Getting back on the path

What you think about how you think.
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Getting back on the path

Post by Dimebag » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:17 pm

Some of you may or may not have come across this man. Jordan Peterson is a Professor in Clinical Psychology, who has devoted himself towards interpreting biblical scripture through the dual lenses of evolutionary psychology, and Jungian Archetypes, with the goal of explaining the development of a moral system which supposedly emerged over our evolution, starting back as far as 300 million years ago, to our common ancestors, the lobsters (I'll get to that later), as well as to provide insight into the self, and how we might transform ourselves into better and more aptly adapted organisms.

I will start by saying, I have been listening to his lectures for about the past 2 months, and I have to say I have gained several insights into my psyche, into the faults which I was born with or learned, and have learned how to change my state of mind in order to transcend those flaws. It is an ongoing process, however, it involves being brutally honest with yourself. This in itself could be said to be a source of much transformation, but he provides a framework in which you can hinge important values which form the basis of motivation.

While listening to the lectures he presents, named "maps of meaning" which can be found here: ... pQlHyR4k5h, I found myself reflecting upon aspects of my personality, such as my nihilistic view of the world. Without a sense of meaning, due to my atheistic enlightenment, I have found myself with little direction in my life, beyond that of immediate pleasures. But upon listening to Petersons presentation of the idea of sacrifice, I came to realise this way of being, and this form of motivation in my life could never lead to anything worthwhile. Jordan presents the listener with the concept of sacrifice, as found in several early books of Genesis, particularly that of Cane and Abel. Being a person who is driven by immediate pleasure, the idea of sacrifice seemed foreign and archaic to me. However, Jordan outlines through basic examples (which slip my mind currently) that when we make sacrifices, we may receive a worthy reward in the future. Although this seems rather logical, to a person who can't see further Than their next fix (not literally), it is refreshing to delay gratification in order to achieve something we know to be desirable in the future.

Now, getting back to the lobsters. Peterson describes the concept of the dominance hierarchy, a ladder of value which our brains place all people (or crustaceans) within an interacting group. What is important to note is that, we evaluate ourselves as to where we fit on this hierarchy, and place ourselves within this scale, based on the dominance (or competence) we feel and display. It is claimed by Peterson that this cognitive structure exists within lobsters and has remained unchanged for around 300 million years, and this same cognitive structure exists within us (as evolution doesn't discard but rather builds upon). This self attribution of dominance is an unconscious sense, however we perceive visual cues relating to dominance, such as posture, eye contact etc. Peterson beckons the listener to face the world with their chin up and shoulders back, as if facing the world head on. To take the stance of a dominant or competent individual. I can say with some confidence that, after intentionally adopting this habit of altering my posture and gaze, my state of mind has changed. It is not as if it has directly lead to me feeling confident and dominant, but rather, in the same way that there exists feedback loops within us that can alter psychology based on physiological states (for example, the way in which it is claimed that smiling can induce positive affect), I feel more prepared to tackle whatever comes my way. Not only that, but by keeping your chin up, you allow yourself to take in your environment more fully which prepares you for whatever comes. Not only this, but you create a display of confidence to others, which alters the way they interact with your, if they perceive you as higher on the dominance hierarchy they are more likely to want to engage with you.

Getting back to the story of Cane and Abel; Cane, being jealous of Abels being favoured by God, becomes enraged and kills Abel to spite God. God states that Cane was not sacrificing properly. This story made me reflect on my life. I have several brothers who have become quite successful in life, but I have not. By coming to terms with my flaws I have been able to see that I was not correctly sacrificing, I was wasting time on meaningless pursuits rather than shouldering the responsibilities I had. Because of this, opportunities came and went. Now recently I found myself with feelings of envy towards my brothers, which disgusted me upon reflection, but there they were. I could not revel in their success due to my failure in life. Classic Cane and Abel story (thankfully I haven't killed them :) ) It is an arketypical story which no doubt keeps emerging again and again through the ages, so it is no wonder it is such a prominent story in the bible.

So now you can see how the reality of my faults as a person are starting to emerge thanks to Petersons biblical interpretations and applications to human development.

Another lesson I have learned about myself. For years I have been a person who withholds information in order to avoid confrontation. Confrontation leads me to feel anxiety, and not only that, basic problems in my life, recurring things like paying bills, making deadlines, etc, also do this. It has been a terrible debilitating affliction which has lead to tremendous needless suffering on my part. Instead of facing the challenges which present themselves in my life, I found myself avoiding them, and distracting myself with useless pastimes, such as video games, or simply the unnecessary obsessive pursuit of rabbit holes of knowledge or conspiracy and impossible questions. It is clearly a defensive mechanism which my brain has latched on to in order to avoid the feelings of anxiety which inevitably coincide with challenges which occur when attaining important goals. To me this explained why I had been unable to complete anything worthwhile, to attain a meaningful career, stick with studies. I had been avoiding these responsibilities. But instead, I should have adopted a different mindset. I should have seen that what I was striving for was truly worthwhile, and shouldered the burden voluntarily. Peterson describes the way in which, when we take on a task voluntarily, rather than passively, we use different circuits, designed for approach behaviour, rather than the panic circuits involved in fight or flight behaviour. This had been my problem which was plaguing me for years. I should have been whacking those moles rather than letting them creep up on me.

Lastly, comes the concept of truth. When you act, what is it that motivates you. For me, for years it has been, survival. Being a person lacking in confidence, existing in a state of uneasy readiness, my first instinct towards action tends to be that which will protect from harm. My state of mind is a defensive one, and my mode if speech is characterised as one passing through many filters. As my mind has been constantly trying to predict its surroundings, being in such a defensive state, I adopted a mode of interacting with people which involved imagining what I should say, or what I shouldn't say, considering too much other people's potential state of mind. This meant I was unable to truly say what was on my mind. Almost to the point that I didn't even know what I thought if someone asked me. I had been modelling other people's minds so much that the ability to consciously perceive my own state of mind had been severely diminished. I was unable to speak truth. My psyche has been bound and chained and tied in knots.

This is maybe a good thing for someone who works in customer service, which I do, and it has assisted my greatly, however, it has been a great hinderance in my relationship with my significant other. It has been a Great Wall which I have been unable to penetrate. Without a constant flow of information from mm my mind and outward through speech, there was a great chasm forming between me and my partner.

But I found that I could break through that barrier. Peterson describes the world in terms of order and chaos. This is a rather Taoist view of the world, but in a way it is accurate. There is the known and the Unknown. Too much order can lead to chaos, and too much chaos is well, just plain bad. There must be a balance. And within order there is chaos, and within chaos there can be found order. We have what Peterson describes as "logos". Basically it is speech, but true speech. And supposedly, true speech leads to positive effects on the world. By confronting the chaos in my life, and my relationship, with true speech, I was able to bring about order. Communication began to flow and our relationship has blossomed, as if a plant emerging green and fertile from a dry husk. Truth brings about goodness in life. This doesn't mean white lies aren't necessary from time to time, but generally we know when withholding truth has negative consequences.

So basically that is my story. Jordan Peterson's system of self improvement has changed me for the better, and I think it will continue to improve my life. For a person who found themself midway through life, off the path, this has helped me find my way back. It has been necessary to forgo my atheistic tendency to judge the biblical stories as useless dribble, in order to gain the insight which Jordan Peterson has provided to change my view of my self, and where and how I fit in to the system and world around me, and how to be in the world.

If I have one criticism of the secular way of being, it is that I have found little in the way of insight into being, into how one SHOULD live their life. Science is a powerful tool, the sharpest and most powerful and informative tool ever developed, but it doesn't tell us how to live our lives. We have to find that out for ourselves. Thankfully I think I have found some important lessons before it was too late.

I don't consider myself a believer in any of these stories as being true in the historical sense, but rather, they are true in the sense that they contain lessons which we can apply to our life, if we have the right teacher. I find Jordan Peterson to be a competent teacher, and if you too feel yourself echoed in my story, I urge you to look Jordan Peterson up.


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Re: Getting back on the path

Post by Gord » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:19 pm

I welcome our new crustacean overlords.
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"Imagine an ennobling of what could be" -- the New Age BS Generator site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
"Nullius in verba" -- The Royal Society ["take nobody's word for it"]
Is Trump in jail yet?

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Re: Getting back on the path

Post by Dimebag » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:25 am

If anyone has anything to say about anything I have mentioned above I would be curious, be it criticism or other. I am aware obviously that the themes which I have discussed are quite wishy washy. Basically, what I have described above is a search for meaning outside of the secular world of science.

We exist in a world which, thanks to hundreds to thousands of years of great minds, has uncovered the underlying secrets of the universe and the matter contained in it. There seems to be less scientific literature regarding how one should live in the world. Science can describe ways we shouldn't live in the world, describing addictions, murder, mental illness and mental disorder, but science, as far as I can tell, isn't prescriptive. Society encourages us to be productive and to not be a burden upon others or our society. But it doesn't describe how one should live their life in order to get the most out of it, and to be the best they can be.

How we find this out comes down to the teachers and role models in our lives, whom we imitate. If we are lucky, we will have confident, strong, unwaveringfathers, and caring and loving mothers. If not, it seems, we may spend half our lives struggling against the current of human existence, trying to find our way.

We think because we are the rational animal, that we might have outgrown our more animal like traits, but they do exist below the surface. Our self worth is defined by the group, not by our selves, and it is what we out out which gets reflected back at us by the group. If we put out weakness, we get back indifference. If we put out confidence and competence, we get back admiration and attention. Although we may not like to admit it, hierarchies do exist, and you don't want to find yourself on the bottom or life will chew you up and spit you out, just as it does in the animal kingdom.