“I define clarity as the ability to perceive situations without distortion from extreme beliefs and emotions — in other words, seeing through the eyes of Self-Energy. As someone who has worked extensively with eating-disordered clients, I have seen how powerfully parts of us can affect our perceptions. When a rail-thin anorexic clients looks in the mirror, she literally sees a fat person. But that is only an extreme exampleof the kind of distorting we do all the time. For example, recall a time when you were infatuated with someone. Perhaps you became oblivious to conspicuous red flags. Then, when that same person did something hurtful, it’s likely that all you could see where the person’s flaws, and you wondered what you used to like about him or her. A traditional sorry illustrates this point well:
A man whose axe was missing suspected his neighbor’s son. The boy walked like a their, looked like a thief, and spoke like a thief. Soon the man found his axe while he was digging in the valley, and the next time he saw his neighbor’s son, they walked, looked, and spoke like any other child.
In other words, we rarely take a fresh, open look at a person or situation because we so quickly and automatically jump to conclusions based on previous experience and current desire. As the expression goes, “to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” I had a client, Bill, for example, who was desperate to get married. A partof him immediately rated every woman he met as a potential mate or not. In addition, Bill felt he had been rejected by his mother at an early age, so a protective part sized every potential mate as like Mom (that is, dangerous) or not. To complicate things. Bill had always hoped to be accepted by his mother, so another part of him wanted the potential mate to be like Mom and would not let him feel attracted to women who were not. Every woman he met unwittingly stepped into his radar system with all its conflicting categories, and her qualities were distorted or ignored accordingly. The women he dated complained about getting may mixed messages and started that he didn’t really know them. They were right.
For Bill to really know any of these women, he would need to get all these parts and their projections to step back and let his Self-Awareness-Energy experience the women. When that is possible, we have what the Buddhists call “beginner’s mind.” a perspective in which many possibilities exist because of the absence of preconception and projection. In contrast, the expert’s mind is overflowing with beliefs that limit perception and possibility. Our parts often think they are experts on the world. Self-Awareness-Energy always has a beginner’s mind.”
— Internal Family Systems Model, Dick Schwartz, pp. 36-37
1. the ability to perceive situations accurately without distortion from extreme beliefs and emotions
2. the ability to maintain one’s objectivity about a situation in which one has a vested interest
3. the absence of preconception and objection
4. the ability to maintain a “beginner’s mind” in which many possibilities exist