Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, surrounded by jerks.
I have been a social introvert for as long as I can remember. You know, I always preferred the company of my family and that of my close friends. Meeting someone new meant sweaty palms, an increased heart rate, and the occasional embarrassing blunder. After it kept me from taking advantage of opportunities and from meeting new people for years, I decided that something had to be done.
Assume Responsibility For Your Behavior
One thing that I used to tell myself, again and again, was that I was unlucky when it came to meeting the “right people”. This included people at work, the few acquaintances I had, and one failed relationship after another. All that changed when I started assuming responsibility for my behavior and for the people that I met.
You see, you attract people through your behavior. Yes, you are correct, Lady Luck also has a hand in it. But, if you go bar hopping, you are more likely to find other bar hoppers. It might get you a little bit of temporary excitement, but it rarely leads to something more meaningful. If you lack self-esteem, you are more likely to be taken for a ride by a control freak that will exploit your vulnerability.
Once you start to assume responsibility for who you are and how you feel, things change. You realize that you are in control of how you feel, where you go and who you meet. You are more likely to meet people that you’ll actually enjoy as friends. You get a lot more lucrative opportunities and you will not hesitate to take advantage of them.
Stop Caring So Much
I have literally spent tens, if not hundreds of hours worrying about what other people thought. Any inquisitive glance thrown my way made me wonder if there was something wrong with my hair, the way I looked or the way I behaved. After I worked up the courage to ask a few people about the way they looked at me, I realized that some, if not most of those looks where admiring, thoughtful or just unintentional.
You should avoid being rude, overly sarcastic or even arrogant. Some people use that as a defense mechanism. On the other side of the spectrum, caring too much about things that other people see as trivial matters is going to take you nowhere good. Unless you are in a position of power or influence, you cannot change millions of other people to be more like what you expect them to be. Most of the time, you can only change yourself.
Manage Your Expectations
My childhood was spent reading adventure novels. A good book, with mixed flavors of mystery, romance and adventure could keep me occupied for hours. At that time, most of the things that I knew about social behavior, human interaction and relationships came from those books. You can probably imagine how big of a shock was when I first started living on my own.
Expectations are what usually what trigger dissatisfaction, anxiety, or even depression. Let’s suppose that your significant other ends up stealing the few inherited pieces of jewelry that you have, pawns it and gambles the money away. You are naturally going to be very angry and hurt because you expected your partner to behave better. This example is a double-edged sword and it was meant to be that way.
There are expectations that are the result of the rules that make up the foundation of our society. You know, such as not stealing, not hurting other people, etc. These rules are usually respected and enforced, but that shouldn’t trigger a false sense of security in you. It is better to stay a little bit more alert, as a habit, than to become a victim.
For the other type of expectations, let’s go through a little exercise.
- Imagine that you acquired the things that you dream about. You know, not fortunes and everlasting fame, because you are not a greedy person and you do not want those things just for the sake of having them. I am talking about a loving spouse, a few beautiful children, a big house in a cozy neighborhood, brand new SUV, good job with a more-than-comfortable income.
- Now imagine that you do not have ALL of those things. You still have a loving spouse, a few beautiful children, but you struggle with your job and income, you live in a 1-bedroom apartment and drive a second-hand, older car.
Correct me if I am wrong, but if you expect to someday to have everything listed in point 1 these are your options:
- Postpone your happiness until you can get everything in point 1 and more. You will feel miserable because you do not have it yet and those feelings are likely to transmit to your family
- Appreciate what you already have and work hard to get more. Even in the eventuality that you fail getting that big house, you are still happy, because you already had what really matters
Practicing gratitude is a trendy tactic that helps people break free of depression and live a happier, fuller life. You should give it a try because it really works.
However, when I hear the words “appreciate what you already have”, I get a little bit scared sometimes. I am afraid of not settling for less than I can get. I am afraid of not becoming the most that I can be during my lifetime. But I also refuse to let expectations that might be hard to get prevent me from seeing what I already have and how truly blessed I am.
Tanya is a writer and editor at several popular blogs. Three random things that she loves are the outdoors, eggplant and the smell of old paper. Currently she travels a lot and writes articles for Survival Report, a positive preparedness blog.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.