The Problem of Introspection

I had meant to write on something else tonight, but I decided that this was more important and as it were, it was something I wanted to get off my chest. There are other nights to write on other things. (And besides that, it’s my blog. I write about what I want to write about and if anyone has a problem with it, they can complain to the manager of this blog, which happens to be me of course.)

I’m one of those people that when I go to bed at night, my mind doesn’t really prepare to enter sleep mode. Instead, my mind just instinctively goes to theological matters and when I wake up in the morning, I usually start pondering them all over again. Unfortunately, I also notice that much time is spent in another kind of pondering, and that is self-pondering.

My personality type is quite introspective and quite wrong usually about what it introspects. I am guessing many of you will be familiar with this kind of thinking. I have this suspicion that a lot of us that are of the intellectual bent are also incredibly introspective. The problem is, we never seem to sit down and notice that this introspection doesn’t seem to do us much good.

Usually, you’ll get some new attitude or feeling in response to something or maybe just seemingly out of the blue and then think “Whoa! Where did that come from?!” Then, it involves tracing it out. “What situations in your past did that? What situations in your present? What does this say about you? What kind of person are you really?”

If you’re like me further, you’ll also notice you rarely get good conclusions. If my introspections were always true, I would be one of the most wretched creatures on Earth I think. It’s the tendency of being incredibly hard on oneself and seeing things that aren’t there based on evidence that is flimsy but at the time, is treated as the most important of all.

I’m going to coin a new word I suspect, but what we need is extrospection.

I think back to a time I was in love for instance as it were. All of those problems and situations I was having just seemed to fade away. The world was in harmony. What I had been worrying about a moment before I fell for the lady was absolute nonsense once I had. It was a short time for me, but a thoroughly happy time and I notice my argumentation style was far better then and I had far more confidence because I wasn’t really thinking about me so much.

I also think about when I really do get caught in a deep philosophical and theological mindset. When that happens, I do lose track of the world and I am caught in a game as it were trying to find the prize. Many of us know what this is like whenever the time comes that we sit down with a good book for instance or watch a good movie and we find that time passes and we aren’t even aware. At times with reading even, the rest of the sound outside us can be drowned out.

What if instead we focused on the outer world around us? What if we say things as they are? If we saw them as exciting and worthy subjects of consideration? We get so caught up at times in our own internal struggles that we forget the world around us. That world is okay, but we have to solve these problems now, never realizing that we’re simply running in circles as we try to argue and that it never does us any good.

This is also important when we come to prayer. We can have so much going on that we pray only about those situations we’re dealing with. Perchance if we did pray more for others things would be better? I do remember a time I prayed specifically for the joy of my roommate and ended up finding out that I had my own joy restored as well. The great wonder I’ve had in life has not come mainly from internal things but from external things.

What’s my goal then? To see the world as it is, something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and find out that God is a whole lot more wonderful than I’ve thought about and that my inner struggles pale in comparison to him. In fact, the solution to solving them could simply be to learn more about him and as I do so, his truth will enter my life and make me the person I ought to be.