Calling attention to, or stressing the importance of, something while it’s in motion tends to be more destructive than objective in nature. For example, when a pitcher is in the midst of a no hitter, it’s not something to be discussed in the dugout. Similarly, sometimes it’s best for our awareness to be left unspoken. If a situation doesn’t benefit from our verbalized awareness, we are only truly self-aware if we know better to say nothing.
One of the many brilliant one-liners by comedian Steven Wright is, “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it.” May we keep this idea in mind when we become frustrated by the lack of positive change we see in the world. Instead of trying to change the world, may we focus our attention on altering ourselves to see the world differently. That’s a chore rooted in the realm of possibility.
Sometimes the best tool for the job is not in our own tool kit. We must borrow it from someone else. There is no shame associated with not owning every tool. The same goes for asking for help. If, however, we find that we keep needing to borrow the same tool, and don’t make a plan to acquire that tool for ourselves, and allow ourselves to become reliant on others to provide for us what we need, that’s no longer a tool they can provide for us. Awareness is not an object we can tangibly possess. Awareness is the gift we can only gift ourselves – a gift received by giving away old vision in favor for seeing anew, like parting clouds revealing that the sun has never run away to hide. Awareness is always radiantly present, and our egos make for cloudy days.
Overconfidence is a losing attribute and ironically the one that keeps us believing we’ve been winning all along. It’s the fog that impedes our visibility, our awareness.
Planning ahead and setting goals are good practice. However, if once we do so we become inflexible, we are setting ourselves up for failure. The writing process offers some valuable insight on the subject of planning and goal setting. Making a plan or setting a goal is akin to making an outline for an essay. That outline must then be followed by a shitty first draft, which requires editing. The editing process is an organic process that continues until our ideas are fully fleshed out and our intentions are presented with clarity and purpose.
The true goal of setting goals is to achieve something that’s not yet been attained. An initial idea will more often lead to a desired result if we include in our planning some space for reflection – some space for editing. Progress is not the result of a predetermined goal. Our determination, our firmness of purpose, is what needs to be inflexible – not the plan or the goal.
“If bullshit were liquid, we’d all be drowning!” Lucky for us, the amount of BS we encounter on a daily basis is behavioral in nature. Thus, we can protect ourselves with awareness, and choose not to get swept away by the metaphorical strength of its currents.
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, more commonly know as the DSM-V, categorizes about 157 different mental disorder. The roughly 1,000 page book lists all the criteria associated with these disorders, making it an encyclopedia of the unwell. Disorder, when defined in medical terms, means “to disrupt the healthy or normal functioning of,” with synonyms: dysfunctional, disturbed, unsettled, unbalanced, unstable, unsound and diseased.
The DSM has certainly evolved over the years, and it’s important to note that there are certainly persons that fit the true criteria, especially in regards to the more severe mental disorders, and so it’s surely important to understand these disorders in order for medical professionals to know how to help people to the best of their abilities.
On the other hand, where is the book describing the criteria for being a fully-functioning, well-balanced human, not afflicted by any dysfunction? As we know, this would not be a book, nor a pamphlet – it would fit on a single-page flyer. No human to ever live could author such a book. If it did exist, this one-page flyer would surely be placed in the fiction section rather than the self-help section, because it’s clearly fantastically unrealistic in nature. Therefore, it would appear that disorder is the norm, which makes disorder the true order of things. No life goes untouched by illness, struggle, conflict or pain. We know this! To seek to understand our pain for the sake of learning how to live with it and manage it is one thing – to use criteria of illness as an excuse as to why we can’t manage is missing the point entirely.