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Striving for Change in an Imperfect World Starts with Yourself – An Honest Reflection

perfect-948197_1920-1Our society is obsessed with perfection, and though it is something to strive for, it has proven time and time again to be an unattainable goal. I decided two years ago that I would stop putting pressure on myself to be “perfect.” Instead, I focus on my shortcomings and try little by little to improve those traits. I think it is important to keep yourself in check, own up to your flaws and actively try to improve upon them to grow as a human being.

I often debate with others about the human capacity for change. Can people change their ways? The resounding response to that question is usually “no.” I have asked that question several times, and most people believe that once someone’s behaviors are set they will remain that way. I disagree with this response as I optimistically believe in a human’s capacity for change. I also think that if more people took the time to evaluate their shortcomings and actively try to improve them rather than pointing the finger at others for their issues, our society would be in a much better place.

I began journaling recently about my inadequacies with a narrowed focus on my ineffective conflict reactions. I write down day-by-day where I fell short and what I could do better the next day. I believe if I am more self-aware of my triggers, my reactions, my behaviors I can actively adjust these traits so that they will cease to be an issue in the future. If I am completely honest, I will tell you that that the thought of passing on some of my more negative flaws on to my future children terrifies me, and so, I use that too as a driving force to actively change my ways.

So where do we begin? Make a list, an honest list about all your shortcomings in general, or narrow your focus to where you are flawed when engaging and addressing conflict. My common flaws are listed below:

* Patience – While this is a trait I have improved on immensely, I still struggle with remaining patient. I noticed my lack of patience showing particularly at work when someone is struggling to understand something that I have explained several times.

Solution: Take deep breaths. Use my breaths to calm myself and look at the situation from the other person’s perspective.  While I might type out very detailed instructions, someone might need me to walk them verbally through it for them to understand.

* Defensive – I take a lot of things personally, which I believe is because I overthink everything. I also tend to feel that everyone is out to get me, which is simply not true. So when someone critiques me, I first response is to jump into defensive mode.

Solution: I need to be mindful when I feel myself becoming defensive. My body has a physical response; I cross my arms; I feel my muscles tighten. When this happens I need to ask myself, why am I becoming defensive? Is it justified?

* Outspoken/ Loud – I have a tendency to say the first thing that pops into my head without giving it much thought. Again, I have improved on this a lot, but I still have ways to go. I also raise my voice when I get upset which can cause others not to listen to me.

Solution: Bite my tongue and think before I speak. I currently will take deep breaths, and think to myself, “What am I trying to say here? Could this be offensive?” If it is something I want/need to say I will evaluate how I say it before I do which allows me to deliver a message in the best way possible.

* Clarification – I assume things way more than I can to admit. I assume things based on expectations that I have and don’t ask for clarification. When situations don’t pan out the way I assumed they would, I find myself frustrated and a lot of times in conflict.

Solution: Ask more clarifying questions and know all the details that way expectations can be managed.

Abigail R. C. McManus

Apprentice

 

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