Volume 55: Know Thyself!

Posted on 06/21/2011

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As a self-described social commentator/psychologist/critic, I have wired my brain to find life’s lessons from the most mundane or random sources. This happened again this past week, and provided another prophetic parable for me to pontificate upon (Whew! LOL!). The short version of the back story is that we were dropping our kids off to spend the week at my in-laws (woo-hoo!). This particular time, we chose to meet halfway in Montgomery, AL. Typically when we do this, we eat lunch and then drive back to Atlanta; however, it was extremely hot and the wait at the restaurant was an hour, so we decided to skip lunch head back home. That’s when my wife started stalling. She began creating obstacles to prevent our getting back on the road immediately. I was becoming increasingly annoyed by this and almost said something condescendingly sarcastic. This, of course, would have touched off an argument and ruined the bliss we just created by having no kids for a week. God touched my head, heart, and (most importantly) mouth and led me to ask, “What’s going on? Why are you stalling our departure?” It was at that moment that she recognized she was stalling. She said it wasn’t until I asked the question that she searched her feelings and was able to articulate what the problem was.

Now that was a long story (sorry) to illustrate the premise of this post. How often do we act and/or react without really knowing why we are reacting in that manner? Do we think about the impact our reaction(s) have on our friends, family, and coworkers? Do we care? Assuming we do care, how do we transition from instantaneous responses based on subconscious needs and desires, to recognizing our feelings and being able to articulate them comfortably? The answer is centuries old and still has men baffled by the complexity produced by its simplicity. The answer, simply, is to Know Thyself!

Who Am I?

We all, at some point in time, have struggled with our identity. That struggle could be at the beginning, where we are still trying to establish one; or along the way, as the results of poor parenting, low self-esteem, abuse, etc. chips away at the facade of an identity we created to protect ourselves. The disservice we do to ourselves by not really learning who we are at our core shows up in the moments like the one described earlier. Underdeveloped or unrecognized identity can separate us from identifying the emotions that motivate our behaviors. Instead, we develop personality styles and traits that conceal the primary impetus.

Thus, in our previous example, my wife was being passive-aggressive in her protests against immediate departure.  Ironically, she was just tired from being on the road for two hours, and wanted a break before starting back. However, the impact of her unconscious reactions almost incited an aggressive response from me that could have resulted in an argument. Knowing yourself puts you closer to your primary feelings/emotions/motivations; and therefore you are able to better control your behaviors. Ultimately, knowing yourself will get you more of what you want and need because you are able to better articulate it, and get more positive responses from the people around you. In essence, you are a more genuine you.

Conclusion

As we age, we believe that our behavior(s) move from being controlled by our emotions to being controlled by our rational thoughts. This is not necessarily how it works. We become more rational as we mature. We have to mature in order to know ourselves. Maturity requires introspection, acknowledgement, accountability, humility, respect, and adaptability. That list is surprisingly similar to what it would take to know yourself. Hmmmmm? We spend a tremendous amount of time, energy, and resources trying to figure out how to make our lives easier and/or better. Some would say that they don’t even know where to start. I would suggest that you “start” by finishing you.

That’s just my three cents…

Sill-E

“Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act…”

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