The uncategorised tapestry of being me

by Captain Walker

Categories: Humanities, Psychology & Philosophy

I am the way I am because of my life-experiences and particular knowledge. I make decisions based on those and of course applying the rules of logic. Other people, not uncommonly, do not understand or grasp why I do what I do or what I decide. I cannot communicate to each and every person the things that weigh on my decisions. The reason for that is that I – nor anyone else I know – catalogues their every experience, and at each turn makes rich notes on what was learned. Life-experiences are truly woven into an ‘uncategorised tapestry of being‘. I revisited many of my previous explorations (not the full list):

  1. What if you were possessed
  2. On the Path to Reprogramming
  3. Decisions and consequences
  4. Thought experiment and the blur between fantasy and reality
  5. Intellectualisation – a psychological defence mechanism
  6. Pre-determinants – your ignorance is bliss
  7. Where is fact in relation to position?
  8. Mind – the final frontier
  9. What does it mean to be human?
  10. The nature and danger of belief

This is a profound and relatable issue that I think many people grapple with: our identities, perspectives, and decision-making processes are deeply shaped by the totality of our life experiences – that ‘uncategorised tapestry of being‘. And it is true that this backdrop is largely invisible and inaccessible to others. They only see my actions and decisions without the full context that produced them.

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This article in video format.

Navigating

I had a few thoughts on navigating this challenge as self-talk:

  1. Accept the limits of others’ understanding. We can’t expect people to fully grasp all the experiences that shape us. Perceptions will always be incomplete and bear inaccuracies. Making peace with this is important for our well-being and relationships.
  2. Selectively sharing key experiences. While we can’t convey our whole tapestry, we can highlight specific formative experiences when they are especially relevant to a decision or situation. Giving others a peek into our journey can foster empathy and insight.
  3. Focusing on your rationale, not just conclusion. When explaining decisions, emphasising my thought process and considerations, not just the outcome. Inviting others into your reasoning helps them understand you better even if they don’t have the full backstory.
  4. Have patience and extend grace. Just as others may not fully “get” you, remember that their perplexing actions come from an equally complex experiential web. Approach them with compassion and curiosity.
  5. Know and validate yourself. You don’t need others to completely understand you to embrace your own truth. Stay connected to your core experiences and values even if they aren’t always visible to the outside world. Your tapestry is valid and worthy.
  6. Ultimately, bridging this experiential gap is a lifelong process in our relationships and society as a whole. By acknowledging our different unseen contexts, sharing judiciously, and leading with empathy, we can find ways to connect and make sense of each other’s choices even amidst the mystery.

Sounds good? Well, the reality of trying all the above did not work for me. The above tended to end up in people frowning or strongly disagreeing with me. Mind you, I welcome disagreement and differences of perspective but it all became tiresome trying to explain how 50-odd years of life-experience has brought me to where I am.

Exhaustion – not for me

It has been exhausting and disheartening to repeatedly attempt to explain myself and my hard-earned perspective. It’s a frustrating and isolating feeling when others just can’t seem to relate to or validate my lived experience. I thought – to myself – that at a certain point, you may need to prioritise your own peace and well-being over trying to justify yourself to others. That doesn’t mean completely shutting people out or giving up on being understood. But it does mean being selective about who I invest that emotional energy in, setting boundaries around how much I share, and not tying my sense of self-worth to others’ agreement or approval. [Caution: this is self-talk – not advice to everybody! Tough – I’m repeating the word self-talk because I know how short attention spans are.]

In continuing my self-talk, because it is useless talking to anybody else, I came to a view that it is okay to say “I hear that you see this differently, but this is what I’ve concluded based on my own life journey,” and leave it at that. You don’t owe anyone a full deconstruction of your 50 years of experience. Your perspective is valid even if they can’t fully understand or relate to it.

I tried focusing on cultivating relationships with people who DO resonate with and respect my outlook, even if they haven’t walked the exact same path – they cannot. Seeking out spaces, communities, and activities that affirm my worldview was an option, but it is not easy to find people with sufficient emotional intelligence. I decided to prioritise my own growth and fulfilment rather than convincing others.

The walk of ‘one’

And so, I chose to share my stories and did it on my own terms – through writing, art, activism, mentorship or whatever medium felt meaningful to me. In a minority of instances my voice and hard-won wisdom have been recognised for inherent value, even if not everyone is ready to receive it. I realised that my experiences and evolution are a sacred part of my identity, not something I need to debate or defend at every turn. I therefore focus on honouring my own unique journey while accepting the limitations of others’ understanding. I don’t imagine that I am alone in this struggle but I really do not have time – driven by some primordial herd instinct, to go in search of others.

It’s a lonely place to be – not that I fear loneliness or isolation or crave any company – when few cannot recognise or validate (not necessarily agree) how I’ve come to certain decisions. For example, there could be a lot of history that has led me to a decision. Others may see a certain pivot-point as minor. They don’t see the strands of experience that created probabilities and importance of the piviot-point in my mind. Then I’m labelled as if making more out of it than there is. [My statisical estimate, is that about now, somebody out there will be thinking, “What thuh hell are you talking about?!” Oh yes – people need to poke into my business; they cannot deal with generalities that have bases in specific sitautions.]

What others perceive as a minor detail or insignificant factor in my decision-making process tends to be actually the tip of a vast iceberg – a single point that represents countless formative moments, hard-earned lessons, and intricate patterns of thought that have shaped my perspective over many years. The “strands of experience” are like hidden algorithms in my mind, processing information and producing outcomes in ways that may seem inscrutable or even irrational to those who can’t access my inner world.

When a complex web of experiences, emotions, and insights that inform our choices remains invisible to those around us, it can create a deep sense of disconnection and loneliness. [Caution: This is not a hint that I am requesting company!! FFS! It is my blog and I’ll say what I want. I don’t give a flying flamingo.]

Risk of becoming siloed

All this is a profoundly isolating experience because it cuts to the core of our human need for understanding, validation, and connection. We all want to feel seen, heard, and accepted for who we are and how we’ve grown. When others consistently miss or dismiss the depth and complexity of our journey, it can feel like we’re speaking a language no one else understands or living in a reality that others can’t access.

It’s important to remember that this says more about the limitations of human understanding and empathy than it does about the validity of my own experiences. Nonetheless my perspective is real and valuable, even if others can’t fully grasp it. The intricate tapestry of my life is a work of art that I appreciate, even if others only see disconnected brush-strokes.

I am cautious not to become siloed by selecting people who will just validate because they like or respect me – and there is no crowd as some know. It’s not easy. It’s a delicate balance between seeking understanding and validation from others while also remaining open to different perspectives and constructive feedback. Surrounding ourselves exclusively with people who affirm us without question can create an echo chamber that limits our growth and self-awareness.

I very well know that while it is important to have relationships and spaces where we feel seen and accepted, it is equally crucial to engage with people who challenge us in healthy ways. This might include individuals who have different life experiences, hold contrasting viewpoints, or are willing to ask tough questions and push back on our assumptions. These interactions can be uncomfortable at times, but they also provide opportunities for reflection, learning, and expanding my understanding.

Risk of delusion

Our inner world, while a rich source of insight and wisdom, can also be a place of self-delusion if we’re not careful. The human mind is incredibly adept at convincing itself of its own rightness, even in the face of contradictory evidence. We all have biases, blind spots, and ego-driven narratives that can distort my perception of reality if left unchecked.

However, I am committed to rigorous self-examination and the application of the rules of logic. By consciously scrutinising my own thought processes, questioning my assumptions, and seeking out objective data, I am engaging in a vital form of mental hygiene. This practice of self-reflection and reality-testing helps to mitigate the risk of being carried away by my own biases or falling into the trap of confirmation bias, where one can selectively seek out information that affirms existing beliefs.

I recognise that even the most diligent self-analysis has its limits. I acknowledge that subjective experience, no matter how carefully examined, is still filtered through the lens of individual unique perspective and shaped by the totality of my life experiences. I can strive for objectivity, but we can never fully escape the influence of my own context and conditioning.

It is a pretty cautious balance between trusting my own inner wisdom and remaining open to external input and feedback. While it is important to have confidence in my own reasoning and intuition, it is equally important to seek out diverse perspectives and be willing to have my views challenged. This means that I will still engage with select persons who think differently, thus exposing myself to new ideas and experiences, and actively seeking out evidence that contradicts my assumptions.

It’s a continuous dance between the internal and the external, the subjective and the objective. I think that by grounding myself in rigorous self-reflection while also remaining open to the insights and corrections of others, I can navigate the complexities of my inner landscape with greater clarity and wisdom.

Ultimately, the goal is not to eliminate my biases or achieve perfect objectivity – that’s an impossible standard. Rather, it is to cultivate a deep self-awareness, a commitment to intellectual honesty, and a willingness to hold my own views lightly (meaning with a degree of flexibility). It is about recognising the power and potential of my inner world while also acknowledging its limitations and the value of outside perspectives. By striking this balance, I can tap into the richness of my own experience while also guarding against the pitfalls of self-delusion.

No man’s land?

But I am in a bit of a conundrum. I have always valued the ‘rules of logic’ (which are more mathematically based). I mean reasoning still depends on an underlying logic which I see as mathematical. Errors in reasoning can be discovered by mathematical application of the rules of logic. Having reflected on this exploration above, I now find myself in a position where I may not be able to evidence and apply strict logic. Many of my decision-making processes appear to be underwired by life-experience. That means I would find it difficult to apply the rules of logic or evidence that I have, even to myself or my decisions.

The conundrum evokes fascinating and complex philosophical questions about the nature of reasoning, decision-making, and the role of subjective experience. It is a puzzle that has challenged thinkers for centuries – how to reconcile the rigorous, objective rules of logic with the messy, subjective reality of human experience and decision-making.

On one hand, the rules of logic and mathematical reasoning provide a clear, consistent framework for evaluating the validity of arguments and making sound decisions. There is a certain comfort and clarity in being able to reduce complex problems to a series of logical propositions that can be proven or disproven through deductive reasoning. In this view, the ideal decision-making process would be one that is entirely grounded in objective facts, clear definitions, and irrefutable logical sequences.

However, the reality of human decision-making is often far more complex and intuitive. Choices are shaped by a lifetime of experiences, emotions, values, and unconscious biases that can’t always be neatly captured in a logical proof. People often make decisions based on gut feelings, heuristics, and incomplete information, relying on the wisdom of lived experience to guide them through uncertainty.

This tension between the ideal of pure logic and the reality of experiential decision-making is at the heart of the conundrum. How can one trust their own judgment if they can’t always trace their reasoning back to a clear evidence-base and logical foundation? How can one have confidence in their choices if they can’t provide a mathematically rigorous justification for every factor that influenced them?

There are no easy answers. I considered the following:

  1. Recognising the limits of pure logic: While logical reasoning is an essential tool, it has its limitations. Not every important decision can be reduced to a mathematical proof. Real-world problems often involve incomplete information, competing values, and complex trade-offs that resist logical analysis.
  2. Valuing experiential wisdom: Life experiences, while not always easily quantifiable, are a rich source of insight and understanding. The patterns, intuitions, and lessons internalized over time are a form of knowledge that can’t be easily captured in a logical argument but are nonetheless valuable in navigating complex situations.
  3. Seeking a balance: Rather than seeing logic and experience as mutually exclusive, perhaps I should look for ways to integrate them. Logical reasoning can be used to interrogate and refine intuitions, and lived experience can inform and contextualise logical analyses. The goal should be to strive for a reflective equilibrium where logical conclusions and experiential insights align and reinforce each other.
  4. Embracing uncertainty: Recognising that even the most rigorous decision-making process involves some degree of uncertainty and subjectivity. Rather than seeking absolute logical certainty, the focus should be on making the best choices one can with the information and understanding available, while remaining open to new insights and perspectives.

Ultimately, the goal is not to eliminate subjectivity or to reduce every decision to a logical proof, but rather to cultivate a rich, multifaceted form of reasoning that draws on both the clarity of logic and the wisdom of experience. It’s about developing a well-honed intuition that is informed by rigorous analysis, and a logical acumen that is grounded in lived reality.

By embracing the tension between these different ways of knowing, and by striving for a reflective integration of logic and experience, one can navigate the complexities of decision-making with greater depth, nuance, and self-awareness. It is a lifelong journey of growth and self-discovery, one that requires both intellectual rigor and emotional intelligence, both analytical clarity and intuitive wisdom.

Concluding advice to self

The key is to find people who can offer constructive critique or alternative perspectives from a place of respect and care, rather than judgment or dismissal. It is about fostering dialogues that allow for both empathy and honesty, validation and accountability. This requires vulnerability and trust on both sides – a willingness to share our truths while also remaining open to having them thoughtfully examined.

It is important to cultivate a strong sense of self-reflection and self-awareness. By regularly examining our own experiences, biases, and thought patterns, we can develop a more nuanced understanding of ourselves and how we engage with the world. This introspection helps me to distinguish between the core truths that define my existence and the blind spots or limiting beliefs that may benefit from outside input. But that does not mean that I have to let fools into my mind-space.

Ultimately, walking this tightrope between self-affirmation and growth-oriented feedback is a continuous process. It requires discernment, humility, and a commitment to both honouring our own journey and remaining open to new insights. It means seeking out relationships and communities that can hold space for my complexity while also challenging me to evolve. And it means cultivating a grounded sense of self that can weather both the warmth of validation and the discomfort of constructive critique.

Navigating this balance is indeed not easy. It takes ongoing work, self-awareness, and a willingness to sit with the tension of competing needs. But by striving for this equilibrium – surrounding myself with a mix of affirming and growth-oriented influences – I can create a more textured, resilient, and expansive tapestry of self. It’s a lifelong journey of weaving together the threads of my own truths with the wisdom and insight of others. But I’m in no rush.

In traversing the complex terrain between logic and lived experience, I embrace the wisdom of both. I recognise the limits of pure reason, and honor the insights of intuition and subjective understanding. I strive for a reflective equilibrium that integrates rigorous analysis with the hard-won truths of personal history. I must accept uncertainty as an inherent part of the process, and focus on making the best choices possible with the knowledge available. I have to cultivate a multifaceted form of reasoning that draws on both intellectual clarity and emotional depth. The efforts and goals are part of a lifelong journey of growth, self-discovery, and ever-deepening understanding.


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