Choice Upgrade: Self-Containment over Self-Consciousness

Psychologist Fritz Perls said the cure for public speaking was to “take back your own eyes.” Anxious speakers go outside themselves and try to see themselves from the audience’s point of view. In that process, they abandon themselves and become objects. The remedy is to stay “home” and focus on the audience so intently that you lose a sense of yourself, hence taking back your own eyes. An interviewer asked a baseball player how he could concentrate with all the noise from the crowd. He said, “What noise?”

When we become self-conscious we become an “object.” When we are “at home” with ourselves we remain a subject that looks outward. Sartre talks about this as the “gaze.” To not allow the gaze of another to turn you into an object requires you hold on to your subjectivity, i.e., keep the direction of consciousness from self to the world rather than the reverse.

Ascent Habit Practice: Make a list of situations in your everyday life that could be used to practice this skill.