Even though Emerson acknowledges that there is little we can do to help each other, the whole body of his work, including the journals, is in effect a Guide to a Conscious Life. While we can say that, we also look for specific things in his work to help us frame a method or a few useful hints to remember from day to day.
Even though he starts off “Considerations” with a disclaimer, he ends the essay with an important paragraph, one that does provide a series of principles. Here is the paragraph:
“The secret of culture is to learn, that a few great points steadily reappear, alike in the poverty of the obscurest farm, and in the miscellany of metropolitan life, and that these few are alone to be regarded, — the escape from all false ties; courage to be what we are; and love of what is simple and beautiful; independence, and cheerful relation, these are the essentials, — these, and the wish to serve, — to add somewhat to the well-being of men. ”
The first of these principles is the most challenging and difficult to apply: the escape from all false ties. What, then, is a false tie? How do we escape from one when we see we are bound to one?”
As I see it, we have various kinds, or levels of false ties. There are the false ties that are connected to people and jobs and places. There are the ties that connect us to false ideas, and the ties that connect us to dangerous habits and patterns of behavior.
So when Emerson talks about the escape from all false ties, he means that before we can attain what he called self-recovery, he is telling us that we have to escape from all the false patterns, connections, and ideas that trap us and prevent us from experiencing freedom. That escape is the first step in achieving self-reliance.