It’s amazing the lengths we’ll go to hide the truth from ourselves. Our minds are rationalization machines. We will twist reality until we fit it into a picture that makes us feel comfortable, even if that reality…sucks.
We’re willing to trade some sense of certainty and stability for the lives we’re truly meant to live. And by ‘truly meant to live’ I don’t mean some idealistic over-the-top cotton candy and rainbow dream life.
Nope, just an authentic life where you live the way you actually want to live instead of the way you think you should live or the way you live because you’re scared of the way you live because you lie to yourself.
Will you ever reach a perfect point where you get everything you want? Probably not. But you can start to focus on building one hell of a good life if you’re able to do one thing. And it’s one of the hardest things to do.
You have to admit the areas of your life that you’ve mismanaged. There is such a thing as mismanaging your life. You definitely shouldn’t feel good about every decision you make. You don’t need to overly beat yourself up about the past either, but if you can admit some of these things to yourself, you can set yourself free
Circumstances create odds — a better starting point increases them and a worse one lowers them. Sometimes, oftentimes, what it takes to get what you really want might seem unreasonable and you may have to go to lengths that seem unfair to get it. But, if you want it, so be it, gotta do it. Two things can be true at the same time — you’ve been dealt a bad hand from life and you’re unwilling to try to play it anyway. And, often, your lack of success has nothing to do with having a bad hand in life. You just don’t want to do what it takes.
A lot of writers ask me for advice on becoming a full-time writer. I’ve started to just give bland and generic advice to people who ask because I know they don’t really want to know the truth. They don’t want to hear that I wrote every day for a half-decade. They don’t want to hear that I woke up at 5 a.m. to write before I went to my 9 to 5, wrote on weekends, and even sometimes on my lunch break. Sacrifices? They definitely don’t want to hear about those. I gave up a lot. “Fun,” entertainment, at times my sanity, relationships, you name it.
I’m not trying to be mean when I say this, but consider whether or not what you want to do is really worth what you have to do to get it. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. But don’t kid yourself into thinking what you want is unreachable.
And don’t kid yourself into thinking that you’re trapped in your situation because you’re not. A few years back I was working a crap job with crap pay and a bunch of co-workers who felt trapped. They’re still there and I’m not and it has nothing to do with me being any better than them. I was just willing to do what it took to get out and they weren’t.
Not all reasons for wanting a better life are “healthy” or societally approved, but that doesn’t get rid of the reasons. I wrote an article once called 5 Things We’re Afraid to Admit What They Want From Life.
The things were:
What do those things have in common? They’re the type of wants that run the risk of people thinking you’re arrogant or selfish for wanting them. In reality, though, most people feel that way because they also want those things, but won’t do what it takes or make sacrifices to get them, so they look down on people who have the conviction to go for them.
Let’s call a spade a spade and look at some of the inverses of the items on the list. There are thousands of couples in loveless, sexless, joyless marriages with people they settled for in the first place. Those who say they don’t care about money spend most of their lives grinding away to get it. Whenever I ask someone if they have a business idea, they always have answer. The biggest tell? Most people wouldn’t live the way they currently lived in they weren’t afraid.
Humility and modesty are more often than not great places to hide. It’s easy to say you’re content when you think certain outcomes are out of your league. It’s okay to admit you want more. All this pretending in society creates this waft of passive-aggressive energy in the air. People are repressed and stifled. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. Health, wealth, love, happiness. You want the whole pie. Stop pretending like you don’t.
This one is tricky. We all take responsibility for ourselves to a degree — some more than others. But we still have a hard time accurately assessing our own role in the outcomes we get from life. We give too much weight to circumstances and too little to decision-making.
If you want to get out of a hole, stop digging, right? But first, you have to admit that you’ve been digging in the first place. We can fall into the trap of telling ourselves everything will be okay and that eventually, things will course-correct. This isn’t true at all. Decisions have consequences. Some mistakes will set you back a lot further than others. Often, the accumulation of a bunch of small, yet poor, decisions can lead to a life that has drifted way off course.
I remember how bamboozled I felt when my wife left me. Tried to make it seem like it was all her fault. “How could she?” But then I remembered all the decisions I made that led to that point. Getting into and staying in a toxic relationship. All the times I didn’t decide to walk when I knew I should’ve. All the previous decisions I made in my love life to create the sort of love map that lead to me getting into that type of relationship in the first place. I had to look at my decisions and the maps they created so I could make newer and better decisions that created a better map.
You have negative outcomes, or a lack of really positive ones, that tie back to a string of decisions you haven’t fully and properly analyzed — a stagnant relationship, lackluster career, general discontentment, whatever. You’ll keep operating on that same faulty pattern over and over again until you admit it’s broken.
Once you can fully accept that you’ve been making poor decisions, that it’s mostly your fault, you can start to make better ones. Most people won’t do this, though, because it’s painful. At the end of the day, you can either cling to your rationalizations or be honest with yourself, which is perhaps the most important decision.
This next admission is two wrapped in one. You don’t want to fully admit you’re unhappy in certain areas. You also don’t want to admit that you have the power to fix it. There’s this notion out there that fixing tangible areas of your life won’t make you feel happier. It’s nonsense. Money may not buy happiness, but I’ll tell you, it feels a lot better to no longer wonder whether or not I’ll be able to pay my bills. When I lost 50 pounds, it improved my self-image. Low and behold, being broke, out of shape, working a job I hated and stuck in a situation I didn’t want to be in made me unhappy. Who knew?
We pretend and wonder why we’re unhappy when the answer is glaringly obvious. Instead of just owning up to it, we try to bury feelings of unhappiness and try to become content with running on the hamster wheel until we die. You already know your scoreboard. Whether or not you honor it is up to you.
Anxiety mostly comes from knowing what to do but just not doing it. You have all the answers already. There’s this new narrative in society that you should just be happy all the time, that happiness is owed to you. It also says that if you’re not happy, it’s not your fault. You just have these negative feelings for no reason at all, or it’s all due to your brain chemistry and has nothing to do with the way you live your life.
The politically incorrect answer to fixing your life? Admit it’s broken. Be disgusted with yourself when warranted. Don’t ‘practice self-love’ during the times you need tough love. Don’t pat yourself on the back for existing and getting by. Picture the person you’d be if you weren’t afraid and understand why you’re not that person right now. Be honest. The thing about your life? You can rationalize all you want, believe what you want to believe, make up all sorts of stories, but that whisper of the truth will never go away and you know it. Might as well face it at some point.
You don’t want to fully admit how much you care about what other people think. Humans are wired with the desperate need to be liked and loved. It’s that need for acceptance that keeps you from getting what you want. And it’s super tough to deal with.
A huge tip for overcoming the fear of rejection? Stop wishing it would just go away. It won’t. If you’re able to accept the way you’re wired you can learn to act in spite of it. Instead of living under this massive pile of rationalizations just tell yourself:
“Yeah, I care what people think about me and I’m afraid of rejection and embarrassment. Really afraid. But, that’s okay. Facing those fears won’t kill me.”
Question for you. What percentage of your life would you say is based solely on avoiding rejection and embarrassment? If you’re being fully honest with yourself, that admission should scare you. How do you get over it? I mean, the real answer is going through a level of psychological pain most other humans won’t tolerate and put yourself into those exact situations you’re afraid of. I won’t lie and say that it’s easy, but that’s what you’ll need to do.
But, philosophically, you can get there by asking yourself who’s opinion matters more at the end of the day, yours or theirs? Who’s perception matters more, yours or theirs? It also helps to remember that nobody really cares about you anyway. If you do something that causes rejection or embarrassment, the other party will soon forget and just go on with their overly-preoccupied lives anyway. You know that.
But, then again, you know all of this. If you’ve read me long enough, you know me. I’m not going to make the process seem any easier or harder than it is. It’s not difficult, per se, to make these admissions, but it’s not easy. Does that make sense? If it does, then you know what to do.