Application: The cold gaze

This entry is part 9 of 14 in the series A theory of perspective

Cueball is thinking about Megan. Their relationship is dysfunctional, and what she has said or done makes him either living in a fantasy or in hell. How can he help himself?

In the new perspective, you are free from your emotion. You don’t have to worry about having fear, bias, heuristics, memory distortions, etc. Your mind is sharp and rational in this perspective.

But how can he get to a new perspective when by definition he is locked in the old one? Let’s say Megan put him into hell, how can he stop the anger when she has no sign to try to fix the situation at all? He has tried everything, but the only thing he sees is her avoidance, prejudice, mockery. The resentments cloud him when he brushes his teeth or eats his breakfast, interrupting his work and draining his energy. Even when he is able to focus for a moment, his mind is quickly exhausted and drifted back to the pains.

It’s so easy for him to let her go, but his little logical naïve realism person doesn’t give up. Letting her go is the easiest thing to do, holding the logic is much harder. A therapist would see him very strange, because the client seems to be totally sane and should have already moved on.

As always, if logic cannot be used to solve the problem, then it’s time to try some imaginations. He needs to see how Megan stops dismissing him but look into his eyes and asks:

What would you do to beat this pain? Because if you can beat it, then I am willing to regret. I’ll help you to revenge me, and I’ll do everything to get your trust back. But first, give me the proof that you are strong.

This is so surprising, but it is all what Cueball longing to hear. She, the one who brings hell to him, demands him to become the best of him. A chain of reactions runs in his mind, making sense of everything he knows about her, allowing him to ask the million dollars question he should have asked a long time ago: “wait, why do I have to suffer from this?”

The first time he experiences it he will see how his fears are cut off his body. That gaze is cold like ice, cuts through his body, as if a surgeon coldly opens him, takes out the cancer that devouring him for years, and sews his skin back. No part of the process shows that the surgeon has a single interest to the patient; all the patient knows is that his private body and mind is examined inside out under the gaze. He has to put his life to the hands of a person who has completely no string attached with him beside getting their work done, yet total trusting is the prerequisite for the operation to be conducted effectively. Under the gaze of the surgeon, the patient is paralyzed and desensitized.

Getting to the other perspective and looking back to ourselves is like standing in front of a mirror and see someone else observing us. The person looking at you must have your absolute respect; they can be the target you have attachment with, your future you, your past you, your innermost you, or an imaginary authority that you voluntarily subordinate the very moment you look at them. Whether you are wholesome or rotten is none of their business, but nevertheless they prefer you to be wholesome. You don’t want to make them disappointed, and you are making them disappointed.

Knowing that we have distortions is one thing, but being able to cut ourselves wide open is strange. Your mind is sharp than ever before, seeing why everything you think is wrong. It points out our secret expectation of having something in return for what we give, and eliminates it. It helps us differentiate between ruminating about the past and developing coping strategy to live in the present. Under your own gaze, you are emotionless and detached to yourself, but still see how you are lovable and protected.

We should speculate what others think, because we are a social, problem-solving and curious species. But doing that before the pain is solved only make our perspective distorted and worsen and prolong it. The healing process only starts when we focus on our core values, and to do that we need to solve our distortions and their distortions at the same time. If we have to assume anything, then assume that they are busy to become a good person. Because the only way to catch the attention of a busy person is to help making their hard work less burdensome.

After seeing how she will not dismiss him, there is still one more step he needs to do: cutting the guilt of not forgiving. It’s time for him to look into her eyes and ask:

What would you say to someone you betrayed? What do you expect in someone you betrayed?

Until she gives a satisfactory answer, then he can finally remain silent even when he feel guilty. It is this ultimate silence that cuts her open wide and awakes her core values. It allows him to observe her crystal clear, and assures that he is not ruthless.

Like the analogy, the cold gaze brings you out of the distortion, gets you to a new perspective so you can look back and find the solution, but this time it mixes with Buddhist detachment and Foucault’s medical gaze.

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