What you give your attention to expands.
Some believe it’s possible to manifest your greatest desires simply by focusing on and thinking about them.
Whether you believe this or not, chances are you’ve experienced the opposite. You’ve invited in bad times by fixating on them, like crashing into the very car you were trying to avoid.
But what about the things you try to ignore? What then?
The human brain is a supercomputer with 1mb of RAM. — Chris Williamson
You get one thought at a time. In an effort at self-preservation, a lot of people choose to avoid thinking about the very things that would give them the tools to become their best self.
They pick a short-term comfort, which leads to long-term losses.
But if you can be honest with yourself, you’ll know what to work on and improve and live a life you love. No more wasted bandwidth avoiding inputs that knock you off course.
Pick short-term discomfort and unlock long-term gains.
Here are five signs you’re probably not being honest with yourself.
#1. How You Feel Doesn’t Match What You’re Saying
Your emotions are your canaries in the mineshaft.
If you’re saying one thing but feeling another, it’s symbolic. Your body senses something that you’ve recognised on a level you’re not cognisant of.
This might manifest as a feeling of wanting to escape, or avoid something. But you don’t know what. It’s like a full-body squirm. You’re caught in something’s shadow.
Turn and confront it. You won’t get better at life by avoiding things just because they’re difficult, or uncomfortable. Learn to embrace that feeling.
You’re not a victim of the universe. You’re an active participant. Some things will be down to luck. Others to decisions beyond your control.
You can’t always trust your thoughts to be honest. Your brain wants to protect you, so it’s going to shield you from negativity. So listen to your emotions. Interrogate them. What are they telling you? What are you missing?
Unlock the power of emotional sense. Give yourself an advantage over everyone else.
#2. You Keep Needing to Justify Things
Whether it’s your behaviour or someone else’s, if you keep needing to come up with complex rationales to explain why an action happened, there’s a problem.
Let’s say you get home, and as you walk in the door you snap at your spouse. Realising you’re being an ass, you apologise and blame it on hanger or work. Before bed you snap again, this time apologising and blaming being tired. In the morning you’re rude. Must be the big presentation coming up at work, or the football score. And on. And on.
If you were honest with yourself, you might realise it’s because you’re not in love with that person anymore. You feel trapped. But things aren’t bad enough to give you the oomph you need to call it. So you trudge on, becoming more and more resentful at them as the days turn into weeks. Then months. To admit you’re stuck would be to rob yourself of power. So you just squash it down, refusing to admit it.
Dig deep. Don’t lie to yourself. It’s easy to explain things away. It’s harder to interrogate them for truth.
The more time you spend justifying things, the better you’ll get at it. And if that’s what you want, go for it. You might well live a happy life in ignorance. But I doubt it. And I’m yet to meet anyone, or read anything, that makes me think that’s possible. Or even those that might achieve that have to turn the volume down on their self-awareness so much they struggle to live a life they can love.
Get real and acknowledge some painful truths. I promise on the other side of that pain is a path to everything you want from life.
#3. There’s Always an Excuse
It’s never your fault. It’s always because of so and so. Or the timing wasn’t right. Or nobody told you.
Blah, blah, and blah.
No matter what happens to you in your life, there’s always going to be an option for agency. Nothing completely restricts you. Nothing completely takes away your power.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor Frankl
If he can do it, despite the horrors he faced, so can you.
We’re defined not only by our actions, but by our re-actions. You can take the high road. Not because it’s virtuous, but because it serves you better.
You don’t want to be walking around mad at the world, feeling like you’re owed. Or that the default should be easy and bad days are the exception.
“Life is hard. Believing it should be easy makes it harder.” — Alex Hormozi
Work on being someone who thrives in spite of the setbacks. Who has resilience baked into them.
Then when things improve, you’ll feel like you’re on rocket fuel.
#4. You’re Self-Sabotaging
Through limiting beliefs, avoidant behaviour, or procrastination, we have the power to stunt our growth.
Maybe it’s from fear of what we might be capable of.
I was that kind of kid. I didn’t apply myself in school. At the time, I thought it was because I didn’t have good teachers, or the topics didn’t interest me. I realise now that it was because I was scared that if I tried my best and failed, I’d be a failure. I thought it was way more romantic to be a wasted talent. A what if. “You’d be amazing if you applied yourself”.
What an idiot.
Luckily I aged out of that. Some people never do. They get stuck tripping over their own feet, slipping on banana skins of poor choices.
Don’t be like that. Do everything you can to have your own back. Give things your best effort. Learn from your mistakes.
And detach yourself from results. Think NATO: Not Attached To Outcomes. Cherish the process, not the product. Be mindful in your actions.
This moment is all you’ll ever get. Make it count for something.
“You only control the effort, not the results” — Ryan Holiday
#5. You Know What’s Wrong, but Don’t Take Action
There’s an idea mentioned on the Modern Wisdom podcast recently. It essentially states that things need to get really bad before we do anything about them. Therefore, we often trudge on in demi-misery because things aren’t bad enough to spur us on to make any meaningful change.
When things are bad, we face a choice: Accept it, or try to change it.
And while acceptance can seem the noble path, it can also act as a crutch. We can start to use our surroundings as justification that it’s what we deserve. All we’ll ever deserve. So we start to tell ourselves it’s better than it is. We take solace in glorifying it, trying to make 2nd place feel as good as 1st.
Or worse than this, we slip into martyr-mode and start to give ourselves loads of credit for sticking with these things.
I had a friend who dated an absolute train wreck of a human in university. She cheated on him a bunch of times. But he stayed with her for years. Why? Partially out of fear. But I think he secretly loved being the victim too.
People would always tell him how shitty his girlfriend was. And how hard he had it. He didn’t have a lot of self-respect. He didn’t think he had much value in the world. So getting some attention and being told he had it hard gave him a feeling of validation. Like he was able to struggle on despite the bad times.
I don’t think he ever peeled back the layers on that logic and realised the lack of respect people had for him as a result. He just seemed weak, cowardly, and deluded.
They weren’t married. They had no kids. They didn’t even live together. All he had to do was walk away, lean on his friends for support, and start to heal. But he chose to stay with her.
Eventually he did leave.
Talk to him about it now and he’ll cringe. And we remind him often. He’s honest with himself now because he knows how bad things can get for him.
The courage it takes to admit this is massive. Most wouldn’t. Many can’t.
The question for you is, how honest are you willing to be with yourself?
This post was previously published on medium.com.
From The Good Men Project on Medium
|What Does Being in Love and Loving Someone Really Mean?||My 9-Year-Old Accidentally Explained Why His Mom Divorced Me||The One Thing Men Want More Than Sex||The Internal Struggle Men Battle in Silence|
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