The Self-Awareness Stick

Could've used a selfie stick. 

Could've used a selfie stick. 

One of the strangest things I saw in Europe was tourists using selfie sticks.  Actually using them.  I always assumed that selfie sticks were the kind of novelty items manufactured purely for Reddit to make fun of.  

I was apparently wrong.  I saw tourists climbing abandoned castle ruins in the Black Forest with them, or carting them through gothic cathedrals.  And they always got better selfies than me, because of the superior perspective.  Their selfies weren't just close-ups of their face--the stick's length gave them enough distance from the camera to get the background in, too.

Granted, I think selfie sticks are kind of frivolous, and look silly.  But there's a useful mnemonic here. 

My metamour recently coined the term "self-awareness stick."  I think she meant it in the sense of "a stick I'd like to smack some people with until they're self-aware."  

But my brain was still in Europe.  I heard "self" and "stick," and thought of the tourists and their superior photos.  A selfie-wareness stick, so to speak.  Something that you could hold out and see where you are, no smacking necessary.

I think that self-awareness is absolutely necessary to self-improvement.  I can't fix something if I don't know it's a problem.  And like taking a good selfie, I need enough distance from the problem to put it in perspective.  

So a self-awareness stick is a mental trick to visualize that perspective.  Put yourself at the end of the stick.  Look at the situation from a distance.  See the bigger picture.

See, I'm really good at perspective. . .after the fact.  Figuring it out later is better than nothing, but it means I mess up in the moment.  A lot.  I get stressed or flustered.  I make bad decisions that I realize are bad decisions almost immediately after I've acted on them.  

Now, I've been trying to visualize in the moment.  I actually picture holding up the damn stick.  And it does help.  The mental picture is so ridiculous that it shakes me out of whatever emotional rut I'm in and makes me think.  When I start to get stressed about a shoot, picturing it helps keep my calm.  When I start feeling insecure in a relationship, thinking about it has kept me from making several decisions I would have needed to apologize for later.

Although the self-awareness stick works well for me, I do have one warning.  Just like a selfie stick, don't be vain.  You still need to live your life, not just take pictures of it.  If you spend all your time looking at yourself, you can miss out on enjoying the moment.  And if you are constantly analyzing yourself, you never actually do anything.

So I probably won't be taking a selfie stick on my next big trip.  But I certainly will be taking my mental one with me.