Otherwise we are “condemned to be free” in the words of Jean Paul Sartre. His view was that we are abandoned in our free will at birth and if life has any value, we must seek out our purpose, our talents and opportunities for ourselves.
His philosophy can be seen as depressing or fill us with hope and enthusiasm. I am talking here only about using this thinking on a personal level and not the influence which Sartre had in international revolution.
In contradicting the idea of Freud who said that we are slaves to the subconscious and emotions it is liberating that we are free; free to manage our emotions and choose our behaviour. This realisation evolved from Confucius through all great thinkers in history to all modern motivators. “We become what we think about”.
We are the slaves to our thoughts which can cause misery or lead to great success.
Aristotle expressed it this way: “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit”.
Sartre uses as an example a knife made by an artisan to contrast with the human state at birth. The knife may be perfect in every; excellent for its purpose and highly desired by chefs and butchers but its purpose; its only purpose, has been designed by its maker.
We are created without that predesigned “essence” and must choose which direction to take in life. Sartre would have us believe that we are slaves to the subconscious mind. We can choose not to be.
The subconscious mind is a store of programmes which run our reactions and rituals in life. There are many layers, some of which are very deep: inherited and cultural traits for example. Then there are the programmes or habits learnt from experience, religion and education. As a child we have no reason to doubt the lessons and examples of those people we respect who have influence over us.
We can change all or any of this and choose a new path in life. The subconscious is there to manage our existence. We can only do limited number of actions at any one time through consciousness. While we carry out a conscious task, all essential tasks of existence are carried out by rote. Probably 95% of daily activity is carried out subconsciously. But what if the learning of some of that programming is of poor quality. This is reflected in our reactions to situations as much as the quality of our actions.
What Sartre is saying is that we must take control of the quality of the subconscious programming if we are to be free to discover our true self. That is our freedom; to be in control of our own destiny rather than to abandon that freedom to the influence of others. This is simply achieved by the power of thought. We become what we think about. Freud would have us believe that we are trapped by the influence of others during our development or other deeper restraints. But, to put it simply, we can change our minds.
Genius results from the freedom of intention to flow through to the outcome without subconscious or conscious interference. As examples: a virtuoso violinist or outstanding sportsperson will succeed to the extent that they are in ‘the zone or the flow’, a point at which they can transcend internal limitations. Firstly, however, they must train thoroughly for what they wish to achieve.
The genius of Mozart to capture and express emotion into written music is facilitated by the genius of Stradivari to produce an instrument which would act perfectly as a conduit for that emotion in the hands of a virtuoso musician.
The virtuoso will have understood the composer’s emotional message and rehearse it until it was embedded as an emotion in their subconscious. When they play it will flow directly through their fingertips and trough the brilliant instrument to affect the emotion of the audience. The brilliance of the performance will be proportionate to the extent that all three were able to transcend internal interference.
The pursuit of perfection is empowered by understanding this process. We live each day by rituals and routines. From rising in the morning, washing, dressing, eating, driving to work and so on throughout the day. All of this happens in subconscious mode. Learnt programmes for every action. Brushing teeth and tying shoes each done without conscious thought while consciousness is elsewhere.
But what if these actions are not well learnt. Bad tooth brushing, untidy dressing and dreadful driving. Each action will be repeated each day exactly the same way unless we change and rehearse a better way. It is possible to re-programme every aspect of the subconscious.
Some areas will be very difficult. Beliefs are deeply embedded programmes which may even cause a crisis to change but it can be done. We can change our minds on any point in our makeup. We know that by hypnosis or brainwashing that others could do it to us so we can certainly change ourselves.
The pursuit of excellence comes from this realisation. One great philosopher said: “unless a man be born again”. We have this capacity. Start here with: Discover The Route to Your Success.