Well, it’s official. My scanner-ness has been kicking in full-force lately (as is probably evidenced by the slight slowdown in posts here; although being sick has certainly played a part).
Part of how being a scanner manifests in myself is changing modes of expression. I’ll go through periods where all I want to do is write, write, write. Other times, it’s one — or more — of verbal communication, drawing, music, or just plain experiencing (also known as ‘chilling’).
The past few days, maybe even weeks, it’s the ‘chilling’ phase that I’ve been finding myself drawn to. Part of that is likely due to a lot of changes in my personal life (work, family, etc.), which have taken up a lot of my energy.
Part of it is possibly due to the rediculous weather we’ve been having: it’s harder to feel ‘up’ when you keep getting teased with nice weather, then slammed with snow. And part of it is maybe due to the fact that I’ve started playing World of Warcraft again, which is just plain a good way to take some time and chill. 😉
Modes of Expression or Modes of Procrastination?
Sometimes, though, I wonder if these modes of expression are really aspects of my scanner personality, or if they’re signs of laziness and procrastination. Don’t feel like writing? Let’s pick up a paintbrush instead.
As I was reflecting on this issue, I realized that — of all my modes of expression — writing is the one that causes me the most difficulty in this area. It’s the one that’s hardest for me to look at as purely a ‘mode of expression’ — I very naturally slip into thinking of it as ‘work’. Maybe it’s because of all those papers I wrote in school, or the fact that usually when I write, it’s because I made a commitment to do so.
The challenge, it would appear, is not so much about the mode of expression but the freedom I feel I have to make the choice. In other words, as soon as I feel that I am being restricted, I push back. The ability to make the choice isn’t just a luxury for me as a scanner, but a necessity.
Power to Choose
In the past, I usually have thought of scanners as being paralyzed by having too many options in front of them; too many interests and too many passions to be able to choose between them.Â If you had asked me to describe the #1 problem I encountered as a scanner, that’s exactly what I would have told you.
But there’s more to it than that.
Another part of the classic scanner dilemma is having the flexibility and freedom to follow whichever passion calls at the time. It’s not just aboutÂ being overwhelmed by having too many choices; it’s also about being able to make conscious choices to exercise those passions.
Scanners, by nature, like to move freely between their passions.Â Â But sometimes, restrictions on those passions make a scanner feel trapped and constrained. This trapped feeling does not have to be just ‘par for the course’ for scanners.
Learning by Doing
Years ago, when I was working on my Religious Studies honours thesis, I found myself being drawn down by some serious apathy. I didn’t careÂ to do anything, and the more I tried to force myself to ‘behave’, the harder I found myself resisting. I tried setting deadlines, scheduling my time, getting others to hold me accountable, but all I got was feelings of resentment and apathy.
What I finally realized is that my apathy, resentment and other negative feelings were a direct result of one thing: I had been giving away my power. As soon as I took back my power, and decided that I had the ultimate responsibility to make choices that would be satisfying.
I remember that I had chosenÂ to write a thesis because I enjoyed the subject.Â I started actively choosingÂ when to work on my writing. I focused on choosingÂ what I was doing in the moment, taking responsibility for what I was doing in the moment. In doing so, I was able to choose those things which would make me happy — simply by exerting my own power.
Great Power, Great Responsibility
In the SpiderMan universe, we are frequently presented with the idea that ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’ It’s a true statement in many ways, but I think it’s actually quite misunderstood. A lot of people take the saying at face value — that there are some of us that have greater power, and that those who do also have greater responsibility.
But here’s the trick. We all have great power. It is not something that ‘comes’, it’s something that we’re born with. We all have the great power to take control of our lives, to make our own choices, and to live according to our own needs, passions and desires.
What that means is that ultimately, the buck stops here. If we are the ones responsible for our current situations, then we must also take the responsibility to change them if we aren’t happy.
If I was unhappy being trapped by the requirement to sit and write my thesis at time X or Y each day, it was my responsibility to do something about it.Â My choices were still many: I could choose to ‘suck it up and just get it done’, I could choose to write only when it interested me, I could choose to say ‘screw this, I’m not interested’.
But the key was to realize that I was the active chooser, the one with the ultimate responsibility to make a choice that would dignify and uplift my self.
The Scanner Lesson
So, taking this back to the question I posed earlier: is the desire to drop one thing and move onto another completely a scanner personality trait, or is it also a function of procrastination and laziness?Â The first one is a good thing — it just means you’re exploring new avenues and pursuing new interests. The second one isn’t something we usually like to see in ourselves.
The answer is, it can be either one. Knowing the difference between the two is where the trick comes in, and it really is just a matter of asking yourself two simple questions:
- How am I feeling about moving to the next thing? (Am I feeling good about where I’m coming from and where I’m headed to next?)
- Am I moving to the next thing because I want to or because I’m supposed to? (Am I moving on to the next thing because I am ready to, or because I’m not actively choosing to exercise my power?)
The lesson, of course, is true for scanners and non-scanners alike. No matter what your personality (and unless you are a child)Â you are still the decision maker in your life. That means that whatever choices you make are yours to live by. It is your power, and therefore, your great responsibility.