For I am just another ‘work in progress’ and I’m sorry for any inconvenience caused…
Let’s face it. Sometimes it may seem that you are fighting a loosing battle against yourself. You may have worked very hard for a long time on certain behavioral weaknesses (anger, guilt, addictions etc.) and you succeeded UNTIL that moment when you no longer felt in-charge. You felt powerless and your environment and the people in it somehow succeeded in bringing out the worst inside you. And for a moment you felt that it was not your fault. After all, you tell yourself, ‘I am only human!’
And you slip and fall into the old habit patterns again. And when it’s all over, when you’re done picking up the pieces of the broken day or the broken relationship, you are gripped by guilt and resentment. And the vicious cycle begins all over again. Just like a furious hurricane unleashed by mother nature with you at the epicenter.
If you ever find yourself in a situation like that, maybe you find some consolation in the fact that you are not alone. We all are confronted with the twin monsters – anger and guilt at some point in our life.
Now, slipping and falling are part of the human experience and they must be used as lessons for evolving into a better person. Here’s my opinion on how we can break away from some vicious, self-destructive habits that may be overpowering our life right now.
The first step has to be Awareness.
This involves being able to see yourself from a distance. I call it the ‘mirror effect’. It’s as simple as mentally videotaping yourself for playback and evaluation later. The other dimension is taking stock of the damage on others. It’s about thinking how my behaviour affects me and others around me. This will be painful. It will make you feel guilty but the bitter pill of awareness must be swallowed if one is to move to the next level.
Awareness could now lead an individual to level 2 – Acceptance.
This one is hard. People can spend a whole life time in denial. “Who me? I never do that!” they’ll tell you emphatically. They ‘think’ that they know everything about themselves and there couldn’t possibly be another version of it. They dissociate themselves from their flaws and tend to surround themselves with people who can tell them ONLY what they want to hear about the emperor’s new clothes. They are quick to defend and quick to offend for self-protection. Give them feedback at your own peril.
The shift happens when these individuals reluctantly open the door to self-acceptance ever so slightly and let the mysterious breeze of ‘reality’ in. This can be a turning point for many.
Self effacing humor slowly replaces defensiveness and this ability to laugh at themselves and to look at themselves as ‘work in progress’ rather than God’s finished one and only masterpiece is a launch pad for level 3.
And level 3 could be Responsibility.
As Bob Moawad writes, this really could be the best day of your life!
“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”
This could be a brand new beginning because you stop seeing yourself as a helpless victim and the world as a sadist aggressor.
This is the stage where you understand that it was not what someone else said or did that made you loose control; it was you who lost control. Period.
And, next time, you can choose not to. Things are going well for you if you’ve climbed to level 3 because there is this where a growing realization sets in that life is full of choices. And that makes you feel hopeful and powerful.
The final level involves ACTION and could be called the “Fire Exit”, here’s why –
You now know the possible consequences of your current habits (Awareness), you are open to feedback and inputs of others (Acceptance), you know that only you can make it happen; that you’ll have to change to experience peace, not the world around you (Responsibility) AND now finally, you’ll have to get up and walk through that EXIT DOOR to a brand new life. (ACTION) You can’t just sit around and wait for things to improve.
You’re ready to lead a better life now and like all successful leaders you need a plan. This is a guide map as to what you intend to do in case a certain situation arises again. For example, if you’ve just quit drinking and are attending a family wedding, how do you plan to say no without feeling guilty or pressurised?
Remember this is plan based on your evaluation on what might have gone wrong in the past. It is also a plan which incorporates what might have worked for you in the past.
Did you move away from that place / person last time you had an argument? Did that help cool things down a little so that sanity could prevail? If yes, it’ll make sense to have that step as a part of your fire exit plan. It’s important to remember here that you’ll never have THE perfect plan. But in due course of time you will have an effective one. One that works best for you.
Now, you are in a much better position to do something about your self-destructive habit patterns. Now, you are clear that change has to be initiated by YOU. Now, you stop expecting others to change so that your life can improve.
Now, you don’t fire your weapons on the slightest provocation. You can pause and think. Now, you have leverage. Now, you know that you are no longer a slave to the triggers in your environment which dictate your behavior and your moods.
Now, you are in charge and that can make all the difference.
Follow what Paulo Coehlo says and you could make this happen
“Fall seven times, get up eight times” and if I may add “fall seven times, get up eight times and don’t forget to pick up the lessons”.
Has this stuff worked for me? Of course it has. Do I still slip and fall. Of course I do. And I’m always picking up and sharing the lessons for I am a “Work in Progress”.