We all have little games that we engage in. I play one called “What time is it?”
I am pretty good at it, actually. Usually, upon asking myself this question, it is not uncommon for me to be accurate within about ten minutes. This morning I guessed 7:30; it was 7:29 and I have to admit that it gives me quirky pleasure when I am so close to being correct. Today I thought, “YES! You are good!”
So, while I would like to believe I have a tiny super power (I also have this gift with estimating prices) . . . the truth is that with the speculation of time, I believe I am paying attention to all sorts of clues. How insistent is my complaining bladder? How loud is my backache from laying in one position? (Oh the joys of aging). How light is it? (Taking into account the season and weather). How rowdy is my rumbling stomach, asking to be fed? These signals all add up to an educated guess. And, like I said, I’m pretty good at it. This is about volitionally noticing and then accepting what I am observing as viable information.
Other games we play are not so innocent, nor immaterial. Plenty of occasions find us opting not to notice. To not see.
Like when a spouse (or boyfriend/girlfriend) treats you with increasing disrespect and you make excuses for him/her so that you never have to come to the conclusion that there is something wrong with your relationship. Or when an aged animal gives increasing signs that the awful decision to permanently end their pain has arrived, and we minimize their condition, saying that this is just a bad day for them. Or when the financial picture is dire, and we keep telling ourselves that this has been a hard month and things will be different during the next. The subtle clues that indicate that you should fire this employee, but you smooth it over with all the reasons why they behaved the way they did. The small indicators you turn a blind eye to that point to your kid doing drugs, failing school, is seriously depressed, or has a learning disability.
These bits of information suggest how we could or should proceed: Get up, break up, find a new job, fire this person, solicit help for your child, euthanize your pet, hire a financial counselor, etc. Why, then, are we often so oblivious? Why are we shocked when the marriage dissolves or our child fails or the creditors call?
I think the reason we reside in a lack of awareness, is that often, we have no desire to deal with reality. Because this requires energy and courage and ultimately, the hardest factor of all: taking responsibility.
Consequently, we often elect not to see. It’s just so much easier to not know.
Yet, by overlooking truth, we surrender the control of our lives to these circumstances and they formulate the decisions for us. Life on autopilot eventually results in a crash –and sadly, sometimes, the damage is irretrievable or irreparable.
Today is a day that I am going to work on noticing, accepting what I observe, and implementing an appropriate action. Because, even though it is difficult, I believe operating in reality is significantly healthier and better than choosing (emphasis on that word) to live in denial.