The Paradox of Changing Oneself to Get Rid of Negative Traits

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

Every night is a dark night of the soul; fear and loathing overwhelm you whenever you stare in a mirror or think about your actions. You fail at everything you do. You struggle with low self-esteem, high-functioning depression, and social anxiety.

How do you change that?

Because you’re not going to change by spending all the time wishing you didn’t feel like that; you’re not going to change by writing down a bunch of positive affirmations and reading them aloud in front of the mirror every morning.

The paradox of changing oneself is that the more you want to change a negative trait you have, the more you become it.

When it comes to getting what we want, desire is an important element. Set a goal, go all in, and achieve it. The beach body, the business, or the book you want to write, all require that you genuinely want to do them.

But when it comes to changing the inner reality of who we are, it doesn’t work that way.

The Tyranny of the Inner Narrator

We spend most of our days being directed by a voice inside our heads that constantly tells us about the flaws and quirks that we must hide, should we want to be accepted. The negative traits that we try to hide, suppress, or ignore are always the ones that harm us the most.

And we struggle because we somehow feel inadequate.

At least, that’s how I’ve felt for most of my twenties. Inadequate. I’d be afraid to look people in the eye, for fear that they might see the flaws I was so desperate to hide. Quite ironically, they’d often perceive me as being arrogant.

And the more I tried to change what I perceived to be the worst parts of me, the more obvious they became. By trying not to be anxious around people, by constantly whispering to myself words of encouragement, the more I struggled around people. Sometimes I’d struggle to answer even the most basic of questions, and other times I’d be so loud that all my actions and words were screaming the fact that I suffered from social anxiety.

By telling yourself, over and over again, that you shouldn’t be something, then you’re just conditioning your brain to be so.

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