Why Fix Yourself
Because in the end, no one cares about you as much as you do.
In recent years, there has been a trend in self awareness, personal development, and self improvement. As First World citizens, most of us can (and should) take time to climb Maslow’s hierarchy, but in certain instances I grow impatient with our individual progress, because I think too much room is left for “understanding” and “accepting” rather than getting to the actual fixing (and by fixing, I mean the practical upgrading of our outlook and behavior, so we may live better lives and have a more positive effect on our environment).
Many of us allow our individual progress to take its sweet time, because we become content with the notion that these things are gradual and as long as we are “working on them” we are fine, but truthfully, every moment we are not there or physically/mentally out of balance with ourselves or disappointed with some aspect of our lives, we are wasting our own time.
Too much understanding and acceptance of our shortcomings is stealing our time, the most precious commodity we have.
No one will ever care about your circumstance as much as you do. I don’t mean this in a depressing nihilistic way, but think about it for a moment: all the people that you care about the most, whose opinions you care about the most, are all wrapped up in their own world (even your parents, your best friends, and your significant other are busy and preoccupied with things more important than you), and even though your best people do care deeply about you, no one gains and loses in your life like you do, and only you have to live with (and as) you.
I don’t mean that you should therefore become more selfish and self-centered (by all means, please don’t). But we should all come to the realization that every impression we have of the people around us and of our own circumstance is in our head. So, at any moment, we can change our perspective favorably if we want. It does require a lot of trust (trust in the people we love, especially when they disappoint us, trust that we are good enough, especially when we fail at things, trust that when things go badly, we will get something great out of it), which is something we are usually not very good at. When people disappoint us or things don’t go well, it is our human nature to resort to blame, shame, and guilt rather than trust and humility.
Since we are the center of our own reality, it is hard to imagine that people or the universe don’t revolve around us or care enough to do anything against us; that our own ego and sensitivity to factors, which sometimes don’t even acknowledge our existence, is what keeps us from growing and becoming truly great.
In other words, if we feel struck by misfortune, stepped on or treated unfairly at work, slighted by family or friends, misunderstood by our partner, treated meanly by a stranger, then it is up to us to change; change our perspective of the situation so as to use it productively, change to rise above it, change to be better. That is the only way we can take control of our reality. People do care about us, but just not as much as we think, and definitely not as much as we do, so our negative or defensive attitudes can only hurt ourselves.
I have had my (many) reasons to feel disadvantaged, practically and emotionally, and I have spent many years (and relationships) excusing my shortcomings instead of just fixing my trust issues.
When I started the dive into my own self-realizations, I did all the things I am complaining about above. I had great discoveries and gained comfort in the understanding and acceptance of my past and how it shaped me and why, and hey, “I was in progress and working on it”. But working on it sometimes becomes an excuse for not actually doing it. I often excused myself this way, (especially when I became anxious and defensive about something) and expected others to excuse me the same way, since I believed I was doing my best in my convoluted process, and when people love us, they are even more eager to excuse us than we are, but then we simply become the enabled loser, wasting our time fumbling with ourselves and trapped in our limitations rather than living out our best self.
The only way to break the cycle is to decide to do so… by owning that every time we give into acting out of anxiety or pride, we lose out on ourselves and the best time in our lives. There is no gradual progress; there is only doing it. Now. And now. And now.
What helps me the most is turning my perspective around from feeling disadvantaged to (forcefully) feeling advantaged. When I am reminded of the things in my past or present that are obstacles for building the future I want, I look at what unique experiences I have gained from them, what good qualities and useful skills I now have thanks to them (and it is pretty fantastic when I think about it), and how I can use them to my advantage.
When I feel like having a reactive outburst to some seemingly unfair situation, I have to remind myself that it probably comes out of that spiteful fear that I am not good enough, and if I give into reacting on my anxiety rather than finding a way to rise above it, I am losing out on becoming more amazing.
Naturally, no one can be their best self all the time, and we all fall into defensive feelings and actions, but I think it helps to practice remembering that nothing happens against us on purpose, and that there are so many complex moving parts in the universe that, ultimately, we are quite insignificant to anyone but ourselves (this may sound depressing, but it is actually very empowering), so the only way we live significant lives, is if we decide to fix our defensive outlook and choose to behave better, for ourselves.