Befriending the butcher

Despite the fact that I still in many situations come across as a neurotic, negative and unforgiving person, I've softened and balanced out a little during the past year. I'm a bit more tolerant and a bit more relaxed about things. Much of that development comes from small failures I've experienced. Failing exams, failing to keep a healthy lifestyle, not managing to live in accordance with my (extreme) ideals; all of this has led me to question the heavy demands I lay on myself. Perhaps they're overly strict, unrealistic and shouldn't be taken so seriously?

For a while now, I've perceived all decisions to take things easier as yet more personal failure; as a way to justify the cognitive dissonance that arose from knowing how I want and should live my life, but being unable to actually follow through on that knowledge. A way to excuse behaviour you can't correct is, after all, to change your views so that they accommodate such behaviour. You see, I'm extremely judgemental when it comes to me. Any sidestepping from the straight and narrow is punished with excessive and torturous mental whipping.

However, I've been talking to a couple of people I respect and in some ways admire, and they've said, in different ways, that it must be very difficult to be me. And that's true - I've always been known to make life as difficult as possible for myself. But when is it too much? I mean, you can set up obstacles in life that you fight real hard to clear, but is it really good for anything to make them harder than they need be, and trip yourself up on the starting line? Because that's what I do. I give myself tasks, and then I tell myself I'm too stupid, lazy, fat, ignorant and slow to manage them until I near the brink of psychological meltdown. What's the use of that? Who wins?

And it doesn't end there. Should I complete anything I've set up, I enjoy success for about half a second before I start to tell myself how I should and could have done better, more, faster, had I not been too stupid, lazy, fat, ignorant and slow.

The combination of actual failure and other people's comments has given me some perspective, I think. And just a day or so ago, I read some simple words in a silly journal that struck a chord with me: "You are what you feel and think, so focus on what you want to be, instead of beating yourself up about what you're not.". Those words look so obvious, so cliché even, but I suppose the timing was just right for their meaning to actually get through to me. I'm going to try and keep them in mind, and see if I can't make friends with myself for once.

No comments: