Do you know what I’ve discovered? It has taken me until my sixties to become completely self-aware and to realize that I’m just a little bit nuts. I don’t mean that I’m bat-shit crazy like my mother who was paranoid-schizophrenic; I simply mean that I finally recognized that I see the world from a different angle than the people I used to hang with and I now realize that’s okay—either that or I’m lying to myself which would be self-denial and not the same thing as self-awareness at all.
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“Self-Awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self-Awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.”—Gary van Warmerdam (pathwaytohappiness.com)
I’m getting ready to make another major life transition in the next six months (retirement), and it is imperative that I have a “clear perception” of who and what I am—warts and all—if I am to successfully turn the page to the next chapter. I haven’t always been in a place of prime self-awareness. I mean I thought I was one of the most self-aware people around when I was younger, but I had hoodwinked myself into believing that because I was religious. Now that I am old, I have found that religious people (people who follow a specific set of stringent rules to define their lot in life) tend to think they are better off than they are—that the people they hate are more sinful than they really are—and it usually takes a spiritual or emotional earthquake to shake off the cataracts from the “holier than thou” person’s eyes to plunge him or her into a deeper level of self-awareness.
I’ve found that sometimes it’s hard to tell self-denial and self-awareness apart. There’s nothing like the obese woman who visualizes that she’s the embodiment of the Right Said Fred song and thinks she’s “too sexy for her shirt, too sexy for your party, too sexy for Milan, or too sexy for her cat.”
Cartoon version of “self-awareness fail” by Collins||image from networkedblogs.com
Real life self-awareness fail|image from blogtosh.comedycentral.com
And for God’s sake don’t even get me started on the man who sports the Tea Party hat, screams the Tea Party epithets as he commits his life to take back America for God from the socialists, the baby-killers, and the fags but treats his wife and kids like shit.
Carl Jones Cartoon from the Free Lance-Star||image from loonpond.blogspot.com
But the best self-awareness fail was the one that woke my husband and me up from our right-wing Christian stupor and probably saved our destinies and our souls—it certainly saved our minds. There’s nothing like getting up every morning, looking in the mirror and confirming to one’s self that you are the epitome of a great father and mother while handing out the WWJD bracelets to your kids before they march out the door to high school (“protect those choices, babies”). There’s no greater Christian turn-on than reminding your offspring of their D.A.R.E. pledges (taking a stand against drug abuse) they made at the beginning of middle school and calling to mind their abstinence letters still to be signed on the dining room table. However there is no deeper despair than to later find out that all the platitudes you believed in were a bunch of shit and none of it worked. There’s absolutely fucking nothing like having one of your kids temporarily lose her mind that forces you to reexamine what you believe, why you believe it, and how your life should change to properly demonstrate that new belief system.
Cartoon by Mike Luckovich for the Atlanta Tribune-Constitutional
Fortunately, if you wake up in time (which we did), your self-awareness brutally course-corrects itself (it did), and the errant kid gets to correct her destiny before it capsizes (which she did) and you continue as a family, stronger and more loving than ever. As the parent who thought I was “all that and a bag of chips,” I gained a self-awareness that made me more compassionate, more loving, and more tolerant toward others—walking along side them without judgment as they try to overcome the vagaries of life.
The only people who seem to have unadulterated self-awareness seem to be small children, but it has to be because they don’t know anything except “what is.” The “smalls” have an amazing ability to be comfortable in their own skin and this doesn’t change until they are made to feel “less than” or “other than” by ridicule and abuse. The other day my three-year-old grandson was walking with his mother to the subway station via a rather rough inner-city street in New York. As they passed quite a few nefarious looking characters that my daughter didn’t plan on giving the time of day, each one broke into a smile of recognition and greeted my grandson with a high-five and a—“Hey there, little dude, how’s it hangin’?” “So little man, what you been up to—long time no see!” “Where you off to today, buddy?” To which my grandson graced each person with a beatific grin that could melt the ass off a snowman and saluted each greeter with a miniature toddler high-five. As he walked on down the street while holding his mother’s hand, he said rather matter-of-factly and without the least bit of irony: “You know what, Mama—people luv me!”
Image from thepunch.com.au
The good news for our “little dude” is that we have shielded him from the people who won’t love him for quite a while, and that is a good thing. But children soon leave behind their naïve self-awareness and grow into adults who see a false image of themselves in their mind’s eye, and start believing their own press, where they project themselves in such a way that they lose touch with the reality of what actually “is.” Consequently, we have to constantly be on the lookout for epic self-awareness fails—not only in our personal lives and our family’s lives but in the greater arena at large. Learning to recognize self-awareness bombs will keep us sharp and give us the tools to adjust our own growth.
SELF-AWARENESS FAILS IN THE NEWS LAST WEEK
SELF-AWARENESS FAIL ~(Republican party the true bastion of morality and ever the guardian of the WWJD slogan): Black CNN reporter gets pelted with peanuts by Republican Conventioneers who proudly boast of being ‘church-goers’ and told the devastated reporter, “This is how we treat the animals.” IMP. NEWS FLASH QUESTION: Republican, Christian Tea Party members—Are you shittin’ me?
SELF-AWARENESS FAIL ~(Good Catholics uphold the 10 Commandments, especially the 9th Commandment because “bearing false witness” is a major character defect): Staunch Catholic, PAUL RYAN, Republican VP Nominee, receives the “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire Award” for what the New York Times calls a “litany of falsehoods” in his convention speech. He is accused of lying about everything from President Obama not requiring “Welfare recipients to work anymore” to his final speed of a marathon (said he ran it in 2 hours and something when it actually took him over four hours). Joan Walsh of Salon.com in the article titled: “Paul Ryan’s Marathon Lie” says that this was no slip of the tongue. Ryan “boasted about the feat with specificity and swagger.” (Ryan, Ryan, Ryan, go wash your mouth out with soap and come back and write on the blackboard 1,000 times: ‘I will never, ever lie again because I am a Christian and I must never, ever break the 9th commandment’ because in doing so, you’re making the God you supposedly serve a laughing-stock. Dude, do you really think you’re going to get away with this?)
SELF-AWARENESS FAIL ~Ralph Reed (Former Christian Coalition head WHO USED TO ATTEND THE SAME CHURCH AS WW AND ME—YIKES!) IS BACK—living an upstanding stellar Christian life (NOT!) by initiating and underscoring a plank on the Republican platform that is trying to defeat the minimum wage in the Mariana Islands [territory owned by USA since WWII] again. Reed’s epic fail that almost destroyed him in the past was a “partnership” with the lobbyist crook, Jack Abramoff, to defeat the Federal Government’s effort to clean up the sweatshops and bring in minimum wage in those islands, thus cutting into the profits of factory owners and shareholders. Reed convinced Alabama residents to urge their Congressmen to vote for no restrictions in wages on the premise that imposing minimum wage on the imported Chinese workers would keep them from getting hired by the Mariana Islands’ businesses, and that would mean (horrors!) the workers wouldn’t hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, wouldn’t get Bibles to save their souls and they wouldn’t take those Bibles back to China to save the rest of their peeps’ souls. What Reed failed to mention to his Alabama pawns is that the Chinese women worked in horrible conditions and were “forced to have abortions, forced to engage in prostitution, and forced to produce garments for pennies that said ‘Made in the USA.’” The revelation of these truths cost Ralph Reed the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of Georgia in 2006 and now “he’s back!” Oh God, deliver us from your people! (Ralph Reed, where you gonna’ run, where you gonna hide, sinner man? Did you ever hear the slogan: God is not mocked?)
“Reed’s was a monstrous lie by one of the monumental hypocrites of our time. Yet he marches on, Christian soldier to the end, turning the temple of faith into one big ATM. There’s a word for this in the Bible: Abomination.”— By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, BillMoyers.com [THIS STORY WAS ORIGINALLY REPORTED ON BILLMOYERS.COM.] http://www.salon.com/2012/09/01/ralph_reed_rises_from_the_ashes/)
A Mike Keefe Cartoon for the Denver Post||Punditkitchennews.icancheeseburger.com
I am discovering that being self-aware is probably one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Unfortunately, it isn’t a one-time deal; it is a constant and diligent examination—kind of like a yearly breast examination of the soul. Every new crossroad in life demands a poking and prodding and an x-ray of who we are to see if what we think we are is what others see. Without that revelation, there is no successful move into the next phase of life—there’s just one giant epic fail. Stay tuned—retirement transition to be posted in March 2013.
“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.”—August Wilson
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”—Carl Gustav Jung
“[I]t doesn’t matter whom you love or where you move from or to, you always take yourself with you. If you don’t know who you are, or if you’ve forgotten or misplaced her, then you’ll always feel as if you don’t belong. Anywhere. (xiii)”― Sarah Breathnach, Moving on: Creating Your House of Belonging with Simple Abundance
“We judge others instantly by their clothes, their cars, their appearance, their race, their education, their social status. The list is endless. What gets me is that most people decide who another person is before they have even spoken to them. What’s even worse is that these same people decide who someone else is, and don’t even know who they are themselves.”― Ashly Lorenzana
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