You’ve already been taking a prescription of life’s hard truths. Some of you have been guzzling them in back alleys and stealing them from your grandmother’s medicine cabinet.
Others have been ignoring doctors’ orders. Yes, life is beautiful and full of pleasant surprises. But it also dishes out hard and heavy lessons. It’s better a dose of reality now than an overdose in the eleventh hour.
Surviving a universe that doesn’t care
The self-absorption paradox puts us in a tough predicament. As we become more self-aware, we become less likely to make social mistakes, but more likely to torture ourselves over past mistakes. Higher self-awareness leads to greater psychological distress.
I’ll sometimes catch myself doing it. I’ll be doing something harmless, going about my day, doing chores — then it hits me like a flat iron.
“Psst. Remember when you said that super mean thing to your girlfriend ten years ago?”
“Or when your phone went off during that critical meeting?”
“Or when you forgot to clear your web browsing history?”
“Enough!” I’ll shake my head trying to snap out of it.
Humans are hard-wired to crave love and respect. We feel deserving. It’s jarring to see evidence to the contrary, particularly when we are the ones holding exhibit-A.
One thing that’s given me some level of peace: As I looked back and examined my pattern of reliving failures and humiliations, I asked myself, “How much time have I spent focusing on other people’s embarrassments?”
The answer: very little.
The human mind is selfish and, in this case, that’s a good thing. Nobody cares much about what your past looks like.
In most contexts, the past doesn’t exist. You are a child of the present. Shame is much ado about nothing.
The bad girlfriend phenomenon
I’ve met several men and women who are remarkably good at finding terrible partners.
In a rather awful social media post, one woman blasted her ex just after they broke up, saying how he did x, y, and z, putting all of their dirty laundry on full display.
Her post was taken down by Facebook moderation. She did a second one and ended up in Facebook Jail for 30 days. It was her 5th bad ex in a row.
Can you guess what I’ve never seen on social media or any blog, like, ever? Someone chronicling how terrible they were to all of their partners.
One of my guy friends had a new girlfriend every few months. When I asked him why they broke up, it was like he hit a giant red button for an autogenerated response: “She was a bitch— we broke up.”, “She was narcissistic.— we broke up.”, “She broke my guitar — we broke up.”
I met with a relationship counselor and was discussing all the bad things that happened. One thing he said that I’ve never forgotten is, “Our memories aren’t perfect.”
In fact, scientifically speaking, our memory is horrible. Our brain clings on to negative stuff. Then our egos shift blame and totally warp scenarios from the past.
We forget the context of a fight, or what was actually said. We weren’t always as nice as we’d like to think we were. It causes us to cling to old grievances.
Just remember, you can go jogging by yourself, you can learn to play the guitar by yourself, but you can’t get into a blowout fight by yourself, over and over and over again. It takes two to tango.
Quite often, the problem is you.
The fallacy of fair races
I know a woman who was so incredibly beautiful. The sky opened up and free stuff landed in her lap everywhere she went.
She’d walk into a business and all the men started wagging their tails and beaming smiles and doing nice things for her. She was a sales rep and nobody could touch her numbers.
The world was bizarrely kind to her and she had no idea. She thought these were the default settings for the game.
I had a classmate who lounged in class, bored most of the time. He didn’t work nearly as hard as me or anyone in the room. On test day? He smoked us all and left the class early.
What do these two people have in common? Great genetics. Their dice landed in a great spot. The woman was beautiful on the day she was born. The laid-back classmate had two surgeons for parents.
I don’t resent either of them. They were born with these traits. Life is full of chaos energy and blasts curses and gifts in all directions.
Some people are granted green pastures for no reason. There’s no point in getting jealous or depressed over that fact. Put your elbows out and work with what you’ve got.
When I was younger, and feeling down on my luck and talent, my dad said, “Hey, well what do you call a doctor who graduated last in his class?”
I said, “I give up. What?”
He replied, “A doctor.”
The lesson is in the importance of persevering in the face of doubt.
So why are we still talking about this person again?
You may have one of these friends. They are nice, otherwise good people. They are fun to be around. But when it comes to life decisions? They’re broken human beings.
They can’t hold down a job. They choose a killers row of romantic partners. They dropped out of college for no reason. They trash their bodies and ignore their doctors and blame fate for every health problem.
My girlfriend has a friend like this. I got so sick of hearing about this woman. It’s maddening. My girlfriend gets worked up about her bad decisions, “I just don’t understand her logic? Why is she so self-destructive?”
The other night, during one of these long rants, I turned to her, let out a long sigh, and said, with nothing but love in my heart, “Let me ask you a question.”
“How long has your friend been like this? With all this nonsense?”
Knowing my point, she conceded, “20 years.”
We both agreed it wasn’t worth getting worked up over anymore. Nothing was going to change.
The hard truth is that some people are destined to fail. Sometimes we love that person dearly. No amount of favors, encouragement, luck, or assistance will ever change their path.
Even if the universe lined everything up perfectly for them — they’d choose to blow up the universe rather than do the right thing.
I’m not telling you to stop loving them. I’m just asking you to accept them for who they are. They aren’t broken. They are who they were meant to be.
Recap for memory: 4 hard truths of life
- Nobody cares much about what your past looks like. People are selfish and too trapped in their own world. So don’t torture yourself over mistakes.
- Many people are born with a stacked deck of cards and huge advantages over you. Resenting that is a waste of time.
- We are the problem more often than we usually admit. Reconciling this reduces repetitive life problems.
- Some people are destined to fail. It’s not your job to save everyone you love. At some point, you’ll either need to accept them for who they are or move on.
- Life Lessons
- Self Improvement
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