Dr. Rob: The Choices We Have to Make Every Day

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Blues at Dawn

I don’t dare start thinking in the morning.
I don’t dare start thinking in the morning.
If I thought thoughts in bed,
Them thoughts would bust my head –
So I don’t dare start thinking in the morning.

I don’t dare remember in the morning
Don’t dare remember in the morning.
If I recall the day before,
I wouldn’t get up no more –
So I don’t dare remember in the morning.

~ Langston Hughes

 

Most people I know agree that a worthy goal of life is to increase our self-awareness. Yet, as the great poet, Langston Hughes expresses, thinking is hard and takes a whole lot of effort. Every day, we face tough choices about what is the best way to develop self-awareness and to become more fulfilled and satisfied. One of our greatest challenges as human beings is to strike the right balance between many competing values and instincts.

Here are some of the competing choices I face myself, and that I find my friends, students, and clients also are trying to manage on a daily basis:

  1. Finding the right balance between loving and accepting ourselves as we are, versus seeking ways to improve ourselves.
  2. Finding the right balance between the need to be more self-aware by looking inward, versus seeking and receiving feedback from others about how they perceive us.
  3. Finding the right balance between striving to compete and get ahead of others, versus learning to cooperate and get along.
  4. Finding the right balance between being innovative and spontaneous, versus sticking to a regular routine which enables us to maintain control over our lives.
  5. Finding the right balance between building on our strengths, versus working to correct our weaknesses.
  6. Finding the right balance between living one day at a time, versus focusing on a long-term vision of success.
  7. Finding the right balance between taking care of ourselves, versus taking care of others.
  8. Finding the right balance between relaxing and laying back, versus exercising and staying active.
  9. Finding the right balance between striving to be an independent individual, versus thinking of others first and being accommodating to our significant others’ needs.
  10. Finding the right balance between staying engaged and devoted to work, versus spending as much time as possible I’m not at work activities such as play and recreation.

Every day we face these and other seemingly conflicting choices. We know we only have so much time and we want to use it productively. Yet, this means different things to different people. Some days, we don’t even want to think about life, but just wake up, wait for the coffee to brew, read the paper, wait for the ball game to begin, take a nap, and get ready for bed. On those days, we will wait till tomorrow to start thinking. On other days, we wake up and we can’t wait to be productive every moment.

I’d love to hear from you about how you manage these seemingly conflicting values and demands in your lives.

Thanks, Dr. Rob.

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