We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are. ]. Diaz
Thankfully, most of us are blessed with good vision. Reading glasses aside, we awaken each morning with a clear picture of our surroundings. Our eyes allow us to read, drive, and avoid objects that may be in our path. Vision is an attribute that is so fundamental to our daily lives that we certainly take it for granted. Sight is truly an asset and a blessing.
But let’s consider the far more infrequent application of our power of sight:
ourselves. During our 16 to 18 waking hours each day, how many minutes (even seconds) do we spend looking at our own image, our own persona? We may examine our makeup, our need for a haircut, or to see if our wardrobe will pass muster at work, but even the most vain of us will invest a tiny fraction of our “viewing day” by examining our image. And even when we gaze at our own image, we are always looking outward. Let’s coin a term and refer to this process as “outsight.” That is, the act of looking at ourselves, from the outside.
So far, today’s newsletter has addressed the power of sight from a physical perspective. In the last paragraph, I invented the term “outsight.” There is something very ironic about that new word because it stands in contrast to the far more common word, “insight.”
What is the irony here? Whether we are speaking about vision on either the physical or a personal plane, I believe that most of us engage in too much “outsightful” behavior. We give “insightful” consideration very short shrift.
Let me characterize some forms of “outsightful” activity. These include criticism, complaint, gossiping, and casual defamation as destructive, “outsightful” inclination. Insightful conduct includes self-reflection, honest examination of one’s actions, and the taking of a fearless personal inventory with the goal of avoiding those outsightful behaviors in the future.
Going back to my standard metaphor of the Snowman, insightful conduct begins with making a careful, dispassionate examination of our thoughts: our operative beliefs. Well-considered behaviors are more likely to follow, resulting in positive feelings.
Outsightful, impaired vision reacts to what it sees and “knee-jerk” reacts to those external images. Insight-oriented conduct takes a moment for examination. It asks, “What am I thinking right now? Am I responding, based upon some negative emotion or, more appropriately, to some personal, rational reflection? Imagine, for example, having a contentious interaction with a colleague at work or with your spouse or partner. Our common “outsightful” reaction may be “What’s wrong with her?” or “What’s bothering her”? Conversely, a more constructive, “insightful” reaction could be “What part did I play in this friction?” or “How could I have handled this better?”
With practice, insightful behavior can become a new personal habit. You will feel better about yourself, and others will too.
Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. Jung