Saturday, March 13, 2010


Insight is a fascinating concept in psychology referring to one's ability to realize one's own disease or condition. For example, people who are depressed usually have good insight and realize they are depressed and are often able to pinpoint what started it and what symptoms they are having. They will come to the doctor and tell him/her their diagnosis. "I'm depressed. What can you do?" Schizophrenics, on the other hand, often have very poor insight. They usually think their lives are fine except for the fact that the government is spying on them through their TV screens. They don't want treatment because they wouldn't have a problem if somebody would just quit bugging their house with secret spy equipment.

In a more general life sense, insight is a valuable virtue. The ability to see one's shortcomings can be life altering. When UFC first became a league or whatever it is, my friends and I would rent the VHS's at the local Blockbuster. I think we watched the first 7 or 8 recorded UFC competitions that way. (Royce Gracie was my hero). Something interesting about the sport is that eventually people began to realize which styles of martial arts were most beneficial and least beneficial. Eventually, an entirely new martial art was born, so-called mixed martial arts, which is purely designed for the Kip Dynamites out there training to be cage fighters. This process took years and occurred as a result of people being challenged by different styles. The same happens in our everyday lives if we are open enough to notice. We can pick up on our deficits and make changes to correct them. If we have insight we can see when a certain habit or behavior is hurtful to others. We can see when a certain habit or behavior is hurtful to ourselves. Sometimes, we can even discern what those behaviors arose from. Either way, the ability to recognize our faults, or when we've swung too extreme on a viewpoint, or when our faith is being blocked by an inaccurate perspective is paramount to our growth as humans.

I believe that some are born with a certain level of insight. Some are blessed with it directly from God. And many grow in it as a skill through experience. Many of us get taken down by several choke holds before realizing that we need to learn how to grapple in the octagon. But the best way to learn, in my experience, is to keep oneself challenged by different competitors. It's a natural tendency to surround ourselves in media, culture, and friends who think like us, dress like us, laugh like us, and boo at the same politicians as us. But we'll never see our blind spots if we are always looking at the same thing. If we choose to, at least periodically, interact with a different age group, or ethnicity, or faith, or book style, or political affiliation we might find ourselves a little more insightful. We might find that we've strayed from a valuable character trait or that our thinking is more harmful than good. Or that Greco-Roman wrestling has no place at UFC. Or that the FBI really isn't trying to spy on us through our shoe laces. We will start to see how imperfect and codependent we are. We'll realize our need for help in a big way. We'll realize why Jesus offers His hand.