Came back from a wonderful weekend in Munich strongly determined to write about the places I have seen and should not be missed. I will instead make the promise of writing about that next week and proceed with a more in-depth topic that has been on my mind for some time – introspection. Felt it cannot be postponed any longer. The idea came while noticing a common pattern among people around me that are struggling with social and emotional problems. We tend to search for the root cause of our problems in others or in our surroundings but look at ourselves less for errors and shortcomings.
Ideally, we would like our life to be aligned with our hopes and dreams, the pretty pictures we made in our head. If that does not happen, we take the fall and experience a significant difference between our expectations and reality. And that, as you probably already know, is the main source of unhappiness. We are a generation that feels the need to always be on the run, constantly “doing” and ticking things off the to-do list. Statistically speaking, humans have around 50,000 thoughts per day – half of them are negative, the majority repeating from days before. There is very little space in there to analyze ourselves and work to become better. There’s also no time to step back and think of our weaknesses and mistakes – we are being dragged by our social context and most often just continue with the same way of doing things.
Even though it’s just the first step, I would like to see more often that people stop and ask themselves – “hey, what could I improve in myself? Where do I go wrong?”. It takes guts and it’s very uncomfortable. It is much easier to blame others, external factors, faith, bad luck, bad alignment of planets and our star sign etc,etc. It is also much easier as it requires little to no action and effort from ourselves. It’s faster and much more comfortable to just sit in the victim’s seat and complain about what is going wrong. It’s that thing that we do best when we are done with hiding behind our daily activities and consumerist behavior. I think it’s time to put down that finger we have been pointing at who is “to blame” and look a bit at ourselves.
This is just the beginning – then comes implementing the improvements and correcting mistakes. It’s a lot of trial and error and it’s hard. We might quit and resume later, go through anger, frustration, confusion. It requires maturing and brutal honesty towards ourselves. But as long as we are working on it, it only counts as winning small battles and slowly getting there.
I am being quite abstract so I will also try to come forward with an example that can better reflect what I’m trying to convey here. It is amazing how many ways our brain has to avoid dealing with the truth or admit we might be wrong. Take for example the problem of handling criticism. How many times has it happened to you, when offering negative (but constructive) feedback to someone, that you’ve had the discussion turned to you and your mistakes? How often did you get, instead of an honest response, a progression of things you have done wrongly over the past decade? :))
Personally, I try to step our of my comfort zone every once in a while and look at what I could improve. I look at my fears and try to find any negative patterns. Sometimes I don’t immediately see the problem and I only become aware of my mishaps when my close ones point them out. An open mind is all it takes. Would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and how far you’ve got, what kind of hurdles you encountered but also what type of victories you’ve had. Keep up the good work!