Personal Flaws

I think its remarkably easy for most people to identify the personal flaws of others, and its not usually that we are excessively critical or mean-spirited. Instead, its just common knowledge that so and so is cheapskate, or a blabbermouth, or know-it-all. In fact, just the availability of such colorfully descriptive terms is pretty striking.

The question I often wonder then is why it’s so hard for us to know our own flaws. I mean, I could list you some things that bother me about myself, and I can list things I think others don’t appreciate, but what I think is so interesting is that the things I think are flaws are almost never the flaws that my close friends are willing to pin on me. In fact, many people are very mystified about the things I consider flaws, and tell me that “no one thinks that” instead you’re X.

I don’t know why this is, but there are a couple of ideas that pop into my head. One is that our flaws (and our good aspects too) are part of our personality which comprises one way that we look at the world and interpret things. My personality determines whether I’ll find something funny or if I like a new person that I meet. And since one’s personality is so definitive of the way one sees the social world, it may be like trying to look at the back of one’s own pupils. You see out from your personality, and so any experiences you have, say, of social censure, will already be mediated by what your personality gives to you as the lesson of the situation.

So I think its really hard to see into yourself and self-analyze one’s own personality. A personality is so rock-bottom that everything gets built up from that.

Interestingly, it seems like it might be really debilitating to know one’s own flaws for real. It would kind of be like knowing the date or your own death (well that might be good and bad). But what I mean is that a certain amount of our confidence and ease with situations is that we are confident in some parts of ourselves. For example, I believe that I’m good at putting people at ease when they meet me. Not saying I’m charismatic or cool, cause I’m neither, but a skill that I think I can leverage is that I can usually get people to open up a little. If i found out that most people found my manner creepy and awkward, my guess I would be afloat in a sea of self-doubt. In a very real sense, my conception of myself would be put under threat with such information.

And maybe this is why my close friends are very reluctant to answer my questions about myself. I usually don’t ask anymore, but every once in a while I’ll try to ask “what does everyone know is my biggest flaw?” I never really get a straight answer, and maybe humans come with a in-built sense that to pull the rug out from someone’s social fabrication or deluded self-conception of themselves is to do real damage to that person. Though, when someone suffers from a very serious psychological illness or other more pressing dangerous delusions, it could be required that others intervene, as in an intervention for smoking or drinking.


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