One big problem with Social & Family Obligation is that it preaches “invest in others!”.
While the spirit of this advice is laudable, it compels well-intentioned people to attempt to “invest” their time, energy & effort – their lives really – into others. Unfortunately, the common outcome eventually experienced is feelings of futility, disappointment, resentment or bitter regret from having spent their years investing in others at the expense of investing in themselves.
Why does this happen? Because people confuse contribution with investment. It is not possible to invest in another person – only yourself! E.g. When you give “help” to someone, it can be by default a wonderful contribution to their life, but it is not an investment. So consider what you generously gave as spent and have no expectation of a return on that spending. This is one reality of human nature.
In fact, the only way that helping anyone can ever truly result in any valuable return on your efforts at all is if & only if they themselves invest whatever you gave them into themselves; sadly this happens very rarely.
Bottom line: contributing to the lives of others is desirable because it is kindness, but you can really only invest in yourself. But when you take that responsibility you can expect ROI: valuable returns on that invested energy & effort. Go for it.
It has long been remarked that courage is not absence of fear, but rather mastery of it. Sounds reasonable. But how to begin the process of mastering fear in general?
One useful way to look at it is in terms of accountability.
Set in your mind the decision to hold yourself genuinely accountable for everything you say, think, feel, and do. Try it, and see if you don’t immediately feel that you’ve discovered a hidden wellspring of courage.
We’re continually faced with choices, and life being what it is, there will naturally be times when those choices are harder than we’d like to face.
And when that time comes, many will simply give in to their emotions, let the decision be made for them by circumstances, and then declare that they had “no choice”.
But there’s a problem with that strategy. If you decide that you have “no choice”, you will stop looking for them. And when you stop looking, for all intents & purposes your choices in life will simply cease to exist.
Well, now you’re in the unenviable position of having made yourself a victim of your own self-fulfilling prophecy. Not good.
Look, the reality is that sometimes there is no really good choice, just a hard one. Take comfort in the fact that our choices reveal to us what we’re really made of. So if you want to live a life that you’re proud of…..well….just suck it up, buttercup.
Take a stand against fear & doubt, make your choices as intelligently & thoughtfully as you can at the time, and stand by them responsibly. And if one doesn’t work out so well, don’t worry, there’s always another one just around the corner for you to do better with.
True friendship affirms that you may from time to time rely upon another’s strength or character as either an anchor or a resource, but never as a crutch.
It is an unfortunately common occurrence to find people who end up disappointed in themselves because they feel that they failed to meet their own expectations. Perhaps you’ve experienced this yourself. I know I have.
Fair enough. But consider this carefully: Were they actual expectations in the first place? Or just constructs of wishful thinking?
This distinction is important. It’s patently ridiculous to feel disappointed with yourself just because a wish didn’t materialize, right? (And if that seems obvious, it’s because it is…)
So, if you ever find yourself feeling disappointed in yourself because you haven’t met an expectation, it is probably because you never actually set it as a specific expectation of yourself. Yep, it’s that painfully simple.
Because once you actually set a specific expectation in your mind, you’re looking at a goal. And once you’ve set yourself a goal you’re more than likely to achieve it – or at least come close enough to the desired outcome that you can just readjust your expectations for the next one!
Remember: just “having” expectations is more or less wishful thinking. And wishful thinking is the easiest way to find yourself ensconced in the comfortable beanbag chair of self-pity (easy to fall into, tough to get out of).
To err is human. It’s how we learn. So never waste time & energy feeling disappointed in yourself. Just set yourself a specific target, aim, and leap!
As individuals, we all have the lifelong responsibility to unrelentingly cultivate our own strength.
But the nature of things is such that we need personal power to live as we choose and get the outcomes we want.
So just cultivating strength is not enough. We also need to channel that strength through confidence & focus to develop the power – the ability to act – to live successfully.
Think about it. And channel away!
Let’s say you set a goal, made a plan & followed it. But the outcome you expected and worked towards just did not materialize.
So did you fail? Well it depends on how you choose to frame your outcome. You see, you have the freedom to frame the outcome as either a SETBACK or as a FAILURE.
What’s the difference?
If you choose to label your efforts as culminating in FAILURE, then you’re telling yourself that you accept this unsuccessful outcome as final. And so in effect, you have admitted defeat and have chosen to cease your efforts – chosen to quit.
On the other hand, if you choose to label your present outcome as a SETBACK, then it indicates that you are still committed to getting the positive outcome you expected. Being determined to make the effort, you’ll analyze your present outcome, do what is necessary to reformulate your perspective, strategy, action plans, and carry on until you achieve the outcome you want.
My point: think of FAILURE simply as a label we often choose to rationalize our having given up. Ultimately then, FAILURE is really just an emotional perspective rather than an objective reality, regardless of how widely we may at times miss the mark.
Think on this next time your efforts deliver an outcome that falls short of your intentions.
Oh yeah, and never quit.