Whether it’s because of the ridiculous standards I set myself, my A-type perfectionist personality, or the fact that I am just critical and negative by nature, I have recently discovered that I can be quite a dick to myself.
Professionally, I understand how negative thoughts lead to negative self-beliefs and visa versa. I get why this causes psychological problems like depression and anxiety, which can be treated with cognitive behavioural therapy. But I guess what still trips me up is how a relatively healthy, well adjusted person like myself can ruin a good day or happy mood by just simply being a dick to myself.
Here are the main ways in which I treat myself like a dick:
1. I replay past decisions and try and imagine how things would be different if I hadn’t done x or y
This is such a dick move! I am cognitively manipulating reality purely to show my poor human mind how dumb it is for not being able to see into the future or use time travel.
SOLUTION: LIVE WITH NO REGRET
It is impossible for any of us to know how our choices will affect us in the future. Sure, we can try and use our best reasoning abilities to map out the potential consequences our decisions will have but this is still just a guessing game and sometimes we have to take a leap of faith and go for the decision that seems right at the time. The truth is, there are no right or wrong decisions. Life just doesn’t work that way. When I catch myself being a dick and I feel that seeping stain of regret setting in, I remind myself that I am only human and that I need to be patient and compassionate with myself. Although I have made and will continue to make decisions that will cause me discomfort later, I know that all those ‘bad choices’ or ‘mistakes’ help to deepen my understanding of myself and aid my awareness of the world around me.
2. I worry about money
I know a lot of you will resonate with this. I am one of those people that is always worrying about money. I didn’t grow up rich and I was always aware of when my dad was sitting pretty or when he was “in the red” meaning no extras for that month. To a degree, I am happy that I had this awareness growing up. I’ve mentioned before why I’m grateful for my privilege and my lack of privilege. But I also fantasize about how it would feel to never have to worry about money. I spend a lot of my time thinking about how I will pay for this or that and whether I was stupid for spending my money on this rather than that. Weirdly enough, I have never really been in trouble financially. I am a hard worker and always manage to hustle up something. It is most certainly an irrational fear a lot of the time.
SOLUTION: CHANGE YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO MONEY
I think that the biggest dick move is to prioritise money over experiences. If there is one thing I have learnt, is that when one looks back on one’s life it is not the amount of money in the bank that makes one smile but the memories of doing rad things. If I had to calculate how much money I spent on travel in my lifetime, for example, I could probably have put down a deposit for a house by now. But I don’t think I would be the person I am today if I didn’t have those experiences. I do not regret spending money on travel, on music festivals, or on studying– because those experiences make me the person I am today and I can’t imagine who I would be without them.
When I start to get anxious about money, I remind myself that I have worked hard at university and since graduating. I have racked up experiences and expertise. I am more employable now than I’ve ever been. I am also in a position to make it on my own, without the need to be employed at all. Instead of worrying about when the next paycheck is coming, I should be thanking the universe for the opportunity to be exactly what I want to be and make money from that.
When we change our relationship to money, we change the way we see ourselves in relation to money. I don’t want to be money’s bitch. I don’t want money to dictate to me. I am in charge here. I will do what I want to do and I will work hard to achieve my dreams, and money must fit in with my plan!
Also, the truth is that money is like many things in life. It comes and it goes. Sometimes it’s there in abundance and sometimes it’s not. I do not think that it is wise for one’s happiness to be dependent on something so transient and impermanent. It is a much safer option, to be aware of money’s importance but be accepting of its fluctuating nature and find solace in the more meaningful and more consistent aspects of life.
When I catch myself being a dick and giving money way too much weight and importance, I just calmly ask myself:
• What is more important, your health or money?
• What is more meaningful, experiences or money?
• What is more long lasting, real relationships or money?
• What is more profound, love or money?
It is virtually impossible to answer incorrectly. Money is only more important if you’re being a dick.
3. I worry about the future
I know this is a big one for many an anxious soul. I guess that above and beyond any anxiety I feel because of past decisions, the real dick of the day award goes to worrying about the future. I understand that it is natural to fear the unknown. But I think I have a special predisposition for this particular anxiety. When I was in grade one, I would cry and fret about going into grade two and this would repeat each and every year. I still get the jitters each and every time I start a new job and I still worry that I won’t make a success of things or that I will fail in some way in a new role or when faced with new challenges. I know now that this fear is usually unwarranted. Although I will make mistakes and I begrudgingly have to admit that I am not perfect, I also know that I am a capable and successful human being on the whole. Usually, things work out and invariably I find myself a comfortable and meaningful piece of life to call my own.
SOLUTION: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND IN THE MYSTERY
I think that if there is one message that I can pass on to you now it is this: there is only one person in this world that you need to trust and rely on and that is yourself. If you trust yourself, then things tend to work out. If you have yourself as a faithful ally, then you can take risks and be bold. Any achievement is attainable, every heartache is withstandable and every triumph is that much more profound. Of course there will be times when a risk needs to be taken and a difficult choice will leave you feeling vulnerable and alone but that is when you need to be there for yourself and you need to be constructive and compassionate, not a dick!
Remember, none of us has the answers and none of us knows what the future holds but that is what makes life fun. Who would want to live in a world where each and every day is mapped out before you with absolute certainty and predictability? Not me. Not even anxious, fretful, scared shitless me. So when I’m being a dick to myself, I remind myself that the mystery is what keeps things interesting and as long as I am there to take care of myself during good times and bad then it will all be okay.