One day I was having brunch with a couple of friends and one of them stated that he never achieves anything and mentioned how useless he feels, saying that he is only wasting oxygen. My immediate answer to him was to count all the things he achieved so far or in the process of achieving. One reason I did that was because I don’t believe that criticizing my friend will help him in any way to deal with his problem. It probably will give him another proof that he is not worth it.
I also noticed that when I want to do something, I always find a way to make it NOT happen. Either by procrastination, by pretending to be too busy to do anything else or by dismissing the idea of it all together. The more I want to do “that something” the more I find reasons not to do it. Of course, after a while, I remember “that something” again, which I never forgot in the first place, and think “Ah, it’s too late now to do it!”. From there I enter into a cycle of self deprecation, guilt and regret and end up having another reason not to do anything I want to do, because now I don’t deserve anything since I wasted my chance in doing that previous “thing”. and so on and so forth…
If you are like me and my friend, then you will know what I am talking about!
But when I think about the reason behind this destructive behavior, it is usually the fear of failure. Because if we fail, that means we are not good enough or we are less than other people. What is worse is that, if we fail, other people will see that we failed and they will think of us as worthless or useless. So, the bottom line is, we are afraid that our value in other peoples’ eyes will be diminished. Therefore, we are scared to take the steps necessary to try and fail. Rather we try hard to prove to ourselves that we are useless to begin with and there is no need for us to try. In my own experience from my past, I was never good enough with anything I do. I loved arts and drawings, but I was always told that I am not as good as my other siblings. I had high marks at school, but I was always punished in the rare occasions that I missed 0.5 from the full mark. If someone told me I look beautiful, my mother will tell me that “this person or that person looks even better”! I grew up always competing, whether I liked it or not, and failing. I never won in any of these competitions. Even when I finished my PhD, I was told instead of “congrats” that “your cousin found a husband”, hence all those years of studying, hard work and my final achievement meant nothing. Being in such environment most of my life was not easy. But I was stubborn and I wanted to prove those people who always put me down that they are wrong about me. The funny/sad part is that, even if we tried hard and succeeded, those people who we wanted to please will never be pleased. They will always find something else we didn’t do to point it out. I finally ended up feeling there was no reason to try. That is, until I discovered how important for me to love and appreciate myself (I love me; I love me not!).
Since then, when I think of doing something and start making up reasons not to do it, I ask myself how important this thing to me? and to whom I am doing it? If the answer is: “it is important to such and such” then I will try to figure out why I want the approval of those people and then I decide whether it is a healthy choice to do something for the sake of someone else or not. But if the answer is “it is important to ME” then I will try to resist the negative feedback mechanism and find a way to do it for myself. To tell the truth, the process of defying this mechanism which I have been conditioned with for many years is not easy at all. Until today, I still hear and see the disapproving voices and eyes inside my head. They don’t give up easily but I am learning not to give up to them easily either.
I hope next time you have such situation, you will ask yourself similar questions and reach the conclusion that you are worth it no matter what other people say or think about you. I hope you will start believing that, even if you fail, you are still worth it. Because each failure is a step to getting closer to success (Like the pain after a vigorous workout session).
Finally, to do or not to do, is not the problem. It is the choice…
The leaping koala 🙂