Self reflection – my god I need a haircut!

Posted: May 26, 2011 in ideas

Of late I have been doing some much needed reflection.

Being a foreigner in a small town is challenging and it is easy to fall into some extremely dangerous and self destructive pitfalls and behavioural patterns.

Meeting frustrations due to perceived discrimination, or observing a beautiful area that has so much going for it throw away opportunities through greed, closed mindedness or lack of long term thinking (as I perceive it) can generate some mighty powerful emotions.

This can lead to what can best be described as depression at times which manifests itself in some rather unpleasant ways.  Being overly critical, focussing on what is wrong and forgetting what is right, lashing out in anger and generally walking under a dark cloud  for much of the time isn’t great for me or anyone around me.

So I have decided today to try and give a positive spin to some of the aspects of life as it is at the moment.

Firstly, I live in Norway, it is a beautiful country with breathtaking scenery and an abundance of wealth.   It is a modern, democratic land, seeking to be socially just and is safe and free from conflicts such as wars and the like.

I am healthy, resourceful, have a great family who support me and interesting and stimulating friends.  I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, time to pursue my interests and access to learning opportunities.

I come from a country that is also wealthy, free, democratic and I can return there whenever I wish.

So why the dark cloud that rumbles over me?

It seems that like many expats, I have something burning inside me.  I am not satisfied to be an observer and want to get out and participate, to learn.  I don’t fear making mistakes, in fact I relish the opportunity to learn and grow, to improve and expand my knowledge, adjusting my viewpoints and opinions as new information comes to light.  I think that it is this fire, this drive inside that is so all consuming and full of energy that is easily channelled into non productive and somewhat negative moods and thoughts that is the culprit.

Looking back over my life I have never been adverse to conflict.  I have learnt over time the harm that dishonesty and immoral behaviour can result in to those I care about and myself.  The lessons learnt in early childhood reassert themselves with focus on integrity and moral fibre, to treat others as I wish to be treated myself, to shoot from the hip and tell it like I see it.

My manner of communication is aggressive to say the least, I can talk underwater with a mouthful of marbles, don’t appear to need to breathe when I am talking and have yet to master the art of conveying that I am listening and valuing others opinions and knowledge.   I can focus on the ‘negatives (goodness I hate that word, it is so emotionally loaded), which can be a real downer for others and be a source of frustration.  It is hard to explain how my mind works, but it is something like a spiderweb, with interconnectedness and a holistic methodology.  Time does not work in a  linear motion, but more sort of like a bubble with criss crossy wavy lines.

There is an energy that is like someone pushing me down a hill all the time and this can make it hard to relax and be calm.  When engaging with someone, II often lack the patience for a conversation to run its course and will poke and prod, invoking emotional reactions that release information that I seek so that I can gather and process this information quickly.  This is not a socially desirable characteristic, regardless of its effectiveness.

Anger is a rather unpleasant side effect of all of this, arising from frustration, feeling of discrimination and that others cannot see the ‘big picture’.  Learning to channel anger into productive pursuits has been definitely an enormous boon and the tools to recognise and then redistribute the massive energy that anger produces is something I constantly work on and refine.

So the cloud is a manifestation of not being able to channel this energy into progress.  To feel locked out or denied the opportunity to really contribute.   I believe that many of us expats are not well suited to subservient roles, to menial tasks or repetitive types of jobs.  We seek stimulation, derive inspiration for greatness and need to feel that we are a ‘part of the machine’.  We take risks, are open to new ideas and are not afraid to make mistakes.  We constantly seek improvement and are able to make decisions quickly, assume responsibility for our actions and are prepared to put in the effort where it is needed.

I think that in some cultures, that can be experienced as threatening, disruptive and unbalancing.  To be relegated to simple ‘jobs’ is not enough, I seek more, a path to the future, opportunity and growth.  So when I have taken on ‘jobs’ to ensure the steady paycheck that life often dictates, I can recognise that I have in some way done my employer and myself a disservice.  This is the challenge that lies ahead….how best to resolve this and avoid this situation in the future

So where does all this reflection leave me?

I am still unemployed, which is a real downer.  But I have to take much of the blame myself.  The town where I live does not offer the opportunities I seek.  That is easily confirmed by the fact that the area itself admits they struggle to get competent, educated and professionals to relocate here.  It is not that the way they do things here is wrong, it isn’t, the majority of the locals here are really happy with the status quo, they are satisfied and harbour a positive outlook on most things.  It is more likely that it is just not a good fit for me and my personality. The type of employment I seek is hard to define, however I know that it will require travel, working with people who inspire me, being able to learn constantly, working in a face to face role with people and doing something that I feel makes a contribution to society.

When I look back at the types of jobs and activities that I have done in my life, what has made me happy and what has stirred interest and motivation within me, it seems that some autonomy and responsibility is a major factor in that which I seek, yet I also like to operate within a clearly defined set of rules and guidelines to avoid conflict.  To be empowered to present ideas, suggestions and alternatives in an environment where they are met with openness and explanation if they are unsuitable or irrelevant is also desirable.

I do not think that I am always right (although I can understand that is how many perceive it), I just wish that if people disagree, or have alternative views and other knowledge, that they can share them and enlighten me. Most things in life are in a constant state of flux and adjustments must be made along the way.

I see life as like taking a journey on a sailing ship across a vast ocean into the unknown.  You start with a heading or direction, as general destination in mind.  Along the way you experience fine weather, the wind at your back, storms, squalls, seasonal changes and occasionally the vessel needs to put in to port for supplies and repairs.  As the journey progresses new information is gleaned from those you encounter, amazing sights are seen and lessons learnt.  The jurney is not in a straight line, you must adjust course to make headway, occasionally make a hasty about turn to seek respite from a storm and navigate around dangers and ‘no go zones’.  It is about the journey, not the destination for me.

So there you go, today’s brainspill and thoughts.

Hope you are all well and that the great eagle of life does not shit on your teepee..


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