Trekkie fans should understand that navigating the star map of your own mind may represent the last frontier any of us explore. It’s true, isn’t it? We don’t like to question our own motives or biases. Yet being able to form friendships and engaging in meaningful dialogue requires just that. Transparency. Self-awareness. The willingness to laugh at one’s own quirks. These form the hallmark of achievements when you embark on a journey into the last frontier, to discover your real self.
Transparency: Nothing short circuits a relationship like a hidden agenda. No one likes to be manipulated. When lawmakers receive PAC money and then propose legislation to benefit that particular industry, we immediately recognize their self-serving actions. We are often much less transparent when it comes to revealing personal aspects with friends, however. My standard response when anyone asks how I am is, “Mostly okay.” It leaves out the hand wringing and angst I might really be feeling, because I don’t like to cry in front of people, because I can handle it all myself, or because it’s not the time or place to unburden myself. The result is the same. Radical transparency requires the willingness to be vulnerable and be real. It’s a gutsy move and not to be wasted on the unworthy, but what if you are never willing to bare your soul? Your isolation leads to a lonely existence, and that bleak landscape can feel downright chilly.
Self-awareness: Brutal self-examination produces an honest no-holds-barred view of yourself as others see you. It helps you ferret out your own hidden agendas and biases. It also holds the key to a satisfying relationship. Without self-awareness, you react emotionally to the statements and actions of others, never really knowing why you feel upset, and are never able to discuss the root problem. Ask yourself the hard questions. How do I benefit from this friendship? What triggers my emotions? What unresolved conflicts may be popping up on my radar? Was I honest and transparent today? Did I benefit anyone today, expecting nothing in return? Writing in a journal is a great way to explor your own mind.
Laughing at yourself: The truth is, a little bit of crazy lives in all of us. We do some hair-brained things, don’t we? We get a little ditzy. Being able to laugh at ourselves makes us likable. It keeps us humble. I’ve been known to walk off and leave the car running with the key in the ignition, to put a potholder in the refrigerator, and to forget to mail the bills. I keep my keys in the same place all the time so they can be found. My children think I just might be a wee bit nuts, and I laugh right along with them. Take a break from being so serious! Enjoy a laugh at your own expense, and let the world treat you a little disrespectfully. You are not immune to the faux pas of life, and knowing that makes it so much easier.
Many of us know how to get around town, how to travel abroad and how to navigate the internet while our minds remain a mystery. Take ten minutes a day and explore yourself. You’ll be happier, have more meaningful relationships, and it just might be worth a laugh or two! #selfawareness