You can’t trust what you don’t know.
Most of us don’t know ourselves. We know what other people have told us about ourselves. We know what our families wanted from us. We know what society tells us to do. We know what our friends think about us.
But, most of us don’t know ourselves. And, you can’t trust what you don’t know.
Now, knowledge can be deceptive, so you shouldn’t believe everything you think you know. But, knowing yourself should be a pretty high life priority. You might lie to yourself about you. You probably do.
Here’s a popular lie many of us tell ourselves: I’m not a good person.
Can I tell you a secret?
You don’t have to be a good person. Being a good person is overrated. I was a good person for most of my life and folks just abused me because they were messed up and saw my goodness as something to possess. They thought close proximity to MY goodness would make THEM better somehow. It would make them acceptable. They used my goodness as a reason to tell themselves it was okay that they weren’t doing things they should have been doing.
But, if they had known how amazing they were INHERENTLY, none of that would have happened.
Being a good person is a good way to get screwed over by other people.
Lots of people realize this and they tell you that’s why you shouldn’t become a good person. But, that’s not what I’m going for here. I simply adore being a good person. It’s a lot of fun.
Just because some (lots?) of us are messed up, doesn’t mean I have to hate being a good person. I’m just stating that being a good person is not automatic insulation against the crap of other people. Crap comes. But, what do you do with it?
That’s where being a good person comes in handy. Because I’m a good person, I tend to compost it. Manure is great for gardening and I’m growing a lot of food.
Thankfully, I’ve stockpiled a lifetime of crap, so you can keep yours to yourself. But, if you’re not a good person, THAT’S OKAY.
Just do good stuff.
If you tend to do messed up stuff, doing good stuff will make you feel inordinately good about yourself and then you might stop doing crappy stuff. (This is where a good therapist can help. Changing poor habits into decent habits takes a lot of support and since you tended to do messy stuff, you might not have a lot of supportive people around you.)
But, if you’re just a normal person, doing good stuff will make you feel good and you’ll enjoy the feeling, so you’ll keep doing it. You might need to overcome laziness and the emotional bloat that comes with being too self-congratulatory, but, in the end, you’ll keep doing good stuff and you’ll find that you like yourself more.
That’s when you know you’ve tapped into the secret of all good people: Doing good feels good.
Most good people are selfish. We supremely enjoy the chemical sensations we derive from doing good and being happy. So, we strive to create lives that look and feel good and happy. Anyone can do this. It’s not a big deal. Some of us have been socialized (programmed) to be this way and some of us got this way despite how we were socialized.
It just feels good. Most people keep doing what feels good.
In my case, I derive a lot of good feeling from being logical. It makes more logical sense to be a good person than otherwise. I like feeling good, I like the people around me to feel good. Win-win. I prefer win-win situations over every other kind. Who wouldn’t?
Well, we live in a society (I’m talking about America, in particular) that says win-lose situations are not only better, but they’re really the only kind. It’s like a tradition. We get off on win-lose dynamics and we go into situations hoping we win and the other party loses.
That’s, like, our entire thing as a nation.
And, it’s self-defeating. If, by chance, we are usually winning, the other party is usually losing… which is only going to bite us in the butt in the end. Most people don’t like losing. Including us. And, if they feel they are losing too often, they start to feel badly about themselves, which causes them to stop thinking rationally. Or maybe they become hyper-rational. Anything to win!
This is how we get ALL social ills, by the way.
Hurt people hurt people. It’s a human law. A more forgettable human law among messier folks is that hurt people also help people.
You can’t know ahead of time what folks are going to do with their hurt. So, the best, most reasonable idea is to provide as little hurt as possible.
Everyone’s not a witch. Everyone can’t just snap their fingers and turn bad into good. That level of magic is easy to get to, but not everyone feels capable of getting there. Many of us simply hurl around what’s been given to us, and when we’ve been given hurt, we throw hurt around.
And, doing so just makes us feel badly about ourselves.
And, that leads to mistrusting ourselves.
Because, bad people can’t be trusted, can they? And, if you cannot trust yourself, all your relationships with other people are circumspect.
Many people think they have problems with other people, but they really have problems with themselves.
All our relationships are founded in our relationships with ourselves. If my relationship with myself is full of deception, antipathy, and fear, then all my other relationships will reflect that.
Now, I’m not promising you wonderfully amazing relationships once you clean up your relationship with yourself. People are messy. Relationships are largely unpredictable (unless you’re dealing with someone with some pretty intense personality problems). What I am promising you is this:
When your relationship with yourself is good and loving and kind, messy relationships kinda fall by the wayside. They’re not as prevalent in your life. Messy people tend to stay away from you. When the folks who like you are going through messy things, they try to keep the mess off you. (If you value the relationships, don’t let them. Let them feel what it’s like to know someone is there for them no-matter-what.)
The thing about having a good relationship with yourself is that everything feels easier. It’s not as hard to resist the desire to save other people. It’s simpler to be honest with everyone and recognize that sometimes the most honest thing to do is to shut your trap.
Everything in life just feels better when you trust yourself.
So many of us grapple with self-doubt and self-recrimination. We haven’t earned our own trust.
Today, go out and do something that shocks even you. Do something that truly leaves you open for intense scrutiny and possible condemnation, but that you know in your heart that you need to do in order to be true to yourself. Go out and do something that proves to yourself that you are your own best friend.
At the end of the day, you are the one yammering along inside your head.
You are the one keeping yourself awake with all that mercenary thinking.
You are the one feeling that intense anxiety every second of your life.
You are the one lying to yourself and telling yourself things will get better in spite of all evidence to the contrary.
You are the one refusing to walk in faith.
What is faith? Simply believing in something larger than yourself. And, folks have a difficult time doing that when they don’t even believe in themselves, yet.
Be authentic. And, when you’re not being authentic, be honest about that. Know why. Remind yourself of your inherent worth and value and goodness.
Because here’s another secret:
We’re all good. Some of us just have an easier time remembering it every day.
Yeah, I actually believe that.
Even the person who has done the most horrible things to others is actually a good person. They just got hurt. And, rather than healing they chose to keep hurting.
We’re all good. We’re not perfect, just good.
And, folks… that’s good enough. When we trust ourselves and know ourselves, we’re fine with being good.