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Will Power Boost with Subjectness
How It Started
Back in 1974 I did a little home study course in psychotherapy. Nothing of an academic value, and I wouldn't even bother mentioning, was it not for one detail - I was supposed to write an original thesis.
With my mind pregnant with those hundreds of books that I had read about the human nature out of a sheer hobby, I could have easily paraphrased any of them. However, call me literary fair or just vain, but other than quoting or a short mentioning someone's work I just couldn't regurgitate it and present it as mine.
While working midnight shift at a machine shop, I would set-up my noisy planer for another 45 minute cut and with hands all dirty from handling cast iron I would write on a smeared sheet manuscript that eventually became my original thesis.
Just moments before picking up the pen to start writing, I was gazing at the hypnotic motion of the planer's table, left-right-left-right...brainstorming over my own, intuitively created mental discipline, wondering how I could possibly verbalize it to make it interesting to anybody.
For, it was so simple that I doubted anyone would care to even consider practicing it. Namely, people with some emotional issues match the magnitude of their problem with the offered solution, and it "has to be" equally complex and sophisticated. Nothing simple will do in their minds.
Well, that's why I have been hesitant in my other articles to introduce it in its entirety, while mostly coating some of its fragments into something more presentable. I still don't know if it's a good idea, but I'll give it a shot, while almost hearing some readers yell out in a chorus "Is that it?!"
"Where Is It Coming From?"
There is also this, somewhat silly matter of categorizing. Many folks have become quite familiar with a whole line of so called therapeutic modalities existing on the self-help literature market, and a few of them could even call themselves "experts" in what didn't work for them.
When they hear about a "new" one, the first thing they want to know may be - "from which bag" it's coming. Is it about suggestion, meditation, positive thinking, altruistic attitude, relaxation, forgiveness, another Eastern practice, nutrition, breathing...or what else?
So, they are just bound to look for the clues that would tell them what my "discipline" - which I named "Subjectness" in my thesis - is all about, in those already known terms. Well, just get ready to meet it, and then do with it whatever you please - it has been serving me quite well for decades.
Haunted by Need for Simplicity
Despite quite a volume of books read, I prefer calling my studious path "modest", and myself an "eternal student", never to graduate in matters of human nature, always eager to find out about yet another angle of looking at the mystery of man.
Likening myself to a tiny bee that collects pollen from many different flowers to end up with its own recipe for honey, I am not into any particular theory or doctrine. And yet I got hooked on one idea coming from those Eastern philosophies like zen Buddhism, qigong, and yoga - that human truth must be simple.
Being a long time meditator I know it too well how complicating meditation makes it impossible, and the more we are "trying" to achieve that depth of trance, the more we are distancing ourselves from it. So, something in that line of thinking prompted me long ago to search for the simplicity about human emotions. What intuitively came to me was what I later on verbalized into something that I called "Subjectness".
The Energetic Source of All Emoting
When we look at emotions as sensations of energy flow, it's easy to see that basic and primordial pair of :
- one flowing outwards from our personal space and propelled by an intent
- and another one flowing inwards, felt like an invasion into our personal space by some outside stimulus.
No matter which emotion you want to look at, it always displays itself as either of these two patterns. One gives us a feeling of doers, subjects, so I called it "subjectness", and the other one I called "objectness", since it makes us feel like objects of some outside activity or condition. Every living being shares with us both of them and that's why I call them primordial - as they boil down to the physical principle of action and reaction.
At the Root of Life
Since I promised a "simplicity", I won't bother you with the philosophy behind these two emotional opposites, but I can't resist temptation to mention just a few points as to put the whole thing into a certain acceptable perspective.
Namely, I see the subjectness sensation as generated by the very spark of life in us igniting the whole motoric of going after the means of survival, in our human terms "psycho-physical" survival. The opposite, objectness I see as our adaptive sensation of defensively reacting to our environment, while it presents itself as either favorable or not in the process of that going after.
From those microscopic creatures all the way up to whales - everything and everybody including us is displaying either subjectness or objectness in every given moment of life.
What Subjectness and Objectness Feel like as Emotions
What does subjectness feel like in terms of everyday emoting? If you are weight-lifting, conquering an obstacle, accepting a challenge, or even cooking, having sex, playing, competing, studying, or intentionally affecting anybody or anything in your environment, you must feel that sensation of energy stemming outwards from your personal space.
On the other hand, if you feel threatened, ill, insulted, cheated, depressed, angry, envious, guilty, ashamed, shy, and alike - there is that caving-in sensation in your solar plexus or in your throat, as you feel like an object of someone's doing or a condition.
Advancing in life, or retreating from it.
It's all actually very familiar, but then comes this part where we can use this fact about these two sensations being at the root of all emoting - to practice subjectness, and by doing that enhance all good emotions branching out of it - in particular our will power.
Morality in Subjectness
There are no moral principles attached to subjectness. At the very core of your biological functioning you are the only subject in your life, and everybody and everything is an object of your perceiving and your affecting.
At the same time you are also an object of everybody and everything else in your life. The idea of subjectness as a discipline is to build up your sensation of a subject. As far as its use may go, it's impersonal just like electricity, and you can use it for good or for bad.
Meaning that with a strong gutsiness or will power you may become an Olympic medalist or a bank robber, up to you. While everyone is potentially your object, you may use it for giving love, being helpful, supportive, or for starting a war. So again - will power, or gutsiness generated by subjectness can take you to a fame, or to a jail or a cemetery. Your call.
Gut Polarization of Subjectness
The first step in cultivation of subjectness is : an honest assessment of our gut-status. Here we have to get a little acquainted with the concept of "polarization".
Namely, in the course of our life from its very start - and I am including our embryonic beginning - we are polarizing into our solar plexus (that network of nerves is considered as the site of will power) all those experiences that either feel like subjectness or objectness.
So, even if you happened to be born into a poor family, providing that you spent your childhood well impressed with your own doings - maybe in games, maybe in manipulating parents or siblings, maybe in expression of some talent like singing or drawing - you polarized more subjectness than objectness in your gut. If that ratio continued throughout your adolescence, you grew up into a strong-willed adult.
On the other hand, if you spent your first years under some heavy impressions of "everybody and everything being against you", with some possible traumatic experiences involved, your ratio of polarization obviously spelled out a dominant objectness in your guts.
There is no need to make a long list of possibilities, because many folks know too well that feeling of themselves just not making it in life, with a ton of a "bad luck" and people seemingly doing their very best to ruin their happiness.
What such folks may not realize is that their gut situation is simply breeding more and more of the same - while it all started with their not polarizing enough good impressions about themselves as doers, subjects in their life.
That Non-Verbal Language of Subjectness
What makes subjectness so easy to cultivate is its very primordial and raw nature. No positive thinking, no self-suggestions, no any brain-work. Remember, it's all in the realm of guts, shared also by animals.
I have seen a small bitch being an alpha in a pack of much bigger dogs. She could have not convinced those dogs with her non-threatening appearance to accept her for their leader, so there was something about energy at play.
You may want to see something even better - on You tube there is this short video of a cat making an alligator back off into water. How is that for a gutsy energy glow? If you are of an older generation, just think, what made that shorty James Cagney play those action movie heroes so convincingly.
How to Do It
What do you think, why I left the "nut's and bolts" part of subjectness cultivation for such a small paragraph to describe it? Because I said it right at the start - it's simple. By now, most of you may have realized that it's all about "being impressed by your own doings".
And I don't really mean doings where you excel, win, impress others. I mean, from moment to moment being aware of what you are doing to your environment. Don't think what it is doing to you - but what you are doing to it, whether it's picking up a glass, scratching your butt, talking, or blinking with your eyes.
Just notice yourself as a doer, that's all it takes. Your guts don't see any difference in their business of polarizing, whether you are doing something heroic or cooking your dinner. But don't think of that dinner "cooking you", being a "victim of that everyday routine" or something like that.
Feel the difference between these two sensations. It has to be the one that makes you feel as a subject in your life. Then it will snowball into a beautiful will power - all depending on your ability and your (relative) consistency of seeing yourself as a doer, not the one that "life is happening to".
And that's all, folks. I hope it will make the difference for you as it did for me - and still does. Believe me, simple does it.