This is a followup to my previous post on concrete vs abstract thinking, and how one should notice and be aware of these different thinking patterns.
The first is concrete. This is the way of being in which you are actually out doing the work to achieve your goals. Very present to your five senses.
- Feeling the sweat in your palms.
- Feeling a cool breeze on your face.
- Listening to music.
- Chatting with a friend and noticing some blemish on their skin.
- Feeling a runner's high and sweating.
The second category is abstract ways of being and they can be broken down into two subcategories.
The first abstract way of being is what I'll call "Self-Viewing". It's how you view yourself. What roles in life are you playing?
Are you a:
- A nice "good" person
- A happy person
If you have low self-esteem, this way of being may be categorized by:
It can be past, present, or future driven. This is mainly based on your perspectives on yourself.
- Past driven:
- Who was I at different ages?
- What roles did I play to others in my life and to my own life?
- (Although that ties more into the next subcategory and really doesn't exist on its own.)
- Present driven:
- Who do I want to present to the world right now?
- Who am I being?
- What do I want to do today?
- (This can be called masks you put on)
- Future driven:
- "I'm a good person who life is going to go well for me."
- "I'm an adventurer and am going to go skydiving soon."
- "I'm going to get this promotion, because I'm a good worker."
- "I'm going to get married and be a good wife in 10 years."
The second is what I'll call "Self-Reflecting" It's a personality which really has moments of self-actualization and personal growth. It's taking a good hard look at your life, and really wondering if you're going to reach your goals as quickly as you want, or if you are in the position of life that you want to be. It's being vulnerable and honest with yourself as to your true intentions of doing things, and an internal side of you which you wouldn't share with the world.
It can be past, present, or future driven, and is categorized by a vulnerable state in which you're acutely aware of your own motivations.
- Past driven:
- "I screwed up and I'm sorry for hurting you."
- "I'm not where I want to be in life yet."
- "I've been able to really achieve all my goals and things are going pretty well."
- Present driven:
- Think of sitting around with a friend and sharing your dreams together.
- Looking in the mirror and happy with what you see.
- Looking in the mirror and not happy with what you see.
- Future driven: (this is very similar to the self-viewing future driven type)
- "I really want to be married by 30."
- "I want to buy a house in the next 15 months after I can save enough money but I'm struggling."
- "Things look like they're going to be interesting for the next few years."
It can be present, past, or future oriented. It's categorized by being acutely aware of your own motivations.
There are so many combinations of how you can view yourself, and also so many things you can reflect on, every person's abstract ways of being may be present differently. But my guess is that there would be common threads between people, whether it's defining their role in life by their career, or relationship, or bank account, or fitness level. Whatever it is that people quantify their worth in life.
Another open question is: are there combinations of ways of being in any given moment, an amalgam of ways of being, or are they mutually exclusive ways to think? My guess is that we switch between these ways of thinking and interpreting the world (concretely, self-viewing, self-reflecting) so rapidly, that it simply appears to be a combination or at least smooth transition.
If you are constantly shifting your thought patterns between concrete and abstract thinking as necessary, that may be an evolved trait, beneficial to the survival of the species to structure thinking as such.
It's also possible that in a given moment, you are truly experiencing a combination. Such as:
- Concrete + Self-Reflective: Sitting on a beach with a Pina Colada, self-reflecting on your life combines.
- Concrete + Self-Viewing: The next moment stand up and figure out what you want in the world and focus on the future as you feel the sun on your face.
- Self-Viewing + Self-Reflective: Reminiscing about the past with a friend, with fondness but also happy awareness of who you are now.
Understanding these categories of ways of being is important for self-awareness and for our understanding of why we are the way we are, as a species.
This is a nice concept which ties together abstract/concrete ways of thinking (thinking about ways of thinking is inherently abstract) with how we live our lives in a very concrete (excuse the pun), practical sense.