Self Test

Self Test is an exercise I came up with and which I repeat perhaps a couple of times per year. I occasionally consult this list of ideas to remind myself, to refresh my perspective, and to make sure I still agree with myself. Occasionally I get the urge to write a new version and each one has become a bit more elaborate. It’s kind of a “Stop me when I say something untrue?” kind of exercise. It’s a checklist and cheat sheet of many of the ideas discussed on the other pages here.

1. I exist. I am a human being; a sapient animal. There are 8 billion organisms of my species alive today.

2. The matter I have borrowed to comprise my body is no different than the matter surrounding me. More than 90% of me is Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Carbon, arranged in intricate ways.

3. My brain is comprised of these same kinds of matter. All of the processes active within my brain are expressions of the rules of chemistry and physics. This includes the processes responsible for my perceptions of consciousness, cognition, and conscience.

4. Conscience is a biological mechanism supported by discreet structures in the brain that humans developed over tens of thousands of years. I can choose to ignore my conscience when I want to, but I cannot choose not to have one. Conscience permits self honesty which affords me a discriminator to distinguish what is real from what is false and imaginary.

5. I accept that sometime soon I will die, and in that moment all of my recognition, perspective, and even the knowledge that I ever existed will be irrevocably lost.

6. My emotions are my perception of the ongoing, complex chemical reactions between my blood and brain. These drug-like reactions I induce in myself are largely voluntary, with some exceptions.

7. The value of my emotions is predicated upon their honesty, with myself and with the object of the emotion. Dishonestly derived emotions are how we facilitate denial, and as such, should be minimized and avoided.

8. There exists a reciprocal relationship between thought and emotion, in that what I think may affect how I feel, and what I feel may also affect how and what I think. This effect can alter how I perceive reality on a fundamental scale. There are also biological triggers of emotion that can be alleviated by self care.

9. My emotions are a result of me causing my brain to release various combinations of substances that serve as endogenous drugs, and as a result of the conscious nature of this choice I am addicted to my emotions in various ways.

10. Sometimes I use, and have used my endogenous drugs and the emotions they produce to convince myself that untrue things are true, or that true things are untrue. If I resolve my emotional addictions by editing my expectations and values, I won’t want to do this anymore.

11. It is within my capacity to exert sapient control or reasoned thought over and in precedence of my emotions and emotional expectations, as and when I choose to do so.

12. My self awareness is the source of my moral burden, which I create for my self based upon what I can understand. I can comprehend the suffering of other people and of animals and I can empathize with them by visualizing their fates and plights from my own perspective. I have no excuse to turn away.

13. Abusing myself with excessive emotionalism contributes to the unnecessary suffering in the world, extending beyond myself into those with whom I interact. My capacity for self honesty is my most effective tool in controlling my emotions because this is what permits me to edit and update my held moral values to make dishonest, inappropriate, and unhealthy emotionalism feel unappealing.

14. I have a clear moral burden to be as honest with myself as I am capable.