"You're only fooling yourself." This is an old admonishment but I believe it holds true for every last one of us whether we want to admit it or not. Whether it's denial of an emotion, a weakness, or a problem at some point each of us has in some way lied to the world in an attempt to convince ourselves that a situation was anything other than what it appeared to be.
There are a number of possible reasons that we aren't honest with ourselves, but in my opinion many of these tie back to self preservation. This is one of the few true Darwinian characteristics left to us and, boy, do we know how to embrace it. First and foremost, it helps us maintain the illusion of control. For instance, it's not uncommon to find that comfort and routine have led you into a situation that has progressed beyond what you may have chosen at a different time. This is the old frog boiling analogy: if you dump a frog into a pot of boiling water he'll jump right out because he gets to assess the entire situation at once (because frogs are smart like that) and realizes that its not an ideal position for him to be in. But if you put him into room temperature water and slowly increase the temperature he'll chill out and enjoy the spa until we all have frog legs for dinner. The same is true for us in situational dilemmas (because we are apparently as smart as frogs). When we have the ability to look in from the outside and see all of the factors at once things are much clearer for us. But when we slowly put ourselves into the "pot", we have the ability to keep convincing ourselves that it's not getting too hot even when it starts to burn. The situation is clearly not out of our control by this point but for some reason staying in the pot sometimes seems less painful than getting out and trying to heal.
Another common self-preserving lie is the barrier we build around ourselves to guard from certain emotions. We can hide behind so many things; humor, distance, cruelty, sex, and even chastity. The method we use to keep people at arm's distance from us isn't so important as the why, but unfortunately once we've built that wall we're better at keeping ourselves out than the supposed enemy.
In a lot of ways, what keeps us from being the person that we want to be is the package of lies we've sold ourselves about who we already are and what we think we should be feeling. We all have an ideal of who and what we want to be and go to great strides to paint ourselves in that image. All it takes just once in a while is an honest mirror in front of us, whether it's someone we love or a total stranger that sees right through our bullshit, to shake something loose in us and help us better ourselves. Yet that confrontation doesn't come nearly as often as it should. It may not always feel good to hear, more likely it will never feel good, but I know I want that chance to become a better person, to be challenged and called on my own personal bullshit.
Sometimes I think we've just got to be knocked out of our own way to get back on track.
Ashley isn't here anymore... This website has moved to www.ashleychappellbooks.com. See the Official Site button below :-)
I Promise You Won't Learn A Thing From This Blog
The official blog for author Ashley Chappell. Check back every week for a few laughs at my expense or, if you know the love-hate process that is writing, commiseration.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Frog Legs, and other tasty analogies...
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