The Importance of Knowing Yourself

These are fascinating times to be living in the good ol’ United States, aren’t they? Negotiating new highs and lows in society, dredging all sorts of muck up to the surface. It’s good, though difficult, because airing all this dirty laundry can allow for some deep dialogues to happen, dialogues that need to happen for evolution to come. But in order for these times to be fruitful, we need to reaching deep into our inner selves and know ourselves to the best of our abilities. And I know some of us are more equipped to do that than others.

How often do you take the opportunity for self-reflection? How often, when you make a decision on anything, do you actually think about the consequences of your action or inaction? Do you know what it is you want out of relationships, career, family, life? Do you know what you need? Have you ever acknowledged that sometimes those wants and needs aren’t very well aligned? Self- reflection can get really uncomfortable. But it is necessary.

If you don’t know yourself well, you open yourself up to coercion, to being swayed from your inner compass. You are easily programmable by both the systems set up in our society and by individuals you interact with. You succumb to the marketing schemes of the corporations. You externalize your self-worth and feel like you always fall short.

If you know yourself well, you can recognize others’ attempts to manipulate you, and you can choose to play along or not. You have the conviction of knowing what is right for you and that gives you courage to both ask for what you want or need and to give an emphatic yes or no to others making requests on you. You can stand solid against the tide and always have an intrinsic sense of self-worth.

The trick though is that it’s not a one time checking in with the inner self, but a constant balancing act between your inner and outer lives. It’s easy to slip into autopilot again, to get worn out by life and the craziness of others, to float wrapped in bubble wrap and expect others to handle everything for you. Being willing to live with a little discomfort for the sake of strength and mental clarity and freedom is so worth it though.

It took me until I was 30 years old to really grasp all of this, and it’s through having some really deep conversations with those I care about this past year to realize how important it is for society in general and not just for my own individual life. We collectively are to the point where we need to step up and parent ourselves, get our shit together, and do the work that has to be done. We aren’t allowed to be children or adolescents anymore, humanity. There’s just way too much that has to happen in our lifetimes for us to have that luxury. And the first step to being able to raise ourselves up is knowing the length and breadth of our inner selves. Take that first step, see how it feels, then reach out a hand to others to help them do the same.

Advertisements

Jealousy – a poem

I feel the beast of jealousy

Rise up whenever

I am reminded

That there are others who

Have known you longer

Than I.

It is maddeningly strange,

This sudden flaring

Of emotion

That makes me want

To weep.

Because, truth be told,

I would swap minds with you

If I could,

For only a day

And learn the

Length and breadth of you

In one fell swoop,

Experience the movie

Of your history

And all its pains and triumphs

So that I could better

Share with you

Your future.

Copyright 2016, Kat Micari

The Human Waves of Happiness and Pain

I’ve noticed in recent years that our individual happiness and pain (which we all experience throughout life as that is kind of the point of life) goes up and down in waves, but that our waves do not necessarily align with other individuals or with the world as a whole. Tragedy can strike across town on your wedding day, just as you are feeling the happiest you’ve ever felt in your life. You can lose a loved one on a day that your best friend is graduating or giving birth. You can have met the person of your dreams just as your sibling is finally nailing the coffin in their marriage. And it’s hard from both perspectives to be able to be fully present for the other, isn’t it?

There’s the old saying “misery loves company”, but I don’t think that most people willfully feel that way, going out and deliberately trying to ruin other people’s days. Some do (and I know some of those toxic people quite well), but I think most of the time, when you’re down and out, you just can’t help but get caught up in the comparison game. Why is this person so successful when I have the same training/experience? Why is this person’s art or writing selling when the work I’m doing is at least on a comparable level, and I’m barely able to bring in enough to pay for the materials? Why does this person have a solid love relationship and I’m doomed to single life? I experienced this a couple of years ago when my husband and I were the poorest we’ve ever been as adults – seeing friends of ours who were making substantially more money and moving on in adulthood was difficult, having to turn down invites out to eat or drink because we couldn’t afford to was humbling, to say the least. I never outright resented my friends for being better off than we were, but there were lots of feelings of “Oh, what I wouldn’t give…” or “Oh, what I couldn’t do with those resources/opportunities/etc.” and it was difficult on the hardest days to be really happy and excited for other people. Or the other person’s happiness winds up reminding you of something you’ve lost, so it triggers feelings of regret.

Conversely, when things are going really well in our lives, most of us dislike being reminded that other people aren’t doing well, especially when it’s people we care about. Our joy and happiness seems tarnished by the knowledge, somehow, because we all have that initial urge to make something about ourselves rather than about the other person. We don’t want to feel pain in a moment of triumph. But it’s important to be compassionate and empathetic to those around us. And I experienced this when I was pregnant with my first child. Several people close to me suffered great personal tragedy. Others less immediate loss, but still were going through really rough times. And it was during this time that I really learned how to experience the grief and pain of those I care for without allowing those feelings to diminish my personal joy.

Recently, a coworker of mine whom I was getting friend-ish with and felt a connection to has backed off from where we’ve been, almost immediately once I announced that I was buying a house and was pregnant. I know that they are in the midst of personal struggles and that my domestic happiness is a reminder of what they no longer have, but I feel a sense of loss at a potential amazing friendship. See, I like and love a lot of people, but the number of people I count as being close to me is a very small number. It’s a defensive mechanism in many ways to keep that distance from others. So to have someone that seemed to have the potential of being a part of that select few back away makes me a bit sad. But because I have already thought through all of this in my head, I’m able to just give the coworker the space that is needed. If we become friends in the future, great, and if not, hopefully whatever connection existed served the purpose it was suppose to serve. At the end of the day, it’s not wholly, or even mostly, about me. And being able to realize that has been a great boon in navigating this crazy life.

This, I think, is the real point of “practicing mindfulness” and “living in the moment”. You can repeat New Ageisms until you’re blue in the face, but until you switch from a passive to an active mode of living those phrases, until you learn to navigate not only your highs and lows in life but the highs and lows of the people around you, then the words are mostly meaningless.

Taking Flight

You and I stand
On a precipice
Balancing on the edge
A pair of birds
On a telephone wire
Minus the wings
You marvel at the echo
Of the cavernous
Depths below
“Take my hand” I say
“And be free”
Time stops
And my heart leaps
Into my throat.
You slowly pull away
From me
From the edge
Your world fades
To black and white
I sprout wings
And soar
With only a single tear
To remember you by.

Copyright 2015, Kat Micari

I Am Me – a poem

I am me.
I am a person.
I know who I am.
If I don’t, who else will?
I am what I am.
I am me.

I am me.
I am a heart, a brain.
A soul.
A bundle of nerve cells.
I am a creature of emotion.
I am touchy-feely.

I am me.
I am a priestess.
Sacrificing.
Worshipping at the altar of Ancient Ones.
I am seeking their approval.
I am Artist.

I am me.
I am a machine.
Endless.
Working on and on for goals just out of reach.
I am making huge efforts.
I am out of breath.

I am me.
I am a china doll.
Fragile.
“Look, but don’t touch.  She could break.”
I am behind glass.
I am lonely.

But someone picked up the china doll,
And played with her a bit.
Then carelessly, he discarded her.
He had very clumsy hands.
I am no longer the me I was.

Who am I?
No longer a china doll;
The doll is broken and shattered.
Swept up and shoved back behind the glass
In hopes no one would notice.
No longer a priestess;
The priestess is shut out,
Forsaken by the Ones
She herself had briefly forsaken.

Who am I?
I am still me.
But changed.
Emotion dries up and heart freezes.
I am no longer certain of what I want.
I am empty.

I am still me.
I am still a machine.
Tireless.
Just a machine, forging ahead into the future.
I am incapable of being hurt.
I am…

I am a new me.
Better or worse.
I am no longer able to be the me that I was.
Even though I miss the old me.
I am a new me…
An improvement, perhaps.

Copyright 2000, Kat Micari