Multi-Dimensional Man: The Art Of Managing Our “Selves”
Multi-Dimensional Man: The Art Of Managing Our “Selves”
July 22, 2013
Winston Wayne Wilson
As humans we are multi-dimensional; however, we oftentimes treat ourselves as one- dimensional beings. This is destructive behavior because the vast majority of our problems in life stem from the fact that, when we treat ourselves as one dimensional, we will not be “diversified”. Hence, we will tend to invest all of our emotional energy into one person or one goal, one dream, one problem, one job, and so on. In essence, we will embark on our journeys in life tunnel-visioned with no Plan B or Plan C.
For example, we might invest all of our energy into finding our significant others but then we have no friends, no hobbies or anything else that is meaningful in our lives. Similarly, we might invest all our energy into finding the right job, and being super successful at it, but we have no social lives and our family lives as well as our finances suffer. When we fall prey to one-dimensional living we become myopic and we give all our mollifying oils to one squeaky wheel.
The reality is that our lives are multi-dimensional. Specifically, we all have three key dimensions that we must actively manage. These three dimensions, or three selves, are: (1) Ourselves with ourselves; (2) Ourselves with others; and (3) Ourselves with our resources (time, money, and energy). This means that “self-esteem” can only be achieved when we respect all of our three selves.
These three dimensions are not optional – we are all imbued with them by virtue of being human beings. Being successful in one dimension does not guarantee success in the other dimensions. Therefore, in order to optimize our success in life, all three of these dimensions need to be acknowledged and appropriately managed in order to avoid falling prey to one-dimensional living. Here is more on each of the three selves:
Ourselves with ourselves
This is the scariest of the three dimensions. While alone time is something that many of us say we desperately crave, most of us do not know what to do or say when we come into the presence of ourselves. Many of us have become strangers to ourselves and sitting down quietly, face to face with ourselves, makes for an awkward reunion. Nevertheless, as the Cartesian expression stipulates, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Effectively managing ourselves with ourselves means that despite the discomfort of facing ourselves, we must find the time to do the work that is required to achieve self-discovery. When we take the time out to examine our lives we deepen our understanding of ourselves – who we are, what we value, our deal breakers, and our true passions.
The end result of the “examined life” is akin to the human genome project in which we map out the DNA of our lives. Without this critical step, we will be misunderstood in life because, if we don’t know who we are, or what we are about, then no one else will. In addition, it will be difficult to negotiate what is best for us at work, or in other areas of our lives, when we have no earthly clue about who we are and what we value. Ultimately, we will have low self-esteem. Low self-esteem really means that we do not respect ourselves for the way we treat ourselves, particularly when we are by ourselves. In such instances, we use our alone time to hate on ourselves and to pollute our minds with demoralizing things that only perpetuate sub-optimizing our potential. We treat ourselves this way because we have not invested enough quality time with ourselves to understand, and be proud of, ourselves. Many of us would like ourselves more if we got to see the unbridled potential that is there quietly pleading, “Please, use me.” Time spent with ourselves can be priceless when we use it to accept who we were yesterday, while artfully leveraging who we are today, in order to maximize who we will become tomorrow.
Ourselves with others
Who we are by ourselves is not always who we are with others. For example, by ourselves we might be risk averse and penny pinching but, when we fall madly in love, we throw caution to the wind and violate all the good fiscal habits that we cultivated. This might happen because we fear losing the relationship if we don’t maintain a certain lifestyle or because we erroneously feel a greater sense of financial freedom from pooling resources with our significant others. Further, by ourselves we might be outgoing and actively indulge our passions; however, once we get into a relationship we abandon ourselves in exchange for what we perceive as the greater good of the relationship. Thus, we give up our friends and our passions and only do things that we assume will make the relationship stronger – even if they make us drastically weaker. Ultimately, we become martyrs for love because a relationship can only get stronger when both people are getting stronger.
The key to effectively managing ourselves with others – family members, significant others, members of our communities, or colleagues at work – is that we don’t lose our identities, values and our empowerment during our interactions with them. In fact, the end goal of our interactions with others should be empowerment, including the enhancement of our self-esteem. That way, we will always learn from each other as we grow in experience, knowledge and wisdom. Also, we will be of greater service to each other so that our collective psychosociophysical needs can be met. With that goal in mind, effectively managing ourselves with others means that we must actively seek out the people who empower us and minimize our exposure to those who don’t. Part of self-esteem is respecting ourselves for the way we treat others in our lives. After we learn to respect ourselves, the very next step is learning to respect others.
Ourselves with our resources
For most of us, time, energy and money are our three most scarce resources. Time, energy and money also tend to be our most mismanaged resources. Hence, collectively they represent a triple threat when we mismanage them.
Regarding time, all of us want to “get” more time. However, when we are very busy, and have a lot of responsibilities, the only way to get more time is to reclaim it from somewhere else – since we cannot manufacture time. Reclaiming our time involves micromanaging our 24 allocated hours and deliberately apportioning them as precisely as we can to avoid wasting any of our time. Specifically, the process involves evaluating the people, places and things that are the primary consumers of our time and reclaiming some of our time from whichever thing dominates our time the most without a commensurate return on our investment of time.
Regarding energy, all of us also want to have more energy to do more things. Similar to time, energy is something that needs to be reclaimed because we simply cannot manufacture more energy after we have already been drained by our daily obligations. To do this, we must once again look at the people, places and things that deplete our energy the most and reclaim some of that energy for ourselves by reducing the extent of our exposure to them or filtering them out. When we allow everyone and everything to deplete our energy then we will experience burnout and be useless to ourselves.
Regarding money, like time and energy, most of us want more money; however, we cannot simply print more money at our kitchen tables – at least not without eventually getting busted and going to prison. Managing our money involves managing our spending habits more than managing how much more we make. I previously shared Charles A. Jaffe’s quote that says, “It’s not your salary that makes you rich, it’s your spending habits.” Managing our spending habits requires that we live within our means. It is far better to live within your means rather than beat your head against the wall trying to expand your means. Living within your means not only involves expense management but also emotions management. Emotionally, we feel entitled to a piece of the American Dream, whether we can afford it or not, and we feel that we must keep up with the Joneses. John and Jane Doe live comfortably within their means. If you find that you cannot keep up with the Joneses maybe try to live like the Does. Don’t forget that self-esteem also involves respecting ourselves for the way we treat our resources. After we learn to respect ourselves and others, we must learn to respect all our resources. We will never achieve gratitude until we respect how well we manage our resources. Moreover, if we do not respect our time, energy and money, none of them will respect us.
My challenge for you this week is to reclaim some time for yourself so that you can answer these questions: “Am I proud of the way I treat myself?” “Am I proud of the way I treat others?” “Am I proud of the way I treat my resources?” If the answer is “No”, then there is work to do. Remember, we cannot live a muti-dimensional life if we do not actively manage all three of our selves.