a member of their family in front of them. They are now faced with a moral dilemma - a cognitive dissonance for the situation calls for a decision that either way they will be forced to break with one of their key moral beliefs.
The correct course of action will most likely be dictated by the priorities they've assigned each of their moral beliefs. If their priority is that the more important moral tenant is to protect their family, the murder of a man who would most likely murder everyone in their family is not going to be a hard choice to make. It is when the choice made is out of line with the priorities set that dramatic and serious emotional and mental discomfort will set in and the individual in question becomes a candidate for a break in reality.
The most important thing to understand about moral choices and judgments is to be secure in your core priorities and beliefs; you must engage in Introspective Thought and maintain an honest Self-Dialogue.
DO NOT BE CONFUSED BY NOISE FROM THE CONSENSUAL REALITY - YOU HAVE TO DECIDE FOR YOURSELF WHAT IS TRUE AND WHAT IS REAL - YOU HAVE TO DECIDE WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU AND YOU HAVE TO ASSIGN PRIORITIES TO THE MORAL BELIEFS THAT YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT.
You will come across individuals who have a self-serving agenda in attempting to influence your core beliefs and priorities. In the next card in this series I will discuss the prime motivators for basic human behavior.
Until then know that it is VERY important to understand that in the context of developing your own set of core personal values and assigning them the priority that best fits your individual, unique, Personal Reality - the opinions/beliefs/values/judgments placed on any given moral attribute (either positive or negative) by any other person absolutely should not matter to you.
Let me state that again in a different way that borrows from the definitions and concepts I provided in the previous cards of this series - YOUR PERSONAL REALITY is yours and yours alone to define. By allowing ANYONE to have sway or influence over what you feel is important (your core beliefs) you devalue your own sense of self and you remove the ONLY true freedom that you have in this life; the ability to choose your own path. There is not ONE person on this planet MORE qualified to define what you hold most dear and what you aspire to accomplish than yourself.
I personally believe it is wrong to judge other people's beliefs in any context other than how the application of their beliefs affects you directly.
I struggle everyday to avoid judging people for their actions. In every instance where I have made a snap moral judgment I have later learned that my judgment was based on a very limited amount of available data and once the bigger picture was revealed I was embarrassed that I acted the way I did. I've assimilated what I've learned from these situations into my core beliefs, values, and priorities to ensure I do not make a the same decision if ever faced with a similar situation.
The power of the human brain - the strength of an individual's Personal Reality (their mind) - and the underlying motivations that drive people to engage and confront others when they make statements or engage in behavior which is contradictory or in conflict with their core beliefs - these are all ingredients in a recipe for wasted effort and energy.
Have you ever wondered why you just can't seem to get through to some people, no matter how calm and logical you are regarding your side of whatever argument or disagreement you share? What you haven't been able to do is convince them (subconsciously) that the cognitive dissonance your logical viewpoint will create in their Personal Reality is worth the trouble to throw aside their core beliefs in favor of whatever information you are presenting. Think about it. You may not have realized it, but you were attempting to shake the foundation of everything they believe is true in their reality. That is a very difficult sale to close.