Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Madness of Being (Part 3)

“If you're capable of despising your own behavior, you might just love yourself.”
― Criss Jami

So what does one do with this information? First, and most importantly, be honest with oneself. Especially when it comes to those traits and characteristics that put one on the extreme ends of the distribution. These are the danger zones, where one thing leads to another and not in a good way.

The danger zones for me on the “High” end are Openness, Industriousness, Assertiveness and Volatility. On the “Low” end there are Orderliness, Enthusiasm and Agreeableness. When you combine these extremes the behavioral outcomes can be very good or very bad. It’s the bad ones that hurt and haunt you forever.

The key for me has been learning to identify when I am headed for a “bad one”. Where am I likely to cross the line from being appropriately assertive to being over-bearing? If my volatility kicks in what sort of damage is likely to result? I have to be careful. Back off, take a deep breath and ask myself is this really worth it?

When does my creativity and intellectual curiosity combine with my low level of orderliness and get me off track? And since I’m very industrious, I can end up working very hard and very inefficiently on stuff I don’t need to be working on just because I find the work that needs to be done too mundane and boring. Life is mostly boring, mundane stuff. One best learn to deal with it and, for the most part, I have. But it doesn’t come naturally.

And when I am tired or very busy, my low level of agreeableness can really take over. I am not inclined to say please and thank you….just DO IT or get the hell out of my way. Mix in some assertiveness and volatility and you better damn well stay in the wagon Mr. Chicken. That chicken still haunts me.

Then there is the low level of enthusiasm. I prefer my own company, tend to be pessimistic and don’t much get excited about the things other people get excited about. Stir in low agreeableness and you do not end up with Mr. Rogers. It can also lead toward depression. I have to constantly guard against pessimism, negativity and depression. Knowing how one is wired helps a lot.

You see, I know that there are devils on my shoulder. My portion of original sin, passed down from the beginning and in my genes. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly evident in my parents and grandparents; now part of me…twisted by experience and life and choices, mine as well as those of others.

It’s this realization that brought me back to Christianity. As I see it, it’s the only pathway to salvation for someone like me. Life has humbled me. I don’t judge others because I know how easy and natural it is for me to say and do terrible things. I’m not OK and you’re not OK. None of us are. But, perhaps the more we know about ourselves, and with a little help from above; we might just start moving in the right direction.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
- 1 Corinthians 13:12

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