LANDMARKS OF THE SELF

John Bailey
2 min readOct 12, 2020

People construct and experience their identity — their place in the world — largely based on interactions with others. Disruption of social interactions can lead people to lose sight of the landmarks they have chosen to navigate their identity — to literally lose their sense of self.

This loss can lead to intolerable anxiety and despair.

How important (to our understanding of our identity) is it for us to proxy our personal hygiene and grooming to someone from a different socio/ethno/economic class?

In Motivational Literacy(TM), we observe a relationship:

Dependency = Denial + Defending

The amount by which one denies dependency and defends doing or using something, they are dependent upon it. (Think of various addictions…)

In this context, we would say the extent to which one denies that they need someone else to frost their bangs or groom their toenails — while also having anxiety because they can’t experience it this week — they are functionally dependent. Likewise, the extent to which they defend the urgency of their seeking it, they’re experiencing stress based on dependence.

These things might reveal a person’s self-definition — their experience of unique identity and place in the world — is to some extent based on those kinds of interactions. Character implications aside, it might be useful to consider the ecology of having one’s landmarks of self-ness so externalized and so provably fragile and out of one’s own control. A person might find themselves wanting to adjust things accordingly…

All approaches to the mechanics of such adjustments begin the kind of quiet personal thinking that pandemic countermeasures “lock-down” might … we can choose to see it as “imposing” or “facilitating”, whichever seems most useful. Whatever the case, we cannot build new landmarks for the navigation of the self while still pining for or grieving the old ones.

We might re-design some of the ways we’ve built our personal navigational systems (or allowed them to be built for us). We might use the time and circumstances we’ve come into for that purpose. Through that process, we might wind up with the kind of personal renaissance that some people create after surviving a near-death experience and recovery, or after they’ve resolved a “mid life crisis”.

Right now, we get to be like Jonah.

What will you become through the experience?

--

--