Question of the Day: Is it self-absorbed to worry about being self-absorbed?

*Because humor isn't always apparent in written communication, I thought I should add a disclaimer to this blog post: These thoughts are written somewhat tongue-in-cheek, making fun of myself. But there is some actual contemplation going on here as well...

Most of us have heard this statement: "A crazy person doesn't worry about being crazy." This is usually said in response to a person who is wondering out loud about their sanity. I assume most of us have at one time or another wondered, "Am I nuts to feel this way?" I sure have. And, the last few days, I have been wondering if I'm a little bit nuts to be so open about the craziness going on in my own head at times.

Referencing my tendency to emote about my struggles on my blog, I said to a friend of mine this week, "Sometimes I wonder if I sound crazy to people reading my blog." We both laughed. And she said (teasingly), "Well, I know you. But to someone who doesn't..." (Was that a really kind yes, or what??? LOL.)

I guess I was expecting her to say, "Oh, no. Not at all."


Ever since, I've found myself wondering, "Why can't I keep my thoughts to myself like normal people? I don't want to sound crazy. What if people are thinking I'm crazy?"

Although I don't have actual concerns for my sanity, I do sometimes focus too much on how I am perceived by others. And because of the insight gained from counseling and many books, I recognize that a preoccupation with what other people think of me is a form of self-centeredness. Self-absorption is a trait I find extremely unappealing. So it is not something I want to tolerate in myself. And yet I can't deny that it's there ... especially when I'm spending time worrying about it. Maybe I'm hoping that a truly self-absorbed person doesn't confront that in themselves in the same way that a truly crazy person doesn't ever wonder if they're crazy. LOL. Ya think?

Another friend and I were having a conversation about self-centeredness this week. We were both confessing our mutual tendency to ruminate on the slightest mistake made, to worry about being misunderstood and/or misjudged, to crucify ourselves over something we said that we could have said differently or better (even the smallest things), or feel stressed about how others feel toward us, etc., etc., etc. And as I'm typing this, I'm remembering that I've had this conversation with not one, but two separate friends this week. And both are friends who grew up in the same environment I did; where this kind of self-focus was actually cultivated in us. We were taught we had to be perfect. We were comparing our progress (or lack of progress) constantly. We knew we were being observed and evaluated by others --  many times on very superficial levels. And we experienced a great deal of disapproval (judgment) from other people (not God) -- spoken and unspoken -- for not measuring up to their expectations.

Some of us are definitely more susceptible to those disapproving messages because of our genetic makeup. I am in that category. So are the two friends I had these conversations with. But in the most recent conversation, we each had to wonder how much our early environment and interactions with others may have influenced and factored into this part of our personalities' development. We also both recognized that over-reflection on failures, shortcomings and mistakes are self-focused and that is something we do not want to be.

Perhaps the up side of this is that we are not in denial or even trying to be. I think all three of us genuinely want to grow and change and be what God wants us to be rather than what other people might want us to be. And I'm thankful that I have friends who can relate to me in this area. Because someone who can't relate probably does think I'm a little "out there." : )

I'm feeling so "back to normal" this week that even my own emotional struggles look a bit out of proportion to me now in hindsight. The thought has even crossed my mind that I could easily remove the struggling posts from my archives. But that would feel cowardly and dishonest. So I won't.

No matter how humbling it is to acknowledge, the truth is: I struggle to be the person I want to be. In the words my pastor often uses, "I leak." And you would know that even if I didn't confess it. But I think it's important to confess that I know it.

That is why I need a Savior ... and I always will.


justme said…
Great post, Shari! And just for the record, I don't think you're crazy or "out there." I appreciate your voicing what I (and others) am already thinking and worrying about. I especially appreciated what you said here: "We also both recognized that over-reflection on failures, shortcomings and mistakes are self-focused and that is something we do not want to be." That's so true and something of which I need to be frequently reminded. So keep up the good work!
Anonymous said…
Hi Shari:)
Remember me from the email loop?(Sue) I havent read your blog in awhile, but found this entry very "me." lol Thank you for sharing yourself, I am sure it hits home with someone.

Shari said…
I sure do remember you, Sue! Thanks for leaving a comment and letting me know you can relate.