Monday, June 11, 2007

Further Thoughts on Practically Perfect

The other day I wrote about a new book, Practically Perfect in Every Way. At the time, I'd read 17 pages. Now, three-quarters of the way through it, I still love her voice and admire her writing, but I'm not so sure what I think of the book.

The premise is that this non-introspective type woman spent two years exploring various self help books in an attempt to improve her home, finances, marriage, parenting, and so forth.

So far, she's pretty much refuted the advice of each "expert," concluding that it's not possible or necessary to improve on her natural style. In fact, as she turned her attention to the issues of her life, she began sleepwalking and having panic attacks. It seems that the less introspective she is, the less she is troubled with these problems.

Most of my (ok, all of my true) friends and I are trying to live consciously. It's fascinating to read the thoughts of someone who finds introspection to be self-indulgent. Her views, while not my own, have lots to teach me.

There's a line between self-awareness and narcissism. In fact, they may be kissing cousins. It's easy to get carried away and forget which side of the line we want to be on. I'm trying to figure out how to recognize and respect the line and would love to hear your thoughts.


Amber said...

Oh, how true this is. There is a line, and it can get thin, I think. It can be just as damaging to be obsessed with looking too deeply, as it is to blindly not look. Sometimes when anxiety is attacking me, I have to swim to the shallow waters and take a break. Sometimes poking at wounds will not make anything better, you know? And I agree with her that it can make people very self-centered. It can even stop people from living real life, as they just THINK about it ALL the TIME...

But I could never live my life never looking deeper. That is just no tme at all. lol. So, like everything in life, we must have balance in this, too.

Sounds interesting. I will add it to my list to check out. ;)


Stacy said...

Like my grandpa used to say, "Believe in half of what you see and none of what you hear" comes to mind.
Who knows our own truth but us?

Mystic Wing said...

Astute observation, sis, and I'm a little ticked off at you for pointing it out.

Contemplating one's navel might be grounds for a diagnosis of narcissim, you say?

Pardon me while I go stare at my reflection for an hour or two.

Greetings from Atlanta, by the way.

Deb said...

I guess for me the line would be any digging and reflecting that didn't lighten me or en-lighten me in some way. The whole purpose of self-awareness for me is to find myself so I can be who I came here to be. I believe that's the only way I can serve - to be fully me. For me the more light the better.

The purpose isn't ultimately for it to be about me. The purpose is to be enough me that I realize my place in the bigger Mystery.

I've experienced people (in my family) who used this woman's approach to negate my experience and to avoid their own lives. I may be a bit touchy on the subject.

You do raise the best questions, my friend!

Jess said...

Good good questions, and so well put. It IS a fine line, and I think I am certainly prone to thinking too hard about some things, as opposed to doing them.

I am quite interested in how people find balance in this way, and also kind of fascinated by people like the author of this book who don't find introspection necessary. Its foreign to me, and while I like my own way and I think it's important, I do think we have something to learn from people with different approaches to this stuff.

No time for new books now, but maybe I'll get a chance to look at your copy soon. :)

Carrie Wilson Link said...

I don't agree there's a fine line. Narcissism and self-awareness are on opposite poles. One is being in love with your ego, one is being in love with your soul. You heard it here first, folks. Gotta go stand in front of some shiny object...

kario said...

I think narcissism is when you're determined to make everyone else pay attention to you. Self-awareness is when you pay attention to you, the inner you, in an attempt to decipher who you truly are. Sounds to me (in my uneducated opinion since I haven't read the book) like she's terrified of looking inward ('anywhere but there'), thus the panic attacks, and she's decided to justify not going there. Scary, I agree, but I'd be surprised if she ultimately comes to any true self-awareness without going there.

Deb said...

Bravo, Kari. You've said what I wanted to say, only really well. Thank you for giving words to this that sing to me. Carrie, I loved how you place the two things at opposite ends of the spectrum. It's given me more to consider. Great things to think about!

Kim said...

I agree with Kario and Carrie as well. I think people can reach a point where they begin to dwell on the introspection more than on the life around them, rather than shed light inside and work to move forward, but I don't see that as narcissism.

And to be honest, I find it pretty surprising that someone who is so traumatized by looking inward that she has panic attacks has now published a self-help book encouraging people not to do it.