Let’s break down today’s question into three parts:
Why are people so reluctant to take a hard look at themselves …
… and consider the possibility that something they did may not be working?
To own that and be open to another viewpoint?
Not too long ago–before one of our trips, actually — we were talking about just this topic as we walked the neighborhood with Riley. A friend of ours had done something that wasn’t eliciting the intended response — but absolutely refused to consider that what they’d done might not have been the best course of action. They were stuck on their position and to be honest, got a little tweaked at the suggestion that the action might not have been received the way it was intended.
We pondered that sign of human-ness as we walked.
We’ve known our friend for some time and also known that self-awareness is not one of their strengths. Still, we enjoy the friendship. And after all, if we were to use self-awareness as a criterion, well, the truth is we wouldn’t have many friends. Because very few of us are really willing to be self-aware, ourselves included.
Doesn’t it sometimes feel that we’re more comfortable talking about changing the world (a huge task) than about changing ourselves? Even though changing ourselves is something that we can actually accomplish?
Back in the day, a well-known Silicon Valley marketer insisted perception is reality and of course, he’s right. Where humans are concerned, there is no objective reality, only subjective views.
Which is why our reality is often different than what others see.
When I was a young woman my self-image was that of a relaxed, mellow, chill woman. Of course, nothing was further from the truth. I can’t remember how it came up, but when it did, I was shocked to discover it wasn’t at all the way I was perceived.
That conversation was a gift — because it helped me see the possibility that my reality wasn’t at all the way the world received it. Have you had an experience like this?
That’s what comes to mind every time I see a law enforcement officer turn his or her back on Mayor DiBlasio of New York City.
Those cops feel DiBlasio hasn’t been as supportive of them as they’d like and the union’s been using that as a bludgeon, a protest.
But a look at what the Mayor has said reveals that his chief sin seems to be that he was critical of some law enforcement actions. That he acknowledged the rough treatment some officers give minorities and that he said aloud that he had felt the need to counsel his own biracial son on how to handle a police stop.
In short, he was honest about reality. His reality. His son’s reality. The reality of many people of color.
But some officers (and of course, the union) are unwilling to accept any criticism at all. Some officers are not at all open to a view other than their own.
They appear to believe that the only possible supportive attitude is one that stuffs any negatives that others might perceive.
I saw that in my friend, too. The one M and I were discussing as we walked the dog. That attitude guarantees that change–necessary change–will never happen.
Looking in the mirror can be difficult, I’m the first one to admit that. Sometimes we don’t like what we see. But it’s also an opportunity to change what we see.
One certainty: we CAN change ourselves. In fact, that’s where all change begins.
So, I ask: how well do you know yourself? Well enough to entertain the concept that you might not be perfect? And that change would be beneficial? Have you ever had a self-awareness epiphany?
And I ask those officers: why are you turning your back on reality? Can’t you see how polarizing that is and how it guarantees that the status quo will continue to put lives at risk? The lives of both officers and others?