Life is Hard — Part I

Life is Hard — Part I

If you haven’t read the introduction now would be a good time because 1) it introduces my views (hence the word introduction) 2) I wrote it and 3) in all objectivity it’s totally awesome.

But in case you disagree with all that, here’s the gist:

Life is hard, but it is simple. Because we want it EASY, WE make it complicated. And we therefore create unnecessary pain, for ourselves and for others.

There are healthy pains (mourning the death of a close one) but there are many which are not (feeling hurt when people disapprove of you) and which are self-generated, often unconsciously.

Now the 2 winning questions: Why do we make life complicated? And how can we make it simple again?

Well, it’s your lucky day. I’ve spent the past 15 years thinking, the past 7 years reading, and the past 5 years (3 private, 2 online) writing about that.

So. Let me show you what I’ve learned.

1. Being honest

The lies most devastating to our self-esteem are not so much the lies we tell as the lies we live. — Nathaniel Branden

Why Simple

When you’re honest with yourself, YOU know what matters to YOU. You look at yourself straight in the eyes. The next step is just going for it.

When you’re honest with others, you let people decide whether THEY like you or not. If they do, they have their own reasons. If they don’t, same thing. Those reasons are about them, not about you. The only thing you have to do is show them your real self. Because only then you can trust and accept their feedback, and know where to stand. If you hide yourself, you’ll never know, and you’ll keep doubting.

When you live honestly your mind is clear. You say what you have to say, do what you have to do, and then move on with your life.

Why Hard

It’s much harder to take criticism and rejection when you are showing the real you. If you don’t put your heart in a project, it’s OK to fail. If you don’t put your heart in a relationship, you’ll be less hurt if it doesn’t work out.

Living honestly requires courage. It requires you to question yourself, to make decisions, to follow what you believe in, even when most people—sometimes the closest ones—are pushing up against you.

Living honestly requires you to take responsibility for your own life, when most of us relinquish it to other people (family, partner, colleagues) or entities (government, companies, religion).

How we want it easy

By nature, we don’t like feeling uncomfortable. And because we don’t like feeling negative emotions ourselves, we also don’t like to impose them on others. We do anything to avoid pain and gain pleasure.

But no one is responsible for you feeling bad except you. You decide what matters. You decide what or who you want to suffer for.

How we make things complicated

We’re not sincere. We manipulate in some ways. We pretend we don’t care about things we actually deeply care about. We numb ourselves, we waste time (Bring Your Own Way). We find excuses. We blame everything and everyone.

But we are trying to escape something that is within us. It’s not like we’re escaping a country ravaged by a war. The war is inside us. And it will follow us wherever we go if we don’t face it, open the valves and let newer, cleaner, healthier mindsets and beliefs replace our current ones.

We avoid looking at ourselves in a mirror and say: “This is me, this is what I care about, this is my life and this is what I’m ready to suffer for and use my short amount of time on this planet for. Maybe other people don’t respect their own life, but I respect mine.”

TL;DR

Be honest with yourself, and decide what matters. Be honest with others, and decide who matters. Live your life on your own terms. And accept that some will like it, while some others won’t.

2. Taking action

Start acting on what it is that you really want in your life, and stop waiting for someone to give it to you. — Susan Jeffers

Why Simple

You know what you want.

You want to start this project. You want to talk to that girl or that guy. Or both. You want to let the waiter know that your fish is cold. You want to lose weight. Or you want to gain weight.

But still, you don’t do it.

How many times you’ve been ruminating on things you didn’t do but wish you had done? I know I have. A lot.

But how many times you’ve been ruminating on things you did but wish you hadn’t? Surely much less.

Why Hard

Taking action requires—again—courage. You might have to go against the flow. Some of your actions will be disapproved of.

We get anxious and procrastinate. We become perfectionists and never finish or even do. It’s easier to sit down and consume rather than standing up, opening ourselves up, risking being hurt, and exposing ourselves out there.

How we want it easy

We expect good things to happen to us and make us happy. We believe money, fame, houses, cars or love is all we need. Or kittens in Youtube videos (just watch, they’re super cute).

And when we get all that, we realize that we’re in the same place.

We put way too much weight on the outside, on things that we cannot control. Because then we don’t have to take responsibility for our failures, and we can blame everything except ourselves.

How we make things complicated

We don’t take action but we blame others for the lack of results. We procrastinate, waste time, read shitty news and follow useless gossip. We do everything to avoid action that matters. Instead, we let ourselves be driven by our negative emotions.

TL;DR

When you know what you have to do, do it. Put your emotions aside, and just do it. If you don’t know what to do, just do something new and reflect on it. (Like clicking the link and reading my previous article!)

3. Asking for what you need

[…] have a hard time making their needs a priority and have a difficulty asking for what they want in clear and direct ways. This creates a sense of powerlessness. Therefore, they frequently resort to manipulation when trying to get their needs met. — Robert Glover

Why Simple

When you want or need something, what is in your control? Asking. Clearly. That is all.

If you’re not asking and you’re just expecting people to guess and give you exactly what you need, you’re being delusional.

Why Hard

It’s hard for many reasons it seems. But the root is always the same: fear. Fear of disturbing others, fear of what people will think if we ask for or demand something, fear of being rejected. Lots of fear. Fear of not deserving anything. Fear of being an impostor. More and more fears.

How we want it easy

We want people to guess. Does this sound completely insane? It is. But just look around. We expect people to know what we want without us asking, because it makes sense. Because this is normal. Because this is how people should behave.

We don’t want to ask but we want to receive, as if people could read our thoughts.

How we make things complicated

We, consciously or not, want and need things. But because we’re afraid to ask, we use one billion (I’ve been counting) covert ways to try to get our physical and emotional needs met. Again, we kind of lie, we pretend, we say one thing when we mean another.

And most of the time without even being aware of it!

We believe we are right. And at the end we get upset (because of ourselves), we become resentful (because of ourselves) and we don’t even realize that we are the ones complicating everything, while we also possess the key to our own solution.

TL;DR

Want or need something? Ask. That is your responsibility. The answer you receive is not; it is not under your control; it doesn’t matter. If you receive what you’ve been asking for, count it as a bonus. If not, just find another way.

Don’t go away!

These are 3 changes of behavior that can already make a great impact on your life. I encourage you to try them. If you have any feedback, feel free to drop a comment below.

Of course, there are more coming. Maybe less pragmatic, more reflective. But often in psychology you don’t need a how to, but more of a why. A whole change of mindset.

This is what I’m trying to achieve with this series of articles. And the rest will come in Part II and Part III.

Write you soon.

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