We focus a lot on resolutions at the first of the year–often the same ones every year–and after getting a gym membership and a personal trainer, subscribing to a diet service or promising ourselves we’ll live better lives in various ways, we often fail. Let’s admit it, sometimes we suck. We don’t tell our bosses or our loved ones the truth, we speed(admittedly a flaw and joy of mine), we are crabby towards the ones we love the most and we don’t take care of ourselves physically.
In the middle of this brutal honesty about ourselves, it’s important to see the full picture. Questioning yourself isn’t fun, but it’s important to do. Haven’t you always looked at others being stupid and said you hoped you’re never that self-deluded? To avoid self-delusion, it’s helpful to have honest, loving people around you, but it’s most important to question yourself.
This isn’t pleasant, as it almost always involves acknowledging to yourself the things you could have–and need to next time–done differently. Kind of brutal. This self-questioning is a great habit in that it helps you become a better person, if you’ll really work toward personal honesty. But personal honesty involves something even harder than acknowledging your mistakes.
Give yourself credit.
While you probably defend yourself to others(who may seem to be attacking you), acknowledging the good things about you can be difficult. Weird, isn’t it? Most of us are quick to deflect when others give us compliments, whether we think this just makes us look humble or whether we really don’t believe the nice things they say. We can more easily make of list of our faults than of our strong points and this means we struggle to view ourselves objectively.
No one gets better than me how easy it can be to react emotionally to life–subjectively. Being objective means viewing situations and ourselves without giving a slant. Just seeing it as it is. Not good or bad, but as it really is. Now, there will be moments when you’re a stinker. We all are, sometimes. But there will be other moments when you’re pretty decent, too.
You don’t have to drag a victim out of a burning house or lift a car off an injured driver to be kind to someone else. These are wonderful moments, but not everyone gets to shine like this and fire may scare the bejeezus out of you.
Sometimes, kindness takes different, gentler, everyday forms. Smiling at the cashier, even when he’s slow or gives you the wrong change. Being decent to the cop who stops you for speeding(again, my downfall). Or not reacting angrily when you’ve told your twelve-year old niece/cousin/child/brother/neighbor a dozen times not to play their video game/music so loud when you’re sleeping after having worked the night shift.
Give yourself credit for the times you’ve kept your temper, even if you lose it way too often, in your own estimate. Acknowledging that you’ve messed something up doesn’t mean you’ve messed everything up.
Some people drank and drove on New Year’s Eve. Some of them had never done this before or don’t do it routinely. They may have killed or hurt someone; maybe themselves. This is a sad, sad situation and, while it shouldn’t ever happen, few would say that the drunk driver was all bad. Even people on Death Row for their crimes aren’t all bad. They, like those who drove drunk, have big regrets, but they aren’t worthless.
I am amazed by the number of people who sit in my office and tell me they’re worthless. These are people who are loved and loving, for the most part. When I ask if they’ve hurt or killed others, most tell me no. They pay their taxes, work jobs(when these can be found) and are generally upstanding citizens.
But they don’t give themselves credit for any of this.
Self-delusion is a bad thing, but that includes not acknowledging your strengths. Question yourself. It’s a good habit, but along with your faults, don’t forget to see how you benefit the world, too.