The Untethered Soul uses an eclectic mix of references in spirituality, philosophy, neuroscience and many other fields to assemble what essentially aims to be an owner's manual for your thoughts, emotions and ultimately, your self.
Description & Discussion:
Big shocker here, but I’m not big on touchy-feely folks telling me how I should manage my emotions in one way or another. There are endless streams of literature and podcasts that encourage you to understand your own cognition from a “spiritual” perspective. Untethered Soul is different. While some of those same elements are present, it does an excellent job describing how we should own our cognition and emotional control to maintain balance in our lives. The sense of spirituality in this book echoes the early principles of neurophilosophy and stoicism.
Early in the book, the author references Freud’s description of the id, the ego, and the superego. I found this particularly helpful because it applied an already existing context to what is by definition the most subjective topic in existence. Secondly, the author indirectly applies traditional concepts of stoicism, especially the like of Epictetus. For example:
In the book the author includes this explanation: “Only you can take inner freedom away from yourself, or give it to yourself.”
Epictetus says: “we must ever bear in mind—that apart from the will there is nothing good or bad, and that we must not try to anticipate or to direct events, but merely to accept them with intelligence.”
The book masterfully intertwines the symbiosis between these ideas; the whole point is that we own our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. They don’t own us. Ultimate enlightenment is to be a conscious observer of all of these thoughts and emotions while recognizing that’s all you are: an observer. In other words, external events or things that happen to us are not inherently good or inherently bad….They just are. How we respond to them is on us. The Untethered Soul offers a helpful perspective to even the most cynical people on how we can continue to be objective in our most subjective selves.
Decision, Design & Discipline:
For many of us, coming from a community where we try to exercise absolute control over everything we can to complete a mission, knowing how to step away from that can often be a challenge. It’s actually a little bit like swimming. Do less, and you’ll usually go faster than if you fight the water the entire time. The water is endless. It always wins, but I digress. This action starts with making the differentiation between You (actual) and the collection of thoughts and emotions that are masquerading as you. Decide to recognize “self” as a simple observer. Next, envelop a system for staying grounded and being present. The author uses the example of simply saying to yourself “hello in there” when things seem overwhelming. By doing this, we’re meant to address and wake up our objective selves. It takes practice.