Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Internal States III:

Way Of Being

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

June 2, 2016



"A person's 'Way Of Being' is what is going on with them internally. It is made up of some combination of that person's mental state (their attitude or state of mind), emotional state (their feelings or emotions), bodily state (their body sensations), [and] thoughts and thought processes (and that includes memories [and decisions] that might be present). In other words, a person's 'Way Of Being' is what is going on with them internally in a given moment or in a given situation."
 ... 
This essay, Internal States III: Way Of Being, is the third in the trilogy Internal States:
  1. Internal States
  2. Internal States II
  3. Internal States III: Way Of Being
in that order.

It was conceived at the same time as


You've heard it before. You've heard others say it to you. You've heard yourself say it to others. You may have even heard yourself say it to yourself. We say it when explaining something we've done, or when explaining something about ourselves. We say "It's just the way I am.". We also say it to others and to ourselves when justifying  something we've done, or when justifying something about ourselves. We say "It's just the way I am" - it implies "I have no choice  but to be this way.".

If you inquire into it further, given the implication there's no choice of being any other way, you'll notice beneath the surface of "It's just the way I am" is a certain resignation, a resignation which may look  like acceptance and which may sound  like acceptance. But if you tell the truth about it and 'fess up to it, that's all pretense. It's not acceptance. What it really is is resignation - like this: "It's just the way I am, and I have no choice but to be this way, so I'm stuck with the way I am.".

This "the way I am" ie this internal state  ie this way of being  seems at first glance to be formed, fixed, and inflexible ie it seems to be something over which I have no choice or control, and over which I have no power to change or shift. Oddly enough, even though I'm resigned to it, I still protect it and I justify it. I even make excuses for it, and I defend it - all of which is to say for the most part, I'm in survival  about it.

Upon close scrutiny accompanied by unflinching honesty, you'll see that all we've ever accomplished by protecting our way of being, is to obfuscate its malleability. What does that mean? Protecting that which we call "the way I am" ie my "way of being", caused it to become solid. It's become coalesced. It's no longer malleable. And malleability / flexibility was the once abundantly obvious characteristic of our way of being, an assertion which is easily validated by watching children play.

Wait! There's more. Consider this: in proposing that our way of being's characteristic isn't fixed and was once abundantly obviously malleable, it's possible there's not merely one  way of being for us. Rather it's possible there are many "ways  of being" for us, each of which are malleable. The trap we fall into when we assert our own so-called way of being is "just the way I am", is to overlook the at first not so obvious: there's more than one possible way of being. So any way of being, isn't "the"  way of being. Rather it's merely "a"  way of being, and inherent in its essential makeup is the quality of malleability ie the quality of being able to be changed, replaced, discarded, or swapped out and exchanged for any one of many other ways of being, all of which can be created ie called up  at will at a moment's notice.

Over time we've lost our sense of flexibility with regard to our own ways of being. We've come to assume that we have one way of being ie "the way I am" which somehow forms the core of our lives and is inflexible, and which we have no choice but to adhere to and perpetuate. Consider we have instead access to any  way of being. How we access any way of being is by the linguistic act of inventing it as a possibility. What does it mean "by the linguistic act of inventing it as a possibility"?

If, for example, I've been withholding myself from someone, I'm not stuck with being that way. I'm not stuck with "withholding" as a way of being. I can, for example, invent the possibility of "being generous". Notice that a new way of being is  a possibility. So it works better saying "The possibility I'm inventing for myself and my life is the possibility of being generous"  rather than saying "The possibility I'm inventing for myself and my life is the possibility of generosity". It's the former which invents being generous as a way of being. Try both on for size. You'll get the distinction. The possibilities of new ways of being are brought forth in languaging them.



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