install now OR remind me later?

Recently I read; Is Self-Awareness a Mirage? by David Brooks in the New York Times. It got me thinking…are there better questions to be asking myself at nearly fifty-five?

“Maybe we can’t know ourselves through the process we call introspection. But we can gain pretty good self-awareness by extrospection, by closely observing behavior. (Nicholas) Epley stressed that we can attain true wisdom and pretty good self-awareness by looking at behavior and reality in the face to create more accurate narratives.”

Is Self Awareness a Mirage? By David Brooks, New York Times

Here’s my go to story (personal myth) about myself: I was a very independent young person and this affects almost all of my behaviors. I didn’t even want my mom to walk me to kindergarten, I was only four.

Do decades old explanations about the WHYs of my behavior matter as much as current observations of WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW I behave?

Hummmmmmmmmmm…

My independence was a strategy I adopted based on my nature and circumstances. The story of it has served me well and is a character trait I’m often proud of often.

However, like most concepts of self, there’s a shadow side too.

Perhaps it’s time to update my operating system and not overly rely on old myths about my younger self.

My independent nature is no excuse for outsized and often confusing responses to basic questions from my family.

When will you be home? What’s for dinner? Who are you texting? Are you busy now?

Good grief, these questions are not immediate threats to my sense of youthful independence. Responding as if they are though, can be hurtful and confusing to the people I love the most.

So, thank you Younger Self, I’m truly grateful for all of the stories/myths of my life. I promise to summon you when spontaneity, risk, and fun are in question. You’re a great resource for those areas of my life.

I have to be honest though, your operating system doesn’t make quite as much sense to me in midlife…it’s time to look forward and hit install now, instead of remind me later.

our virtual connectedness…

Yesterday in therapy it was suggested to me that perhaps I try only check my mail once or twice a day and put myself on a “news diet”. Well, this sounded a bit drastic when all I said was that the world seems far too anxious right now. However, this morning thanks to David Brooks at The New York Times I have a better understanding of what our hyper-vigilant (and virtual) relationships are doing to our collective consciousness. Yikes!

VIRTUAL:

1: being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted

2: being on or simulated on a computer or computer (Merriam Webster)

This is a very quick read.

EXCERPT: People ensconced in social media are more likely to be on perpetual alert: How are my ratings this moment? They are also more likely to feel that the amount of attention they are receiving is inadequate.

If you orient your life around money, you will never feel you have enough. Similarly, if you orient your life around attention, you will always feel slighted. You will always feel emotionally unsafe.

—David Foster Wallace, Kenyon College commencement address

The crybully starts with a genuine trauma. The terrible thing that happened naturally makes the crybully feel unsafe, self-protective and self-conscious to the point of self-absorption. The trauma makes that person intensely concerned about self-image.

The problem comes from the subsequent need to control any situation, the failure to see the big picture, the tendency to lash out in fear and anger as a way to fixate attention on oneself and obliterate others.”

I’m going to try to check my mail only twice and get away from my computer today. My eyes have been extra tired lately and would really welcome the break, as would my consciousness it seems.