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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2016 10:16 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:52 am
Posts: 98
Location: Ger
As a follow up to lesson 44 I had a simple thought. As far as I understand from reading that lesson, one could say that the core identity is, what the psychology calls cognition, am I right? I'm not quite sure if I grasp the concept 100% that is mentioned in that lesson, but if it's just a different term for cognition everything would be super clear. I know that the workshop is kind of based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, so this would make sense. Could anyone shed some light on it?

I've actually been to CBT related to other issues and I'm quite aware of these concepts. If I could connect them to my recovery it would make a tremendous difference for me. Feels like I'm friggin blind, but it would make so much sense. Not that I haven't had those thoughts before, but I wanted to see the workshop as it is and don't impose my own beliefs on it. But now, it seems like things really add up.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2016 11:19 am 
Recovery Coach

Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:49 pm
Posts: 1626
Hi axelswagger,

Interesting question (I had to go back to lesson 44 as I haven't read it in a long time). I don't have any personal experience in CBT, so I can't comment on that. What I can say is that, as Jon notes, the core identity isn't a thing...rather, it's a psychological construct. Is it cognition? That's a more philosophical question, but I don't think so...the reason being that your usual thoughts that you have are fleeting and impermanent. However, these thoughts themselves aren't separate from the "core identity" either...and I would say if you attach to these fleeting thoughts, they can get incorporated into your core identity and this is how people develop a lot of these unhealthy patterns in the first place.

At least to explain how I see it: my thinking has been influenced substantially by Zen philosophy. In Zen, when we meditate, there is a story explaining how to think about meditation: a monk asks his master, "when we meditate, are we supposed to think?" The master says: "no". "Are we supposed to try to not think." "No."

"So then what do we do?" "Think not thinking." "How am I supposed to do that?" "Go beyond thinking."

This helped me quite a bit. "Beyond" your normal fleeting thoughts and emotions is that core identity. And that's why it's hard to say what it "is"'s something you can only identify for yourself. But as your mind clears over time, and you get more in touch with it (over the span of recovery, as you let your unhealthy thought patterns, emotions, and behaviours go), decisions become easier. Have you ever been in a situation where you just acted almost without thinking, intuitively, like you just knew what to do but did not become aware of it until afterwards...yet, when this happens, for some reason, things seem to work out? For me, that is the core identity...when you get in touch with that (what some have called the "still, small voice", regardless of whether you are religious or not). But again, its something you must identify for yourself. I'm sure most people have experienced this at one time or another. Regardless, without practice and hard work at it, it is still very easy to get fooled by selfishness or fleeting thoughts and desires.

Hopefully that helps. Keep thinking about it and working at it, in the context of what you already know. It is hugely important to recovery that you develop your own way of thinking about these things, within your own belief system and what makes logical sense to you, rather than just things other people tell you but that haven't really made sense to you. For example, the way I think of values and boundaries now (I believe) is slightly different from how Jon thought about them...and that is okay. What matters is that it works for me, in the context of how I develop meaning and manage my life. If you have any more questions about this, ask away; I love talking about the more philosophical aspects of addiction.



"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."

PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:47 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:52 am
Posts: 98
Location: Ger
Hey, thanks for your answer!

I see where you're getting at and I think it's an interesting direction. Just to clear things a bit up, I reread some stuff about those concepts and I've been using the term a bit inaccurate (blaming the translation here, haha). Also I still stand by what I said this is a more accurate depiction of how I view this:
cognition = the mechanics behind those concepts - some say this is just the opposite of emotion, others say this is more like different functions of a processing unit
cognitivism = the theories about an entity of the human mind, that is formed based on cognition
core identity/core beliefs/soul (whatever you want to call it) = the single entity that makes up a persons mind

In the end there are thousands of other ways to describe it. The most important thing is, to find a working understanding for ourself. I think it's great, that you bring in the philosophical question. My initial post came from a pretty scientific and psychological point of view - since its roots in CBT. I think the core identity is something that is more to be experienced and described, than to be explained. If I would try to explain it, I would say that my core identity is especially there at work, where I'm in my comfort zone. Whenever I leave that zone, I feel discomfort and my core identity is challenged.

And I really like what you say about the Zen philosophy. I think the core you're describing, that leading voice, that just knows what to do, is in one way or the other our true self. For me it's helpful to see my core identity in more dimensions. I see it that way, that I have a potential. When I was born, there was a certain path layed out - I don't know how or why, maybe it's my DNA, maybe it's gods path or maybe it's coincidence (one could argue for hours about this one here..). But there are certain things, that just are. Without conditioning, without programms, without outside influence. It's just the way it works. I enjoy certain things more than others, I am good at certain things, I am bad at certain things. Not that this determines everything - I'm confident that I could learn higher math, if I had enough discipline - but this core identity just sets the tone of my life. And then, when we grow up, we either build a healthy value system around that identity and incorporate all those things that we feel we have inside. Or we fall into addiction, only grasping at elements of this identity but never living it out to its possible full potential. Instead addiction fuses with our core identity and starts to take over the lead. I've always seen this like a hardware driver on our computer. You could have the latest, fastest software - hence a healthy control unit. Or you don't have any driver at all and leave it to your operating system to interpret those signals as best as it can - leading to a unhealthy life.

Overall I think those concepts are something worth to be discussed. But in the end everyone has to find his own way of understanding, like you said. Wether if it's our values, boundaries or other concepts - it's important how those things work for us. And after leading a life where those things never played an active role it's hard to grasp them at first. But the further I go, the more I understand that I just have to be patient. As long as I consciously try to develop my own way of thinking, I'll get further to the essence of those things.


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