Do you ever surprise yourself? Wonder why you got crazy angry about something that now seems so small? Wonder why you made that dumb decision? Wonder why you shied away from a great opportunity? Wonder why you fell in love with a person you now consider a complete bozo?
I hope you do surprise yourself from time to time. Why? Because that’s a sign that you’re attuned to the complexity of your own psyche. You acknowledge (and forgive yourself) for not being a single, unitary, consolidated person. Instead, you are a person who is diverse, divided, growing and learning. Good for you – even though it may not always feel so good.
Yes, it can be painful to be aware of our splintered selves, especially when we exhibit traits that we don’t admire. Consider these examples:
You’re a giving person. Yet, there are times you want what you want when you want it. Are you always that way. No! But when you’re tired, hungry, impatient, that trait erupts. Do you own that selfishness? Or, do you project it onto someone else. “You’re the selfish one. It always has to be your way and your timing. I’m sick of it!”
You’re a smart person. Yet, there are times you have made some really stupid decisions. Do you own that ignorance? Or, do you blame it on others. “You made me do it. You drove me so crazy, I didn’t know what I was doing.”
You’re an open-minded person. Yet, there are times you are absolutely certain about a topic, dismissing any other perspective as half-baked. Do you own that rigidity? Or, do you explain it away as the ignorance of others. ”I don’t care what you heard on TV. It’s just plain wrong. They don’t know what they’re talking about and you shouldn’t listen to them.”
As you can see, when your psyche operates outside of your awareness, it corrupts your most intimate relationships. Why? Because no relationship can be more mature than the one you have with yourself. Deny your actions, squelch your emotions in the hopes that they will go away and watch them burst through when you least expect them to.
How often do you con yourself, thinking your motives are pure when they’re actually quite muddled? How often do you lie to yourself, inventing the purest of reasons for what you did, concealing the real reason? How often do you steal from yourself, swiping precious time and energy away from the life that you were meant to live?
I hope you will not continue to shy away from facing the mystery of your own psyche. Though it may be frightening, it will have a terrific payoff. Why? Because what remains unconscious continues to haunt you. How frustrating is it when you’re hooked into a repetition compulsion, repeating actions, arguments and pursuits that don’t work out well at all.
Being aware doesn’t just enlighten us. It opens our mind, changing how we think, what we do and ultimately, who we are. It benefits not only us, but those who are closest to us — including the generation yet to be born.
“It is a painful thing to look at your own trouble
and know that you yourself and no one else has made it.”
Linda Sapadin, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior.