D017: Clear thinking
“Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence” Thomas Szasz
I think both are as important, but courage come first.
What does courage mean in this context? To me, it means that, despite the fear, I would do my best to see things as they are, not as I want them to be. As I avoid some things out of fear, facing them is a courageous act.
Without the courage of facing one's fears, intelligence will simply keep us delusional. I would make the smartest excuses to avoid the pain of facing the truth, to convince myself with a distorted reality of my own making, and living in a self-perpetuating state of confusion.
So, first, I must accept I am delusional and confused— at least to a certain extent.
Only then, one's intelligence can be used to get out of such delusional state, to educate oneself and try different strategies until something works. This is, however, a journey with no map. What works for others might not work for me. It is not about looking for role models to follow. It is more about following the slow and painful process of “knowing thyself”.
And as we go through this process, our thinking becomes clearer.
I know, I know, what I wrote seems like a circular definition: “In order to think clearly, you must first think clearly”.
So, I'll try to summarize it differently:
- No matter how confused and delusional you are, there are always short moments of clarity, which you must use wisely.
- Those moments will expose your own confusion and delusions.
- Accepting one's confusion and delusions is extremely uncomfortable, even painful. Embrace the discomfort and pain.
- Then use your intelligence to get rid of the pain and confusion. Do not numb yourself, address the root causes.
- After working on the root cause of some pain, your thinking will become a bit clearer.
- Clear thinking brings awareness, which, in turn, might bring even more pain. Do not panic, go back to step 3.
- If you feel your thinking is completely clear, and you have reached a state where you're now free of pain, conflict and confusion, go back to step 1.