Monday, February 23, 2009

Choosing Our Better Selves

Finding Our Better Selves

Last night Sean Penn told a group of protestors to find their better selves.

I love that suggestion. So often in life we’re given opportunities to take offense, to hate, to hold grudges, to blame, to be childish, to act like the hurt party, and generally to stoop to that portion of ourselves which is our lowest level. How hard it can be to take that fork in the road which leads to our higher selves! It often requires self-discipline or restraint. It asks that we work harder than we want to. Or that we brush off a small hurt and offer forgiveness—even when we haven’t been apologized to. Or that we refuse to glory in the attention we might receive for being victims. Choosing to be our better selves might also mean extending a conciliatory hand even though we feel we’ve been wronged. Or refusing to side up in a quarrel so we can “punish” someone we find disagreeable.

I’m facing a couple of personal turning points. The easy way beckons. I turned to a friend for a “reality check.” She’s a wise counselor. She pointed out the ways my thinking was erroneous. She pointed out where my expectations were out of whack. But she also pointed out the choices I had before me. She did it all without negativity, with a neutrality which didn’t add to my drama, but instead illuminated the pathways.

My New Year’s Resolution word was “organization.” I chose it thinking about my physical world. But truly, at age 55, maybe I’ve missed the point. Maybe organization starts with my emotional self. A large part of being organized is deciding what you want to keep and what you want to toss. I want to toss out part of my childish self, my less desirable qualities. I want to be my better self. It will probably mean some missteps…but I’m on my way.

PS Check out my personal blog for some cool scrapbook pages featuring doodling. Maybe I can transfer my "disorganization" to paper with good result! We'll see. Go to


Allison said...

Boy oh boy did this come at the right time! I've really taken this to heart, and will hang it on my bulletin board (maybe the bathroom mirror as well!) to remind me of the things I need to work on in myself.

Thanks for the reminder!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Allison, I write what I need to learn as well as what I know. Thanks for telling me it had value.

Camille Minichino said...

Whew. Are these blogs supposed to make us THINK? EXAMINE?
This one sure did, and I'm grateful to you, Joanna. I love the use of the word 'organize,' to apply to our emotional selves.
You make it hard to stay bitter or resentful.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Okay, here's the goal--I just want to give to others what I need for myself. I want to offer them my generosity. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. I want to hold THEM to their higher selves even when it's not apparent to me that they are acting that way. That's all.

And if I do, I have to believe I'll more naturally accrue those kindness to my own psyche.

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