Unlimited blindness

ONLY those who understand and apply the principles of edification have a justifiable hope of seeing clearly, so that they can overcome gratifying blindness and make the most of life.

Gratification produces dysfunction & indifference, prioritises short-term perspectives, is selfishly self-destructive, is often the fear-based choice, but what I want to highlight here, is how dangerously blinding it is. We can’t ‘consume’ our way into our own capabilities and function, without it also having an effect on our capacity to see clearly or be aware of our situation and surrounds. Appreciating that there are countless opportunities to gratify ourselves on a daily basis, along with the fact that we gratify by default, mean we’d be quite foolish if we didn’t take the dangers and consequential blinding effects of gratification, very seriously.

Gratification’s blindness is not capped

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I’ll refer to a number of theoretical caps/limits that don’t actually exist and yet our gratifying minds often hope that they do. The first cap is scoped to the specific area in which we are gratifying ourselves. Perhaps that’s regarding entertainment, maybe it’s eating, maybe it’s relationships, maybe it’s work. We’ll never reach a place where we can’t gratify ourselves even more, within any specific area. As previously mentioned, even after having removed the hunger, the dysfunction gratification creates simply adds additional layers of increased dependence, providing opportunities to engage in gratification even more thoroughly the next time around. It can be an odd experience because we can initially remain aware that we’re pursuing gratification, yet we choose to allow re-feeding the hunger to be prioritised over thoroughly seeing the long term consequences of doing so, until we can’t even see we’re doing it anymore

With each cycle we voluntarily ‘blind ourselves’ by choosing to ignore what we’re not yet willing to face and deal with. We don’t want to think about it. We don’t want to see it. It’s tomorrow’s problem. Yeah sure, I’m addicted to x/y/z, but I’ve got bigger fish to fry right now. So the way we look at our specific problem area grows increasingly dysfunctional: inappropriately prioritised and selectively ignorant. This of course can easily continue until those choices are no longer conscious and we’ve forgotten that we once knew what we were doing was unhelpful.

The second cap I speak of, is much more dangerous. It’s every other area of our life. Even areas where no gratification was originally taking place, will eventually become effected when the gratification is allowed to become habitual or continually reinforced. The blindness can’t be ‘quarantined’ to specific areas of our life. Allowed to continue, it will cause our judgement to become questionable in each and every aspect. Much like consistency’s relationship with reliability: Selective reliability doesn’t work. If it’s not consistent, it’s not reliable. Like wood-rot, rust or cancer: leaving ‘some of it’ in our lives, risks exposure to the rest. Despite the reality that we’re going to end up living with at least some degree of it, it should be obvious that keeping that degree as close to zero as possible is only going to be advantageous.

Third: “Perhaps”, we think to ourselves, “If I only gratify myself privately, in my own time, spending my own money, in my own space (ie trying to limit the expenditure to one’s own resources), I can limit the negative effects to myself.” Despite what our justifications lead us to believe, we’re also incapable of limiting gratification’s effects from reaching the lives of others. I don’t suppose I will expand upon it in this book, but let me summerise a concept by saying: all private choices have public consequences, the moment you consider the interconnectedness of all things.

A fourth cap I refer to, is blindness itself. Gratification’s blindness also decreases our ability to see ‘how blind we are becoming’. Perhaps even more importantly, the rate at which one is becoming increasingly blind. This one is especially dangerous because when we are aware that we’re presently blind (or that we are consciously aware that our judgement is presently questionable) we’re able to be more hesitant in our decisions, especially when those decisions can have serious consequences. jeremy-thomas-63102-unsplash.jpgOnce we start spiralling down that slippery slope of ignorance however, our whole world can crumble around us and before we know it, nothing makes sense any more. We know it’s all a giant mess, but we genuinely can’t see how to fix any of the problems anymore. So much to do, such an enormous mess to clean up, finding ourselves overwhelmed just trying to figure out where to begin.

Things we once considered rock-solid can become no more reliable than the next whim. In these circumstances it becomes extremely difficult to see one problem from the next; what’s most important; what’s insignificant; it’s all just an overwhelming mess and we just need a long straw because we’re not even keeping our face out of the water. Perhaps worse yet, we continue telling ourselves and everyone around us that there’s nothing wrong.

I think nearly all of of us can relate to such experiences at least to some degree, but the seriously concerning reality is that many of us personally know others (if not ourselves) who get trapped here way too regularly. It’s genuinely debilitating and I really hope if you feel that way now or know somebody else who is there now, please take what I’m writing here very seriously, because I’m extremely confident that if you merely push on with this book, you will be able to see clearly enough to get moving, and get moving with some seriously hopeful speed.

Returning to the argument: we can’t continually repeat ignorance or feign a pretend reality without gradually becoming increasingly unaware of our own blindness. To some extent or another we can genuinely become the ‘unconscious incompetent’ who foolishly charges on thinking we’ve got everything under wraps and yet end up doing serious damage.

At least when we know our judgement is temporarily questionable for whatever reason (temporary anger, frustration, sadness etc.) we are less likely to make rash decisions, or permanently rule-out valuable things/people from our lives. We leave making decisions that could have permanent consequences (like ridding oneself of an edifying long-term relationship due to some short-term failure in it – or perhaps quitting a great job because of a failure in temporary management etc.) to the future, after we have calmed down a bit and can allow clearer heads to prevail. When the gratification is sudden/intense, the blindness is contrasted to even short term memories of clarity. When the gratification is gradual and repetitive, the increasing blindness is so gradual that we struggle so much to see the contrast that we don’t even notice how blind we’re becoming.

Appreciate that we’re always more blind than we think.

I cannot overvalue the importance of being aware of the blinding effects that gratification has on our judgement. Before we write anything off permanently, we must be wise enough to first consider ‘if the thing is actually valueless’ or ‘perhaps am I temporarily incapable of accurately measuring value due to my own recent gratifications?’

The reality is that the edifying individual doesn’t consider anything valueless as they can use all things to their advantage. The gratifying individual however, will happily devalue the future, other people, and other things because it makes weighing them up against what they want right now, that much easier.

If we’re considering anything, or more importantly anyone, to be valueless: it should be an instant red flag indicating that our measuring tools are the problem and we have become gratifyingly blind.

Too many people make short-term heated decisions due to gratification’s blindness that can have life-long (or longer) negative effects. Just like one who is over-passionate or over-anxious about a particular thing can discover with a bit of time and experience, that such wasn’t worth the angst, even though it was seemingly an enormous issue at the time. The issue hasn’t changed, but one’s ability to measure it accurately has. Things or people, that we would consider the MOST valuable our life when sober-minded, can temporarily be seemingly valueless, due to gratification’s blindness.

The greater the gratification involved, the more intense or prolonged the blindness and desensitisation making us incapable of accurately determining true value. On the other side of the coin, edification increases one’s sensitivity, function and ability to identify value, but I’ll discuss that in more detail later.

All gratification blinds and all edification enlightens, to one degree or another, some more-so than others. One of the biggest problems, much like “you don’t know what you don’t know”, it’s extremely difficult for the gratifyingly blind to identify their blindness. Even if they have once upon a time known a better world, one can become sufficiently desensitised so as to disregard its previous existence entirely. Have you ever harboured resentment for somebody but not known or remembered why? Do you find yourself justifying poor behaviour based merely on the long history of its existence? Taking questionable shortcuts because that’s what everyone does or what we’ve always done?

We can’t see how blind we’ve been until we no longer are.

elijah-hiett-540714-unsplash.jpgThe power of hindsight, perhaps, the clarification of the contrast, maybe. Whatever the case, if we want to gauge just how gratifying our current life is, we can spend a period of time consciously and consistently putting gratification behind us. As much as we can, start replacing gratifying habits in our life, with edifying ones. If we do so honestly, it will not be long (days, if not hours) before we begin noticing things we’ve never noticed before, or things we’ve allowed ourselves to forget. In a couple of weeks we will also begin to feel the separation of ourselves from those gratifying habits. Meaning even our desires to participate in such things will begin to identifiably wane.

Such experiences are nearly impossible to merely ‘explain’ to another person with sufficient detail, and more importantly, feeling, so as to give the recipient a real glimpse of what such experiences are like. Nothing beats personal experience. It doesn’t take very long. Consistency is key. Fasting from gratification and striving for edification in every facet of life, even if only for a short period of time (a month, or a week) and we can quickly come to see how much influence our gratification has had over our life thus far, and we will begin to see just how blind we’ve been living.

Sometimes “flooding” our lives with edification is too difficult. The “to-do” list is too long and we feel like we’ll never be able to complete it all, it’s too overwhelming. Personally, in such times, I’ve honestly still found hope, help and motivation by just doing the ‘gratifying fast‘. For a time, focus less on worrying about what good things we need to do, and just be certain that the bad things are being thoroughly exiled. The approach is definitely a stepping stone to the more excellent way of actually replacing the gratification with edification, however it’s still a step and can be a very important one, that sometimes needs to come first. Think of it this way: you may not be becoming who you want to be yet, but there can be great power in knowing you’re no longer becoming who you don’t want to be, and with each passing moment that we’re distancing ourselves from that person, we see a little more clearly who it is we do want to become.

Speaking personally for a moment, as I’m writing this, my greatest gratification of late is ‘distraction’. Not only bad distractions but even good distractions. Meaning being distracted by good things that just aren’t as good as what I should be doing. Hence, my #1 objective at the moment is simply “no idle screen time”. This is due to the fact that most of my distractions come by way of idle screen time. When I’m simply ‘browsing’ for entertainment’s sake, instead of having a purpose. I’m only 4 days in but I’m feeling great. The ‘waning’ of the desire to be distracted by idle screens, has already begun.

Sometimes one is honestly struggling to navigate through the blindness and despite best efforts, continues to fail. I may speak more on this later and provide more details/lists of things we can do, but for the time being, suffice it to say that I have two main recommendations. The first being that which was already expressed, which is to simply put a stop to the gratification. Put a stop to absolutely everything, if you have to. Sit down in front of a wall and intentionally do nothing. Stop the gratification but also stop entirely if needs be. Sometimes stopping everything is easier than stopping something specific. I get it.

The second, is to remember. When all you can manage is to “stop”, even if it involves staring at a blank wall for hours on end, from here, try to remember. Spend that silent time, remembering whatever edifying thought that’s required to get you back into the right mental space to continue working. Build a bank of memories, ideas, perspectives, or visions that have previously taken you to your most edifying mental states so that when you don’t have the energy to do anything else, you can stop, and remember, until you’re ready to go again. Sure the first time you do it you’re going to feel like an idiot sitting in front of a blank wall, but there’s a huge integrity card being played here. I’ll address it more in “Edifying your hunger for commitment” but insisting that your physical body should do nothing at all if it can’t do something edifying, says a great deal about where your heart and intent really are. It’s small, simple, silly even, but says a lot. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. If you can’t avoid gratification, insist on doing nothing at all. Then when we reset our mind back to the things that matter most, we find ourselves with increased determination to stop feeding the gratification and get on with more edifying work. We physically enact the contrast to make it clear to ourselves and everyone and everything around us, what priorities we want to have, even if we’ve not yet mastered their implementation.

We must forsake gratification, if even only for a time, to give us the experience and distance sufficient to see how blind our gratifications have made us.

Those who pursue gratification will exponentially fail to see their pursuit as gratifying. The more you gratify the more blind you become to all gratification. Such blindness and desensitisation usually occurs inconceivably slowly at first and increases speed as it continues. Eventually it only becomes obvious once again when one is capable of being at least temporarily freed from it. We must get away, we must break free, we must liberate ourselves from our gratifying habits at least long enough to gauge just how strong their hold is on our lives. Only then can we begin to see how blind we really are.

By insisting on resisting any of our gratifying addictions or distractions, for even a little season, and we being to much more clearly see how deep their claws in us are.

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Activity:

  • When do you find yourself most comfortable temporarily behaving in ways that you then later regret?
    • Saying things you don’t mean or would disagree with most of the time?
    • Doing things that you wish you didn’t do?
    • Ignoring your own conscience?
    • Behaving more dysfunctional than normal?

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  • Are there specific hungers you were gratifying that you feel brought on the temporary dysfunction?

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  • What do you already do, when you know you’re not seeing things clearly or you want to make sure that you’re seeing things more objectively?
    • Sleep on it
    • Think about it for a while
    • Write in a journal
    • Talk about it with someone whose judgement I trust
    • Exercise
    • Fish
  • What do you not do, that you think might be most helpful?

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  • What behaviours, activities, addictions or distractions in your current life do you feel are most likely to prohibit your sensitivity to your own welfare, and the welfare of your loved ones?

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  • What activities have you engaged with in the past that you feel helped you, if even only temporarily, to more clearly see yourself, your life and the world around you?

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  • What behaviours, activities, addictions or distractions in your current life do you feel are most likely to prohibit your sensitivity to your own welfare, and the welfare of your loved ones?

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  • From 0-100%, how aware do you feel you are of everyone and everything that’s going on around you?

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  • When you think of somebody in your life that you would consider to be impressively self-aware and aware of those around them, what attributes do they possess that likely contribute most to that ability?

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6 thoughts on “Unlimited blindness

Add yours

  1. A wonderful and thought-provoking read.
    One fast lesson in the law of diminishing returns is the consumption of delicious Pascal Marshmallows (especially the white ones). Digestive feedback can give a quick heads up to a step too far.
    You write so WELL! Your sentences leave little paths of light behind them.

    Liked by 1 person

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