Margaret Wheatley, an American author and expert on organizational behavior suggests that “without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” I believe that Wheatley is on to something solid with her observation. I am convinced that without accurate and realistic self-reflection; true happiness, self-worth, and personal discovery can never truly be obtained.
Several years ago I had a personal relationship with a buddy that appeared to have the world moving in his favor. This guy had a beautiful wife, a solid career, a son and newborn daughter, adequate home, and huge network of friends. He was one of those people that everyone seemed to like, and that no one ever found fault in, at least not that they ever told him!
At first the realization was shocking, then it was depressing, and finally it was… well… it was deeply painful.
Through a series of major life events, our relationship grew to a point in which I realized that I actually didn’t like my buddy at all, and that being around him oftentimes made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. It seemed that no matter what positive experience befell this dude, he could always find the negative in it. He was overly judgmental of others, and he always seemed to be looking for the next best thing in life, even though he seemed to have everything lined up in front of him!
One morning a few years ago while standing in front of my bathroom mirror it hit me, and I came to a brutal realization. That friend that I couldn’t stand was actually a psychological reflection of me! A made up apparition in my own mind of who I had become as a person since beginning my career in 2000. At first the realization was shocking, then it was depressing, and finally it was… well… it was deeply painful. Who was this person looking back at me that I could no longer stand? How had I gotten to this point in my life?
Ultimately the answer to this question would not be revealed to me until sometime later, but the beginning of journey that got me to that point, is really the most interesting and meaningful part of this story.
I began looking at every part of my life. My friends, family, career, hobbies, mental and physical health. I peeled back the onion and dug deep. What I discovered was frightening at the very least. I had become a representation of that which modern, Western society decided that I should; overworked, over-booked, addicted to the television, dependent on social media, and closed-minded to anyone’s opinion but my own.
Little did I know that changing my course would be easier than I ever imagined. What more? It had been in front of me the entire time. I just needed to figure out where to buy a good bicycle, lace up my boots, change my outlook on life, and get out there…
Here is Turning the Inside Out – Part 2