One of the major reasons I wanted a blog was personal insight. I wanted a way to not only catch myself making mistakes but honestly call myself out on the things I do. I’m not really looking to become a better person, but I’d like to be conscious of not only the identity i see myself as having but rather the person I actually am. eg: one could see one’s self as a “classy” and “cultured” person who listens to a variety of music (see:old jazz) but, if in reality, you are usually found listening to death metal then you are just fooling yourself. Who you see yourself as and what your thoughts are aren’t necessarily you. You aren’t the identity you want, you are the identity you use to make decisions with.
I want to have a more accurate understanding of who I really am, because, to be honest, I’m not really sure anymore. Upon reflection, a lot of my actions do not reflect the identity i want, hence who the fuck am i? currently, drunk pirate. Once I digest this redbull, a very awake drunk pirate. See, i’m getting better at this already!
Anyways, all this talk of identity and alcohol got me side tracked; there was a point to this post, just gimme a minute to remember.
Understanding Vs. Blaming
When we do things that are contrary to what we believe our identity to be, we experience an uneasy feeling of tension called “Dissonance”. It sucks. So we try to reduce it by justifying things that shouldn’t be justified. This isn’t so other people don’t know. It is so we don’t know. So we can sleep at night.
eg: I beat some kid up on the bus in 3rd grade (i didn’t actually do this). But my vision of my identity is that of a good kid etcetc. So i may justify it by “oh he deserved it. He took my eraser. uhh. he was really annoying. He always says mean things. He’s actually a bad kid. etc.” This makes it easier for us to live with ourselves; we don’t have to face the fact that we aren’t who we think we are.
When we make a mistake, often time’s when we process why we made such mistake, instead of understanding, we blame. By blaming, we are able to take the fault off of us, therefore protect our identity. “My identity would never do something like that. Only jerks do that.” Pause to see reasons why we did that.”Oh, it’s all because of such and such blah blah blah not my fault blah blah my identity is good i’m not a jerk blah blah” LAME
I caught myself almost do this the other day. well like 3 weeks ago. something like that. you get the idea.
I was driving my car. I was at a stop sign. I had been waiting for a bit and 3 seconds after the school bus passed me i started to take my turn. I managed to stop almost right away (I probably moved an inch or so…) but my intentions were well conveyed to the car I almost cut off. At first I felt bad. for about .003 seconds. Then i realized it wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t see him/her coming, so naturally i started to go. Allow me to give you a visual.
Not my fault
Luckily i caught myself before i justified away this incident. Sure, it was small, probably not a big deal. The other driver probably forgot about it within a few minutes. If those last 2 sentences meant anything to you, you’re missing the point of this post. Those sentences/thoughts are distractors to help us forget that we made a mistake at all, it shifts the focus away from us.
The school bus really was blocking my vision. But one has to be careful not to take this too far and blame the school bus/blame the situation.
To blame is to say that the school bus was in my way so i couldn’t possibly have known he/she was coming so it’s not my fault. In fact, it was the best decision one could make in such a situation without knowing they were coming.
To understand is to ‘realize, yes, i made that decision because i did not see the car coming, but it was a bad decision and potentially dangerous. Since the school bus was blocking my vision, i should have waited until it was gone and my vision was clear. Hence, it was completely my mistake–i fucked up, this sucks–, but now I have a better understanding of why i did it and can avoid it in the future if i so choose.
It can get tricky here, though. Sometimes people get this far, and they manage to understand and not blame. Then they(by they I mean me =P) take the guilt off of themselves by thinking “I’m a much better person for understanding and not blaming. “and they continue with that line of thought until the mistake they made seems much smaller and in fact they feel better than they did before they made the mistake because it has showed them how good of a person they are. especially when compared to people who blame the situation.
Ah the mind games we play with ourselves. If you feel better about yourself after you make a mistake, perhaps something is wrong? You certainly don’t have to/shouldn’t cry and kill yourself, but we have to understand the things we are actually doing. like, in the physical world. The world with other people. Other people with lives as complete as yours. Lives equal to yours.