You can’t control the wind, so stop trying.
Reading stories to my child is a mutually beneficial experience. Some of the underlying lessons within these stories, blended subtly into the general plot, are quite profound. Some months ago whilst reading a bedtime story I had an epiphany.
It was a classic story about a character (a toy) who lived in a land of toys, and his best friend (whose ears were not small). They pitched a tent right on the beach, in what they considered to be a prime location. They were quite enjoying their time when suddenly circumstances changed for the worst. The wind began to blow a gale, and the tide came in. What had moments ago been a peaceful splendid occasion had transformed itself into a tragedy. To say the toy character was upset would be an understatement, and he shouted furiously at the wind to stop. But it didn’t. The ocean wasn’t listening to his cries for it to kindly go back to where it had been previously either.
It was at this point that I literally felt an odd sense of discomfort from within begin to emerge. I realized the character in the tale was wasting his energy shouting at the tide and the wind to stop. For you see these things are obviously beyond his control.
Trying to control anything other than your own self is an absolute waste of energy. All associated negativity will only be amplified, and the resulting frustration can lead one into a vicious, self feeding cycle of gloom.
Self awareness, to put it simply, is the practice of being absolutely honest with yourself. Although simple, it is not necessarily easy, due to the perceived expectations of society and our status within it. For example an overly emotional person may not wish for others to see them as weak, so they attempt to create a tough exterior, a shield as such, to try and fool people into thinking otherwise. In reality however the only one being fooled is the one who is holding the shield.
In a professional setting many people act like they know more than they actually do, or imply that they are more important than those around them. Just as in the previous example this is an attempt to shield their inner self-doubt. The person in question is “putting on a face” to shield their own insecurity.
Nobody is perfect. If you can be honest with yourself then you are practicing self awareness. From this angle it is much easier to notice when you make a mistake, and stop yourself before you follow through.
Whilst this is a great place to exist it brings about its own complications.
A new cycle
So you are at the point of being entirely honest with yourself. You understand your flaws and are working towards repairing them when you notice them arise. That is great! You probably feel a sense of pride, which you absolutely should, because self awareness, as previously noted, is not easy.
However when one begins the journey of improving themselves via self awareness, it is at this point the entire thing can be turned upside down. When you notice improvement within yourself, it becomes a lot easier to see the faults in others. You begin to notice the shields everyone is holding up to hide their insecurities. You notice their body language (something they are not even aware of).
This can give one a false sense of superiority and begin the entire downward spiral all over again, however this time around it is much more difficult to negotiate.
You’re aware of yourself now, why is all this bad stuff happening? That other guy at the office obviously isn’t aware of himself, why is his life so great? See where this is going?
Self comparison is something that must be avoided. If you notice yourself doing it, stop immediately and remind yourself this is your journey, not theirs.
The only thing you can control is yourself.
So do it. Take control of yourself. Be the person in the drivers seat of the vehicle that is your life. Don’t compare yourself to other people and don’t blame anyone else for your problems. You’re driving!
The subjects discussed in this article are merely a gentle rub on the surface of a massive issue. The reality of modern life can be overwhelming and make implementing good practices difficult. That is what makes it fun though.
I often think back to that children’s book when I am placed in a difficult situation. Telling myself “You can’t control the wind”. Then I smile and carry on.
Thanks for reading.