In this episode of the Disgruntled Life Coach Podcast, the conversation will be awareness, and it’s pretty deep, so buckle in. We’ll start off with quotations, as usual, then the main segment will focus on knowing yourself, others, on your place int he world, and we’ll finish off with a Disgruntled Nugget – a little piece of wisdom you can take with you, or not, I don’t care. Also thx to Audionautix and Partners In Rhyme for the music and sound effects.Support the show
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So this episode will focus on awareness, and that’s a huge subject. I’m going to break it down into three distinct components though, self-awareness, awareness of others, and awareness of your environment. And, yes, I know we talked about environment and all that trash in the last episode, but this episode will take a different angle, though don’t ask me which angle exactly because putting me and math in the same sentence is like pissing on a tire fire, I don’t think I need to elaborate.
First up in the quotations department, we have James Grover Thurber, an American cartoonist, author, humorist, journalist and playwright known for his cartoons that appeared in The New Yorker, and for writing a short story, turned play, adapted to a movie twice, called The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, as well as other notable publications. He said: "Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness." And who has not looked back in anger, despite overrated musician and cardinal idiot Noel Gallagher telling us not to. No one really listened to him anyway. Still, the "look around in awareness" part of that quotation is what we'll focus on.
Next, we have Abraham Harold Maslow. He's a remarkable American psychologist and professor at many noted institutions, including Columbia - well la-dee-dah - who was best known for developing his Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - still, to this day, a valid model of personal psychological needs. His contribution to this discussion states: “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” This is why we're starting with self awareness today, because Dr. Maslow is exactly right. Wow, is that me saying something positive about someone? Holy crap.
Our last quotation comes from Phillip Calvin McGraw better known as mediocre television one-liner , former clinical psychologist and Oprah fanboy Dr. Phil. Despite being more self than help, he did say something really apropos when he stated: "Awareness without action is worthless." That's really key here because just being aware is only a fraction of it - it's what you do with that awareness that counts.
So we know that awareness, by definition, is a noun meaning knowledge or perception of a situation or fact. I'm going to come back to this a few times, as I already did in the quotes, by saying again how important it is to see the two sides of this: Knowing a thing, and then acting on that thing. Say I'm totally aware that my 1972 Pinto could possibly explode, and I drive it anyway, and it does explode, what good was the awareness in the first place? I mean, yeah, who wouldn't want to be behind the wheel of the luxurious 1972 Pinto with power-assisted front brakes, rack and pinion steering, and lux interior - just kidding about the interior, it was plastic. But I digress, we want to focus on where you find awareness, and then what to do with that awareness to make your life less Pinto-y and somewhat better.
So here's the first thing to come to grips with - you probably don't even know who you are. You have a vision of yourself, possibly way more positive or negative than you should, but here's the problem - it's pretend. That's right, you construct who you think are and that stops you from really knowing what's going on in your life. In fact, you may not see the actual "you" at all. In a seminal text titled Psychology and the Human Dilemma by noted existential psychologist and cat lover Rollo May, the "Dilemma" noted in the title refers to the idea that people may perceive themselves simultaneously as both object and subject. That is, an active subject capable of making rational decisions and choices in order to lead the life they want, but also the hapless victim of external forces beyond control. So can it be both? Maybe. Is Rum-raisin ice cream Rum or raisin? Yeah, that’s exactly the level of philosophy we're reaching for here. But the truth is, it can be both. We should, absolutely, be aware of that just like we should be aware that our underwear is on backwards. Excuse me for a minute.
Okay, I’m back, and just in time to segue into awareness of others, and this, as always with me, hinges on empathy, at least to a degree. This is almost two layers of awareness: awareness that you live on a planet with other people, and awareness that those people also have needs and wants. I’m not saying you should know everyone by their first name and favourite dog breed, I’m just saying that you need to, at best, try to apply the gold-plated rule and, at worst, not be a dick to those around you. I have seven pillars for a reason, maybe you should review them.
And, lastly, let’s talk about being aware of the environment. I know I kicked you in the arse about this last episode, but this time it’s less about waste and more about how we ignore the living things around us to a large degree. We’re no longer saddened, or angered, by the large amount of road kill around us, and we tend to see much of our urban wildlife as vermin instead of living things trying to survive in a toxic, dangerous unfriendly environment that we created. Just our outdoor cats alone kill 3.8 billion birds in North America, putting some native species on the endangered list. We poison rodents, and then those dead animals kill birds of prey who, given a chance, would take care of that problem for us without the poison. The plants, trees and animals around us are important, and we should be thinking of them as treasures. Not, you know, like pirate treasure that can put your kid through a year of university, at best, but natural treasures.
So, let’s figure out what you need to do to be a better person, live a better life, and maybe win at Scrabble. I’m kidding, you suck at Scrabble, always have. You should be aware of that by now.
So what does it mean to be self aware? In a well-written article called What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) by Dr. Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist, researcher, and New York Times bestselling author, it comes down to asking ourselves the right questions, and maybe not liking the answer. It's not about just looking at yourself, but rather, knowing what to look for. And here's one of the key takeaways from the article: When you see a problem that you created, don't ask "why" - ask "what". For example, when you lost your work laptop filled with important data, don't ask why you're a tragic loser, ask yourself what you need to change so that it doesn't happen again. It might be as simple as creating a checklist, or it may be that you need to reevaluate how you treat things important to you and others. Looking inwards, and really trying to see what you're doing, and asking questions about doing things better and being better and more organized - these are difficult things. But when done correctly, they become who you are quickly, and you can use that and even pass that along to others. Not like your strep throat from a couple years ago. Well sort of, but not the disease thing, positive thinking instead.
As for awareness of those around you, I’m going to say it’s not that different form self-awareness in that, you need to ask the questions. You need to know that everyone has issues, everyday, and you solving just your issues doesn’t make everything better, and not being aware of the issues of others may even hold you back, regardless of your sparkling new self-awareness. Apply the same exploration tools to your friends, family members and colleagues. If their lives are better simply because of your awareness, your life will be better as well. If everyone has ice cream, life is smoother than if only you have the ice cream, and not that Rum-raisin shit either.
Finally, and I’m not going to get too preachy here, but for fuck sake, try to have some empathy towards the little bit of nature you have around your urban nightmare. For gawd sake, the animals have been here for millennia, you’ve been here for 15 fucking seconds. Try to not be enemies with every living thing. If you start your sentence with “I hate...” and finish it with some animal name, you’re doing it wrong. Instead, look at how interesting and fascinating these things are! Do you hate mosquitoes and spiders? What the hell do you think spiders eat? Geez. Snakes, amphibians, bats and birds too – they eat the bugs you hate. Just chill, stop killing and poisoning things, keep your cats indoors, and don’t let your dogs chase wildlife – at the very least. C’mon people, live and let live. Jeesus. It’s not that friggin’ hard.
Okay, so that's it for this episode. As always, I'll leave you with a Disgruntled nugget in a second, but first I want to thank you for listening. Remember to subscribe to this podcast, I’m on all the major platforms platforms, and please visit www.disgruntledlifecoach.ca for all my podcasts – and, as always, yes you need the silly w-w-w. Please also follow me on twitter @lifedisgruntled, there's a link on my website and, if you DM me your address, I’ll send you a sticker or two. Also, if you like what you've heard today, tell your friends. If you think this is ridiculous, still, tell your friends, I mean how hard is that.
It has been said that we should be the change we wish to see in the world. But then Carl Rogers wrote that “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” Even muddier is when Maslow added that “It isn't normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.” So we're stuck with the need to know who we are to change, then be the change, when we can't know when or how to change so the world is the same because we accept ourselves not changing, or something, I don't know, whatever ...
Again, thanks for listening, and thanks also to Audionautix and Partners in Rhyme for music and sound FX, thanks again to Neatnik for visuals, and thanks for your patience - see you in two weeks, or not, whatever...