Four of my Poisons
I intend to use this post as a reminder. In this post I will be mentioning four of my poorer habits. And what I’d like to do is refer back to this post every once in a while to make sure that I am not slipping back into one of these four habits. I have lived long enough to realise that falling into poor form is inevitable. However, becoming strong in being able to recognise when it is happening and doing something about it before it gets out of hand is my solution. It’s not the solution for everyone, but as I’ve become, ideally, wiser, this solution has worked for me.
Here we go:
First Poison: Caring about what other people think
This one is quite tricky because we often hear that we shouldn’t care about what other people think, but I don’t particularly like this idea. It’s just so prescribed. Are you really not going to care about what the people closest to you think? I doubt it.
But at the same time, you don’t want to get caught up in other people’s impressions of you. Life is so much more fulfilling when you follow your own internal compass.
So, how do you handle this? One of the realisations I’ve come to that has helped me with this is to pay way more attention to what people do and not what they say. Often what people say is not what they do. Plus, what we do has impact, but opinions are virtually empty. I’ve even come around to the realisation that opinions, and beliefs, are redundant.
In summary, pay more attention to what people do, and less to what they say, even with the people closest to you. This has reduced any concerns around what I think other people think of me and has, in turn, enabled me to move further away from this bind.
Second Poison: Wanting to be at the top immediately
I do have this bad habit of wanting to be the best at something within a short period of time. And this can lead me to my other two poisons, which I will get to in a bit. For instance, recently, I wanted to be phenomenal at programming and I built up this expectation of doing so in a ridiculously short period of time. And yes, I could argue that I was sold this by other programmers who told this narrative of it being possible to become good at programming in 3 months and get a job in that time, but I was the one who bought into it, even with a slight bit of skepticism. I feel you can see how even having the expectation of becoming great at something right away puts me in nots from the last few sentences.
But this is all why I, strangely, don’t like having deadlines. Yes, have a target to work towards, but don’t expect to get there within a certain timeframe. Just work towards it and when you get there you get there. You cannot force your learning curve. Wisdom comes to you when it comes to you. And this is something I have to simply remind myself to do, so I don’t get caught up in the need to win. (The Need To Win was a previous post, which you can read about here)
Third Poison: Doing too much at once
Because I fall into the bad habit of wanting to be at the top immediately, this has a negative ripple effect, leading me to doing way too much all at once. I would feel that the only way I can become exceptional at something right away is by doing a whole bunch of stuff all at once, learning lots, applying everything I learn and forcing to hit deadlines before I was even equipped to. And this only ever led me to feeling overwhelmed, like a computer overloaded with commands, and just crashing.
The only solution I’ve had for this is to catch myself when I am behaving this way as soon as possible and stopping myself. Realise when I am making this error and then just do nothing. After that moment of quietude, I am then able to reevaluate what it is I am doing and cut out all the unnecessary tasks in order to reach some balance in my life.
As a personal reminder, you cannot achieve balance by constantly adding things. Sometimes you have to subtract.
Fourth Poison: Being hard on myself
I feel that a large part of why the last two poisons really hurt me is that it inevitably leads me to being way too hard on myself, almost to the point where I feel that I am just bullying myself.
When you share something like this, we often get people saying to not be hard on yourself. And again, I don’t like this response because, one, it’s too prescribed, but also because it doesn’t solve the core problem. The core problem is that I expect too much of myself, that I feel that I need to win, because I feel inadequate in some way. It is this feeling that I have to understand in order to allow it to melt away.
And I have learnt to do this as I have learnt more about myself. And those insecurities, those anguishes, have dissipated. But this doesn’t mean that I can’t slip back into bad habits. That could very well happen. And this is yet another element of me further understanding myself, to understand that I will make mistakes going forward and to error-correct as I do.
Note to self:
Have a look at this post from time to time as a reminder to not slip back into these bad habits.
Yi Yi (2000) - Dir. Edward Yang
Moonlight Sonata (1st Movement) - Beethoven
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