Synopsis: situational awareness is the ability to work with internal and external, in harmony, and work with the most data possible
For the last two weeks or so, I’ve been writing about what you could call “subjective experience.”
We mostly want to forget just how subjective it all is. We live in our little bubbles, and make guesses as we deal with “outside.” Except, it’s scary to realize just how different our experiences are, so we’re taught, early on, to pretend that we see the same.
The only time we really notice is when someone, say, like Trump shows up, and likely (if you’re reading this blog, anyway) you go, “Whoa! What planet is he from?” In other words, how can someone’s perspective be so much different from mine?
It’s also what I was writing about last week, as I described the incident with the guy and the loud music.
I’ve thought about that from several perspectives, and even mentioned one last week:
2. he has no situational awareness (“I’d never do something like that!”)
Which also fits with my reference, above, to Trump. (“I’d never think like that!”)
But let’s have a look at situational awareness, shall we? As with much of life, there are three possibilities — negative / neutral (functional) / and excessive:
- SB — situational blindness (numbness, insensitivity)
- SA — situational awareness
- SD — situational dependence (hyper-awareness, sensitivity)
My topic last week has to do with the first on this list, SB.
My judgement was that the guy was blind to his situation — to the field — to his environment and surroundings. I have no way of actually knowing his process, but he was quite invested in talking loudly to his friend, and was seemingly unaware:
- a) of the music’s volume, and
- b) of the presence of others
Me. Me. Mememe
So, not to beat the guy to death. SBs typically never learn to “read a room” to get a feel for who and what is around them. We call such people “bulls in a china shop.”
For example, a few weeks ago, I mentioned a guy who kept walking in on his 30-year-old daughter, fresh from the shower. He had no clue why she was upset.
I wonder what they think of my butt.…
The other side of the coin is situational dependence — SD. Most of us have gone through a stage or two of this: high school tends to bring this out. We are constantly scanning the faces of the people around us, and trying to guess how they feel about us. And then, we shift our behaviour accordingly, despite, lots of times, not having actually heard from the other people.
All to not stand out in the crowd.
It takes a lot to get over this — many people become “people-pleasers” never saying “no,” going through life hyper-aware. The craftier of these become the “I’m… just so sensitive! I… feeeeeeel what others feel!” kind of folk. They make a career out of guessing, “feeling,” and reacting.
And, of course, the situationally blind just love the situationally dependent. They often marry them!
Why? Because they can play them. The situationally blind might be thought of as narcissistic… into their own stuff to the exclusion of others, whom they don’t even notice. Or, if they do notice, they are good at pulling a pout, or making demands… their expectation is that others will always placate them.
There’s actually nothing more amusing than the look on the face of an SB when their SD spouse stops giving in.
The third option is the balance option.
To be an SA is to be awake. In other words, to notice what is going on around you, to encourage others to let you know what is up for them, to let others know how you are, and then — only then — to state what you will do next.
In other words, not too hot, not too cold… just right.
In both of the extremes, the person is choosing to act with partial information, and to miss reality.
- For the SB, arrogance and excessive belief in one’s “rightness” (internal is all that matters) leads to a one up position.
- For the SD, deference and the excessive belief in one’s “wrongness” (external is all that matters) leads to a one down position.
The middle path is the Pathless Path.
Being situationally aware is the best of both worlds, and provides the most possible information. You’re getting it from everywhere, taking the time to listen and evaluate, and thereby making better, more healthful choices and decisions.
This week, see where you focus. How often are you insensitive / oversensitive? Where is the middle ground? Play with this, and see if you can find your place of awareness.