Your coulds are broken, you monkey

My cliff notes from “Not yet gods”:

We set inhuman expectations for ourselves (e.g., unsustainable work effort expectations), and feel guilt for failing to meet them, because we fail to recognize that our expectations are unrealistic. The line we draw between what is possible and impossible for ourselves is badly located: Our “‘coulds’ are broken.”

People berate themselves whenever their brain fails to be engraved with the cognitive patterns that they wish it was engraved with, as if they had complete dominion over their own thoughts, over the patterns laid down in their heads. As if they weren’t a network of neurons. As if they could choose their preferred choice in spite of their cognitive patterns, rather than recognizing that choice is a cognitive pattern. As if they were supposed to choose their mind, rather than being their mind.

We are monkeys, not gods. We’re all a bit of a mess, psychologically fragile. We all do things we regret. This is human. Yet we feel bad for not transcending our human flaws.

We monkeys behave according to stimulus-response patterns. Don’t feel guilty over this; work with it. Change the stimulus to get a different response. Experiment, and retrain the monkey (yourself).

We have ambitious goals, with complex, irrational minds we don’t fully understand, in a complex world we don’t well understand.

When our coulds are broken, we judge ourselves as super-humans; effectively as gods. Don’t do that. Judge yourself as a monkey.

Recognize that you are trying hard, and be kind to yourself! Give yourself compassion when you stumble, not judgement.

This post is part of the thread: Replacing Guilt Cliffs Notes – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.