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Monday, November 23, 2015

Throwing the Kitchen Sink at Self Awareness, Realization and Improvement

Kitchen Sink Post?  What's up with that?

For those who are Redneck phrase challenged, it stands for "Everything but the Kitchen Sink" - a reference to any activity, discussion, recipe or topic where you put everything into it...... everything but the kitchen sink.

Which is kinda what this post is about.

I had several ideas / concepts that have come to the forefront of my thinking based on recent experiences and events and they are all kinda interconnected and related so I'm gonna attempt to address them all.

So let's get started with Let's Make a Life and look at what's behind the following doors:
  1. Who You are may not  be WhoYou need to be.
  2. You can't live at 0 or 100 on anything.
  3. A Leopard can't change its spots.
  4. When you have to keep suppressing a natural desire to say something or react to something, you're probably in the wrong place or with the wrong people or both.
  5. Don't let the Button Pushers get to your Button.
"It's just Who I am.... you have to accept that."  

One of the Biggest Cop-out Bullshit statements ever perpetrated on Mankind.

Let me translate that statement for you into plain English.

"There are certain things about me and my personality that I need to work on but I've been this way for so long that I choose not to put out the effort to make a change." 

That's a much more honest and realistic statement.  

Change is a Choice..... It is in your Control.


You shouldn't live at 0 or 100 on anything.  

WTF are you talking about Wills?

It's a new Life Axiom I've been working on for quite a while now.  It's actually not new just something that has been coming to the forefront of importance for me.

Let's assume that any / all of our personal behaviors, actions, thoughts, beliefs, efforts, foibles, etc. can be placed on a scale of 0 - 100 where 0 is the extreme for lack of that particular characteristic and 100 is the extreme for abundance of that characteristic.

Rather than try to describe or explain this concept, let me just give you a personal example.

I am not a Social Person.... in fact I am pretty much a Loner.  I live alone, sleep alone, cook and eat alone and do nearly all activities in life alone.  I am happy being alone.... It took me about 50 years to figure that out and put it into practice but I'm finally there.

If I had to rate myself on the 0 - 100 scale in terms of Social Interaction / Activity, I'd probably rate myself like a 5.....which is like Anti-Social. 

What the Wills Theory of 0 - 100 says is that if you find yourself at the extreme end of the scale on any particular habit or characteristic..... Extreme being < 10 or > 90, you probably need to take steps to move a few percentage points toward the center of the scale.

So, for me, for my example on Social Interaction / Activity, instead of living in a state that qualifies for a score of 5, I need to start planning and acting on some activities or steps that will get me a little more involved in Social Activities to increase my rating to at least 15 - 20 as a target.

Doesn't mean I'm trying to become a Social Animal..... I just need to force myself to engage in some social interaction to help me with an area I am obviously weak in.

For me, this has meant going on 2 hikes a week with the Santa Fe Hiking Meet-up Group.  It also means arriving at my group exercise classes and Praxis workouts a few minutes earlier so I have the opportunity to talk with other earthlings.

Now let's take another example on the other end of the scale.

Let's say I'm a person who is naturally loud or obtrusively expressive.  I talk loud, laugh loud and am over the top in my reactions to relatively neutral topics and discussions.  I might rate myself a 95 or a 98 on the 0 - 100 scale on this particular characteristic..... which is too high.... it's too much of me being "Who I am".

What I need to do is find out ways to knock the edge off my highly expressive outbursts.  I can still be who I am.... just a rounded off version of the extreme person I was.

Incidentally, if you have trouble scoring yourself objectively, ask a couple of friends to score you.... that may be the best way to get a realistic evaluation.

Moving on.....

A Leopard Can't Change its Spots.

Geez Wills..... aren't you contradicting yourself here?

The first 2 items above are elements involving changing yourself to make you more effective and compatible in the world.... and now you say a Leopard Can't Change its Spots.

Whoa there Nelly!  Give me a chance to explain.

Well....maybe I should just dig the hole a little deeper first.

My derivation of this controversial phrase is as follows.....

A Leopard Can't Change its Spots..... It can roll in the mud and cover its spots but then it's just a dirty leopard.

Oh boy - that helped a lot.

Ok - here's the deal..... Some people are better at Self-Improvement than others.

For some, change is just too difficult..... I actually put myself in this category.

For those Leopards, the only option is to Recognize this Characteristic and the limitations that the inability to change / improve imparts on your life.

This means you have to realize what you're good at, what you're not good at, what situations / environment / people give you the most trouble....

And then structure your activities and interactions with the world such that you only engage in those that suit your characteristics and limitations.

Let me give you another personal example to illustrate this concept.

I worked in a Corporate environment for over 22 years in the Petrochemical Industry - in a vocation and positions that required me to work with other people of differing backgrounds, educations, goals and objectives.  It was challenging and frankly I was no good at it - the dealing with people part anyway.

No - let me rephrase that.... I sucked at it.

I simply don't work well with a group of people.  I work best alone.... Just give me a problem, a Scope of Work and a deadline and a few opportunities for me to communicate questions and approach for solution.... and let me at it.

I will never be good at working in a group.  If I have to, I can make it work.... for a short period of time, but in the end analysis.....

I end up just being a Dirty Leopard.

Probably one of the reasons I now work as an Independent Contractor.  

When you have to keep suppressing a natural desire to say something or react to something, you're probably in the wrong place or with the wrong people or both.

I was expressing a frustration with a particular outlook or activity to a friend of mine the other day and they responded with....

"Well - you just have to be more understanding with the way other people are because there are some things about you that people have to be understanding of."

Sound really reasonable right?  Problem is.... once again.... it's Bullshit.

More than likely, the reason why something is bothering you or frustrating you is because it goes against some core quality, characteristic, instinct or learned experience that you have.

It's a Warning Sign.... of an inevitable outcome.

And in my experience, it's much better to express your considered opinion early in the frustration process rather than later when it's built up to something bigger because of repeated occurrences where you have unnaturally suppressed the desire to say something.

Let me give you another personal example that illustrates this concept that just happened yesterday on a hike I was on.

It was another one of those disorganized hikes - something that has become somewhat routine lately maybe because our regular hiking leader is absent.  No disrespect to the interim Hiking "Organizers" as they prefer to be known... but suffice it to say that these hikes have become "Cluster Fucks" to put it nicely.  

And one of the characteristics of these Cluster Fuck hikes is that we get lost.... OK - not lost - we just can't find the trail....which to me qualifies as lost.

So anyway, yesterday, we're off trail and facing a really steep slope to get where we're going so I holler at the Leader who is 100 yards to my right trying to find the trail, and ask him if it's OK if I head up the hill.... I get authorization from him to do so - head to the top and we'll all meet there.... and I'm off.

Like a fucking Mountain Goat.... problem is that people are strung out all along the bottom of the climb.... and I guess some of them decide to follow me.

Whatever - that's their prerogative and peril.... I'm not the leader.... I'm not on these hikes to lead.... I just want to show up and follow the leader up the trail.

To make a Long Story Longer, I make it to the designated "Top" of the climb which is this neat dark rock outcropping and I find a nice projected perch on this rock formation and I sit down and have something to eat.

People are slowly making their way up the hill at different paces and by different paths.... which is fine by me.

I'm taking it all in, enjoying the view and munching a PBJ.

Folks start collecting at the top and there's calls to gather and count so I'm trying to provide some order to the chaos.

Well - this one lady makes her way up to me and proceeds to express her displeasure at folks going up the hill the way we did and leaving other people behind and not sticking together and blah blah blah.

So... I listen and explain to her that nobody knows where the trail is and I was told by the leader to press on and wait at the top which is what I did.

Well - she decides to keep on expressing her displeasure.... and she's looking at me..... and talking to me.

So I'm assuming it's directed at me..... cause what else can I assume?

And she just keeps on..... I mean I try to explain and she just won't shut the fuck up.

So finally I just told her.....  

"Listen - I guess you're used to talking to men who are used to being controlled by women and talked to by women like you're talking to me.... Well - I'm not one of those men."

This lady looked like she'd swallowed an egg.  I guess she'd never had a man talk to her like that.

Don't know and don't really give a shit.

I drew a line because I knew if this lady kept eating my ass out that I was gonna say something a helluva lot stronger than that.....

And I would probably be kicked out of the hiking group.

I have to give her credit.... she got the message and got off  my ass.

What's the point of this little anecdote?  I know me.... and I know what I like and don't like.... and I know how I respond when I'm faced with something I don't like.  I'm willing to be reasonable and put up with some bullshit.... up to a point.

Enough said.

And last but not least....

Don't let the Button Pushers get to your Button!

I gotta say.... this is the one that bothers me the most.

Because it's something I have really worked on for a long time.

Everybody has their weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

As described in the previous example, one of my weaknesses is people that just keep on hammering on a particular issue that I dislike or feel I am a victim of or that is unwarranted.

I put up several attempts at reasonable protests, defense and explanation and the Button Pushers of the world simply take no heed.

They just keep on it.... keep pushing the Button.... maybe they have some insatiable desire or obsession with getting a really bad reaction from me.... or they just don't know who they're dealing with.

Which was not the case with the example of Button Pushing that came this week.

The Button Pusher was the One Person in the World that I trusted.

Which was what was so surprising and disappointing.

After several occurrences of button pushing on one particular subject over the last few months, they finally got the reaction they wanted.

I'm sure it was pretty satisfying to them.... finally getting me to lose my temper.

As in most cases like this, it did me more damage than them.

But that's what the Button Pushers of the world get off to.... It creates some sense of Superiority and Accomplishment by finally getting somebody to respond to their goading.

Well Done Button Pushers of the World.... Well Done.

Reminds me of one of my favorite sayings from my Mother.

"Be careful of what you wish for..... cause you may get it."

It's called the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Let's wrap up this little Rant and Ramble through the World of Self Discovery with the following.

Self Improvement is all about understanding your strengths and weaknesses and creating a balance between them.

Make the Most of Who You Are because....

You're the only You You've Got!

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