“Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew. But I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard.”
Abraham Maslow, who was best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, simply states, “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” The short definition of awareness is to have knowledge. Therefore, for one to gain an awareness of themselves, they first need to have knowledge of themselves.
It is my belief that most people are unaware of who they are at their core and, to take it a step further, are afraid to find out who they truly are. Many people are driven by their fears, insecurities and shortcomings more than their positive attributes and the positive affirmations they try to tell themselves.
One of my favorite movies is Scent of a Woman, staring Al Pacino and Chris O’Donnell. In the classic final monologue given by Pacino’s character, which helped him win an Academy Award, Lt. Col. Frank Slade admits, “Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew. But I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard.”
I, too, have come to the crossroads in my life on several occasions: losing my leg in a fatal car accident and discovering my brother following his unexpected death. These life-changing events were undeniably difficult to endure. In their aftermath, I knew what the right paths were to overcome them. However, I didn’t take those paths initially. The absolute hardest thing I have ever had to do is to step aside from life and take a deep, introspective look at what these and other life-altering events meant to me, how I had allowed them to negatively shape my sense of self, and determine more effective coping and surviving skills that do not lead to self-destructive behaviors and a negative self-esteem. And I do not think I am the only one who would rather do anything else than to actually look at their true selves.
Like Lt. Col. Frank Slade, the reason I avoided looking at the darkest parts of my heart and my soul was mainly because it was “too damn hard.” It was so much easier for me to tell the stories of what had happened to me while disassociating and denying the control they had over my life. I am grateful for having a greater sense of awareness of myself today and will strive to continue to grow this awareness and knowledge of self throughout 2014.