I hope you are doing well and enjoying the changes in the weather. The year is moving by fast, the first quarter is over and we’re trying to solidify our summer plans. This reality has made it very clear why I have so many unfinished projects.
On to where my head has been at recently...
It was in middle school where I learned about hypocrisy. As I learned about it I vowed never to be a hypocrite. It was at that moment I became one. The further I pushed away my hypocrisies the deeper embedded they became. The further I ran from them the more present they were.
After high school, I developed a philosophy of creating a throughline with all the aspects of my life. I aimed for consistency. Trying to be the same person for everyone and every situation. I was convinced that being transparent, honest, and open would serve me (and others). Wearing my heart on my sleeve would set me apart.
I was trying to live an ideal.
Hypocrisy is a necessity. I will always have two sides. I will always be a paradox.
The ideal I was trying to live made sense to me. Even as a hypocrite I should try to not be one. I should at least try to live the ideal. It never really worked. I wasn’t trying. I was pretending my hypocrisy didn’t exist. The only way things made sense to me was when I put them into a box to label my experience. Not because it will always stay that way, but because I have to do something with it. My brain naturally puts the chaos into some kind of order.
The label on the box gives me an idea of how I relate to it. My life is made of different boxes. Boxes within boxes (inception boxes).
In the past, I tried to make them all one box. Like a junk drawer. I threw everything in just to put it somewhere. Thinking that’s all I needed to make sense of it. Throw it into the “My Life” box.
For a while, it worked. I fumbled through and was able to find what I needed.
Life has a funny way of getting more complicated. At least that’s how it feels. But I wonder if it’s just like that junk drawer. It just looks complicated. Most of it is garbage that could be thrown away. Keeping it simple is a matter of keeping the garbage out, or getting rid of it periodically.
The boxes help define my relationship by creating boundaries. These give me a foundation for my behavior and how I interact with the contents of the box. Each box is a philosophy. A way of approaching what’s inside. It’s own environment and rules.
My ideal began to shift after getting married and observing my behavior with my parents. I shifted to someone else when I was around them. It wasn’t bad it was just the behavior I use to relate to them. Which is different behavior than I use to relate to my wife.
I don’t particularly love this trait. I was out of their house. I’m an adult. I am my own person. Yet, they are still my parents.
At first, I chalked it up to immaturity. I really hadn’t grown up past the boy at home. My level of maturity coincides with my self-worth in inconsistencies.
The more mature I get the more comfortable I am with who I am no matter the circumstances. This is the baseline for “old people can get away with anything.”
I have grown up and am more comfortable with myself (I am still full of self-doubts). I find I relate to different people in different ways. What my relationship is, or what I wanted it to be, impacts my behavior.
In a similar vein, I’m not going to treat my wife the same way I treat my kids. Or my colleagues at work the same way I treat family. They’re all in different boxes. The commonality is not my behavior with each of them. The commonality is me.
This becomes complicated when the relationship is also dependent on the other person.
Many of these behaviors are habitual. I am relying on past information to determine my actions. When I do that I am not present or aware of the current circumstances. Which makes it hard to respond to the needs of the situation. Autopilot will always be my default because it’s easy and efficient. But there’s a price to pay.
Let me use a gym example. My best lifts are when I am present and thinking through them. When I’m consciously aware of how much weight there is, how my body is holding it, and the way my body moves through the lift.
I sette into autopilot when I am preoccupied. This preoccupation makes time go by faster but my lack of awareness makes me more prone to get hurt. I grab the bar wrong or lean too far forward pulling my body out of alignment and tweaking my back.
It works the same with my relationships. It is particularly noticeable with my kids.
I’ve struggled to set boundaries with work and family since the pandemic. I want to be available with my kids but I also need to get work done. When my head is at work but I am trying to have a conversation with my kids they can tell.
What becomes important is not the specific behavior but a deeper value that informs the behvaior. In this instance, my being present. If I can be consistent with that value set then my behavior can be dynamic to each specific circumstance.
In this case the junk drawer of my life is no longer all the different aspects life can throw at me but just the set of values that determine my actions. It’s when the act of prioritizing takes more time then just getting to work.
I hope this gives you something more to think about. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Until next time,