How clear is your view of yourself?

January 31, 2015

know thyself

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.

We don't see thingsas they are; weWhen 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?

 

 

17 comments on “How clear is your view of yourself?
  1. This is so true. But before anything I want to say Mayor diBlasio endeared himself to me when one of this first things he did after coming into office was BAN horse-drawn carriages. I HATED them and saw, at times, how the owners mistreated those poor horses. Hooray to the mayor for his courage!

    Now, onto the rest. I’d love for someone to be honest enough to tell me why they feel a certain way about me. A few people come to mind, and if something about me can become better I’d really like to know about it. If I agree I’d definitely work on it, because no one is perfect and I always want to self-improve. (Of course if they’re jerks then the deal is off! – hahaha)

    But people aren’t honest for various reasons and I doubt that will happen. I always feel it’s so important to be self-aware, always growing spiritually as individuals.

  2. Michelle R says:

    Great post. I’ve had more than one epiphany, and sometimes, the revelation can be painful. The worst for me was during marriage counseling – I had a massive moment where I realized I was the problem. It was ME. Seeing myself through hubby’s lens was mortifying. What I can share from that experience is that for for me, being self-aware and self-critical felt like being kicked in the gut by a mule. It was hard to see myself, own it and change it. That was many years ago and I’m a better person today for it (and still happily married). That moment made me realize that I have shortcomings, major deficits even. But, I took the positive step to realize I am a work in progress. Every day there is an opportunity to improve…some days there are successes. Others…let’s just say I spend a lot of time reminding myself to bite my tongue. But I do think fear and ego hold folks back. To really see oneself is scary and can be humiliating.

  3. Haralee says:

    Very thought provoking. It is so difficult and almost impossible for some people I think to be reflective of their actions and demeanor. It is easier to think you are right, correct or justified.

  4. Carolann says:

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve checked and continue to check myself. It’s the best self-help tool for sure. I also invite my friends and family to do the same for me. I think at this stage of the game I know myself pretty well and would like to think I have a good perception of who I am and what I need to work on. I always tell my daughter to take a step back away for yourself and observe yourself as a third party especially when she gets too involved in the “me”. Great post….it always amazes me how many people are blind to how they are perceived to others.

  5. Ellen Dolgen says:

    I think one of the many obstacles of self-awareness, is one’s ability/desire to change. Being self aware takes hard work. I feel like I am an unfinished work of art. My husband and I encourage and support each other in being the best we can be. This blog helps remind me that no one is perfect and encourages me to take the time for self reflection. I love the quote! Thank you!

  6. Diane says:

    When I was 15, I remember thinking rather negatively about someone and being quite disgusted with something they had done. For the life of me, I can’t remember the what and the who. But I do rememeber realizing that I was guilty of the same offence. No one told me. It just suddenly struck me. And I realized that the things that I found most irritating in others were things that I, myself was guilty of. It was a life-changer of a realization. Now it’s always in the back of my mind. I just wish it would help me make less mistakes . . .

  7. That’s a great quote, and this is a good reminder to do a little self-analysis.

  8. This made me think of Elvis Costello’s Deep Dark Truthful mirror.
    “One day you’re going to have to face
    A deep dark truthful mirror
    And it’s going to tell you things that I still love
    you too much to say”

    Yeah, we all must look into it, face it, as most of our friends and loved ones do love us too much to tell us the truth we need to hear.

  9. Roz Warren says:

    Given how imperfect we all are, that’s even more reason to be grateful for the people who know and love us as we are.

  10. The most self-aware people are those who realize that they are perfectly imperfect. No one is truly as he or she sees themselves – and that’s why we need people who can reflect back honestly to us about our behavior and actions. And still love us, as Roz says.

  11. Carol Graham says:

    When I was a young woman in a terrible marriage, I confided in my Dad and he told me to read a book called “Lord Change ME” It opened my eyes to many things in self realization. I have implemented those suggestions my entire life to the point of looking at each situation I find myself in from a totally different perspective. It isn’t easy to admit you are wrong but it pays off in the end.

    When I told my dad I was divorcing my husband he was thrilled. Yet he never made the slightest indication that he did not approve of my marriage until I made the decision to end it. He wanted me to make the decision without his influence.

    Finding out our own mistakes and poor choices and owning up to them is how I have tried to live my life – it ain’t always easy.

  12. I agree that people are rarely willing to take a look at themselves first. I hope I’m not that hard of a person. I see lots of ways that I can improve on myself and I think that is the fascinating part. That as humans we are able to change the direction our lives are heading. This is one of the things that separates us from the animals…just don’t tell Riley!

  13. Judy Griffin says:

    I really appreciate this topic and have found my self-awareness has grown in each decade of life. Although, still a work in progress I have found it easier to hone in on my weaknesses and accept them while truly being able to embrace my gifts. It is so liberating to accept myself for who I really am. I find that practicing yoga & meditation really promotes this process. In every situation your reactions boil down to your perception so I think you always have to be willing to consider different points of view.

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