Have you ever noticed that certain things, places, or activities tend to cause you to have a subconscious reaction? Like Pavlov’s dog and the bell? He rang the bell when he gave them food, which caused them to associate the bell with food. After a while, he would ring the bell without food, and the dogs would start salivating. They had been conditioned to want to eat when a bell was rung.
I have noticed a few myself, like anytime I sit down in a movie theater, my bladder immediately needs to be emptied. No matter if I just emptied it moments before. I can’t make it through a normal length movie without at LEAST one bathroom sprint. When I went to see the Hobbit? Fuggetaboutit….
Also digestion related is the need to use the restroom as soon as I walk into my office. You might think, “it’s just your routine..wake up, brush teeth, drive to work, go to bathroom.” But no I say. No. Doesn’t matter what time, or what I may have done before I arrive in the office. Like a bell ringing in my bowels, it’s time to go.
This got me thinking, what other non-physical ways am I conditioned to act a certain way? When I walk into a room, what subconscious forces are telling me to do what? Is there something I do, say, or a way that I act that I’m unaware just because of my environment? I know we all act differently around different people, if we’re honest with ourselves. Our goal is to be transparent and real with all our interactions, but there are some friends, family, or even strangers that cause us to act a certain way by no effort of their own.
I have a circle of friends that is obsessed with quick-witted, rapid fire puns. If I am around these guys, I want to be the first, funniest pun on the table. So my mind is always in thesaurus mode, waiting for the perfect moment to strike! When I’m around a different group of friends, I get groans and blank stares when I try to make a witty connection of words. So who I’m around affects the way my mind is functioning. Without me even thinking about it or trying, my awareness, perception, and response to social situations is changed simply by who else is near me.
Who, then, decides who I am? Is it those around me functioning as Pavlov’s bell(without really knowing it)? Is it myself? Do I define myself differently with different people? It’s a complicated question. One without a clear answer. I think for me, the most important thing is to be aware of who it is I want to be: Kind, loyal, smart, funny, musical, super rich….How can I be those things with whomever is around me? What do I need to be aware of going into a situation that will help or hurt me being these things? (other than super rich…nothing can help me there).
Self-awareness is one of the main features of humans that stands us apart in the animal kingdom. We should own that. Know thyself. A lot of life’s problems can be prevented by the understanding and application of those two words.