Today is Groundhog Day and I would like you to consider its importance in a whole new light.
This morning, while driving my daughter to school, she was annoyed by the driver in front of us who was driving at exactly the speed limit. This motorist’s lawfulness meant that her prompt arrival at school was now in question. In my teenager’s eyes, whether or not she was tardy to school was directly hinging on the decisions made by unsuspecting drivers in front of us – not by the fact that she hit the snooze button a dozen times, therefore scrambling to rush out the door. This is the scene virtually every morning.
If you saw the movie Groundhog Day you know where I’m going with this. You know, the movie where Bill Murray’s character is stuck in a frustrating loop of the same shit, different day. One of my most aggravating things about parenting is when I am continuously making the same assumptions and engaging in the same behavior, while hoping for a different outcome. Yes, the definition of insanity.
We are all insane.
See, we are all stuck in our own Groundhog Day Insanity. In my view, our deepest suffering comes from not living with integrity. When our actions and behaviors do not match our deepest values, we become off-kilter, out-of-whack. We waste our time, money, energy, and gifts on activities, people, objects that do not help us feel significant, connected, loving or loved. And the greatest reason we engage in this perpetual insanity is because of our lack of self-awareness. How do I know this and why am I so sure of this? Because I see it all around me – in the people I love, the people in my Facebook feed, the media headlines, and most of all – in myself. That’s right. My words here may seem abrasive, politically incorrect, devoid of any sugar-coating. I am not seeking to judge, because I’d be shattering my own glass house. Rather, I am inviting you to join me on a transformational journey of self-awareness.
While I was out running this morning, this blog entry popped into my head, appropriately with Coldplay’s song Fix You playing in my headphones. Here are the top 5 ways in which you and I lack self-awareness, increasing our own and the world’s suffering:
1. We try to fix (control) others. It is so much easier to point out the mistakes and problems inherent in other people and systems (school, government, medicine, business, religion, etc) with which we live and interact. Every day I am struck by the lack of self-awareness by people who claim open-mindedness and progressiveness yet attack another person for their ideology; by people who complain about this or that politician, and yet neglect their own physical, emotional and spiritual health – which, I would argue, has a more detrimental impact on them and their loved ones and their community, than does any political circus or offensive ideology. Alas, it’s much easier to post and share than it is to decide, then to commit, and then to do. And do – every day. Gosh, so much work – instead, I’ll post and share.
2. We are physically sick or injured. It is not “normal” to regularly become injured from workouts, or to have colds and other viruses. Exercise does not lead to injuries – improper, imbalanced training does. Seasons do not cause viruses – lack of sleep, eating crap, saying Yes to the wrong things and saying No to the life-supporting stuff, causes sickness. Please tune in to your body. Rest. Taking a nap, going to bed early, taking a vacation or a sabbatical will not lead to a world meltdown (sorry, you’re precious and significant but life does go on while you rest). Not giving your body and brain and soul what you need will increase your own suffering, which increases the suffering of those around you. I don’t think anyone has, as a goal, Make Myself and Everyone Around Me Miserable (well, unless we suffer from an Attention Seeking Addiction-read on).
3. We are addicted. As I have said (written) before, even before I quit booze, every single one of us is an addict or an addict-in-the-making. There are many ways to define addiction, and like “scientific studies” we share that support whatever we want to feel good about, we can all pick the definition that fools us into feeling better about our choices, but this is the way I will define it: if I am engaging in a behavior that I feel the need to justify, to claim control over, or to downplay or conceal how much I engage in it, I am addicted. I have never said, “I am going to limit my consumption of seaweed to only weekends and special occasions.” I have, however, said that about alcohol. I thus quit alcohol, not seaweed. The source of addiction need not have an applicable 12-step program. Social media, sugar, complaining, drama, cleaning, exercise, lying, volunteering, controlling others… Pick your poison. Yes, sometimes the poison is one that is socially accepted and even celebrated. This does not mean it’s healthy. Complaining is a popular hobby-addiction and will get you lots of "Likes" on Facebook. When it's done in person, you may get sympathy from some sweet friends or people who are glad someone else is miserable too. I once heard a saying that went something like, if you complain once, I will empathize; if you complain 3 times about the same thing, though, you are just looking for attention and I am not your sucker. Another popular addiction is alcohol. This coming Sunday is the Superbowl, which means a lot of alcohol at gatherings, in commercials. Alcohol is connected with at least 88,000 deaths in the US each year (to put into perspective, gun deaths are connected with 33,000) and this doesn’t include all the non-fatal violence and accidents, arguments, abuse, divorce, illness, children we ignore… I am pointing this out because this post is about getting real with ourselves about acknowledging the reality that perhaps we are not acting in a way that a healthy, positive, loving person wants to act toward her/his own body, mind, soul, loved ones and the world. Deep down, we know something is off. Let us choose to be curious about this nagging feeling, and then perhaps choose to do something about it.
4. Our kids! This is the area where, I believe, as parents, community members, as a society, we lack complete and utter self-awareness and it’s one of our greatest issues. From a parent’s perspective – if my child is stressed-out, anxious, inactive, eating crap, making poor social choices, afraid of change, a bully, lacks curiosity, inconsiderate, rude, etc. – my first step needs to be to ask myself, how am I doing? Am I stressed-out, anxious, inactive, eating crap…? I can go and point fingers at school, big companies, the government, society – but if I am to really be honest and effective, first I need to take a good look in the mirror. How am I doing? What can I do better? My child doesn’t give a crap about what the laws are or who benefits from what. He is paying attention to what I consider priorities, which is shown by how I spend my time and money. What and who gets my attention? He is absorbing my energy and my lessons, which are through my actions - the object of my focus. This same point can be made about our children as a whole, in society. If our children have an issue with substance use and addiction, depression, obesity, etc. – these are indicators that as a society, our values are skewed or at the very least, our priorities are not in congruity with our values, as a society. Change starts with us. At home. With you. With me.
5. Continuing to think, and act (an action begins with a thought), the way that got us to this point, while thinking it will be the solution. How many times have we said, Today will be different. Or, This job/relationship/diet/town… will be different. Only to end up in the same ol’, same ol’. As I said earlier, I am not passing judgment on you, but rather, I am looking at myself in the mirror as I compose this post. I quit alcohol because I finally realized it is a poison, and any efforts to try to control its damage were futile. A few years ago I quit doughnuts because I knew they were crap and although I didn’t eat them much, I figured, why bother with them? I prefer ice cream anyway. In terms of income, I knew that going back to a J-O-B would be a nightmare for me, and I love to coach and teach Poga but I don’t want to make these passions a source of stress by relying on them for income, so I have a network marketing business, which I LOVE to do (another J-O-B would just have been different work, same blah). If we want something different, we need to hit the Stop button on our autopilot thinking and start to record a new way of thinking, and doing. Don’t reform – transform.
So, according to the groundhog, spring is near. I don’t know how credible a furry animal is in predicting the weather, but I can assure you that by engaging in some courageous self-awareness, you can to a great degree control this season in your life. Be the change. Post and share that.
Motivational coach, athlete, mom, entrepreneur. I love helping people mindfully reboot their health & joy.