Releasing myself from a confused self-contradictory commitment

I have a commitment that I made pretty strongly nearly 7 years ago, and then 3.5 years ago I sort of released it for myself, and even though I don’t particularly think anybody is holding me to it, it feels wise to formally release it. I would say I released it for myself in 2020 the moment I had my non-naive trust dance insight, but since it was a social commitment it feels right to withdraw it from the social sphere too. It’s good, in general, to follow through with commitments; it’s bad to keep pretending to be committed if it’s no longer alive. In this case I would say I realized that the commitment was both self-defeating (as in I could serve its purpose better by dropping it than by keeping it) and in some sense impossible as stated.

In 2021, I published “Mindset choice” is a confusion, which is precisely about this. In it, I describe how while committing to a project can make sense, committing to a way of seeing the world (except as a very bounded temporary experiment) has within it some basic confusion or commitment to not looking and not listening to things that might counter that way of seeing the world. It may be a useful stepping stone, but that doesn’t make it not a confusion.

In 2017, I had a taste of a new experience of easeful flow, that I tried somewhat unsuccessfully to point at in Towards being purpose-driven without fighting myself. The same day I had that experience, I tried to distill my clarity into something that would help me keep it, and wrote up a commitment that I then performed as a small ritual that evening with my learning community as witnesses (I also ritually repeated it daily for months while donning some rings and a necklace, as an attempt to enact it). I still stand by the spirit of the content of the commitment, but the tone of how I approached committing now strikes me as entirely antithetical to everything that was precious about the experience I tasted and loved so deeply.

This blog post is both a formal renouncement of that commitment, as well as a case study in the whole “Mindset choice” is a confusion insight.

The text of the 2017 commitment read:

I hereby commit (and hereby act on the basis of such commitment)
• to take myself and all others I am in relationship with seriously
as centers of experience, understanding, and agency, and from there
• to take response-ability for generatively re-interpreting
oscillating tensions into creative tensions &
double-binds into opportunities for shared laughter, and thereby
• to be access-able as a resource to collaborators
towards caring for the ongoing survival and thrival of humanity

I hereby uncommit to that, not because it’s not a good way to live, but because it’s the sort of thing that a commitment is not a good way to approach (as far as I can tell). Keep reading for more of my thoughts on this.

Goodself & badself

The context for how I got here today was that I was re-reading The Guru Papers—one of my all-time favorite books, which interestingly I would have first read in late 2016, relatively shortly before the experience of freedom/liberation in 2017 that plugged into this commitment. Specifically, today I was reading the chapter on addiction, which describes the inner struggle for control between some sense-of-self-that-is-good-in-terms-of-social-uprightness/superegos and some sense-of-self-that-seems-selfish-or-self-centered. The “goodself” and “badself”, although these names are tongue-in-cheek and more refer to what they tend to call themselves; in fact, both have both wholesome desires and self-destructive patterns.

And I was reading about their take on Alcoholics Anonymous…

» read the rest of this entry »
A portrait of Malcolm Ocean

I'm Malcolm Ocean.

I'm developing scalable solutions to fractal coordination challenges (between parts of people as well as between people) based on non-naive trust and intentionality. More about me.

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