The counselor at the school we work at often encourage staff, faculty, and students to do a self check-in during the day. Just a deep breath and the legitimate question: how am I right now? Take off the mask. No need to perform or fear an imagined future. Just honestly self-assess.
I have to confess this is something I don’t do very often. I don’t often take inventory of myself.
On the other hand, I am constantly measuring others. I am obsessively weighing the justice of other peoples’ hearts. My church, politics, the people hogging the New York sidewalk. I am constantly assessing them. Why don’t I look at myself as closely?
My poor attempts at self-awareness often go like this: how am I feeling? Angry. But I am angry at today’s politicians and biased news reporting. They should just tell the truth, stop trying to spin…..and I’m off into a blame mindset, a victim mentality.
We avoid self-assessment because we assume a lot about ourselves. We assume we have good intentions and that this matters more than our faults. We assume others are doing better than we are and owe us something. We assume our points of view are correct. And all this assuming leads to defensiveness rather than true assessment.
We create a fortified wall around our true sense of self–erected with pillars like sports fandom, net worth, political and religious affiliation, geography, etc. Our ego-centered “self-assessment” becomes a refortifying of the battery. We make our rounds to the old familiar columns and shore them up so that we feel better protected.
Not the same thing as true self-assessment.
This, like our blame strategies, are all about avoidance. We don’t want to ask hard questions of ourselves, we want to assume we’ve got it right and get others on board. We don’t want to acknowledge our own faults, we want to fix the faults of others and the circumstances we dislike.
True self-assessment begins with the question: what can I do better? What have I been doing wrong and what have I been ignoring?
We are so hyper-aware of what is going on outside of us, out in the world, yet so woefully unaware of our own self. What we truly want. What truly matters to us. How we feel and why. What we are stewarding well and what resources we are wasting. What we have to be grateful for.
Now is a good time to get real with ourselves. In this day and age, with biased news reporting and a myriad of voices, one which inevitably tells you what you want to hear, we are consumers. Very few are producing well. Very few of us are doing well. Mental health and suicide are prevalent because we are, relatively speaking, ignoring ourselves.
It is time for an honest check in. You won’t break yourself by asking yourself hard questions. You are not a house of cards. Maybe your perspective is; the false reality you’ve carefully constructed. But who you are at the core is stronger (and probably better off and better positioned than you realize). But you’ll never get there without taking intentional time to inventory your own life.