You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘self-awareness’ tag.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

Conflict is inevitable, but combat is not. (Max Lucado)

I believe that babies arrive in this world good. And, yet I also believe in the concept of original sin—as in babies show up self-focused because that’s what’s developmentally appropriate for a new creature who must figure out how to stay alive and well in the outside world. A baby isn’t worried about the self-preservation of anyone else yet—and that makes sense. To them it really is all about them when they first arrive. Babies don’t care if parents want to sleep or eat or whatever. They want what they want (need?) right now—no conflict in their minds.

However, as we grow, we begin to understand that others matter, too. But, boy is it hard sometimes to get ourselves to do for others and/or to be aware enough to realize that sometimes what might be right for us isn’t necessarily right for others or what they want. How we resolve those conflicts between our desires and those of others is really, really tough. Talk about conflicted, right?

I grew up in a home where my father tended to think my mother would want what he wanted, even if she expressed otherwise—which to be fair to him, she did not do often enough. By the time she started stating more of what she thought—after over twenty-five years of marriage—he didn’t really hear her. Sure she said she didn’t want to go to the football game, but who doesn’t want to go to the football game? Of course she would be tired from staying at the cast party but isn’t everyone tired?

I confess I am more like my father than my mother. As much as I try to figure out what others might want, sometimes I’m really into what I want. If there is only one chocolate left in the cabinet, am I going to save it for my husband (who also loves chocolate) or eat it? I’m fairly certain I fall more on the selfish line with that sort of thing, but I try to be a person who hears when someone expresses a direct request. (So, Sherman, if you’re reading, give me some direction on this chocolate thing!)

And sometimes we have to learn the lesson of awareness of others the hard way—by being told when we’ve been steamrolling over someone else. I am still embarrassed that my friend/employee had to tell me that you don’t joke about firing someone. Talk about insensitive—pointing out power differences and making light of someone else’s livelihood. I blush every time I think of that. But I changed. Thank goodness she was willing to say something to me and yet still remain my friend. She likely protected me from alienating others in my life in my days since then.

Then I also remember times I have stated my boundaries and/or my reasoning behind any boundary, but not felt heard. The other person continued to do what I asked him/her not to do or flat-out told me he/she wouldn’t change just because I wanted that change. I don’t want to be like my mother with my father and leave others guessing as to what I really think, but if the response I receive is not sufficient for my self-preservation, I either keep others at a distance or no longer invite them in my circle at all.

Some behaviors are considered universally objectionable and others are personally objectionable. If my request seems unreasonable to you, then maybe we have to agree to disagree.

Truth? I hate conflict—I want to get along with everyone and believe the best of everyone. But that is as unrealistic as thinking that those who don’t agree with me are horrible people from the get-go. We are all individuals who are likely to think differently in many ways from one another. Conflict is inevitable but there is some choice as to how we handle that conflict together and how often we are in conflict.

Back to that chocolate thing—I’m certain my husband probably recognizes that I’m a bigger boundary encroacher than he is. However, he is the epitome of that still waters running deep expression. If a boundary matters to him, it has mattered to him for a long time and when he finally mentions it, he’s going to mean it. Unlike my father, though, I think I realize that maybe that also means I’m going to have to listen harder and consider what I wasn’t hearing before.

But when someone else is bringing that spirit of conflict into our home, we are united in our desire to reduce that conflict’s effect on us. While we believe that living in the midst of constant conflict is a hard way to live, we especially stand firm in the belief that engaging in constant conflict is no way to treat people in your inner circle. Conflict itself is not a sin, but just part of living in this world and in relationship with others. Nonetheless, when it happens too often, it’s time to ask why.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

I’m pretty sure sophisticated isn’t an adjective much applied to me and my writing. Down-to-earth, irreverent, innovative, strange, revelatory, and traditional (and yet not) are just a few descriptions that might work. But I don’t even care to approach sophisticated on any level.

Sophisticated just sounds snobby to me at the same time it sounds a little too worried about what other people think.

I understand being worried about what others think, but there’s only so much of that worrying you can do before you and your work stop being authentic. That feels a little bit too much like junior high to me—and I didn’t really succeed at being anything but myself back then either.

Not sure if I’ve said it here before, but if so, I’ll say my opinion in my unsophisticated way again. Most of us suck at pretending to be what we are not.

One of the values I most wanted to teach my children is that they should try to be who they are, not who others want them to be. This seemed to be a surprisingly odd parenting value in my generation. From parents choosing the sports or activities their kids should do to picking their college majors and selecting their classes, many of my peers seem pretty set on deciding what or who their kids should be.

Maybe it’s because my first and only babies are twins. We parents like to think we’re so all-powerful about how our kids turn out, but I can promise you that my babies demonstrated very unique personalities and temperaments from week one. And that is freeing to realize. While the experts loved to say that an anxious mother (during pregnancy? after the birth?) led to a fussy baby, why did I only have one who screamed for hours at a time? Was I only stressed on one side of my body during the pregnancy? Where’s the logic in that?

My now grown kids to this day have chosen to accept some of the values I sought to teach them and rejected others—maybe on that premise that they are who they are or maybe just because they refuse to be told how to think or who knows why?

But I’m pretty certain my anti-sophisticated approach to life is one thing they’ve retained.

So no wonder my daughter is having some troubles reconciling her artistic vision with the one taught in her drawing program. You see, these kids who study the arts really need to research the philosophies of the programs where they plan to attend, but so often at 18 or 19 you’re busy thinking about the overall culture of a college. Unfortunately, she didn’t really read enough into how her university describes its approach and vision.

Guess what? The program’s aim is what? Producing artists who produce sophisticated works.

Unless she was truly a rebel, she stood little chance of even being drawn to that type of art, being raised in this house. We’re just folks here. We are who we are—which is, by the way, very intelligent and creative—but we are not into creating works to impress. We are more into creating a life where creativity is the norm and our processes and end products are about providing meaning but not an elevated meaning.

So she draws (incredibly) with common tools such as Sharpie markers and ballpoint pens. Her art veers more toward urban and street art than high form. But it’s good. And it’s hers.

And that’s a form of sophistication all in itself—knowing the art you want to produce and doing so despite what everyone else says you should be doing. After all, the word comes from sophia, the Greek for wisdom. To thine own self be true is really one of the wisest statements of all.

Recent Comments

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 304 other followers

Blogging AtoZ Challenge 2012