“You’re probably an idiot,” or some variation of that statement is what I tell myself a dozen times a day. “You are wrong,” “the opposing belief is true,” “you are the problem, not the guy who cut you off/gave you a funny look/gave you regular fries instead of that well-done goodness that makes In-N-Out fries worth eating at all.” This ritual is extremely helpful for me to feel empathy, understand new perspectives, and further develop my critical thinking.
My writing style is a product of this introspection. “Why did you phrase it that way? Couldn’t you say it in less words with more clarity? Dumbass. Nobody cares if you sound smart. They care if they can understand you and if you said something worth reading. Chill.” Then I erase 99% of what I wrote. After that erasure I create statements which make me feel sure and confident that I am saying what I mean and meaning what I say.
I use a similar method to develop, change, and embolden my beliefs in politics, religion or philosophy, and life. With no simple or objective answer to the problems or ideas posed in these fields, I believe it is critical to constantly question my thinking. “You’re view on politics is wrong on literally every facet. Free speech only leads to heartache and oppression.” Then I find information that seeks to prove free speech negatively impacts people. “When you die nothing happens.” Then I read about religious, meditative, and psychedelic experiences throughout time and cultures to find every incongruent piece of these experiences. I look at all the information as if the opposite of my belief is true. This always leads to growth in my understanding and perception. “Dude, if you put this shopping cart in the cart coral then you’re just a cuck and nobody should respect you.” Ok, what would the world be if nobody returned their carts? IT WOULD BURN TO THE GROUND IN HOURS. YOU’RE DEFINITELY AN IDIOT IF YOU LEAVE YOUR CART IN THE PARKING LOT.
I use harsh, cutting language with myself because my dad realized harsh, cutting language is what gets me to respond with action and fervor. He worked with me often with school at a young age, sports as long as I played, and life. When he struck a passive tone I may have become annoyed or offended, but I took no action. I would not even take the time to meditate in introspection on why I felt annoyed or offended or how to change myself in pursuit of empowerment. When he gave me a hard push I always made quantum leaps. When he taught me to drive a manual transmission car it only took two trips around town for that skill to become second nature. Trip one, he was nice, calm, and caring. I stalled several times and almost got us into a serious wreck. We went home after he was done murdering my soul. After a couple hours of him doing physical labor outside and me pouting like a child we went on the second trip. I didn’t need a single piece of instruction. Now I know how to drive a stick and how to be a self-starter when I need to change my thoughts, habits, and actions.