Many years ago, as a teenager, I was a part of an exchange program – two groups of teens from two different countries coming together to do some community service. Most of us in my group had just met; most of the members of the other group attended the same church. One afternoon we went to the pool. I wasn’t well and didn’t join them in the water, but sat in the lifeguard area with one of the facilitators. They all looked like they were having fun, but the facilitator commented that the two groups were completely separate, playing their own games. He wanted them to be more “together”. Without thinking I answered, “Yes, but they have to notice first.”
It’s like breathing. We don’t think about it, but we can’t survive without it.We have to be aware of those who want the best for us, and those with their own agendas.
We have to be aware of the people that bring us joy and make us feel comfortable, and those who bring us down.
We have to be aware of potentially dangerous situations.
We often become aware of a person’s presence before we see him or her.
We have to have self-awareness to know when we’ve outgrown a situation, and when it’s time to move on or move forward.
We need to be aware of how different people and situations influence our behavior.
We make decisions based on how aware we are.
We have to notice.
The thing is, being aware of something or someone doesn’t guarantee that we will make good decisions.
It really doesn’t.
Awareness is only the beginning. After we become aware of something we have to figure out what it means. All kinds of biases enter here. Our past experiences enter here. Others’ opinions enter here. All our unresolved issues – you know, from those same past experiences and negative opinions – enter here. We have this built-in awareness mechanism providing us with all this useful information, but we allow our baggage to corrupt the information and therefore the result.
We need to notice that.
We usually have the information or access to the information we need to make good decisions. Yet, many of our decisions are… less than great.
We nurture hurt, we listen to and participate in gossip, we believe those who say negative things about us, we try to please those who don’t approve of us, we put ourselves in situations we know are bad for us, we refuse to leave unhealthy situations – and each time we go against that built-in information-gathering mechanism it becomes less and less effective in our lives.
It’s like what smoking does to breathing. Makes it less and less effective. Breathing still comes naturally, but it becomes more labored and the process left efficient.
All our voluntary processes are voluntary for several reasons. Two of those reasons are:
1) We can’t be trusted to be consciously responsible for these most important things
2) If we had to manage and monitor all of them, we wouldn’t be able to do anything else.
Let’s not waste the gifts we have been given. Stop clouding your ability to be aware. Let go of those things and/or people that prevent you from making good, much less great decisions. Don’t allow others to think for you or to determine how you see yourself. Notice when these things are happening, and do something about them.
You wouldn’t give up breathing because someone said they didn’t like the way you breathe, would you? Being aware is too important to living for you to allow others to cloud it.
Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts on the matter. Thanks.