In life there are very little that we as humans have control over. We cannot control the weather, we cannot control if someone loves us or not In fact, we cannot control other people at all… but we can control ourselves. We do this by knowing ourselves. Knowing what you are capable of, knowing what makes you angry and what makes you shy. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and knowing how to deal with these facets.
A phrase that I have begun to believe less and less is “people will never change”. PHA_LEASE!! That is a load of BS. People are made to change, our environment changes all the time and if we do not change with it, it will break us. A very wise man in my life says: “Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape” Knowing yourself makes you flexible.
Knowing yourself opens up a WHOLE world of possibilities ready to be conquered. If you know that you are deathly allergic to bee stings, you carry an epi pen with you and avoid bee hives like the plague. Similarly, if you know you are prone to be Mr/Ms Procrastination reincarnate, then (ideally) you should eliminate all possible means of procrastination. If you know that one of your strengths are to be able to memorise movies that you have only watched once or twice… ok, to be honest I do not know how this benefits anyone, apart from providing laughs through the one-woman theatre (complete with accents and dances) and drawing awkward stares from people who have not watched said quoted movie. My point is, you can control a little bit of the world around you if you simply spend some time with yourself.
Say, hypothetically, you and X (it could be Professor X, yes) are walking along in a park. You did not sleep well (and you know that sleep plays a major part in your happiness or another’s impending doom) and the nearest coffee cart mysteriously had no coffee. Forces are conspiring against you and you feel the tug of anger. X is a close friend who asked for this walk because X has a heavy heart and needs a shoulder. All of a sudden a group of children run towards you, one of the little er… bundles… bump into you and their brightly coloured, sugar filled, ice cream smears all along your clothes. You have an important thing to go to and now you look like a strawberry ice cream. Your agrometer just went from dormant to explosive. All of this while X is pouring from a broken heart.
You snap and tell them to pull themselves towards themselves and to just suck it up and not be a pansy. But prior experience with X has taught you that tough love does not glean the anticipated result. X retreats into a ball in the space of their emotions and you are left with a friend who is even more hurt than they were before, by someone they trusted, and now on top of being tired you have major damage control.
Extreme example but it happens. How could this have been avoided? You know you need sleep and a good quality set of it, you know that your backup is coffee and you know for a fact that you have a deep dislike for the smaller younger human species. So, when X asked you to go for a walk, you could have said:
- “Sure thing, let me get some coffee before we go cos I am cranky as all heck today.”
- “Do you maybe want to come over and relax here, were there is privacy and no threat of small humans and I have coffee.”
- “Sure thing”, and pull yourself towards yourself, put your crankiness aside because at the time your close friend needs you. And because being a grown up means being able to cope with the occasional sleep deprivation and bad coffee situation and, of course, going to a park means KIDS.
If you know that a certain action is followed by a certain reaction from yourself, you can control the outcome of a situation. Getting home after work and plonking on the bed is an action that is closely followed by watching mindless series until it is too late to be productive and you give up and go to sleep. So by avoiding plonking onto the bed, you force yourself to be more productive. We can’t control what happens in life but we can control how we react and we do that by knowing ourselves.
I think this song suits the post. Who doesn’t secretly like a bit of ABBA.
It’s not enough to just know ourselves and accept ourselves with the noted flaws. No, we need to be mature enough to change the characteristics that tend to stab others. If you know that you tend to retreat into a ball of anti-socialism (even if you are THE social butterfly) and cut yourself off of the real world every few months, then you already know what the problem is. Yes, it’s a problem, because you can’t expect people to stick around while you emotionally hibernate for months on end only to come and bombard them with socialness. Make an active effort to at least keep in touch even if you are feeling anti-social. Just a suggestion.
People can change, and it is our knowing ourselves that enables that.