A big insight I have gotten recently is that self-absorption holds you back from seeing things clearly.
The truth is that everyone is unique. Everyone has different experiences that shape them into who they are.
People see things differently from one another based on: their experiences, books, schooling, news, ideologies, belief systems, mental-health, parents, religion, genetics, environment, etc…
Some people see things very similarly indeed but even in like-minds there are subtle differences. No two people are exactly the same.
Admittedly, I used to be quite self-absorbed. In the past, I would often assume that people saw the world the way I did.
I have gained tremendous insight by seizing to focus on myself and on my reality so much. Instead I practice creating mental models of those around me.
Some people call this skill empathy, being able to put yourself into other people’s shoes, or compassion.
What I’m referring to is different because compassion/empathy are often associated with feeling other people’s pain in an effort to make them feel better.
What I’m talking about doesn’t involve so much feeling into people’s pain.
Instead it involves creating a mental model of the person in your mind. Feeling into people’s pain and supporting them has its use but it’s not necessary in all situations.
This method essentially helped me free myself from myself when dealing with others.
“Even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15% of one’s financial success is due one’s technical knowledge and about 85% is due to skill in human engineering, to personality and the ability to lead people.” – Dale Carnegie
Building Mental Models Of People Around You
In order to build a mental model of a person:
Step 1: Relax
If you are tense and emotional, it will be hard to build a mental model of someone since you will still be projecting your views on the situation. Do a breathing exercise or do something to quickly clear up your mind. Once you’re relaxed, your mind will be more fluid and thus your mental model will be more realistic.
Step 2: Let Go of Impulsive Self-Focus
Free up your mind so that you can focus elsewhere. Don’t be so caught up in your world view. Remember, your self-absorption is what’s causing you to project all of your mindsets onto the other person causing you to see things in a one-sided way. You will never master communication this way.
Step 3: Begin to Absorb Key-Data on the Person
Begin to take into account their experiences, mindset, context of the situation, gut instinct, stories they’ve told you, things you noticed about them, their likes, their dislikes, their fears/desire, body language, etc.
This will help you create a miniature version of them in your own mind.
Step 4: With a Fluid Mind, Enter into the Mental Model
Once you create that miniature version of them in your own mind, you can start to imagine what it’s like to be them. Start to try to see why they see things the way they do. Use personal experiences to cross-reference if necessary.
This may sound borderline sociopathic but the truth of the matter is that it’s very tough to read a person’s mind.
In most cases using your gut instinct is enough to screen people and/or deal with them.
But creating a mental model of the person will allow you to gain deeper insight into the person. This will allow you to comprehend aspects of their personality that it is in your best interest to know.
The point is that everyone lives in a different reality. Not everyone’s reality is completely different. I mean we do live on the same planet after all.
It simply means that when dealing with people, being self-absorbed will make you delusional to what’s truly going on.
Let me ask you: Would you rather be talking to someone so absorbed by their own mind that they are galaxies away from truly understanding you?
Or would you rather be talking to someone who has taken the time to understand your world-views, like/dislikes, beliefs, experiences, etc?
The second person will more effectively tailor his/her actions to better suit you and the situation.
Learning this tactic will make you a better person to be around because people will feel like you understand them. They will be surprised at your level of insight into their own lives. Communication will be so much more smooth.
Imagine you had a girlfriend but you were too self-absorbed to understand her likes and dislikes. Imagine that she was showing you signs and signals but you were too caught up in your reality and took any assertive behavior on her part as an offense. Would you then be surprised if she cheated on you or began to look elsewhere?
A master is in control of his focus because as the old saying goes “wherever the mind goes, the energy flows.” Only a fool is blindly self-absorbed and stuck in his own mind unable to comprehend people.
Letting go of self-absorption is hard. The reason it’s hard is because we only have one mind. At the end of the day, only we can have 100% access to what’s going on in our own minds. Nobody can read your mind and you can’t read anyone’s mind.
Creating mental models of people is the closest thing to reading their mind. Couple this practice with meditation and unplugging from social media and you will be miles ahead in the art of dealing with people.
Not being self-absorbed takes discipline. Self-absorption is easy and weak.
Don’t let self-obsession be your master. Learn to exit the self and see others more clearly.
You will be rewarded handsomely.
P.s. Are you struggling with discipline and need help with self-control? Then you may need some accountability.