This ‘living lists’ concept seems a bit obscure and hard to comprehend, I know. That’s because the self-reflections of others don’t smack us in the face with our own ‘failings’ like a spoken criticism. Because they don’t come running at us with someone else’s agenda like a bunch of instructions or advice. Because we’re free to take from it what’s relevant to us, and recognise ourselves in the privacy of our own minds, without pressure in any direction from outside as it’s someone else’s story. Because we’ve had the freedom to make the learnings our own, the source of the self-insights we gain from hearing about others is often unrecognisable.
I think it’s precisely the gentleness and subtlety of this effect that gives self-reflection both its power and its under-recognition as a worthwhile tool for communication. So it’s rarely actively used as a form of self-expression, to build ongoing intimacy and understanding between people, for exploration of our humanity, to foster acceptance and self-awareness in each other. We preference advising, telling, instructing, critiquing, narrative- all very useful for particular purposes. However, they often neglect the internal processes the teller has undergone. They output product and neglect the process.
Owing to this subtlety, I’ll employ a psychologically manipulative technique for persuasion of the benefits of something. The testimonial. I’m going to self-testimonialise the rationale for my living lists.
Self-Testimonial: The Pantene Strategy
Hi! All my life I’ve been viewed as a ‘good’ person, kind, moral and empathetic… Relative to the spectrum of what’s possible in people. That’s what everyone told me, and no-one ever told me I was ‘bad’ as a whole person. Gee Whizz! This image of myself makes me look something like pure ‘goodness’.
Holy mackerel! In my youth I’d often feel frustration with others. Why can’t they act like me?? We must be fundamentally different. That frustration with other people was hard to experience, preoccupying sometimes. It made me wonder though, what is that difference?
Leapin’ lizards! That’s where my handy helper, ‘Self Awareness’ came to the rescue. I began to notice that my good ‘actions’ didn’t happen because I never felt or thought the ‘bad’ things! No sirree Bob! My ‘good’ actions were made possible only by my awareness of these seemingly ‘bad’ thoughts and feelings and how they might motivate me if I don’t make other choices!!
And Bob’s your uncle! Self-Awareness taught me that I get jealous too! Self-absorbed! Judgemental! Mean! Unknowingly manipulative! And all the other things I judge other people for and that ‘good’ people supposedly don’t experience.
What dark arts are these? Learning more and more about how this worked in my mind and my emotional patterns, I became delighted with realising a paradox. The single most effective skill for living life in a way that matches my values of what a ‘good person’ is, is to use Self-Awareness to really understand how my negative emotions and thoughts motivated me in ways against how I ideally wanted to be. I discovered what a wonderful perceptual illusion defensiveness is! Indulging in defensiveness gives me instant relief > Self-Awareness gets a dose of psychological capsicum spray > I can’t take responsibility for the negative impacts on myself and other people > I’ll just keep acting like my own idea of someone I may not like > Indulge in defensiveness > and round it goes!
Well, who wouldda thunk it?! It was making friends with my ‘bad’ stuff that helped me be so-called ‘good’! The ‘bad’ stuff all seems pretty normal and neutral to me now, really! The more important consideration to me these days is not about this stuff being shameful or bad (I don’t care!). I care most about how I act upon it and how I make amends. I am inevitably motivated by these things sometimes, because, well, turns out I’m not a supernatural being?! Golly gosh, I’m a normal complex human animal! So’s everyone else! Wow! The more I use my self-awareness to get comfortable with the spectrum of myself, the less I act in ways that I myself wouldn’t approve of!
Peace on (my) Earth! Self-Awareness has really decreased my feelings of frustration with other people. Everything it’s taught me has enabled me to try to act kindly towards others, even when I don’t like their behaviour. That’s because Self-Awareness helped me develop a whole lot of mad skills for communicating and interacting. This works well for me because I mostly get respect in return. Fancy that. I also trust my ability to make healthy choices about who I rely on and invest in! Turns out I don’t have to be dependent on the lottery of everyone else’s actions!
Thank you Self-Awareness! You’ve made my life easier. A special shout out to your affiliates self-acceptance, self-esteem, agency, empowerment, empathy, choice, empathy, self-determination, empathy. Thanks also to your products- healthy, close, growing relationships- “The only accessory any human will ever need“! And also to your technical team: self-reflection and the self-insights of others that have helped me consider my emotions, thoughts and behaviour from perspectives I hadn’t previously. Here’s to a life-long, continually developing partnership!