Child (at supermarket): Mum, this fruit has no sell-by date.
Mother: You wouldn’t say that if you picked it from granny’s vegetable patch. Does it seem fresh?
This little exchange made me think about how so often, we rely too much on external authority, instead of self-knowledge and trusting direct experience. How we might feel completely lost without the sell-by date even when it is not needed at all.
We can get so obsessed with not making a mistake that we can start to devalue our own direct experience. Preferring to look to an external authority to confirm what we could do ourselves. And, at times even completely disregarding our own human experiences.
External checks and confirmation can be very important. What we must beware however, is becoming so reliant on them that we disempower ourselves. Disempower ourselves by failing to develop our own ability to discern and to make sense of the world. Disempower ourselves by waiting for others to tell us what to think and to feel. When to feel what, and why.
How we see ourselves
Looking to an external authority for confirmation is perhaps most dangerous when it comes to how we value ourselves as human beings. Particularly, when the dominant narrative in popular culture pins human self-worth to ideas of external “success”. Success that is about climbing some status ladder of fame or fortune. Success that is to be validated by somebody else’s standard, out there.
But, if we rely on popular culture to be our external authority, we can very quickly start to believe that we are not good enough. Not rich enough, smart enough, or beautiful enough. And, this can be a tricky area. Because the narrative of “never good enough” can also enter through the back door. Through the voices of friends, colleagues and family members who are themselves caught-up in that false narrative.
Trusting direct experience
Trusting direct experience is not about ignoring information, ideas or what others have to say. It is rather about giving full weight and value to your own ideas, thoughts and feelings. About knowing that you as a human being have the capacity to learn and make sense of the world for yourself.
And, no matter what knowledge or information you receive, it has to ultimately be verified by you. Through your own direct experience of mind and body. And, if something does not make sense, then it becomes a matter for investigation and clarification. For more understanding and exploration. For skeptical enquiry and verification.
In a sense, it is direct experience that is the source of all learning. Trust in it more.
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