So often in my life I feel compelled to fix things. Broken things, rusty things, tattered, torn and wrinkly things. When friends come to me for advice, its hard not to offer up a solution, it’s the problem solver within me. Most likely this part of my nature is the reason I am working to become a therapist. I’ve learned not to try to “fix” or change the people in my life, as it certainly never works. What does work, however, is adjusting my expectations.
Take a moment and briefly re-read that last statement to check for personal resistance. For me, it has been quite a challenge but one that I am grateful to have taken.
Throughout my entire life I have created an unrealistic set of expectations for myself, and I am forever trying to live up to them. These expectations often include my career, personal life, the standards that I set for myself as a parent, and those that I strive for as a human being. I don’t fool myself into believing that I am ALWAYS living up to them. I’ve become the happiest I have ever been while resting in the knowledge that I am a work in progress. I mess up, I try to reflect and grow from the experience. But that wasn’t always the case.
There have been times in my life where I messed something up so irrevocably that I had to destroy any link between whatever “it” was and myself. Some relationships have gone up in flames because I was too proud or immature at the time to reflect or understand my part in their demise. I don’t regret these stages, because they’ve led me to appreciate the personal growth that I’ve experienced. Sure, I regret some of my actions, but I try to forgive myself and move on.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned was one of the most subtle. The question, “Is it better to be right or happy?” was asked of me one day. The subject matter was so irrelevant that it doesn’t even come to mind, but the question was profound. Not even at that very moment, but later on as I used that question time and again to understand myself and those around me.
EGO… It sure holds a lot of meaning for such a small word.
Does our own ego outweigh the value of our personal connections?
One glance at my Facebook feed could prove that this is undoubtedly true.
“Person A” states an opinion. Argument ensues over the validity and every argument is tainted with sarcasm, not pedagogy.
“Person B” posts a serene image with a profound (for them in that very moment) quote and fifteen people are clamoring to be the first person to tell them that the author of the quote is incorrect.
“Person C” posts about a revelation that that they’ve had and we rush to “put them in their place” because their revelation is in direct conflict with our own beliefs, “Person C’s” past actions, or frankly, we are just making fun of their experience. Are we so ego driven that our desire to be right outweighs another persons happiness? And when did tearing someone else down begin to equate to our own happiness through personal vindication?
Why is it so important to be right, to be MORE right, than anyone else? To be SMARTER than anyone else? To have had more LIFE experiences than anyone else? To be HAPPIER than anyone else? Do we really need to point these things out to feel validated? Maybe for some. And if I am going to be true to myself, I’ve got to concede that its perfectly OK when other people need these validations. Because, IT IS. And at the end of the day, I’m happier not arguing it.
There are things in my life that hold great value to me and I could argue their importance until I’m out of breath… However, I’m learning that my values don’t hold the same worth to everyone else. If what they think or do doesn’t somehow harm the world we share or the people that I love, I can let it go. At the end of the day everyone is really just trying to do whatever it is that they believe will make them happy.
Who am I to argue with that?