Who are the thoughtful outsiders?
Seekers after meaning and creativity, the thoughtful outsiders are people who have or seek to stepped out of habitual living and thinking. Anyone who questions the way of life shared with their societies, peers and families. They also include anyone who makes a living from thinking, from considering situations and solving problems. Even those who rebel against thinking, in favour of intuition, emotion and/or pleasure because it takes a lot of serious thought to get to that conclusion.
"No Faith without Doubt"
These people are the real seekers after meaning, questioning the very foundations of our being in society. But they have a tendency to structure their search and questioning around romanticism - seeking legitimacy from the noble savage and exotic and local religious traditions. Sometimes justifying the end of their questioning when they find security and comfort in one of these systems or communities whilst not going the next step of questioning their value system, attitudes and experiences which chose the tradition they've settled with.
These people are the very epitome of capitalism, leading business into new ways and new opportunities. They have a greater influence on culture in all societies than the aristocratic culture-mongers would like to admit. Though they often do little self-challenge, they are often good at understanding their societies and its needs, and the strength to follow their own path against the pressures to conform.
Artists, Writers & Musicians
Culture workers whose focus is the stereotype of creativity. Often the reality involves more political and economics, popularity and money, than many would wish. Just the same they live for, play with and are paid for their imagination and adventurousness.
A general (if old fashioned) name for people who make their lives into artworks, through dress, relationships (like polyamory, ie open relationships, and fetish) and work. Often encompassing art, spiritual seeking and any of the others in the subcategories mentioned here and applying to anyone who feels they are not covered.
At their most committed these people are a marriage of the artist and the spiritual seeker who measure their progress against the realities of the physical world. Although, again, many do not look into themselves or their relationships with the world and society, that is they externalized the use of creative, analytical and contemplative capacities.
Inventors - Engineers
These are the artists of technology. Technology is at the centre of culture as Movies, Cd's, Computers and internet, and synthesizers proves.
Academics & Public Intellectuals.
Although again the reality may involve a lot of politics and security, but their core is thinking - self and social challenge. Like scientists they are part of a formalised community of peer review and testing, instead of the material world, their objects of study are meaning, psychology society and culture. In a way they are a subset of the spiritual seekers, each with a different kind of conservatism. The Academics hide in what might be called humanist monasteries - universities - which legimate their search for meaning, while Spiritual Seekers hide in historic, often exotic, religious traditions for their justification.
These people are primarily a marriage of inventors and writers but like scientists they measure their success by the practicality of their applications.
Paid to analyze situations, they are paid by business to be thoughtful outsiders, though they may not do the fundamental seeking for meaning that other categories do but they still fit the description at least in their professional lives.
The majority of the time Managers are involved in habitual thinking and decision making, but when responding to change they have the responsibility to do the real thinking for the people they have been given responsibility for. Often they do not willing do the profound self challenge that real thinking asks for but they often are deeply challenged by the consequences of their thinking because they are directly accountable to the employees for their thinking through their actions. Many of the problems they face are the product of not being willing to challenge their daily reflexes and the social pressures around them in order to find new ways of doing things, at other times it is because they belief they must do the real thinking by themselves rather than sharing and encouraging it in the people they work with. The biggest challenge for Managers is the reality that they can never know all they need to know in order to make the right decision, ultimate they must trust themselves, their intuition and the people they work with.
What do we mean by 'thoughtful'?
Inner Life to put it simply is what we mean by 'thoughtful'. We are using it in its broadest most figurative and metaphorical meaning - imagination, intuition, lineal logical thinking, associative logic, contemplative self-examination, meditation, and most importantly, passion and emotion.
Why we become Thoughtful Outsiders?
Some may become thoughtful about their lives because something catastrophic happened either in childhood or later in life, eg a death, a divorce, abuse. Others may be born with talents (like intelligence and sensitivity), or difficulties (mental illness or being the wrong race, nationality or kind of person in the wrong place) which may become the source of the impulses. And still others have a natural curiosity and/or an impulse to be creative or learn from a model that exploration is very fulfilling.
What are her or his functions in society?
The thoughtful outsiders are the true leaders of humanity. Not only in a political sense, but in a cultural and ideological sense. Culture includes technology. It is possible that most animals think in one way or another, but for humans our survival is based on it as part of cooperation. The centre of cooperation is communication. Other animals, like various kinds of cats, wolves, chimps even some birds, survive through cooperation. They learn and adapt to different situations, both around them and within their groups. For us learning and adapting have become our central function, and thinking, imagination and awareness are its tools. These are the tools of the thoughtful outsiders.
Our evolutionary success has come from refining cooperation and developing technology. The development and use of tools has lead to the arts which are part of the process of refining cooperation, and therefore improving our survival. Our survival, more our existent, in fact is based on a thoughtful mirror of evolution which means the arts, technology, relationships and society and therefore our ways of cooperating are always changing to adapt to our circumstances.
Another evolutionary need is security, to feel safe and comfortable. It is natural, and is the primary choice of most people. Security is found in the known, when the kinds of changes have predictable outcomes. Serious thinking is produced when we are faced with the unknown, when we feel vulnerable and unsure whether we are capable of handling the situation. That uncertainty means we have to evaluate ourselves. The greater the insecurity the more profound the level of self examination.
The Thoughtful Outsiders' roles are to lead us in adapting to change, and inspiring it. In a time of specialization, they specialize in being insecure, in stepping out of the secure ways of thinking and being and giving us the insights on which possibilities and opportunities, maybe even wisdom, are based.
What are the dangers?
The dangers of the thoughtful outsider are complex. They are both produced by doing real thinking and are the result of the forces which push them into doing it. In general the dangers of serious thinking are based on either the initial reasons why someone has become serious thinkers and/or whether they maintain a balanced open approach.
One reality, sometimes debatable, is that thinking has sources in our emotions. There are many who want thinking to be separate from feelings and therefore purely logical - Mr. Spock free of the sloppy dreadful imperfections of humanity. The problem with this idea is that all thinking and logic is based on assumptions. Assumptions are how we cope with the limitations of our knowledge and thinking. To complicate things sometimes assumptions limit what can be thought, even experienced because they are part of the whole paradigm.
Some assumptions are known and declared but most are not, almost all are chosen by our value systems, our wishful thinking, on the conservatism sometimes called commonsense, and from intuition. Some assumptions are so much apart of our experience, thinking, our sense of reality that they are invisible. All of which are based on our emotional experience.
And so it is that the dangers of being a thoughtful outsider arise out of our emotional history. Some of the problems mentioned below are complexes of physiological and psychological origin. Scientists recently have been building a lot of evidence for physiological sources by many of them. But in practice they find these sorts of problem are a still a marriage of our physiology and our thinking. For example depression is best handled by the combination drugs and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which challenges the sufferer's habits of thinking, replacing negative self-destructive thoughts with my self supportive and realistic thoughts.
Dissociation - Being so involved in thinking, imagination, idealism, inner life, that they become disconnected from every day emotional and physical experience.
Alienation - Feeling so outside the lives of the people around you and society that you feel lonely and depressed. There are close relationships between this depression and dissociation - they maybe synonyms or symptoms of each other but for some of us may feel very different.
Depression - Being weighed down by the negative insights into society and yourself that you have.
Loneliness - Serious contemplation of the nature of life is not popular. Many people who focus on security find the thoughtful outsiders provocative and eccentric and therefore threatening. Until they find a suitable peer group
Cynicism - When we get wrapped up in our expectations of the world, when we lose our sense of trust, when we impose our values on others and get disappointed, when you are enraged by the imperfections of the world, then cynicism is one reaction.
Arrogance - Can be related to or an expression of a set of hierarchical values. Some people's thoughtfulness is about positioning themselves above those around them as wiser, healthier, smarter, more powerful than others. Cynicism can be a symptom of it. It can be a combination of complacency and hidden rage expressed as feelings of pride for their achievements.
Complacency - Can be the result of the feeling of having achieved a great deal and of finding the truth or tradition that offers security. Sometimes it can be a sense of peace and comfort. Other times it can be arrogance and condescension. People can start being Thoughtful Outsiders then discover some ideas, approaches, ways of thinking and feeling which give them a sense of security, esteem, positive feedback and comfort settle into new habits of living, feeling and thinking and give up being Thoughtful Outsider. Real danger of complacency is closing down to learning, adapting and therefore growth.
Helplessness - Interconnected with depression, dissociation and alienation possibly causally. For some it can be the source of serious thinking, for others the big picture, seen honestly, can be so overwhelming that some Thoughtful Outsiders are left feeling small and incapable of affecting the world in useful ways.
How does a thoughtful outsider cope with these problems?
Honesty and courage will overcome most of these problems. You can't be honest without courage. The thoughtful outsider depends on both. But most of the problems occur when their honesty is limited by their courage or their courage is limited by their honesty. Our emotional history, if unexamined, may keep you focussed on your inner life so that your dark side comes to rule. Honesty and courage can allow you to challenge your daily expressions of that history and the assumptions it has built.
"there's no courage without fear"
Honesty and courage can allow you to open up to the world so that you can listen, feel and connect with the people around you. There are plenty of games played in workshops and/or with individuals which can help you step beyond the obvious immediate thoughts and feelings to the deeper patterns of our being. By creating or going into situations which bringout the best in you, or which give you an opportunity to test your experience, assumptions and thoughts about the world.
Remembering such almost clichés as there is "no courage without doubt" and "no courage without fear".
What are the mechanisms, techniques, attitudes, approaches to life, relationship and action?
There are many different angles to approach being the thoughtful outsider depending on your goals and kind of person you are and want to be.
The creative arts are clearly ways of exploring your inner universe.
What are her or his history and peer group?
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