Not Just Whistling Dixie

by Eston on August 19, 2011

In my previous post I opined as how self concept has important ramification for survival in the realm of self.  I propose, now, to discuss some of these so-called ramifications.

atomic particlesFirst, however, it might be useful to review some terms.  Survival, for instance, is the force that drives all creation.  The means by which it achieves this end is through the act of metaphor—that comparison force that seeks out affinities, be it in elementary particles, physical and biological matter, or in psychology as construed in the term, self concept.

Survival remains the issue behind all molecular and psychological structures, and all metaphors may be traced to it.  When particles find affinity and become a new and different entity, for instance, the discovery is experienced as survival accomplished.  When affinities are found in a red, red rose and in the concept called love, we experience the aha! response that is the signature of metaphor found and survival achieved.

As already stated, self concept is a metaphor constructed, over time, by the survival relevance of experienced events.  Ann F. broke my heart in college, and I judge all romantic possibilities by the criterion of that pain.  My mother’s love—so intense, so powerful, so controlling—was such that even today I find myself measuring my accomplishments against “what would mother think.”

Self concept, then, is a metaphor constructed over time by events and circumstances, some of them un-noted and yet influential in the self we perceive.

Questions about oneselfThis self perceived by each of us—Do I like myself?  Am I competent to survive in a dog-eat-dog world of competitiveness, favoritism, and chicanery?  Am I worthy of love?  Do my friends respect me, honor my opinions, and seek advice from me?—is far more powerful than is generally perceived.

The degree to which we respect ourselves exerts enormous control over the choices we make, the person we choose to marry, the risks we are prepared to take, the nature of our friendships, our church affiliations, and even our political perspectives.

Feel like the world is going to hell in a hand basket, that morality is dead, that Christianity is under siege, that God will have to erase the human race for goodness to survive.  Be a Baptist!

Feel threatened by the obstacles to “making it,” feel that the cards are stacked against you in promotion possibilities, in money-marketing accounts, in bailing out banks too big to fail,  and in politics?  Join the Republican party!

Feel all the world is looking for a handout, that what most people want is something for nothing, that nobody cares about hard work and amassing sufficient capital to live independently, that government is the problem, not the solution?  Become a Tea Party supporter!

Now, admittedly, these examples are slanted and mirror my religious and political views, but pause for a moment and look at them for evidence of survival force.

The first example supports the saving sentiment of survival beyond the grave; the second deals in physical survival as measured against money and politics; and the third instance promotes the paranoic view that almost everybody, but you, is shiftless and out for self.

While these examples come no where close to exhausting self concept formations that condition the way we live our lives, they do highlight the role played by the unconscious (reflexive) drive to survive—in the ways we construct our concepts of self, and in the ways this impulse may condition our outlooks on life and the choices we make.

take responsibilityThe point is this:  Either we will develop our concepts of self reflexively—based on life experiences and the way we reflexively interpret them—or we will do so consciously, by learning how to examine our metaphors, to take responsibility for them and the actions based upon them, and to do so consciously by choosing not to be motivated by instinctive survival drive.

Self concept, it must be said, can, be created, unconsciously,  by the events of happenstance that impact our lives, or we can choose to purposefully create our selves—the metaphorical mechanism that has within it the wherewithal to do good, to build sculptures, to paint pictures, to write plays and poetry, to propel us into the future on the wings of a higher form of survival—an act of will that frees us from rooting around in the muck and slime of physical survival and liberates us to create those things that survive our dying and that leave behind a world  better for our having been here.

Ouwhistling in dixier physical bodies are essentially vehicles designed to facilitate physical survival, but our concepts of self are what make us human.  We can, in other words, invest in those actions and ideas that make us feel good about the self we perceive.  We can abjure those that don’t.

When I say that self concept is a metaphor with important ramifications for survival in the realm of psychology, I am not just whistling Dixie!

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