Sunday, August 09, 2009

Don’t be Afraid to See What You See*

I’ve always thought that this brief sentence was profound.  So many times we are afraid to see things as they really are, whether because of fears, ideology, embarrassment,whatever.  What is really happening will go ahead and happen whether we acknowledge it or not, and sometimes the consequences of avoiding or ignoring what is happening can be pretty serious.  An example:  Well, most people who have heart attacks don’t acknowledge that they are having a heart attack.  Perhaps they are afraid of dying, or afraid that it will be embarrassing if they call an ambulance but turn out to just have gas.  I’m sure there are myriad reasons why we don’t acknowledge the reality that we are having a heart attack,but the reality is that about half of us deny that little voice inside us when it says “You’re having a heart attack.”  This advice, taken to heart and applied just to heart attacks would save thousands of lives each year.  

In a more ethereal, but no less important way, it is impossible to achieve deep personal emotional development without accepting this simple idea.  Psychologists understand that we are only able to fully develop as people, parents, artists, athletes, leaders, etc, if we are willing to look at ourselves and accept the truth of what we see.  Introspection is the essential ingredient in personal development, and in achieving our potential in most every activity or role we play in life.  Without the willingness to ‘see what we see’; to examine our actions, motivations, beliefs and desires, we simply cannot adapt them, or adapt our behaviors to achieve better results or deeper fulfillment, happiness, etc.

I believe that most of the time, we know what our failings and shortcomings are, just as we know most of the things we need to do to accomplish the things we desire.  Sometimes we choose to acknowledge these, and we are able to improve upon them and achieve, or find deeper personal fulfillment.  To a large extent the role of a therapist, coach, clergyman, etc., is to facilitate in us a greater level of introspection.  I know that they also provide information that helps in our development (dribble the ball with your fingertips, for example), but a large part of what they do is help us to face our fears and see what we see.

“Accept the things to which fate binds you… Love the people with whom fate brings you together…do so with all your heart.”   ---Marcus Aurelius


*-I am only giving attribution for the quote here at the end because I wanted to avoid the extraneous prejudices and resulting sidetracking of the idea that various opinions of the person to whom this quote is attributed would have caused.  The quote is attributed to Ronald Reagan.


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Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
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