About the point where you start telling other people about it?
That’s possibly a negative way of looking at it, but then, I’m clearly the type of person that veers into the latter.
I’m assuming you mean self-obsession, obviously. Though I’m sure it could be argued that all obsession is a form of self obsession, as it tends to bring your own angle of interest to the fore. Obsession is a just an extremem selfishness. Perhaps an introspective focus on ones own fantasy.
I hope it’s not all bad news.
But let’s look at selfishness.
The problem is that it’s the obvious instinct. Self preservation, self interest. Protecting yourself from the jungle out there.
This is selfish. Yet we, thankfully I think, view selfishness as a negative attitude. We are society. We are tribes of people dedicated to sharing.
Except simultaneously we seek to protect our own herd, our family or our friends, or occasionally just ourselves, from the percieved outsider.
The more you turn inwards, the more you make an outsider of everyone else.
Once you circle your wagons, everything outside is a danger.
If it really is that simple.
I’ll give you a clue, it isn’t.
To get a bit personal (and flex my self obsession). I think my main failing is self obsession. Not seeing out enough to notice other people. I have a banner on my wall reminding me to listen and look at the world around me. I constantly tell myself to stop thinking and listen. I regularly talk over people or stop paying attention. Drifting into internal worlds.
Yet at the same time, I’m often told by people who are concerned about my well being that I need to look after myself before I reach out to other people. That I need to stop making other people’s problems my own.
I appear to be being pulled in two directions at once.
On the other hand knowing yourself is of vital importance. And often, knowing yourself is knowing your enemy.
Except when it feedbacks into itself.
The brain excels at feedback loops. So introspection needs to be either objective or positive.
It can be neither. Positivity, like negativity, leads to feedback loops, and while arrogance is probably safer than loathing, it’s still not ideal.
On the other hand, a very clever person recently told me that arrogance wasn’t a bad thing. Arrogance gives you the confidence to move mountains.
Trying to move mountains might one day give you the strength to move mountains.
Introspection I think should perhaps be about something more spiritual. And it should never be entirely internal.
It’s much more important to look at your connection to the world, than it is to look at your ‘self’ in isolation.
We’re all cybernetic now anyway. Connected to the air and the world and the information around us.
We are intricate interfaces.
There are no lines.
Which is a bit of a cop out.
Illustration by Lucy.