Self-awareness is key.
A few months ago I was at the doctor for my foot. When I go to the doctor my anxiety spikes, and I turn into one of two things: A rambling neurotic idiot, or an overly sensitive, yet extraordinarily articulate asshole.
I have a fear of doctors because I know that one day one is going to tell me I’m dying or pronounce me dead. It’s an extension of my fear of death. My anxiety causes me to think each and every time I go is going to be that day.
On this particular day, the doctor had a certain tone. The type of tone that, in normal circumstances, I would brush off.
Not that day. The condescending tone took me from zero to psycho in a matter of seconds. So, I yelled at the doctor and acted a fool.
Now, anyone who knows me knows it’s not my nature to yell at people. If I have something to say, I have a way of saying it that gets my point across.
I justified yelling at her for months, truthfully. “well, had they not had that tone, I wouldn’t have acted like that.”
I knew I was wrong in my thinking there, but my pride wouldn’t let me admit it. I still felt guilty though.
After several months went by, I had to go back. This time, after the appointment I spoke with the doctor alone and apologized. I did that for them and me. My anxiety was a reason, but it wasn’t an excuse. They probably didn’t even mean to sound that way.
I too have the affliction of the condescending tone. I have learned over the years to be more cognizant of my tone, but every now and then it comes out, and I can look like a jerk without meaning to. I tend to be more understanding of others because of this.
There was liberation in apologizing and admitting I was wrong, but what is even more liberating for me is being blessed with enough self-awareness to know why I acted a certain way. The only way to actually change what you do is to understand what made you do what you did.
Generally, I don’t have a conflict in my life. When it comes, I take a different road. It’s not that I fear it, if I’m honest I actually enjoy it sometimes and am quite good at it. What I have realized is that most conflict doesn’t bring anything positive to my life. It doesn’t improve anything, so why participate?
I’ve had my days where I took the bait like a trout on the first day of the season. It was like a high for me. Not about attention, but about the victory I felt I would have.
Those days are over. I choose my battles wisely now. If I am up someone’s ass about something these days, I have good reason to be, although I doubt those on the receiving end will agree with me there.
I see others constantly embroiled in conflict and I ask myself why. How do they live in a constant tornado with something always going wrong? Is it for the attention or the victory?
Self-pity, blame, anger, and grudges are some of the most common traits I see in these types. What I very rarely see, is them recognizing their own faults.
These types fight with their so-called “friends” over pettiness and seek attention for every. Single. Minor. Event. It’s always the fault of others.
That, I do not understand. I’m not saying people should roll around blaming themselves for what others do because that would be stupid and on the opposite side of the spectrum. But, reacting is a choice. They can choose not to respond just as I could have decided not to respond to the doctor the way I did.
Sometimes I feel it’s impossible for others to self-reflect or acknowledge their responsibility in a situation.
A few months back, a long lost friend found me on Facebook. We were good friends throughout high school and beyond. I’ve known him since elementary school.
He and I were having a conversation, and in response to something I said, he responded with “You know, you were pretty mean to me in middle school. But, I know those other kids picked on you, so it’s okay. You were much nicer in high school.”
No, it’s not okay, and I should not be excused for it. Yes, I was twelve, picked on, strange, and fighting to figure out where the fuck I fit in, but that doesn’t EXCUSE my behavior.
I didn’t recall being horrible to him, but I don’t doubt that I was. The fact that it was bad enough for him to remember breaks my heart.
I was a total jerk between the ages of 11 and 13. I know this. I love when I am confronted by those I tormented for several reasons: It allows me to apologize for things I may have forgotten; it enables me to show my growth, and it reminds me that I am not any better than anyone else.
I’ve apologized to those I have wronged over the years as I’ve come across them. I even sought some of them out, several of whom will likely read this. They’ve forgiven me, and I have forgiven myself because I know WHY I was like that.
What is interesting, is I have yet to receive an apology from anyone who has ever done me wrong. Ever. Most of them don’t believe they did anything wrong at all. In fact, I am sure some are probably reading this while rolling their eyes. They should probably really think about why they are doing that.
You know what, I will take that back. There are two, and we went on to have outstanding friendships.
I don’t say that because I need apologies, I’ve moved on, but to make an observation when it comes to how the majority of people act. I firmly believe they merely lack the self-awareness to recognize their own faults and are too preoccupied finding the flaws in others to see the fault within themselves.
I can imagine taking responsibility is difficult with that mindset.
Furthermore, I think the inability to self assess and be self-aware is indicative of the shallow nature of human thinking, but that is a whole other talk show.
I feel like everyone should sit down and write down their faults, how they perceive that it impacts their situations, and see if the trail leads back to themselves. It may lead to internal change and ultimately a shift in mindset and improve their lives.
I believe it would lead to relationships of better quality, forgiveness, and self-love.