The Wondrous Joys of Self-Awareness


Prelude: I really wasn’t expecting to get the response that I have to what is being called “the frog-in-the-pot article”, especially outside of UP.  But that has become the case.  I continued past the point of being in the proverbial pot in my conversations with a few people this past week, and they have encouraged me to put this in writing.

Acclimation is a process that can be used to bring about change.  When it is used in a positive way, it can be very effective.  When it is used for other reasons…well, it can be a very subtle, slow, insidious form of deceit.  The individuals being acclimated aren’t always consciously aware of what they are being acclimated to or how it influences their attitude and actions.  Plus, after going through repeated periods of acclimation, it diminishes the ability of the individual to resist those changes, thus bringing about complacency and apathy.

What I’m going to present here is only one example of acclimation.  There are plenty out there.  (I’ll try to keep this short, but human development is by far one of the things that I find most fascinating about life and I tend to get carried away sometimes).

There are four basic elements to being human…physical (body); mental (mind); emotional (heart); and spiritual (pertaining to the spirit and soul of a person).    Of these four elements to being human, the physical is the easiest to gauge regarding maturity.  The human body very naturally matures as it ages.  The process of maturation for the other three elements of being human is harder to gauge because there can be both internal and external (societal and/or living environment) factors that play a part in the maturation process.  For the sake of writing this article and keeping it simple, the physical will be considered the external and the mental, emotional and spiritual will be considered the internal.

In our society, here in the USA, which element of being human receives the most attention?  Is it the external or the internal?  Which is placed as a higher priority?  Which element is emphasized the most?  If you answered “external”, that is correct.  In everything from healthcare to what we wear to what we eat to what we breathe to sexual “freedoms and liberties”, the primary underlying emphasis is on the human body.  It isn’t that caring about our health or how we look is necessarily a bad thing, but becoming consumed by it to the extent that it draws our attention away from the other elements of human development can be destructive.  Education, encouraging development of the mental, seemed to hang on longer than any other internal element, but even this is suspect now in our society.

So this societal factor of emphasis (i.e. an attitude of putting the physical first) could be considered as the water in the pot.  Did we magically get up one morning and say to ourselves “We’re going to start putting the primary emphasis on the physical in our society”?  No.  This is something that has occurred over time.  Correlate this process that occurs over time as increasing the heat on the water in the pot.  Have we gone through a process of acclimation in adapting to the reality of having this placed as a higher priority in our society?  Yes, most of us have.  It’s just part of the status quo now and the majority of us have adapted to the reality of this emphasis in our society.  We may not like it, but we’ve adapted to it.

For the sake of argument, let’s consider the measurement of time as a constant variable in this equation of acclimation factors.  In other words, there are so many minutes in the day, so many days in the week, etc. and this variable has not changed.

At this point, we could also take another factor into context as well…that the internal development of human beings can be directly related to the character traits developed by that individual.  There is a wide spectrum of traits that we as human beings can develop in our character and in our behaviors.  (Here’s a site that includes a list of both positive and negative for reference, and this list isn’t all inclusive either).

Putting all of the pieces presented so far together in what I hope will be a coherent manner…the person is influenced by their environment and can become acclimated to the acceptance of a certain kind of mentality and standards of behavior.  In the process, the amount of time the individual spends focusing on what they have become acclimated to can draw time away from other elements of being human that are just as important if not more so in the long run.  So as we have become acclimated to a primary influence on the physical, the attention has been drawn away from the development and maturation of who we are on the inside of the body and on the development of the kinds of character traits that would be strengths not only for ourselves as individuals but in our society as a whole.  With the neglect of development of internal character strengths, our ability to resist acclimation efforts we are exposed to has decreased dramatically.   This change in how we respond to situations, i.e. lowered resistance and a greater tendency to just “go with the flow”, is being displayed in our actions unconsciously.  Actions can speak louder than words, and these behaviors can be learned and passed down from generation to generation.

Hence, we end up with a nation of “jaywalkers”, just as mriggio has said…a nation of people who are physically mature but who may be lacking in maturity mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

You may be thinking “okay, so where do the wondrous joys of self-awareness come into play?”  Well, the minute that a person becomes consciously aware of themselves within a specific environment, how what they have become acclimated to has influenced their actions, how the time they have spent focusing on what they have become acclimated to may have taken away from a badly needed emphasis on the other three elements of being human, how their own attitude and actions may have influenced the lives of those around them, and can visualize the cause-and-effect analogy in their own mind of how all these factors plus others may have brought them to the present time…that’s the point of choice.  Do they want to go on living that kind of life?  Do they want to go on being that kind of person?  Or do they want those things to change?

If they choose to try to bring about change, then it is a self-directed change rather than an externally-directed change that is dictated and defined either by society or by the expectations of other people.  Taking accountability for what has been and then taking responsibility for what can be from this point forward can be very empowering, mentally and emotionally and spiritually.  It can do a great deal to advance growth and development in those three elements of being human that may have been neglected prior to that time.  What ends up happening is that there is this new level of maturity that is inspirational and motivational, in and of itself, which ends up being developed.  That kind of self-awareness brings a lot of joy, especially when you begin to see yourself willfully choosing to sow the kind of seed that will reap blessings, not just for yourself but for those around you as well.

Now, I’d love to paint a rose-colored image about how easy it is to bring about these self-directed changes, but that isn’t always the case.  It wasn’t for me, I assure you of that.  There were pitfalls that I faced, so I’m just going to try to share what those pitfalls are in the hopes that it might give someone else a “heads up” in knowing what to watch out for.

  1. Stay away from the anything that encourages an attitude of “just going with the flow”.  After having it engrained as a behavioral pattern, even subconsciously, it can be tempting to continue that pattern of behavior.  Being able to succeed in getting out of the proverbial pot requires resisting that temptation.  When you fail, back into the pot you go.  Not a pleasant reality, but it’s the truth all the same.
  2. Learn how to guard your own heart, mind, and soul.  I can’t say this enough.  Put this as a higher priority than it has been.

Be aware of situations where efforts are made to persuade you to continue with an attitude of “just going with the flow”, and this can happen in a lot of really subtle ways from claims of selfishness and self-centeredness to claims of rebelliousness towards authority.

This nation of ours is truly amazing, and always has been.  The best hope we have going forward is a mature, well-balanced citizenry who will take on the responsibilities that are necessary to protect and preserve this country.  So, get out of the proverbial pot, set aside what has been, get rids of those old pesky habits of just “going with the flow” on things, and contribute to the best of your ability to make sure we keep this nation strong in the vision that our founding fathers intended.

I don’t think I’ll be writing about the frog-in-the-pot again, but I want to say thanks to all of those who expressed their appreciation of it.  Best of the future to us all, and may God bless us, every one.


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April 30, 2011 4:46 pm

Great observations and lessons, LH, and yes, you will be writing about the frog-in-the-pot again, as it permeates just about everything how this war is conducted is about.

April 30, 2011 7:51 pm

Another excellent essay, LH. Thank you. I especially appreciate the part about development. This is why I get so frustrated with those on our side who go along with the idea of starting out kids earlier and earlier in school, or pushing technical studies on them at an earlier and earlier age. They may be able to master technical skills, but they are later on either unable to choose what to do with them, or make bad choices, or have the choice made for them. I am so with you in self-awareness blossoming into some sort of societal harmony that… Read more »

May 1, 2011 11:19 am

LH, I’ve really enjoyed these articles. Yes, you have found your battlefront. Now, like CW on the “precinct committeeman” issue, you have to keep beating the drum. Remember the studies about advertising – I don’t remember the exact stats, but folks don’t pay attention the first quite-a-few times they hear something. One of the things that really stayed with me from undergrad psychology classes was Rotter’s concept of internal vs. external locus of control. Our teacher had us take a measurement test and I was top-of-the-scale internal. I am amazed at the number of people who view themselves as “acted… Read more »