Often we are our own worst enemy. We make mistakes, but struggle to admit them. In some cases we try to justify our bad actions and motives, only to have our self deception heighten our mistakes.
To grow and develop we need to develop the capacity for honesty and self evaluation. It is only when we can admit where we are going wrong that we can start to put things right.
The following are some common things many of us struggle to admit. Can you see yourself in any of these?
Other’s Faults are Our Own
It is easy to pick fault with other people. In fact, often we gain a subtle enjoyment from highlighting the faults of others. If we are truly honest, however, we will see that when we criticize other people we actually have the very same weakness ourselves. Perhaps we may not make this mistake quite as frequently or as badly, but we still share it to some extent.
A funny example is how frequently people will say things like, “X is such a terrible gossip, he’s always negative and criticizing other people.” We say things like this; but ironically, we are doing exactly what we are criticizing them for! Another interesting point is that often people who grow to dislike each other are often very similar. The faults and personality traits we can’t stand in other people, are often traits of our own personality. I’m sure you can think of two people who dislike each other, but share many similarities in habits and personalities.
We are Wrong
Why can we find it so difficult to admit that we are in the wrong? It is because we worry about our ego and what others think. But, when we avoid the truth we only compound the situation and make things worse. We appreciate people who can admit they are wrong and then resolve to avoid repeating the mistake.
We are responsible for what happens in our life
When things go wrong we are tempted to blame other people and external events beyond our control. We feel a helpless victim and use excuses to justify our unhappiness. External events can definitely make things difficult, but, ultimately what counts is how we respond and deal with situations. Two people can live through the same experience, but come through with a completely different outlook.
If we wait for outer circumstances to be favorable, we may be continually waiting. We need to learn how to make the most of our fate. If we can retain a positive outlook and aspire to overcome difficulties we will be able to improve our fate. Our thoughts and inner state of mind have the capacity to draw things into our life. If we expect problems we will inevitably generate them in some form. If we are open to attracting good experiences then they will also come.
We Don’t Really Know What Makes Us Happy
Everyone has a long list of things they would like; material wealth, the right job etc. But, when we attain our desire, the happiness is fleeting and is inevitably merely replaced by another desire. For good reason, George Bernard Shaw quipped:
“There are two tragedies in life, one is to get our heart’s desire. “
Fulfillment of outer desires can, at best, give temporary happiness. True, inner happiness depends on developing inner peace not dependent on favorable occurrences in the outer world.
Our mind is instinctively drawn to negative viewpoints. We remember our mistakes, but forget our good deeds; we pick up on the faults of others, but remain blind to their good qualities. If we read a newspaper the world seems an endless stream of problems and injustice. However, this is only one perspective on life; we spend too long in a negative frame of mind and fail to see the bigger picture. There are always weeds in a garden, but we shouldn’t forget to appreciate the flowers and feel miserable for the number of weeds.
We Cannot Change Other People
We often feel that we will be able to change other people, especially those close to us. However, in practice, we cannot be responsible for others. Sometimes if we try to force change, it only makes things worse. It means we need to develop a detachment to other people. What we can do is seek to inspire, encourage and motivate them to do the right thing. We can offer support and concern, but, ultimately, it is only the other person who can change themselves.
Stress is Often of Our Own Making
In modern life it is very easy to feel excessively busy. We can easily create things to do, leading to stressful situations. Yet, many of these self appointed tasks are not as indispensable as our ego might like to admit. There is a temptation to add tasks without evaluating how essential they are. If we are determined to create time for ourselves we can do it.
Tejvan Pettinger lives in Oxford where he writes on issues of self improvement and self development. He updates a blog Sri Chinmoy Inspiration. Recent blog posts include: Five Ways to Reclaim the Energy You Waste Every Day.