Self Awareness Made Simple: Use What You See Today.

What do you do when You just don't get along with someone?

Picture by “reader of the pack” on Flickr

You ever have to spend time with someone that you just can’t stand, but social convention dictates that you exchange pleasantries.

You know you’re going to run into them at some point, and you get a little worked up before you’re in the same room.

The two of you sense this awkward friction. You just rub each other the wrong way. But, for whatever reason, life has brought you both together.

As a bartender, I experienced my fair share of this, from both sides of the coin. I’m quick to judge, and fake isn’t my strong suit. If we’ve met, and I didn’t like you, it was blatantly obvious.

And up until 2004, it never dawned on me that my attitude towards other people, was anything but an observation and one person’s (my) opinion.

It never even occurred to me that my opinion would make a difference to anyone. But, it does. The way we respond to one another makes a difference.


…back then, ninety percent of the clientele at Woody’s at the Beach, the bar where I worked, were “regulars.”

Some of those people’s drinking habits are still ingrained in my motor memory.

Back in the day, rarely did anyone have to ask me for anything. They just had to show up, nod and their drinks would appear. If they were hungry, I knew. If they needed to chat, I knew that too.

Most people are creatures of habit.

We find comfort in routine.

The patrons at Woody’s at the Beach were no different. Familiar faces filled the place. Most people were there to have a good time, and most of the regulars liked me. Some, not so much…

But one guy seemed to be there just piss on my Cheerios.

The exercise I am about to share, helped change the relationship between me and him, and I’ve used it several times throughout my journey.

Here’s how it all started.

One evening, a friend of mine/regular… Let’s call him… Nick.

Nick, sat at the window service area just to the left of the well where I poured drinks.  He puffed on cigarettes, sipped jack and cokes and enjoyed the atmosphere of the twilight. We chitchatted as customers ebbed and flowed.

All of a sudden Nick yelled out.

What the fuck was that?

It startled me a bit. I walked over, leaned in and said ”

What the Fuck was WHAT?

Nick went on to explain that part of the fun of Thursday night happy hour was the drama that unfolded between me and another guy. (we’ll call him Steve, the man I served just before Nick’s outburst).

Nick told me that he had enjoyed the show for a few months.

It was obvious that every time that Steve came into the bar, my skin crawled. Steve knew every single button to push and never passed the opportunity. He and I almost threw down on several occasions. I wasn’t trying to be a pacifist back then, so the likelihood of throwing a punch was much higher.

But, that particular day, Steve got lucky.

That morning brought an epic surf session.

The drive to work was unmatched.

Then to top it off, the Miracle Green smoothy I drank whilst driving down Pacific Coast Highway added up to an unusually good mood.

Determined to keep the good vibes, I decided to pretend that this was the first time meeting Steve. The goal was to find something about him I could relate to, so that I could find a way to let go of the impulse to elbow him in the throat. Here’s how it went down.

Steve came in the front door. A list of his traits rushed into my consciousness. My brain scanned for similarities.

As each trait painted a picture in my mind, the scenarios where to some other person, I am Steve came into focus. It was easy to recognize how I get snappy, impatient, and I feel unheard, unloved and unwanted, and how that looks to people who barely know me.

I not only saw Steve’s pain, I realized his pain was my own.

Steve had this tendency to put people down. He’d rub your nose in just how inferior you were to him. But, at that moment, it was clearly a defense mechanism.

Somehow he figured out that the best way to feel like he meant something was to make other people feel bad about themselves. It dawned on me that Steve didn’t know how to love himself. And from that he projected his criticism onto other people.

This realization allowed me to look him in the eyes that day, smile and let him know that I knew. In my mind I said to him; “It’s OK dude. I know, me too.”  But, I didn’t say anything. I just served his drink and moved on.

He kind of shook his head, and tried to engage me in small talk. We chatted. Laughed together and he went out to the patio to mingle.

That’s when Nick yelled out.

After I explained the situation, Nick and I discussed Carl Jung, synchronicity, and the meaning of relationships for the remainder of the evening.

The following week, he brought me my first Joseph Campbell book “Tat Tvam Asi” was the subject; maybe even the title. I’m not really sure. But, it did end up as a tattoo on my left forearm.

Don’t judge. Yeah, I’m a white guy with a Sanskrit  tattoo. I made sure to have the tattooist alter the image before he embedded it in my skin. It’s spelled wrong so it reminds me that nothing is perfect and it’s stupid to have words tattooed on my arm.

That week kicked off my search for a workable theory of spirituality.

I went back to my roots, Catholicism/Christianity, and tried to find similar messages throughout our history of mankind. Eventually, a yoga mat ended up under my feet, and a pen in my hand.

What a journey it has been…

My road was bumpy, windy and sometimes circled in on itself

My practice of stillness has been overlooked too often.

But, it only takes me a few people that I want to punch in the face to make me realize that it’s time to sit down, quiet my inner dialogue so that I can pull my head out of my ass and practice some self awareness.

I’m so thankful, for the tricks and tools I gathered along the way.

And I hope this story helps you in some way.

Thanks for reading, if you made it this far, share it with your friends please.

About The Author


Hi, I'm Tim McAuley the founder of Soul Surfer School where I help people learn how to get out of their own way so they can create the life they deserve by sharing proven techniques to create better habits so they can do the work to actually deserve the life of their dreams.

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