In the movie “The Last Samurai”, Nobutada (Shin Koyamada) exclaims “Too many mind!” to Captain Algren (Tom Cruise). Sometimes I feel just like that.
The novelist Ödön von Horváth once said something like “I am actually quite different, but I rarely get down to it”. Sometimes I feel just like that, too.
Too Many Wolfi. My friends often ascribe some characteristic or habit to me as a part of “typical Wolfi”. However their visions of “typical Wolfi” are not necessarily congruent. Apart from some “common denominator”, it seems more like a collection of individually conditioned patterns to me. Conditioned by an interplay of “self” and “other”, of me and my environment (indeed they cannot be successfully separated, even the less in light of the “anatta” or “not-self” principle). I find myself adapting to my environment, switching my viewpoints and “modes of behaviour”, creating new patterns or following previously established ones: Wolfi1, Wolfi2, … Wolfin. (now what is Wolfi0 like?)
Modes of Wolfi. Some of these “modes” are matching “subpersonalities” of others within me, e.g. WolfiAndi (my current internal representation of Andi). This sometimes results in rather beneficial effects (e.g. better understanding). The downside of empathy arises for instance when the “subpersonalities” within me come into conflict with each other (or even with WolfiWolfi, my so-called “self”). How can I resolve such internal conflicts within myself (rather than trying to “solve” other people’s problems externally) without creating an overload? Besides, how can I reliably draw the line between fact and fiction?
Too Many Mind. I recently became aware of this at my birthday celebration. When many people come together, I cannot fit into all the previously established “modes of Wolfi” at the same time. This leads me to some sort of muddle-headed hyperactivity. I start jumping around mentally, verbally and physically. “How typical!”, my friends exclaim and delight in this intensified display of likeable confusion. Too many mind, indeed. :-)
Too Many Blame. However, I had set myself the goal of “maximum integrity”, so that I would address any internal conflict as soon as it arises – if the situation allows for it. Now in the course of this evening, I could not address everything as intended, and I blamed myself for this incapability, becoming more and more tense. I measured myself as if I were solely responsible for the well-being of others. And I blamed myself for not giving everyone an equal share of attention, knowing that I had more or less consciously chosen such an imbalance. Talk about how to not enjoy your own birthday celebration!
Many Kudos. Having said that, let me point out that I had a wonderful and highly enjoyable evening nonetheless. I thank you all for your company and look forward to our next encounter. :-)
Hi Wolfi, I see this capacity of yours as a talent – a talent at rapport. It’s a talent that makes you a great teacher. Please don’t pick just one or a few of the Wolfi-squared to be who you are! All of those Wolfi(s) are you. The more, the merrier!
Eventually maybe you’ll experience, as I did when faced with this same capacity you describe, that others are so self-absorbed that they never notice the “inconsistencies of character” that stand out so much for you from your own point of view. Others just accept that you’re a sensitive, flexible, multi-faceted person. You can too. Accept that you can express a pile of what culture defines as opposites and celebrate it!
this is to say a late “thank you” for your uplifting words! I now agree with everything you wrote. Some months ago I would agree, but doubt myself. Now this doubt is dropping away. I am amazed at your sharp perception – you hit the right spot, with very gentle words. Maybe it takes a great teacher to discover another? :-)
I think what I was actually trying to express (but could not see clearly) was my difficulty to really “listen to my heart”, my inner voice, my intuition, or whatever you may call it. What I did was more than just rapport – I was mainly living an “other-determined” life, trying to optimize the system-as-a-whole as far as I could see it. This is quite impossible, however, without a solid base within.
I will keep and nurture my talent at rapport; at the same time I will develop that solid inner foundation. It has already started, and I can only shake my head with a smile as I read this old post. Too many mind, indeed. I’ll write more about it some time in the future!