It is easy to think it is just my opponents who’s minds are being destroyed by greed, hatred, and ignorance. Yet, although uncomfortable to articulate, the three evils lurk within my mind as well. They may show up as subtle thoughts about getting what is due to me, or in an angry unwillingness to listen to another’s opinion, or even in the manner I go after food and drink or luxuries.
But, if I don’t cultivate acute self-awareness and consciously execute offensive attacks to uproot these bad seeds, I am just as prone to succumb to their destructive powers as anyone.
My strongest motivation to ruthlessly search for and weed out these culprits?
The knowledge that we never get away with bad-character decisions.
- The holidays I celebrated were universal (Today’s reminder)
- Words I spoke were understood just as I had intended
- My priorities were more valid than someone else’s
- People would understand my motives or emotions by my actions
- That I could be certain of someone else’s motive or intention by their actions
- That my way was superior
There was so much more to see.
In my classes, I ask attendees to close their eyes and think of the most boring person they know. After the images are crystal clear, we make a list of the qualities that make these people boring. Here are the most common qualities:
- Talks too much
- Doesn’t talk at all
- Doesn’t listen to or notice others
- Tries to sell you something
- Stuck in a rut
- Doesn’t care about improving
- Not truthful
- Worries about everything
- Is always right
The next step in the exercise is to admit that we can find ourselves in the list.
Once we see ourselves as others experience us…we have more incentive to make today a make-over day.
In the recent movie, “Bernie,” the true story of a very kind East Texas fellow who snapped, there is a strong lesson about the danger of being too accommodating.
Whoever we are, if we continuously bury our honest feelings while deferring to others, really bad stuff will brew inside us and, inevitably, spill out onto the people in our lives. (If you hate conflict and will do anything to avoid it, you know exactly what I am talking about.)
It’s great to be a peacemaker, but by not being true to ourselves we will ultimately cause more conflict in the end.
If Bernie would have been courageous enough to express his wishes, he most likely would have had no need to store his former companion in the freezer.
Today I’m seeing instead of looking.
I’m feeling instead of touching.
I’m noticing instead of judging.
I’m contemplating instead of criticizing.
I’m winning instead of whining.
I’m listening instead of talking.
I’m resonating instead of resisting.
I’m asking instead of telling.
I’m appreciating instead of dismissing.
I’m praising instead of protecting.
I’m accepting instead of fretting.
I’m gliding instead of walking.
I’m soaring instead of settling.
The view is better up here…
When I reviewed last year, month by month, I recovered many lost memories of people, places and ePiphanies. In my journal, I even found some completely forgotten (and revealing) whacked-out dreams!
Just a few reasons for journaling and reviewing entries:
- To have evidence of personal growth
- To gain incentive for goal setting
- To be reminded of the roles others play in our lives
- To remember places we have visited (physically or spiritually)
- To extract lessons from hindsight
- For an overview of the progression and impact of our one valuable life
- To recall dreams (whose meanings are more obvious over time)
You can start small by just jotting down one impression, dream or event each day. Even this will be priceless to you (and maybe your therapist later:)!
John Elder Robison’s book Be Different, Daniel Tammet’s Born on a Blue Day and Temple Grandin’s story reminds me never to write anyone off or label them as unimportant because they are not normal, predictable or like me. The injustice we do ourselves and others when we de-value or under-value someone based on outward conformity to arbitrary standards, or because we don’t understand them, is immeasurable.
I will make a commitment today to admire and delight in everyone without judgment. Will you do so, too? One thing this means is…we will listen more carefully to what we think about people and be aware of who we criticize.
(And there is a wonderful side-effect to this level of self-awareness; we may, as a result, go easier on the “misfit” in ourselves as well.)
Two guys named Joe and Harry developed this model in 1955 to demonstrate the multiple facets of our own self-awareness. I mentioned the Johari Window in a class, making a point about blind spots in our lives. A woman in the class said she didn’t have any blind spots. Her coworkers quickly changed her mind 🙂
The model says there are things about me that 1) are known to me and to others, 2) are known to others but not me, 3) are known to me but not revealed to others and 4) are not revealed to others or myself (subconscious).
Enlarging the “open” quadrant of this model yields a more fulfilling life. Check it out: http://www.noogenesis.com/game_theory/johari/johari_window.html