Walk from one room, to another ~ forget what you were looking for. Some days, you go to the airport and watch the planes depart from your space and long to get on one going….anywhere. Anywhere but where you are.
What do you want? What is missing from your dynamic? There are three real states of human emotional understanding about why you are where you are. Here is a rough sketch.
1. Unconscious Incompetence/Apathy: In this state, you are oblivious to the fact that you are oblivious.
I will say that again. You are oblivious….to the fact….that you, yourself….are really oblivious to the world, yourself and your personal needs. Other people are running your stuff.
You wander through life with laser vision to a goal, but not much else. Ask yourself: am I a good listener when there is no payoff for me? Do I know what is going on in other people’s lives? Do I have meaningful conversations with my best friend, my spouse, my siblings? Am I aware of my surroundings?
I’ve spent my fair share of time both at the Oklahoma City and the Indianapolis airports as a passenger, going from place to place for high level meetings as an executive. I rarely noticed the people around me, rarely got off my cell long enough to meet another eyes. That is not to say that I was not empathetic: the 4 pm flight out of Kansas City arrived in OKC at 4:05 thanks to a time change, and in that world I could have stuff in my in flight grocery bag ready to take home for dinner. I met my two girls and their sitter/my roommate at home, and we all talked about our day. As a newly single mom of two, it took great coordination to balance getting on that plane and being a single full time parent. But I could not truly answer what was “going on” because of home work, band practice and being president of the neighborhood association. I was very responsible, for a walking dead person.
Having lost the chief grass mower, I had a friend volunteer to help. I am not sure that I said thank you. Back then, late at night when I could not sleep (often) I would lay on the diving board of the family pool and stare up into the black summer night sky and watch those planes obviously bound for exotic places like New York City, London, Rome. I longed to go, to break free of the mid-upper class life that had recently lost it’s male counterpart and be free to backpack from here to there. What did I long for? Freedom. A do-over. To go back and reconsider my choices with the full disclosure of now.
What do you want from life? What’s bugging you? Time marches on.
2. Conscious Incompetence/Apathy adjustment. In later development of emotional intelligence, you’ve become aware of your ability and your lack of knowledge all at one time. For me, it was my thirtieth birthday. I was dating a person that I hated. It dawned on me that this was a really, really bad idea. On one hand, your self esteem goes “Holy Cow.” On the other, it explains why you get the backlash in emotions that you live through. You perceive yourself and the world around you more realistically. In my story, when that job had passed in our 9/11 world, I used to go and watch the planes depart to imagine the stories and avoid going home, avoid going on another thankless sales call, hiring another unproductive person that showed great potential. I felt that same pull of “what so I want in life?” Square in the middle of the indecision zone, I let the responsibilities take the reigns. This is where the “Laws of Should” take over. I should work things out with the kids’ father. I should be the responsible one. There are a host of reasons that some “shoulds” are life imperative. In my case, all those reasons that we were apart to begin with? Out of there. They kindly didn’t forget about me and in the end, no reconciliation was possible. I felt trapped like a rat in an abusive relationship that was spiraling out of control.
I was conscious of the problem, but incompetent to solve it. What is the problem that is driving your life today? Are you practicing learned helplessness? What do you need to streamline, take charge of? What has you in the indecision zone? Are you just delaying what you really know that you need to do? A job that you cannot fathom doing forever? Facing one more day of polite conversation with a person your so totally sick of that you’d rather just sleep the day through? Are you being told by your own mind that this is all you deserve? Is someone else holding the cards…and you’re trapped? No one is trapped. That is the apathy talking. Unless you were part of the sex trade racquet and they’d kill you for stepping out of your frame, you have a way to take control of your life.
The first and only real love is self love, one that stems from faith through grace. You cannot rekindle burnt wood….the life is gone out of it. Stop trying to make silk purses from sows ears and face your dreams head on.
WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM YOUR LIFE?
Is your present situation likely to produce those results?
3. Conscious Competence/Energy: After you’ve run the mill of what everyone else thinks, you’re on your way to discovering the person who can help you the most: you. In the meantime people may:
Find religion of some sort and become really dedicated in a short time.
Try one of two forms of modern witchcraft: “biblical healing and deliverance” which is spell casting and chanting from a pseudo-Christian viewpoint in which isogeted pieces of a larger text are pulled out by a shaman/counselor.
The second is a more upgraded form of universal energy called “new age” studies, which might take the seeker to a reader, a psychology of the mystics class, a local Wicca practitioner or an Eastern mystery religion. Each person is looking for one thing: absolution or an easy out to a accumulation of life choices that have created a melt down point.
Attend a psychologist and become diagnosed with bi-polar, depressive, manic, borderline personality or a host of other disorders. Pharmacology may enter the treatment plan and work for a time, but will only cover or mask the underlying problem: what do you want in life and why is what you have not it?
Consult a pastor or christian counselor who will guide them through bible stories to under-gird their failing faith;
Act out in unconventional ways such as risk taking behavior, addictions, alcoholism, etc. They are attempting to dull the new voice of consciousness on their way to competence.
At the end of the fire drill that makes up the frantic action of our “Indecision Zone” the person finally figures out that this is life, not a test. Yes, this is your life. This is where you are. If that is substantially different from what your heart knows you’re supposed to be, stop where you are. Talk with trusted people and admit that you’re not going to continue this road without self destructing. I know a person that has had two major vehicle accidents in the past five years. The first accident was a body and motorcycle around a poll at the end of the street…going really fast toward a dead end. No skid marks, I imagine. That is called “suicide by vehicle” in all senses of the word. Fast forward one ICU and five years of the same life, and you see the same person walk from a wreck where the car hit a wall going 70 miles an hour. How many near death misses does this person need to survive to indicate to the world that the level of suffering level is to high? It’s been that way for too long? Still, he is unconsciously incompetent.
Tough question time for those in the Indecision Box.
Who is supporting your staying there?
Who has been challenging you to grow and become?
What is your destiny? Don’t be shy. I don’t care where you came from. Spit it out.
First thought: where are you going?
Second thought: If you could be there, right this second, who comes with you (all circumstances aside.)
What are you doing in your life to support that goal?
What will keep you from accomplishing Conscious Competence?
The definition of conscious competence is that you’re not only aware, you’re able and active. You notice the world around you, have a deeper level of connection and commitment. No more shallow conversations about kids or work, but instead a deeper level of interaction with everyone that takes form in your life. All the monsters that you were so worried about are now light little ghosts in the shadows.
Living in Conscious Competence requires work and personal honesty. It’s easy to blame it all on a disorder, but rarely accurate. Your core values and needs are fulfilled in honest self love; then you can give into others.
My family and I drive past the airport occasionally, playing name that jet and making up stories about where the passengers have been and what they’ve seen. We’ve circled in our Cessna while two heavy jets prepared to land as we crossed their airspace. I never look at the plane anymore and wish that I was going anywhere but here.
We communicate in conscious competence. Brian and I talk about how we perceive life, and who thinks what about everything from politics to abortion; our five daughters; both grandmothers; theology and faith. Yesterday, we spent three hours talking while we moved just over two ton of mulch compost. Together, we are leveling the new area for sod and landscaping our acre backyard/forest. Topics: our upcoming trip to Florida, the trip to Verona in the cool season, my new book, the feelings he has about sending my diary in for publication, the church convention that we’ll attend Sun – Wed, my feelings of the post Christian church and the concubine in Judges (look it up, horrible story), our kids, his Tea Party blog, the newly celebrated 5,000 reader/week mark for Today’s Healthy Minute ~ yep, including you. I am in writing mode, so Brian keeps me connected to the greater world.
I am on the way to the fourth stage of emotional IQ, and that is Unconscious Competence/Affirmation. You see, once you realize that you’re not the Savior of all people you begin to get that the small role you play in the universe is a really important one. You can’t do it without the tools that you’ve been given, the relationships, the education, all of it is important. You asking the question “WHAT DO I WANT IN LIFE, WHY AM I HERE” indicates that you’re on square one.
What do you want?
Don’t say “I don’t know.” That is actually “I can’t tell you.” The choices are probably more limited than they appear.
Having made those choices, we’re going strong in the direction of the brightest light I have seen in a while. I love being married to someone that is stable and willing to share the pack load. We make every kid, money, article, site and book decision together. He proofs me, I critique his political stuff. To quote the great Captain Kirk…..Together, we’re headed with thrusters on full….that-a-way.
Out there, somewhere.
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