A Lesson in Self-Awareness

By Jeff Copper, MBA, PCC, PCAC, CPCC, ACG – June 13, 2022

What is self-awareness? Is it just being aware of your own internal emotions and feelings? Is it being able to see yourself in the third person? Or is it being able to see life and situations at a higher level, not just awareness of yourself, but awareness of others? Many people with ADHD struggle with self-awareness.

They feel threatened by it because they are sometimes lost in their head. They are also unaware of the plights of others. They’re often consumed with their own challenges and sometimes don’t realize the challenges of others. Sometimes we need just to step out of ourselves to understand it.

Metaphors and parables are often useful for this. Here’s a parable I stumbled across that I think really helps us understand life a little bit more. I hope you’ll read through this parable and pause to stop and look around so you can begin to understand the plight of others. If you can understand where they are, you’ll be able to meet each other where you are and help each other. Odds are that, when you do this, you’ll find that you’re often working against each other. It’s just not helpful. Here’s the parable:

The man doesn’t know there is a snake below. The woman doesn’t know there is a stone crushing the man.

The woman thinks: “I’m going to fall! And I can’t climb because the snake is going to bite me! Why can’t the man use a little more strength and pull me up?”

The man thinks: “I’m in so much pain! Yet, I’m still pulling you as much as I can! Why don’t you try to climb a little harder?”

The moral of this parable is that you can’t see the pressure the other person is under, and the other person can’t see the pain you’re in. This is life, whether it’s with work, family, or friends.

So, let’s try to be understanding of others.  Learn to think differently and communicate more clearly. A little thought and patience will go a long way.

Of course, this parable goes both ways. Neurotypicals are often self-absorbed, not realizing the stress, strains, and challenges of others. It would be nice if others understood the plight of those with ADHD, but often they don’t.

It is hard to be aware of others when they are not aware of you. We tend to shut down. In the end, does that create the opportunity for openness and understanding? Probably not because, if you shut down, they also shut down.

The moral of all this is that awareness of self is important. Awareness of others and their plight is also important. Even if they are not aware of you, it still makes sense to be aware of others.

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