According to this website, there are 7,869,619,359 people in the world right now. It’s got to be true because it’s on the Internet, right?
Out of all these billions of people, you will only ever interact with a small percentage of them, you will only ever care about those closest to you, physically and emotionally, the ones you understand, the ones who understand you.
But at the same time, and I’m sure you noticed this, there are certain traits or habits that we loathe in others?
We often have strong reactions to certain behaviors, but fail to respond properly to major flaws in character and personality. If you’ve never been the victim of oppression, it won’t elicit the same type of response as, say, being revolted by how reckless with their money our friends are.
These subtle traits that drive you crazy are not random. They get to you because you recognize a bit of yourself in them; they are, in fact, the traits you are most afraid of, the traits you suppress in any way you see fit.
For instance, I have a strong reaction to anyone who’s addicted to any substance, bad habit, and so on. I believe that it’s a sign of emotional weakness to be addicted to drugs, or cigarettes, or gambling.
Well… bad habits and addictions are something I struggle with. I’ve used to be addicted to a number of them over the years, and I’ve always hated myself for it.
That’s why I have never been in a relationship with someone who drinks. It’s an instant turn-off for me.
In other words, what we hate most in others is what we hate most about ourselves.
The flaws of character that drives us mad act as a sort of spotlight on similar flaws of our own, and act as a constant reminder of our daily struggle to avoid having to confront them.
Write Down the Traits You Hate About Others
This is a particularly powerful tool when working on your self-awareness. We often struggle to venture within.
You avoid this by writing down everything you hate about other people. The traits, the actions, the mannerism that you tend to obsesses about, the mannerisms that you can’t let go.
Habits, addictions, patterns of speech. The way someone reacts under stress, the way they behave when they don’t feel like doing something, the way they spend their money.
Maybe you resent your significant other for being too entitled, or maybe you get angry every time a friend of yours fails to assume responsibility for their life.
It can be as minor as the way someone talks too much, or asks too many questions, or shared too much of their private lives.
Whatever it is, write it down. Take a careful look at that list. On it, you will find all the traits and behaviors you hate about yourself so much that you don’t even want to assume responsibility for them.
Maybe you get defensive whenever someone insults your intelligence because you secretly think you’re smarter than most people.
Maybe you hate it when someone tells you about the success of another.
It’s not easy to be this self-aware. It’s impossible for most people. But it is important to understand that we hate in others what reminds us of the parts of ourselves we’d most like to get rid of.
If we can take a step back and look at those traits and habits, we can quickly come up with a list of what we should improve upon.
We are often guilty of the very behaviors that upset us most in others; we just don’t realize we are doing it.
As you go through your daily life, observe the traits and behaviors that trigger a strong emotional response. Write them down, then spend a few moments by yourself, contemplating.
Do not try to rationalize this list in any way. I assure you, those are the traits you fear and hate and loathe most about yourself. The part of you that you are constantly running away from.
The most underrated tool for self-awareness is not how we see ourselves, but how we perceive those around us.
If we can see ourselves in others, for better or for worse, if we can use the traits that we instantly react to as spotlights that shine upon our inadequacies, and if we assume the responsibility to solve the issues we become aware of, we take an important step in becoming the people we most want to be.