Several days ago, I wrote an article, Why I Needed to Challenge My Brain Injury Awareness. I shared in the article that brain injury awareness is good, however awareness changes nothing. And as I have heard said: “If nothing changes, it will remain the same”.
Remain the Same
Awareness, in and of itself; can leave the individual angry and stuck if that awareness does not lead to acceptance. That was my case for years after I became aware that I had experienced a traumatic brain injury at age 10. I became aware, but did not know that I could do anything different.
Did Not Know
As I tried without success to not be affected by the open skull fracture and right frontal lobe brain damage that I sustained in 1967. In my experience, I found that without getting to a place of acceptance the “mental ascent” or “awareness” of my traumatic brain injury” seemed irrelevant. Irrelevant, because I had not yet grasped the significance of my awareness, because I bought into denial. The denial of the impact created by the traumatic brain injury that I sustained at age 10. A brain injury with right frontal lobe damage, a severe brain bruise with brain stem involvement and the need of frontal lobe traumatic brain injury recovery.
Both my denial and the denial of other people, who wanted or needed me to remain in denial.
What I discovered through my process was that I needed to grieve. Grieve my brain injury awareness to be able to move from being bitter in life. Move from being bitter in life to becoming better in life. To do so, I needed to move from a place of “mental assent” to being able to own my awareness. Own the awareness over which I was powerless so that I could experience “better” in life by accepting what I could not change.
Illustration — “Groundhog Day” movie
Several years ago, I watched a movie that illustrated this process. The process of moving from bitter to better through becoming aware. Being aware through grieving the awareness of what could not be changed. What could not be changed to be able to create a good life. A good life for the character Phil Conners, in Groundhog Day. If you have not seen this movie, Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, a weatherman.
A TV weather man during an assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. A weatherman who finds himself in a sort of “time loop”. In a seeming time loop repeating the same day over and over again. In this “time loop” Phil is shown in different vignettes after realizing what he is powerless to change. But with his awareness Phil decides to exploit the situation for his own gain.
After indulging in exploiting people and unsuccessfully committing suicide numerous times, he begins to re-examine. Begins to re-examine the results that he keeps getting. As the movie continues, Phil Connors appears to be bitter and angry as he relates to his co-workers and the town’s people of Punxsutawney.
Phil presents himself as a man who is all alone in self-absorption, refusing to see things differently. Initially, Phil Connors seems to be dumb founded and in denial to what is occurring, as he wakes up each day. Wakes up each day to the same song and announcement on his clock radio. This denial continues until he realizes that the same events are occurring day after day of which he finds himself powerless to change.
Different Day — Same Results
As he realizes that similar events are occurring every day (without consequences for his behavior) he becomes emboldened. Emboldened to exploit the vulnerabilities of his TV crew and the towns residents. He does this through taking a money bag out of an armored truck, through using his acquired knowledge of people and events to take advantage of them. Such people as a town’s woman and Rita, his coworker.
In his exasperation and desperation, Phil then attempts to commit suicide. Commits suicide in many ways on different days only to wake up the next morning at 6:00 am with the same song playing. As the movie continues, he then uses information gained through asking questions of the television crew and the towns people. He continues to use the information to exploit the information for his own gain for many days.
After this behavior goes on for many days, Phil begins to have spiritual awakenings. He realized that each day never changed and begins to recognize. Recognize that being angry at events and taking advantage of people does him little good. With his awareness we see that Phil has a change in focus. He begins to use what he has been given to help. Help rather than to exploit his crew members and the town’s people.
Creating Different Outcomes
With his awareness and acceptance of what he could not change, he begins using his acquired knowledge. Begins using his acquired knowledge to help and be of service to his TV crew and the town’s people.
Realization Surrounding Awareness
As we see in this movie, Bill Murray’s character; Phil Connors, could have remained trapped by the awareness. The awareness of his being stuck in”one day”. He could have continued to be angry at his set of circumstances. In his anger and frustration, Phil could have continued to exploit. Exploit, and take advantage of his fellow television crew members and the town’s people. He could have stayed focused…
Stayed focused on being depressed, because of the things that he could not change.
Instead, Phil reached a point when his awareness became a opportunity. An opportunity to do something different. By accepting what he could not change, he decided to create good. Create good despite being unable to get out of the time loop. With his awareness and acceptance, he sought to enrich both his life. the lives of his television crew and the town’s people. He did so instead of continuing to feel trapped.
Instead of continuing to stay focused and feel trapped by the things that he could not change.
And so, he did, by learning to ice sculpt, learning how to play the piano, saving the mayor’s life, changing the tire on a car for an elderly woman, playing the piano at a dance, feeding a homeless man, helping a couple deciding to get married and helping other town’s people. And with his decision to use his awareness and acceptance, Phil Connors was able to move from being bitter because of his awareness, to being better.
In the process he enriched his life, his TV crew, the town’s people and his relationship with Rita.
Although the movie’s plot is fictional, what is shown to have been learned by Phil can be a benefit to all of us. As illustrated in the movie, Groundhog Day and through the character of Phil Connors as played by Bill Murray, awareness in and of itself can lead to the individual to becoming bitter in life. Instead of being empowered by the awareness; through the process of reaching a place acceptance, the individual may…
May feel like a victim of their awareness, trapped by their circumstances. On the other hand, as the individual moves from a place of awareness to acceptance they find the ability. Find the ability to create hope through choice. Create hope through choice because they realize that there may be other options. Options, to take a different course of action. A course of action; as Phil Connors took to improve…
To improve the quality of the lives in his world through looking at his awareness in a different way.
To Be Learned
Looking at Our Awareness through the Power of Choice
The choice to empower one’s life, well-being and relationships.
The choice to make the most of one’s time to learn how to excel in his life.
The choice to grieve what can not be changed to move forward with our lives.
The choice to no longer see oneself as a victim of a particular set of circumstances.
The choice to create hope through what we learn from our experiences and set of circumstances.
The choice to celebrate relationships with other people, instead of taking advantage of or exploiting them.
The choice to stop fighting with ourselves and with other people because of what we are powerless to change.
The choice to use our awareness and acceptance to enrich both our lives and the people we seek to be of service.
The choice to use our awareness to become better in life, instead of remaining bitter over what could not be changed.
The choice to stop doing what was/is undermining and begin doing (taking action) to create a good life and relationships.
The choice to transition from being angry, trying to change the things we can’t change, surrendering to or accepting what we can’t change to being able to create what we change our lives.