Sometimes I crack myself up. Moments ago, I woke up to the realization I just spent more than an hour this evening gazing at a casual photo TJ recently sent of herself. I remember running my cursor over the lines of her hair, thinking how I would sketch them, and feeling mild disappointment the photo doesn’t show enough detail in her face to be perfectly sketchable. But can that really have taken an hour? And how can a mere photo make one oblivious to the passing of time?
I have a hunch, though, that when we observe ourselves doing little things like becoming lost in a photo, we often learn more about our internal states than we do through introspection.
Introspection, in my experience is very tricky and frequently produces biased, vague, and inaccurate conclusions. Put a little differently, introspection seems much more likely to merely tell us what we think of ourselves than to tell us what we will actually do in a given set of circumstances. It does not seem to be entirely useless, but, for instance, I probably would never have guessed myself — through introspection alone — very likely to spend an hour gazing at a photo of TJ while daydreaming of sketching her. But that is precisely what I have just done.
For those and other reasons, I’m of the opinion that the best way to learn about ourselves is not through introspection, but through conscientious observation of what we actually do or don’t do in a given set of circumstances. That’s usually the best way to learn about others, and it also seems to be the best way to learn about ourselves.
Any way, those are just some preliminary thoughts on the subject. I’m not guaranteeing the accuracy of anything I’ve said here because I haven’t allowed myself time to mull it over before writing about it. I’d appreciate hearing your insights on this subject now.