Elevate Your Awareness
Recently, a friend reminded me of Hanlon’s Razor, an adage that states: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
Sometimes, I prefer to substitute the word “ignorance” for the word “stupidity,” because I make a meaningful distinction between the two (i.e. ignorance sometimes can be rational and, therefore, justified).
Over the last couple of months, I have been intentionally cultivating mindful meditation skills. Today, I reached the end of a course on meditation, available through the Calm app, that I have thoroughly enjoyed.
One of the most important lessons I have learned is that elevating one’s awareness requires him to intentionally approach the development of his inner life. We cannot be careless or negligent with regard to our own thoughts and emotions, or they will grow wild and overwhelm us.
Mental discipline need not be stoic, though I have a fondness for Stoicism. One must simply be aware, open, vulnerable, and accepting of their inner self. I say, “simply,” but I acknowledge this can be difficult.
People commonly grow to dislike and reject themselves, or parts of ourselves, for one reason or another. Sometimes, this happens without one even realizing it. Often, a result of such dislike or rejection is the formation of the belief that one is a person predisposed to being bad, mean, unkind, etc.
This belief informs subordinate feelings and thoughts, which, in turn, drive words and actions consistent with the underlying belief. All of this creates more unkindness, more anger, more suffering. It all starts with self-hatred and self-rejection, often based on the attribution of some personal failing — real or imagined — to malice.
In our reflections and meditations, a path to greater awareness and self-acceptance may lie through Hanlon’s Razor. We can use this tool to hack through the feelings and thoughts we have neglected, which we have long believed make us a bad or angry or unkind person. We can choose to more accurately attribute to ignorance (or even stupidity) what more properly pertains thereto than to malice.
Ignorance can be cured. Even stupidity can be mitigated (stupid is as stupid does). Malice can only be repented and forgiven. Hanlon’s Razor makes self-acceptance easier, because, I believe, we more often suffer as the result of ignorance than malice. Stupidity is more common than meanness.
To encounter greater peace, acceptance, and kindness, we must first begin to release untrue beliefs about ourselves that cause us to vilify ourselves. When we accept that we have behaved in an ignorant, or even stupid, way, yet without malice, we open up our minds and hearts to the subsequent realization that elevating our self awareness and being more intentional, mindful, sensitive, and respectful actually empowers us to be a better person.
Personal growth — becoming a better person — largely is a process of elevating awareness and adopting better beliefs. “Ideas have consequences,” as Richard M. Weaver once concisely put it.
I encourage you to do as I am doing and be more intentional about cultivating healthier self-ideation and obtaining greater awareness for your own benefit and for the benefit of all who know you.
© 2021 Noel Bagwell. All Rights Reserved.