"If more of us treated mistakes in a loving and compassionate way, I think we would have a more peaceful, prosperous, and intelligent world." Real education inspires sharing, generosity, love, and compassion for other people, our planet, and ourselves. We are all human beings, and real human beings make mistakes"
--Robert Kiyosaki, financial educator, from Fake: Fake Money, Fake Teachers, Fake Assets (216, 225)
As we move into the ever-changing world, I recommend taking a deep breath, slowing down, and re-assessing. Who do you want to be? What sort of life suits you? And what would you need to embrace in order to move in the direction of these aspirations?
Many of us may be ready to engage in the world in a way that is not yet advisable or permitted. While the limits that have been imposed may be frustrating, they simultaneously offer us an opportunity for self-reflection. Often, summer plans do not include inward-facing assessment, but, given our collective circumstance, using this time to bring more clarity and awareness into our lives may be a fruitful option.
Whatever you do this summer, welcome the experience into your being. Life is for living—in all of its seasons and circumstances.
We each have our strengths, and, often, we like to play to them. When we demonstrate expertise, we feel safe and valuable. However, life places us in various situations, only some of which are comfortable and familiar.
When faced with new and uncomfortable situations, we can acknowledge our vulnerabilities, insecurities, and ignorance—and, perhaps, even our ineptitude—or we can attempt to convert the new situation into one in which we have some know-how.
For instance, my father is a teacher. He is professionally accomplished, but never figured out how to father. Luckily, teaching is an aspect of parenting. I received a great education from my father, but not much support, encouragement, protection, presence, understanding, or love. I suspect that embracing the more emotionally-toned aspects of fathering would have required opening a door that had been closed long before I entered the picture.
While the case of my dad is poignant, I regularly see this sort of misfiring. For instance, consider the possibility of a nurse who constantly checks a spouse’s health, or a lawyer who only knows how to interact with others by challenging and opposing them. Commonly, people mistake friendship for therapeutic counseling. Or, conversely, perhaps you have found yourself thinking and feeling that a friend is interesting, but not friendly. These issues arise frequently.
Part of relating with others involves recognizing the defining elements of the interactions. For instance, if one is at work, then one is expected to showcase professional skills—and not personal tribulations. Likewise, if one is on a date, one might prefer to be charming over competitive. If one is a friend, then one may wish to be friendly. Different roles call for different facets of ourselves to be front and center—and they call for different abilities.
Awareness includes knowing our own strengths, talents, weaknesses, fears, and limitations. In other words, self-awareness is key to developing awareness generally. However, here I wish to point to the importance of having awareness of others, as well as the many roles that we play in relation to them. Even in the same relationship, different contexts will call for us to fill different roles. As we move through these interactions, we may decide to be cognizant of the role that we are playing each moment.
And, we will encounter the need to perform roles that we may not be equipped to handle perfectly. Rather than trying to change the role to fit the skill-set, I recommend taking a deep breath, acknowledging that it is a new situation, and asking what would be helpful and appropriate.
Am I the person I wish to be in this relationship and context?
Heidi Szycher, PhD
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