Monday, March 2, 2009

Acting out of weakness

We do things because we are weak.

We sometimes feel that if we would have just more energy and will power we would have done X and Y and Z. This and this and this would have been different.

But many times what we call weakness is in a sense a wisdom of our gut feeling. We may lose because of weakness, but we win many times out of weakness. Being strong willed may mean suffering too much for useless or unrealistic goals. At times, the goals are not worth the trouble. Our smartness says it is. But weakness of will, saves us from being zealous toward the unworthy of effort.

Our "well thought out goals" are many times grudging efforts to acheive goals that are coming not so much from wisdom but form other people's interests, all kinds of psychological constructs and so on. Failing may mean avoiding throwing energy away. [1]

Considering weakness when managing life
Realistically, it does not always matter what would have happened if we would have acted with stronger will. Our weakness and and idiosyncraticas, are there to be taken into consideration.
True, we have some power to change at times. But many times we do not. Even if we can in theory, we may be the kind of person who usually does not exercise such a strong will power.
For regular management of life, it may be wise to take our usual will power into account.
Generally, maanging life out of theoretical possibilities or of our teachers of strong people is not smart. We manage life by our own means and tendencies.

[1] Randolph Nesse claims here that the evolutionary source of depression is either to make us able to sumbit to those stronger of us, or to abandom unfeasible goals.

PS. scholars have shown that having generally more self-regulation ability helps in various domains of life. Self-regulation capacity can actually be increases by exercising in self-regulation. But it does not always work.
These scholastic works, makes me feeling strange about this post. I certainly have my points. But do I give them too much emphasis because I want to believe in these aspects of being weak?


Yechezkel Zilber said...

Sometimes, it is weakness vs. weakness.

Our seemingly considered and peaceful made choice may come from weakness A. Then comes weakness B and conquers it.

I have been a sucker in some relationships for along time.
Some day I got angry etc. and the relationship was gone.

I used to wonder before this anger about myself, because it was feeling that I am generally losing on this relationship. But somehow I stayed there.

The herculian know all rational agent would have acted I do not know how.
But by me it was weakness against weakness. And it is quite possible that the later weakness was ultimately better.

Our emotions are at times leading us to good places.

I.C. said...

interesting thoughts...

though one problem is that if you acknowledge "weakness" before anything you can excuse anything (which may make you free, but also empty)

however, I believe that analysing "weaknesses" afterwards often points to more complex and subtle issues than "failure"

Yechezkel Zilber said...

"free and empty"

what is bad with emptiness? aside from its psychological effects?

I am wondering a lot about meaning, values etc. I have no philosophical justification for these. But I accept them as psychological motives. Not sure what to do/think about them

I.C. said...

about emptiness:
I don't think it's bad

- most people can't deal with it and do incredible things to avoid it (maybe one explanation for many "stupid" actions)
- it is somehow at odds with current social evaluations and thus you can count on reactions and pressure from society
- it depends what kind of emptiness (a full one as maybe in meditation) or a fearful one (as most seem to perceive it

Yechezkel Zilber said...

"most people cannot deal with emptiness"

That is so central. When we cannot deal with a feeling, we tend to avoid it. Not sure it is effective.
What I learned in meditation is that it is important to be able to feel and "contain" one's emotions.

Psychologists call a similar thing "experiental avoidance" where you avoid feeling things. It is related to various mental illnesses. (so called "transdiagnostic")

Anonymous said...

The problem as a whole term is that many people are not philosophers, that mean people just do realize that they got to shoose betwen choices in a daily basis, decision making for most of us is biased towards default or general customs beliefs but mostly of them do not stop the trip just to realize that do some philospphy may help alot.