The Most Important Observation of All—Blankness
Most people pay little to no attention to their minds going blank. Yet their minds go blank many hundreds of times a day.
Points to remember about observations & interpretations from the previous two articles
- Observations and interpretations cannot occur at the same time. They are complementary opposites (two sides of the same coin). Thus they are mutually exclusive.
- All observations reference a specific place and time. If what you’re saying references both a time and a place, then you are observing. If not, then you are interpreting.
- All observations include a personal awareness of change. If you can see change occurring, then you are observing. If not, then you are interpreting.
- All observations exist as points on a storyline. If what you’re saying exists on a storyline, then you are observing. If not, then you are interpreting.
- Observations never blame or judge. If what you’re saying blames or judges, then it cannot be an observation. It’s an interpretation.
- There are two kinds of Interpretations: Native and Synthetic. Native interpretations label groups of observations. Synthetic interpretations “synthesize” additional content.
- The main source of synthetic interpretations is “fixed ideas,” events wherein the outcome feels fixed regardless of what you say or do. Synthetically interpreting these events gives the illusion we can avoid them and the suffering they bode. But like a math problem wherein some of the numbers are blurry, logic cannot substitute for actual observations. Thus blankness is what makes us feel certain we can predict outcomes.
In the early twentieth century, theorist Pierre Janet identified two principal features of the aftermath of trauma, dissociation (the experience of blankness) and “fixed ideas” (the narrowing of the field of vision). According to Janet then, whenever we relive trauma, we involuntarily zero in on a single image, thought, or feeling from this trauma. This unchanging focus then leads the person to believe reliving this trauma is inevitable.
Know there are two ways to experience a fixed idea—as a stuck clock and as a blank slate—and both involve the sudden onset of blankness.
With stuck clocks you experience only a single unchanging image. All else is blank.
With blank slates, you experience only unchanging blankness.
Sadly the experience of blankness is so common that people rarely if ever notice it. This is unfortunate as the sudden onset of blankness always means the person is reliving a trauma. Know the same is not true for slow-onset blankness, which simply indicates a disconnect. Here the most common example is the inevitable blankness which always follows connections.
This idea—that blankness always follows connections—is important to keep in mind when it comes to relationships. Here the deepest connections—the most romantic dinners, the best weekend getaways, the most exciting vacations—are always followed by the deepest disconnections. In other words, the best of times almost always lead to worst of times, and this is true because connection then blankness always prefaces the worst of times.
The problem of course is that you can’t change what you can’t see, and blankness prevents people from seeing what they need to change. At the same time, they are unable to stop trying to see what they need to change in order to end the suffering. This leads to an endless stream of synthesized material, all of which is expected to substitute for the missing observations. But in lieu of the actual observations, these efforts cannot lead to permanent change.
Not surprisingly, the current science method suffers from this same flaw. Indeed, much of what science hypothesizes refers to things it cannot see. To overcome this, science employs this same synthesizing process. Despite this shortcoming though, the resulting synthesized material is more times than not called “scientific truth.”
Arguments cannot occur between two people who are both observing. Conversely, if even one person is experiencing a fixed idea, then an argument is inevitable. Worse yet are the situations wherein both people experience fixed ideas. Most difficulties in romantic relationships center on this latter scenario.
This makes observing blankness—which is to say, observing the inability to observe—the most important skill in any relationship, romantic or otherwise.