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Psych Your Mind: How am I not myself?

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Opinion | September 12th, 2011

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
There's a distinct difference between growing up and acting grown up. While the former refers to the physical, hormonal and biological changes one's body undergoes as one ages, the latter is a much more complex psychological development that requires an active acknowledgement of one's own behaviours, motivations, attitudes, prejudices, strengths and most importantly faults; a concept referred to as "introspection."

While in theory, it'd make sense for the two aforementioned processes to work in a symbiotic fashion, I think it goes without saying we've all met adults who act like children, and even vise versa.

Over the next few months while you're busy with your studies, I'd like to have the opportunity to impart onto you the psychological wisdom by means of illustrative anecdotal (and often humourous, I hope) examples from my real life that I've acquired through my career as a professional student (seven years and counting!) and also, frankly, as a result of my family being perfectly primed to launch their own hit reality series.

The benefit of said mission is twofold:

1. I get a fantastic means of venting about human stupidity to which I'm sure all of you can relate.

2. Hopefully, in some small way, I will contribute to bettering your relationships with others, and perhaps you'll be inspired to pay this knowledge forward.

So, without further explanation of my motives and/or legitimation, let's get down to it ...

How does one, pray tell, begin to engage in the act of introspection? Well, quite simply, it starts with a little bit of soul searching (e.g.: taking the time to analyze the things about yourself of which you're proud AS WELL AS the things about yourself [and the activities you've been a part of] that you'd rather NOT divulge). Think about ties between events and/or significant persons in your life (such as your parents) that may have influenced the development of certain personality traits. For example, my crazy Italian temper (I like to refer to her as "psychotica") 100 per cent without a doubt was inherited. No offense, Pops!

The point of this exercise is to get to know what makes YOU tick. Ask YOURSELF why YOU believe in certain laws, morals, conspiracies, principles, etc. and why others you couldn't care less about. If your answer is simply because "you've been told to" or "that's just how it's always been," you're NOT digging deep enough.

Remember, you always have the option of rejecting new information as it comes your way and analyzing it for potentially hidden biases. In sum, DON'T accept anything or anyone, including aspects of your innermost self, at face value; there's always more lingering beneath the surface than meets the eye. As much as we may not wish to admit it, we are products of the environments to which we've been exposed and history has a funny way of repeating itself. Again, thanks, Dad!

Okay, so if you're now thinking, "That sounds like a rather trying exercise and I'm still in the process of convincing myself (and others) that sleeping with my friend's significant other in a drunken haze was all just a bad dream," here's where the good part comes in.

The result of introspection (and let me make clear that it's an ongoing journey) when done effectively is, for lack of a better word, pretty damn kickass. You'll truly KNOW yourself, have FAITH and STRENGTH in your motivations (and therefore you'll be less likely to regret your actions), CONFIDENCE in your abilities (but never arrogance or cockiness), IMPROVED coping and strategy skills and most importantly overall HEALTHIER, more RESILENT and more MATURE interactions with everyone you encounter. Not to mention, Plato seems to think it was a pretty cool idea: "Why should we not calmly and patiently review our own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us really are?" (Theaetetus, circa 360 B.C.E)

So, with all of that said, why doesn't everyone participate in this activity? Well, to give you an analogy, I'd like to answer a question with a question: why do people continue to "yo-yo diet" or starve themselves when there is more than sufficient evidence indicating the only healthy and functional way to achieve one's maximum physical condition is to lead a consistently well-balanced lifestyle? In other words, it's due to laziness and, well, some people are just content being assholes.

Don't kid yourself, introspection, like any complex thought process, requires CONSISTENT, FOCUSED and HONEST effort. Even so, there will still be times when the brat in you rears its ugly head.

In conclusion, I bid you all well with your cerebral unfurling and sincerely encourage you to contact me if one of these times my ranting strikes a fancy in you. Oh, and in case you're wondering, my dry, sarcastic wit is the result of my mom and far too much exposure to Monty Python movies.
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