Stranger in a Strange Land – End of the Day for July 29, 2014

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I came across this article in my reading today, Practice Self-Compassion to Improve How You Feel About Yourself, on Lifehacker and it got me thinking about the topic again. I have read about self-compassion over the years, but I have never really been able to apply it to myself. Anyone who knows me also knows I can be tremendously hard on myself. I take mistakes, missteps, failures and disagrees fully and deeply to heart. I often say that I can feel just as disappointed, embarrassed or angry about something that happened 40 or more years ago as I can about something that happened moments ago. The cold fact is, I find myself lacking in countless ways, be it personally, professionally or in any of my life roles. Because of this lack of self-esteem, I find it very difficult to practice self-compassion. How can I when I am constantly feeling that I am not living up to my own, probably impossibly high, standards.

Part of this comes from, I’m sure, the fact that I am a bit of an odd person. There are times I think I was born out of time. Perhaps I would have been better off living at some time in the distant past or sometime in the distant future. I am not driven by those things which seem to drive most people. I do not feel rewarded by the same things or in the same ways. I harbor an innate hatred of unfairness to the point of being dysfunctional at times. I am a “sensitive” person — probably overly sensitive in most people’s eyes. I am — and always have been — different and this makes it very difficult sometimes. Like “a stranger in a strange land”, I always carry an odd feeling around with me, like wearing odd clothes that I can’t shake off.

That said, I have tried to become better about curbing my own worst habits. Recognizing a problem is not the same as solving it, though. In some cases, reacting in ways I know I shouldn’t — but cannot stop — brings on yet another wave of anxiety and disappointment in my own behavior. Sure, there are methods and tactics for controlling things — which work on occasion. I also tend to order my life these days in ways that try to limit or avoid triggers for worst behaviors. I always need to know where we are going and how to get there. Being left without clears directions, parking locations, etc gives me an itchy anxiety that turns me sullen and, in the worst cases, frightened. Crowds — too much stimulus in general — can quickly top out my ability to cope, so I avoid them or only engage with crowds when the reward for doing so it high enough to counteract the anxiety — like out trip to the Hollywood Bowl the other evening.

Along with all of this, though, I try to be more compassionate with myself. I know we all make mistakes, we all have failures, but knowing this doesn’t help dissuade my own disappointment in myself. I keep focusing on this even so, in hopes that eventually it will become a habit — a good habit — some time in the future. Like the battle with my weight and my career, I fight this battle every day — sometimes less, sometimes more — but it never goes away and I know it probably never will. It is up to me to find ways of dealing with it that let me continue to grow and achieve without burdening myself with past disappointments. They only slow me down or stop me completely and thankfully, the fear of that — not accomplishing anything anymore — gives me the drive to keep working at it — to keep trying.

Previously on End of the Day:

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