Why Compliments Are Hard To Receive

If you’ve ever felt uneasy about a compliment that someone has given you I think it’s because you’re starting to understand that you don’t – and never have required the validation of others to live a good life. The trouble is the way you’ve grown up makes it really hard to shake the feeling that you need to be complimented – otherwise you’re doing badly.

I think we’ve all grown up in a world where we have this messed up social reward/punishment system that’s drilled into us from a very young age. Our personalities are twisted, pulled, shoved and totally manipulated by the people who raise us to the point that most of the time we actually don’t understand how to practice self-belief – unless we’re indulging someone else’s wants and needs rather than our own. We seem to mostly rely on others to validate our actions with praise – or punish our actions with negativity. Have you ever had someone tell you ‘You just gotta have a bit of confidence in yourself’. Damn man, I wasn’t raised to have confidence. External validation was all I knew – my confidence literally was other people cheering for me – none of it came from me. If my teachers said I was wrong or that I wasn’t good enough – I believed them. If my parents said I should to do something, I did it. Personally I rebelled a lot and it messed me up big time because even though I knew I was trying to do the right thing and believe in myself – everything else in the world was telling me NO NO NO.

Good advice is good advice, but I think that we’ve become quite socially backwards. Like we’re totally selfish when it comes to what other people do – we often want to control them with our influence to benefit us rather than them. We’re also totally neglectful of what we really want because we allow everyone else to make our decisions for us. All of this because we were taught that it’s not ok to be ourselves and do what we want to do. We’re also told what the consequences of our actions will be before we take the action – and in an attempt to make us ‘see the light’ our peers and parents manipulate our situation so that we learn a lesson as close to what they said we would as possible – which is a way for them to validate themselves by telling you you’ll screw up and almost ensuring that it happens rather than supporting you. Most advice is selfish – I rarely come across advice that doesn’t have a hidden agenda. Why? Like I said, I think our practices of love and caring for others is just structurally backwards.

With where I’m at in my life now I’ve come to the conclusion that compliments are nice – they do feel good but I do not need them to be happy within myself. I know that I’m good at what I do and I know that I’ll do well in whatever I choose to pursue. My advice is to stop asking people if it’s a good idea to do something. You already know if it’s what you want to do – which makes it a good idea even if it’s a mistake. Stop trying to validate your life – just live it and love how crazy it can be. Also be kind to those who try to fuck you up. I don’t think they truly want to – what they really want is to be able to love themselves – they just don’t know how to live life any other way.

Thanks for reading!

Sean ❤

Decision Making And External Influence. Are Your Feelings Always Your Own?

The short answer is yes, I think we’re all responsible for our feelings. We may not be responsible for the things that have been said or done to us which can affect our feelings, but we are certainly responsible for how we respond.

There have been times in my life where I have been sure of something deep down, but at the same time insecure about the decision that I want to make. Insecurity plays a big part here, typically with the involvement of others. People have a tendency to project their own insecurities at you, especially when you are talking about making decisions that they themselves would have trouble with. Unfortunately it’s very easy to allow these situations to get the better of you and affect your actions.

To give you an example – Harry was really concerned about going to university, in fact he didn’t really want to go because he was far too unsure about what he wanted to study and felt that it would be a waste of time and money. He was pretty certain about this and tried to communicate it to his parents. However, being high achievers themselves who always pushed their kids to do well, it was hard to get them to receive his feelings about higher education clearly. They only saw where he was coming from through their own filters – insecurity about not doing well in life and wandering off down a bad path you can never come back from. Insecurity about their child not having a good career or enough money for the future. Fear of failure in general – you get the picture. Naturally Harry had some of these concerns too – it’s pretty hard not to take on-board at least some of your parent’s feelings, especially when you’re young and impressionable. Harry hit a brick wall whenever he tried to broach the subject. His parents simply saw him as nervous, just like they had been, and concluded that he would get over it. In time, Harry actually started to believe this too, and besides, all his friends were going to uni so he figured he would feel pretty left out if he didn’t go. Harry uneasily applied for an accounting course he wasn’t really sure about and attended the university his parents wanted him to go to. 3 years later he walked out with decent grades but no idea what he wanted to do with his degree. More than anything he just wanted to get away from the subject and get a job doing something else because he never went to university with a purpose other than to satisfy his parents and keep up with his friends, so he felt a bit lost and resentful about the whole thing. It’s possible that, had Harry listened to his instincts, he may well have attended university later on and studied a subject that he was passionate about, one that would allow him to build the career he wanted on his terms. Obviously he may not have chosen to go down that path, but as long as whatever he chose to do was his own decision, he would be able to learn from his situation rather than become embittered by the fact that he never felt in control.

These situations can include really simple decisions like attending an event that you feel is important to you or perhaps spending an hour with a friend, sibling or parent, but allowing yourself to be convinced by others that it’s not the right decision even though you know it’s what you want, or perhaps what you need.

I guess sometimes it can feel like you’re not even living your own life and I suppose this wouldn’t feel like much of a problem if you weren’t, in some way or another, aware of the fact that it was happening. There’s a lot to be said here for people thinking they know best. In my personal experience, people who are adamant that they know what’s best for you and press this belief firmly on you are the very people who are most afraid of being wrong, failing or simply not being good enough.

I also want to talk about responsibility. This is because, like I mentioned earlier, we are not responsible for how others behave, but how we allow that behaviour to affect us and dictate our actions is absolutely within our control. I was bullied in school, I complained about it, suffered with it, and the next day you’d find me in the principals office having bullied someone myself. I’d deny it completely of course, argue my case badly and worse yet i’d believe my own words because I could not and would not accept that I was also a part of the problem – that I was at all responsible. I think that those of us who are aware of an issue, owe it to ourselves and the rest of the world to consciously take care of our responses. I know from my own experience that it is absolutely a choice to allow other peoples insecurities to dictate your decisions. If you roll over and indulge the insecurities of another person, you might be giving them what they want on the surface but the fact that they are projecting these issues onto you in the first place is, in my view, an opportunity to defy fear and ‘break the cycle’ for all parties involved. If you do not indulge someone else’s insecurities and thus do not indulge your own, you grow, learn and develop, not only within yourself but you also help others who couldn’t see things as clearly.

The best advice I can give to anyone who feels like they are in a situation like this is to live purposefully, and not only for other people. If you don’t understand the purpose of your current situation and why it is important to you, then try to find out. If it turns out you’re in this situation for the wrong reasons then try to change the way you look at it, or change the situation completely. I think that the hardest emotional decision you can ever make is not to do what other people feel you should do, or what feels easy, but what you feel is right, deep down and underneath all the filters. In the end I think we almost always know what’s right, we just don’t believe in ourselves, or trust ourselves enough to follow through. It is developing that trust and self belief that we should work on most of all, both for our own benefit and the benefit of everyone we come into contact with.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

 

Fear of Failure & Not Being Good Enough.

I often think that a fear of failure or not being good enough is the root cause of so many problems we face. If we’re afraid to fail then we are essentially afraid to do, or at least afraid to do anything meaningful. This doesn’t mean to say that we should put ourselves in situations we don’t want to be in, but I think that people often struggle to differentiate between what they don’t want and what they are too afraid to pursue.

I’ll give you an example of a situation I’ve been in where I was in a job that I didn’t like and I felt like I was going absolutely nowhere with it, which was frustrating and depressing. The reasons I didn’t liberate myself from this position were numerous, but the one that stands out the most for me was my fear of not being good enough, which directly correlates with a fear of failure. So I found myself in a position where I felt directionless and even though I tried pursuing hobbies or other activities outside of work in the hope that they would lead to something – in the end I felt like I was right back where I started, like there was no hope of anything ever being different. Sounds extreme I know, but fear can do that to you – it can cause an anxiety that makes irrational thoughts feel frighteningly real and inescapable. Essentially I became so afraid to fail that I ended up subconsciously self sabotaging and ending up in the same place over and over again. Fear creates the anxiety and the anxiety causes us to refuse change, which I believe is our instinctual way of protecting ourselves. The trouble with this is that it’s pretty easy to get it wrong, owing to the immense pressure we place on ourselves. So even if we truly desire change – when we’re afraid, what we truly want becomes distorted. I desperately wanted to get out of the job, but my fear held me back. It took me a long time to realise that I was convincing myself that I couldn’t do better because I was too afraid to try.

The point of my example is that I believe if you’re going to successfully break away from a situation where you feel stuck, first you have to accept why you’re stuck in the first place. I think a lot of people focus on the consequences of being stuck rather than why they are stuck. For example; a consequence of being stuck might be hating your job and/or the people you work with. Why you are stuck is more likely to come down to your lack of self belief and the self-destructive attitude that goes with it, but all you focus on is how much you hate going to work each morning. I think the hard option here is to spend time understanding the situation and digging for the real reason you’re unhappy. Unfortunately, I think it’s much easier to choose to believe in our own excuses – like the job is beneath us, our colleagues are assholes, or ‘that’s just how it is’. Whatever the excuse, I think we have to consider that there is often an underlying emotional cause – like being afraid that you’re not good enough, that you won’t fit in, and thus making it so.

It’s so important to be able to admit to yourself that you’re afraid to fail or that you don’t think you’re good enough. The joy of putting yourself outside of your comfort zone is the learning process involved – win or lose, I don’t think you can ever truly fail, because you learn something about yourself, what you need to improve on and what works well for you. Fear of failure is naturally built into most of us to some degree but I think the main difference between people who succeed and those who don’t even try, is all down to how much they let the fear control them and dictate their actions. The way I see it, you are ALWAYS good enough because you are you, there’s only one of you and you are the only real measure of your own success. Sure, other people can appreciate and recognise what you’ve done or what you stand for but they’ll never deeply understand everything that it means to you and your own journey. Like I said before, you can NEVER truly fail either, because with every failure comes an opportunity to learn and grow. What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

Sean