Several weeks ago now, I was reading through a book about leadership and the author was discussing the importance of self-awareness. This idea really made me think because I would like to believe that I am pretty self-aware. However, I am not sure that most people are truly and completely self-aware. I, like most people, always think the best about myself and see me as the best possible version I can be. From time to time, I am a little self-deprecating but most of the time, I think I am GREAT. You probably do the same thing in your life too.
As I reflected on this idea over the next several hours, I had several traits or conditions pop in my head that we don't see in ourselves. I put together a list of the 10 things we don't see in ourselves but others notice quite quickly. It continues to amaze me what we can see in others but can't see in ourselves. These are in no particular order or rank and because of the lengthiness of this post I have broken it into two parts. Here we go.
1) We are holding onto hurt - We talked about this just last night with the students of Momentum Student Ministries. If you walk around all the time holding on to past hurts it makes you a ticking time bomb. It is only a matter of time before you explode and all that hurt you feel inside pours out onto someone else. I would bet that nearly everyone who spends time around hurt people can see that they carry around the agony of past hurts but they can't see it in themselves. In fact, they most likely have resided to believing this is simply how life will always be. If you are holding onto hurt it is important to find an effective and healthy way to deal with those emotions. Let those feelings come out in a safe environment before they unleash hell on the wrong person.
2) We think we know it all - If you have spent even 5 minutes in an elementary school then you have been around a know-it-all at some point. They are impossible to talk to and insufferable to be around. I don't think it is too far of a stretch to say that know-it-alls are usually arrogant, prideful, and opinionated. It always boggles my mind that someone who never stops talking and has something to say about every subject in the history of the world doesn't realize they never stop talking. Most know-it-alls don't know they are know-it-alls. Unfortunately, there is one in every group. So, if you don't know who the know-it-all is in your group than it is probably you. Please for the sake of your friends, take a moment to stop talking, stop telling everyone about all the things you know, take a moment to listen and let someone else have the spotlight. When you are tempted to flex your knowledge muscles take a breath, pause, and wait for others to talk first. Then if it is appropriate share your thought but remember don't try to one-up others in the conversation. No one likes a know-it-all or a one-upper.
3) We are living in the past - People who live in the past don't know that they are living in the past, which truly amazes me. Far too many people go through life like Uncle Rico, in Napoleon Dynamite who wants to travel back in time so he can relive his high school football days.
We can't keep living in the past. This is sadly something that others see in us but we can completely ignore. This happens a lot in the church both personally and corporately. Living in the past is dangerous because it robs us of the future God has for us. We miss out on all the good God is doing right now. We put limits on God's future works and raise the past up like a trophy. We make idols out of past experiences, church relics, buildings, methodology, and even objects like old pictures, paintings, an old bible, or a table. I remember making a comment about an old painting of a former pastor in a church I served. The painting was large and kind of creepy. I wasn't meaning to be disrespectful but I stated that the large painting made me uncomfortable because it looked like he was watching me. It reminded me of those paintings in a castle that look like the eyes are always staring at you. You would have thought I said we should never talk about Jesus again or destroy all the crosses in every church ever. The painting and the pastor trapped in canvas were idols for the congregation.
4) We are going through the motions - I will admit this is harder to see even in others than most of the traits on this list. It is possible to hide it and fake it for a season but eventually the facade will wear off. A time will come when we start to go through the motions, we lose our drive, and we don't do things with passion anymore. Life, all the excitement, and wonder of a day becomes just another list of obligations and tasks we must get through. Those who are close to us can see we've lost our passion. They can tell we are simply phoning it in. This probably happens to people most frequently at work but it can also creep into other areas of our life. As an outside observe it is painful to watch someone go through the motions and it is difficult to know when or how to say something. This may require the boldness to have a difficult conversation with a friend to let them know, "hey, it looks like you are just going through the motions." You can't sit back and hope they snap out of it. I would argue that if your in this state of life, you are quickly headed towards burnout. You need a vacation, time away, or a break. You need to recalibrate before something breaks for good.
5) We are lying to ourselves- It is truly incredible the stuff we will tell ourselves just to get through a day. We lie about a laundry list of things, mostly to make us feel better on the inside about how things truly are on the outside. We lie about our health, our marriage, our relationships, our jobs, our friends, our happiness, our kids, and the list goes on and on. Years ago, I had a student tell me that he lied constantly. He confessed that he could not stop lying. He would lie about everything from what time he would be home to what he ate for lunch. He would lie about situations that didn't even have consequences. No one cared what he had for lunch but he would still lie about it. I believe this sort of addiction all begins with lying to ourselves. If we cannot be honest to ourselves than we are on a slippery slope. It is only a matter of time before we are unable to separate truth from untruth. It won't take long before we no longer know what truth is and we believe the lies we tell ourself. I think some people live in a constant state of untruth. They've lied so much in their life that they don't even know what truth is anymore. As followers of Jesus, we cannot live like this. We have to be honest with ourselves and with others. After all, God sees the truth anyways. He knows your thoughts and he knows every detail of every situation. We cannot hide the truth from him. We will never be able to love our neighbor as ourselves if we don't live honestly.
For now, let me challenge you to consider how self-aware you are. Do you ever recognize any of these traits in your own life? Have you been guilty of being a know-it-all, lying to yourself, living in the past, or going through the motions? If so, consider the steps need to changing these behaviors. Allow Jesus to change you. Pray that the Holy Spirit would help you become more self-aware.
As always, have a great day. Love more and do more for others.