The paradox of change

paradox“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” – Carl Rogers

Most of us struggle with the issue of identity. We struggle with gaining enough self-confidence and self-esteem in order to properly navigate through life.

And we struggle because we somehow feel inadequate. There’s a voice inside our heads that constantly tells us about flaws and quirks that we’d better keep hidden from others, should we want to be accepted. The negative traits that we try to hide, repress, or change are the ones that end up harming us a lot more than others.

Because there’s this strange thing: by trying not to be something, you are effectively becoming it. Or you just over-compensate. By telling yourself, over and over again, that you shouldn’t be shy, then you’re just going to condition your brain to be so. Or you’ll just be loud and arrogant, which is not the same as being outgoing.

You can never become the opposite of something by deciding that you don’t want to be it. You become the opposite of something by actively searching to become it.

If this doesn’t make much sense to you, think about it in this way: you get what you think about, whether you want it or not.

And you’re never going to be outgoing as a person if all you can think about is the fact that you’re shy and that’s a bad thing.

Then there’s another thing: it takes a lot of mental effort to hide a perceived flaw, a lot more than it takes to accept it and then change it.

What do I mean by that?

You need to accept yourself as you are. You need to see some sort of magic in you being you. Not because of certain external factors, not because you have something, not because you feel good at a particular point in time. The goal is to love yourself, not to fall in and our of love with yourself.

The goal is to be disciplined enough to love yourself. To be kind and gentle enough to give yourself permission not to be perfect.

You have flaws, and no one’s going to crucify you for them. If you don’t see it as a tragedy, if you don’t see yourself as broken beyond repair, then and only then you can truly change.

 ***

I’d like to thank Alyson, Paul, Michael, Elizabeth, Wayne, and Steven for their contributions to the campaign that is raising funds so I can afford to pay my medical bills. Thank you so much for your help!

We’re not at $401 raised, with 10 days left in the campaign.

If you want to help me out, you can donate any amount you see fit here. Any amount matters. It truly does.

Thank you,

Cristian

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10 thoughts on “The paradox of change

  1. Brilliant. In the words of Dostoyevsky: “And above all, do not be so ashamed of yourself, for it is from that that all the rest proceeds.” Father Zosima, “The Brothers Karamazov.

    Curious thing I realized while at work today: Pride and shame are the 2 faces of a coin….

  2. “To be kind and gentle enough to give yourself permission not to be perfect.” I like that. But.. If non-perfection is OK, then why change? I guess I mean; if I’m no longer seeing flaws, or tragedy, then why should I change at all?

    Also, if I’m accepting myself as who I am, then by this line of thinking, change, then who am I? And should I accept myself again? But if I did, would I not change back? ..Which is what I didn’t want in the first place?

    This article confused me I guess. But maybe I’m just thinking myself in circles.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing. I appreciate mental gymnastics. :)

  3. When self-esteem deserts us, self-compassion is there to catch us. Excellent reminder in your post to love ourselves unconditionally and to love our imperfections. I agree that what you put your attention on, you will get more of that. Focus on love and you will have love. Focus on fear and you will have more fear. It’s that simple.

  4. Acceptance had been hard for me. I’ve been conditioned to think I’m always wrong. I’m now getting to where I can live with myself if someone doesn’t like me.

  5. “…it takes a lot of mental effort to hide a perceived flaw, a lot more than it takes to accept it and then change it.” Oh, yes. Absolutely. I had to admit that I was an impatient person before I could learn patience. That’s always going to be a work in progress, but I’m light years from where I was 10 years ago with it. It took patience to become patient, if that makes any sense at all.

  6. This is true. But also you can progress by moving beyond yourself. Take someone who is painfully shy and lacking in confidence, and has become obsessed with this. (S)he has to give a speech or presentation. If (s)he keeps thinking, “How do I defeat my shyness?” it won’t work; or rather, the self-obsession will work and the speech will be a disaster. But say the subject is one where this person is passionately interested or committed. If that fills his or her mind, the speech may be brilliant, all the more so for not being smooth and polished.

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