Living Lists: Modelling My ‘Bad’ Behaviour 3

Continued from: Modelling My Bad Behaviour 1 & 2

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

Photo courtesy of my imagination.

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!

It’s the Patene strategy: “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”.

“It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”
90s Australian ad slogan for Pantene shampoo

From now on, I’ll be adding my self-reflections on some of my less ideal habits in this section: Living Lists Embryos

10 thoughts on “Living Lists: Modelling My ‘Bad’ Behaviour 3

  1. Realizing that we can have nasty parts to our personalities is hard, but it is necessary, if we’re going to stay self-aware and live our best lives. We have to know what we’re working to improve, so that we don’t miss our own healing and growth. Thanks for reminding us that we can ALL do better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, it can be so hard having those realisations. That’s why I feel quite strongly about conducting conversations about these things in a way that normalises the existence of what we judge as ‘bad’ within ourselves. I really believe it’s the shame and judgement that makes it too painful for people to have these realisations and grow from them. Thanks for you comment Victoria! You seem to always have words of insight and encouragement.

      Like

    1. Thanks Phill! I’m glad you found it interesting. It’s hard to know, isn’t it, how others will find our writing outside of the contexts of our own minds. Thanks for the compliment. Self-awareness is 100% a skill we can deliberately develop (actual mind tricks and exercises even), and from reading your writing, you’ve obviously developed a lot throughout your journey.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Michael! Well, I’m definitely a big proponent of self-awareness (in case you hadn’t noticed : P), so I do agree it’s an important skill for all of us (inc. myself) to keep developing if we can realise its use. Liberating and confusion-busting in fact.

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    1. Thank you Chloe! I’m so with you in that self-awareness is crucial for learning and growth. My whole blog is littered with references to self-awareness. I feel like a broken-record, which in itself shows it’s something important to me, so I’m going to keep banging on about it! Thank you for your comment : )

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  2. Interesting post on self-awareness! I believe it’s a good thing because I don’t see anything wrong with being aware of who we are. I understand that it may not feel good or we may not like what we see or feel about ourselves, but in there lies an opportunity for growth. An opportunity to look into an area of our lives that we may have ignored for a while. Thanks for this thought-provoking post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ye! I feel the same about the value of becoming aware of who we are, and using experience of the ‘not good feelings’ about ourselves as an opportunity for growth. I also really see that the personal, external and cultural judgement and consequent shame can really act as barriers for people to feel safe in gaining this awareness (you’ve obviously undergone a process of overcoming this barrier yourself) and so persistence of a lack of self-awareness really makes sense to me. This section of my blog is predicated on the snowball ‘awakening’ effect of hearing someone else neutrally explore what our culture perceives as faults, without all of the negative connotations and from less of the superior, distancing standing of ‘enlightened guru’.

      Liked by 1 person

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