It is Better to be Hated…

These two posts appeared next to each other on my Reddit feed this morning. I love this message.

It might seem trite to some, but I feel it’s the embodiment of Courage, one of the greatest spiritual principles. Fear blocks so many of us. Overcoming Fear is to be celebrated.

The second image really reminds me of a good friend of mine. I’ll message her and let her know.

from selflove

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Other People

You’ll have probably heard the phrase, “Other people are your mirror.” Do you think it’s true?

I’m increasingly feeling that it’s true. At least, it feels true for me. (Everyone is on their own path and has their own truths).

In case you’re not sure what the phrase means, let me explain. It’s the idea that what you see in other people also tells you a lot about yourself.

Much of the time, until very recently, I haven’t liked most other people. What does that say about how I feel about myself? Well, I now believe it means that there were lots of parts of myself that I didn’t like.

I often avoid other people. Sometimes this is because they seem annoying or boring (Sorry, but I’m trying to be honest. And this doesn’t mean people are annoying or boring, it’s just my perception of them at that moment in time).

Sometimes it’s because I don’t feel much connection with other people – I don’t feel they’d be able to relate to a lot of the things I think or feel. Sometimes (and this is a bit hard for me to admit), it’s because I’m scared of other people.

What do these things say about my relationship with myself?

Often I find myself annoying, or boring. Often I feel isolated, both from my true nature, and from the outside world. Often I don’t understand myself. And often, I’ve been scared of myself.

The good news is that this is changing… as I feel more sociable, it’s partly because I have greater self-esteem and I like myself more.

When I find myself being more interested in other people, it’s partly because I’ve been finding myself more interesting. I’ve been more curious, paying closer attention, feeling delight at finding things which were hiding in plain sight.

As I feel less afraid of myself (specifically the darker/evil parts of my nature), I feel less afraid of other people.

As I’m better able to form connections and build rapport with others, I’m forming stronger bonds and connections with myself.

How do you feel about other people? What (if anything) does that say about your feelings towards yourself?

What is “Good Enough”?

I’ve just woken up from a disturbing dream. This dream followed a pattern which is quite common for me, so I thought I’d use this blog post to work my way through it.

In the dream, I was back at University during my final year, on the borderline of failing my Batchelor’s degree. I’d decided I was going to put in “just enough” effort to pass my degree and not any more.

It left me feeling deeply dissatisfied and disappointed with myself. And this dream is actually kinda similar to what happened in real life…

Around twenty years ago, I graduated from University… but only just. Technically I should have failed my degree – I felt completely overwhelmed by my final year project and so I just kept putting it off, and putting it off some more… until I got to the deadline and I’d barely even started. Luckily for me, the faculty staff took pity on me and awarded me a degree even though, strictly speaking, I didn’t really deserve it.

I look back on my life and I can see plenty of occasions where I put in far less than 100% effort… and later regretted it.

I ask myself, what did I do with the time I saved by goofing off? So… I played some more video games? Maybe I had a lie in, nursing a hangover?

Pretty consistently through my life I’ve chosen what was fun or easy, rather than putting in more effort and striving harder.

I can’t help wondering… was it worth it?

How different would my life be right now if I’d consistently put in more effort? What would my life look like if I’d tried my best, most of the time?

Throughout my life, I’ve often wondered about how much effort I should put into things… sure, if you work harder then you achieve better results… but there are costs in terms of time and energy.

Another issue is that in the past there have been times where I’ve buckled under pressure. Often this is pressure that I’ve put on myself. I become so concerned with my performance that I get completely overwhelmed and paralysed.

That’s such a deeply horrible feeling – and I guess it makes sense that in future I’d prefer to go an easier route… putting less pressure on myself to perform, so life feels easier.

But, I wonder… have I been too easy on myself? I picture a spectrum of effort, from zero through to a hundred. Zero would be putting in no effort at all. One hundred would be putting in maximum effort all of the time.

Somewhere along the scale is a point we might call “Just Good Enough”. It’s maybe 60 or 70% along the scale.

Just Good Enough is where I put in enough effort to give myself a comfortable life. I’m just about holding things together, but I’m not putting in more energy than I really have to. I’m managing to keep chaos at bay, but there’s a lot of untapped potential being left on the table.

So I’m left with a number of questions…

  • Can I realistically imagine myself ever putting 100% effort into everything I do?
  • What would be the correct balance between effort and comfort for me? 80% effort? 90%? Or will I not be fully satisfied unless I know I tried my absolute best at everything?
  • How can I avoid the traps of feeling overwhelmed and paralysed when I set myself bigger goals?
  • When I trade off some of my effort in exchange for comfort, is it worth the personal cost in terms of that niggling feeling that I’m not reaching my potential?
  • What are the signs I should watch out for which would indicate that I’m putting in too much effort? After all, athletes who over-train risk injury. People who work too many hours get stressed and burned out. I need to ensure I give myself adequate time for rest and recovery.
  • How much more proud of myself would I feel if I started doing my best at everything?

I don’t want to keep feeling disappointed with myself and my accomplishments. I don’t want to keep looking back and wondering what would have happened if I’d tried just a little bit harder.

I don’t think I’m in danger of becoming a perfectionist. But the uncomfortable truth is that I could be trying harder. I’d feel more proud of myself if I put in a bit more effort.

Maybe it’s time to stop choosing the easy option. Maybe “just good enough” is no longer good enough for me.

Maybe it’s time to start aiming higher and demanding more of myself.

What I’m Learning From Therapy

I recently took the decision to start therapy. I’d spotted a long-term unhelpful pattern in my behaviour and decided I wanted to get to the bottom of it.

My therapist (Christina) is awesome. We chat via text almost every day. I love communicating so frequently – the traditional therapy model of an hour once per week just wouldn’t cut it for me.

I much prefer communicating via text chats like this (rather than phone or face-to-face). Yeah, I guess I’m weird.

Therapy isn’t cheap, but I feel like I’m getting tremendous value for money here.

Here’s some of the stuff I’m learning thanks to therapy:

  • A lot of my issues stem from specific events in childhood (cliché, but true in my case). The great news is that it’s perfectly possible to heal from these wounds in adulthood.
  • I don’t feel any sense of blame or resentment for my past. What’s happened has happened – and everyone involved was doing the best they could at the time.
  • For a long time, I’ve been searching for something outside myself to make up for a (perceived) lack within me. It’s like trying to fill an insatiable void. And it doesn’t work.
  • This (partially) explains my addictions – to drugs, to sugar, and in some cases to other people.
  • The (blindingly obvious in hindsight) solution is to recognise that I can generate a sense of love, belonging, worthiness and safety from within myself. I don’t need to look to anything (or anyone) external.
  • Once I’ve got my sense of worthiness and self-esteem under control and suitably bolstered, I anticipate that my addictive behaviours will naturally drop off.
  • In turn, as my addictions drop off, I’ll see a decrease in my impulsive, destructive behaviours (e.g. my habit of impulsively ending friendships at the slightest whiff of rejection or criticism).

Many people (including myself) assume that therapy is inevitably a long, drawn-out process, taking months or even years.

However, fast results are possible in some cases, especially if (like me) you already have quite a lot of insight into your own issues and just need gentle nudges from a therapist.

Believe it or not, I’ve achieved all the above insights within just one week of starting therapy with Christina. Not bad.

I’ll write more as I discover further insights from therapy.