Know thyself – the Oracle at Delphi
When I was sharing what happened between my mom and I, someone remarked, ‘that was good of your mom to recognize that she was mad at herself for getting mad at you’. And I thought, that’s interesting; are people not aware of their feelings?
Then there was this other discussion I had about how we notice in the moment, let’s say when we’re fighting, and we decide not to get really angry or react in a certain way, maybe in a way that we normally would. It’s like we are having an out-of-body experience, our own Groundhog Day in which we are acutely aware that we are at a crossroads.
Unfortunately, I haven’t always taken the high road. I’ve argued and I know when I’ve acted like a baby, throwing a fit, but I can’t seem to stop myself. Fortunately, I’ve worked hard on my personal relationships and learned to ‘fight right’ so that I’m not tossing cleavers or anything (See: mom #truestory).
So I could say I’ve made some progress there. However, I’m not so great at when I’m in a restaurant. No, I’m not one of those people who order, “Can I have scrambled eggs? But with the whites only? And could you not salt or pepper or season the eggs at all? And make sure the toast isn’t toasted too much, just a light toasting will do.” Nor, do I return the dish after it’s been served and it’s not what I ordered or not hot enough or something like that.
But! If they take too long I get super grouchy especially if I’m hungry. I get hangry (hungry + angry). When I first heard that term, I laughed so hard because I knew that was the perfect word to describe me. Traveling can be a ball of fun because of this. If I’m around other people I try to control it, but if I’m just around the BF, he knows I’ll let him have it.
Although, if a restaurant fucks up a few times, getting the food late to me and the bill wrong, I get pissy – and I don’t hide it and I don’t tip. I don’t know what it is about this situation. Restaurants. Yeah, they are my Achilles heel. Maybe I should have been a restaurant critic.
Being a teacher has trained me to be self-aware though. When I was learning how to be a Waldorf teacher, they pretty much hammer into your thick head that you have to be conscientious of how you dress, your body language and speech. Prior to that I was working at a children’s summer camp, and my boss told me that I had to clean up my potty mouth which I did. And before that, I was in high school and college theatre, so yeah, it has been decades of reminding myself of “what am I doing, how am I speaking and what am I saying”.
This makes me, in turn, aware of other people’s body language. When I walked by a classroom, I noticed one of the teachers sitting on his desk with his legs crossed, and I thought, “Oh, his crotch is at eye level for the students”. Or that time I was at a meeting and one of my colleagues was holding his red pen erect like a penis. I giggled and looked away. (Now, you might be wondering if I’m constantly looking at men’s packages, and I’d say, let’s save that conversation for another time.)
This isn’t to say that I haven’t done stupid things in the classroom. When I have, it’s been because of some spontaneous burst of energy that has caused the faux pax which is funny because I don’t consider myself a Jane-on-the-spot gal. In fact, I don’t like surprises and changes sprung last minute.
I’ll admit. I’m a planner. I like to plan things. So if you ask me if I want to join you guys for drinks or dinner after work, I’ll 99% of the time turn the offer down. However, if you told me a day or two ago of this plan, then the chances of me going have increased.
Because I know this of myself, I try to warn people. I like it best when I have time to digest when something has changed. Of course, in the classroom, I don’t have that luxury so it’s interesting that I’ve learned to adapt. I even expect it so maybe that’s where the difference is.
So how do you get to know yourself?
What are your values?
One way I’ve tried to tap into ‘what makes me click’ is looking at values. Taylor Pearson has this crazy list of values to choose from. You can read his post about it here.
Or you can scroll to the bottom and take a look at his long list and see if anything leaps out at you. My list hasn’t changed in a while. I might have to take another serious look at it soon, maybe when I’m more settled.
The Artist’s Way: Morning Pages
I read some of this book when I was in high school. I don’t think I was ready for the deep commitment or mature enough to appreciate it. I found a copy of the book when I was here in Thailand years ago and started to work through it again, but I ended up giving it to a friend who really wanted to dive into it.
Now I have a Kindle copy and I’m reading it again. I’m determined to get through it even though I don’t think the book really pertains to me because it seems to be about allowing your inner artist out to play. And yet, I like exploring things that don’t appear to have immediate appeal, if that make sense.
Anyway, one of the BIG things that she recommends that you do is write three pages in your journal as a ‘brain drain’ so that you have room to be creative. I suppose it’s like empting your mind of the junky bits, the stuff we fret about so that you can get to the good stuff lying underneath.
Even for an avid journal writer like me, three pages is a lot, so I’ve included a list of things that I’m grateful for and daily goals. I can already see how forcing yourself to write more is helping me evaluate what’s going on in me noggin, what I worry about, and make sense of life lately. I’d recommend it.
Living the life of the mind
I think it’s important to have distance from your self and a little resistance, too. That’s why even though it’s fun to take the Myers-Brigg personality test and read horoscopes and such, I don’t think you really can figure yourself out this way. We have a tendency to see ourselves in a certain light and we’re not always right.
“I’m a fairly patient person.”
“OMG. Are you kidding me? You are the worst!”
“You always freak out when we are waiting in line.”
Hesitates. Then laughs.
“Okay. Yes, I hate waiting in lines, but I’m patient with children.”
And so on.
I like reading non-fiction, I like reading blogs, articles, books, etc., that allows me to learn, grow and think. I’m definitely part of the ‘critical thinking’ generation + the ‘question authority’ group which has helped me to develop a strong independent voice.
These days, you don’t even have to love reading to gain all sorts of amazing knowledge. There are great YouTube channels that house university lectures, exercise programs, language learning and audiobooks all under the blessed sun. Podcasts are also a great source of information.
So for me, I feel like when we learn about other things, we do gain a better foothold of what we like, don’t like, what’s out there and that provides insight (and hopefully flexibility) into who we are.
How to you get to know yourself? And how well do you know yourself?