COVID-19: A Case Study of Human Awareness … or Lack Thereof

Read Time: 7 Minutes 36 Seconds

I published a post to Instagram recently that states how people are more self-aware than they give themselves credit for. I still believe this to be true. There is self-awareness in recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, and in recognizing points of concern within yourself or irrational patterns of thought and/or behavior.

But humans are odd (possibly the biggest understatement I will ever make). If there was ever a time to witness the oddity at the heart of our interactions with others, throughout our little, breadcrumb-sized lives (when measured up against the timeline of the universe), it would be during a pandemic.

Some people lack a level of awareness and sometimes self-awareness. On the other hand, I would argue that some people are so self-aware, it actually impedes their ability to maintain objective awareness of the world around them. Frankly, it makes for some incredibly odd moments when one witnesses the behavior that is a byproduct of a person’s extreme level of self-awareness, general awareness, or lack thereof.

Like … they wouldn’t pick up on it if it roundhouse kicked them in the back of the head.

By the dictionary definition, to be self-aware is to be:

1. conscious of one’s own feelings, character, etc

Do you think people who use narratives such as I’m not going to wear a mask during COVID-19 because it’s my right” lack self-awareness, or have too much self-awareness? We are looking at people who are clearly conscious of their own feelings and character. Where I think they fall short, however, is in their ability to be aware and take into consideration other people’s feelings, informed opinions and the world around them. There’s self-awareness in recognizing points of concern within yourself as I said above, but i’d bet folks like this don’t register this behavior as a point of concern within themselves.

Ignorance is bliss so they say and I won’t stop anyone from being blissed out. But – your funeral. Like… literally your funeral, that … that’s not a punchline.

On that note, to lack awareness is actually part of the definition for ignorant:

ig·no·rant
/ˈiɡnərənt/

Witnessing these people go about their lives actually makes me wonder if it would serve us (me?) better as humans to all be 10% less aware of ourselves and others. I recognize that this behavior, especially in a time of a pandemic, can come from a place primarily of fear and misinformation, but man … to lack that much awareness, I’d probably think I was qualified to fly a rocket-ship to Mars.

Turning the conversation towards myself for a moment (it is my blog after all – ta-daa), if a ‘spectrum of self-awareness’ exists, I would consider myself to be on the higher end of it. I am self-aware, I recognize my self-awareness and levels of awareness in others, as well as recognize the lack thereof.

By saying i’m on the higher end of self-awareness, that’s not meant to be read as I consider myself ‘better’ or ‘smarter’ than any other individual. In fact, I think my own humility can be seen within the fact I recognize points of concern with my self-awareness, as you will read below. If I thought I was bomb-diggity, I doubt I’d be willing to see or willing to point out the conflict within my being.

I will say I have had my moments of lacking self-awareness  – like the time I asked my mother if I should leave my luggage outside of the washroom stall while I went to the bathroom at the airport. I was basically asking for it to be stolen. However, these moments don’t seem to occur too frequently, and they rarely (if, ever?) conflict with the health, safety and lives of others.

In addition to the aforementioned factors as to why I consider myself high on the ‘self-awareness spectrum’ (which I just made up and take no ownership of, if something similar already exists kthanksbye), I also recognize the problems posed by my own level of self-awareness.

You see, I tend to overthink (in case I hadn’t mentioned it enough on this site already). Overthinking can actually be beneficial because it allows me to dig deep into who I am as a person and my traits. As is stands, however, my overthinking has made me aware of my self-awareness (it’s essentially Inception, okay?) and it’s a real struggle.

This struggle can be summed up into one paragraph from an email I sent my therapist not too long ago:

“I sometimes hate being so self-aware because it’s like I know and recognize there’s a problem or an irrational pattern of thought or behavior, but I don’t have a solution to fix it or know how to handle it/deal with it”.

Another concern with my own self-awareness is that when I witness others who clearly lack awareness, it frustrates the bejeezus out of me. For example, watching the news of hundreds of people partaking in a drum circle in Stanley Park. In the middle of a pandemic. Which could potentially kill them.

Once again, blissful Kumbaya to you my dude. But – literally your funeral. 

This whole situation isn’t healthy because I get frustrated just by witnessing this (essentially frustration by osmosis) and I don’t, nor does anyone else at the moment (I think), need added frustration in their life. Especially when the world is literally going to shit.

Which brings me back to the question of, would it be beneficial to be just a little less self-aware? If I lacked self-awareness, would I overthink so much? Would I be less considerate of others? Would such a hardness serve me better in life? I have mused before that I could stand to benefit from being more of an asshole, or growing a pair (metaphorically, of course …).

What would life be like? Would it be easier? Less painful? Would it be harder because I would never quite be able to put my finger on the why, what, how of my pain and the pain of the world? But then, would I even recognize this as pain?

In the same breath, I think a lack of self-awareness would lead to a lack of picking up on our feelings and recognizing how we treat each other as acceptable … or not (being conscious of our character). It would also lead to not being able to recognize our issues and what we need to work on. So the big question is … is that really how I would want to live my life?

Upon making the above observation in my email, my therapist pointed out that there are two steps towards making meaningful, effective change within ourselves.

The first step is having the insight to recognize there is an issue or a concern. The second step is recognizing how or what needs to be changed in order to remediate the issue or concern. For example, your lower back feels sore from working at home and using your kitchen table as your office space, therefore you book in to see a massage therapist. Recognizing the issue, recognizing how to remediate the issue.

Credit – Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

She went on to say that for many people, to learn or to develop the ability to have insight is incredibly hard, and considers having insight or self-awareness, without having to work at it or learn to include it in our lives, as a gift.

So I guess i’m gifted, yo.

No, no I kid. I guess i’m … well … more open and empathetic to the plight of others. I recognize and express concern about my world and the problems that take place within it. I would rather feel all the feels, continue to encounter and work out my problems the best I can, and wear a god damn mask when I go to the grocery store for the sake of others, than go dance my pants off with a bunch of other blissfully ignorant twenty-something’s on a beach in Metro Vancouver.

As for the frustration I feel, I take comfort in knowing that I am erring on the wiser side when it comes to keeping myself healthy and safe as well as others by staying home. Recognizing people are going to continue acting this way, regardless of warnings and precautions, allows me to focus on what I can control in my own life, a la, staying home, and keeping the frustration at bay. Simply because i’m doing my part.

And heck, I do have a solution to working through my issues. IT’S CALLED THERAPY AND IT FEELS GREAT.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a “dance your pants off” party for one in my living room scheduled to start shortly, much to the chagrin of my neighbors.

Thank you for reading as always. If you liked what you read, give my post a like, hit the Follow button on the top right-hand corner of this post, and turn on post-notifications, so you never miss an LE blog post! Don’t forget to join my monthly email list by signing up below, for updates, bonus content, and recommendations from yours truly!

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