There will come a time when you have to choose between what is easy and what is right. — Harry Potter
I am so far from knowing all the answers, but there was a time when I was pretty sure I had lots of the answers. I’ve changed, and I continue to change. Now I’m more interested in not having the answers. Not being audacious in my certainty and more interested in what other people have to share. I’m a ‘work in progress’ because sometimes I’m decent at listening, and sometimes (more often) I catch myself talking when I truly want to be listening.
We live in an era of self-help/self-growth. Lots of people speak about the ways we can do our work and the ‘best’ way to do it. Including myself. I want to cut through some of the bullshit out there about this ‘self-work’. The work is of becoming a more conscious and aware person, of healing learned behaviours that are unhealthy, and of being gentle and kind with ourselves and the work of staying curious.
What I mean by BS about this work is that as we fumble through this and become more self-aware and educated, there are good-intentioned folks who believe they have the answers for everyone. Yet the only one that can know for sure what’s best for you and your life, is you. We’re the only ones who can know for certain what feels good and healthy for us, and that is bound to change over time.
Most of us believe that we know what’s best for someone else. You hear it all the time, words dribbling out of someone’s mouth about what they think is the best way for their friend to live their life. Whether it’s about how they spend their money, what relationships they entangle themselves in, or their career choices. It’s an endless stream of opinions soaking our arrogance — the belief that we could know what’s best for someone else.
Maybe it feels like we’re doing it from a place of good intentions, or perhaps it’s out of complete unconsciousness. I’ve done it and will fumble through doing it again, but it’s comical how I think that I know what’s best for someone else, how I imagine their life without turmoil or struggle and that they don’t have their own lives to live and learn by.
I’ve been a complete jerk, I know this. Owning it has made me more aware of the addictive behavior of looking outside of ourselves: it’s like sugar – once you start it’s so hard to stop and turn your gaze back inward.
None of us should ever imagine we have the answers for someone else.
I’d broken trust by overstepping my boundaries. By sharing a perspective that wasn’t asked for, which eradicated trust and either ended relationships or severely injured them. The repair is far more treacherous than stopping the temptation to be all knowing.
The only thing I know for certain is that the moment we stop paying attention to what other people are doing and focus on our own lives, we become a little humbler and stop fixating on others to avoid ourselves.
I’ve had to give up knowing what’s best for everyone else and focus on what’s best for me.
The easiest things we do in our lives is complain, blame others, gossip, be rigid, have all the answers and judge others. The harder thing to do is look inward, own our unhealthy behaviours or perspectives, apologize to those we’ve hurt and be gentle and kind with ourselves. In short, focus on ourselves instead of projecting our own fear and judgements outward.
We love to do things that feel known and that we already have the skills to accomplish. It’s way harder to get uncomfortable and try something new. It takes time to build skill and knowledge and to slow down to look at ourselves. To unpack the discomfort of looking inward and watch our unconscious ways.
As Harry Potter said, there comes a time when you have to choose what’s right over what’s easy.