Introspection and extrospection

Over the past few weeks I’ve been asking myself the question ‘what is this blog about?’.
I’ve been thinking about the topics I share most often and how that can be encapsulated into a few words, a clear answer to my question.

Over the past few months I’ve been in a personal development, problem solving, self-help space which is reflected in my writing.

But in the last few days the ideas I’ve had for blog posts have been things I’ve noticed or observed, nothing to do with personal development.

I was then reminded of the origin of this blog, taking the opportunity to notice something in myself or the world then use that to find a lesson, growth point or a helpful reminder.

It’s a balance of introspection and extrospection.

To observe and understand life in the same way that we can observe and understand ourselves.

It’s a mix of personal development, self-discovery/exploration, career, social-media, wellness and blogging tips.

Re-learning compromise

If you’re used to always being the one to bend to the needs of another, you might reach a point where you decide to change. Perhaps after an epiphany about the importance of balance.

When it comes to some change, the advice is to go slow and take it bit by bit. However, when it comes to changing a habit of compromising, it’s probably more helpful to go cold turkey.

The reason for this is that no compromise allows you to gain clarity on exactly what you want to do for yourself without taking others into account.

It’s then from a place of clarity of your own needs that you can learn to compromise properly.

Bent out of shape

People that are used to people pleasing know what it’s like to put their own wants and needs aside.

Sometimes, you convince yourself that you’re just compromising to find a balance. This is fine, until you realise that you’re the only one willing to change. This could all be with one person or apply to your life overall.

You can become so used to doing it that the thought of doing anything else feels wrong.

But the thing about bending, is that it can lead to breaking. However, before you reach breaking point you end up bent out of shape. By this I mean, you’ve spent so much time bending (meeting the needs of others) that you’re no longer yourself. You’ve become what you think other people need you to be.

When you’re engaging in the art of compromise which is the overlap in the Venn diagram of 2 people’s needs (or a balanced back and forth of meeting one another’s needs without self-sacrifice), it’s fine. The problem occurs when you consistently go outside of your circle into another’s, so that they get what they want.

People become so used to you doing it that they may even push back at you if you stop compromising for them.

However, sometimes it’s only when you stop and reflect on how you act that you realise you’re doing it but also the negative implications, one of which is your needs never being met.

A life changing perspective

A running theme throughout a lot of my posts (and what has become the baseline for this blog) is this idea of life’s challenges and difficult moments having a lesson or a takeaway.

Having this perspective completely changes your life.

You go from things like blaming other people, being overly self critical, treating yourself unkindly and feeling stuck to feeling empowered with the ability to move through challenging situations with greater ease.

Let’s say you like the way you look but someone makes fun of your appearance. On one hand you could get upset, feel bad about yourself and feel anger towards the other person for how they made you feel.

On the other hand, you could accept that this person has an opinion, remind yourself that how you feel about the way you look is what matters most and see if there’s something worth learning there.

If the persons comment upset you, perhaps the lesson is that you need to work on your self-confidence. The takeaway could be a reminder that other peoples opinions of you shouldn’t matter more than your own, that you don’t need to take on the opinions of others or that you need to become more comfortable with not fitting into other peoples standards/ideals.

And then maybe you’ll go away and work on these things. An example of this might be embracing the way you want to look by going a week wearing whatever you want as a way of learning to become more comfortable with looking different. In doing so, you’ll probably realise that it’s exhausting to allow yourself to be bothered by everyone else’s opinion and that you feel at your best when you’re just being yourself.

This might seem excessive to some but the truth is that you can choose the way you look at things and how you handle them. Imagine if you faced every difficult or challenging situation with this kind of perspective. How different would your life be?

Getting unstuck

Often when we feel stuck or stagnant in life it’s because we aren’t doing the thing that we know we should be doing.

We’re living in a particular place when that we’ve now outgrown, we’re going to places out of habit doing things that we once enjoyed even though we’re no longer having fun or we’re eating things that don’t make us feel good even when we know better.

Often when we’re in these situations we’re unable to see what the issue is or what may be worth changing. It’s also much easier to complain about how you feel than it is to take active steps to make your life better. You might be bored, unfulfilled and feel empty yet you do nothing about it and sometimes that’s because you haven’t even figured out what needs to change.

Alone time

Something really interesting happens when you start spending time alone.

You learn a lot about yourself. You learn what you like to do, how you like to spend your time, what brings you joy, what fulfills you and so much more outside of your relationships with other people.

So often we learn about ourselves in conjunction with other people. ‘My sister and I like to do this, when I’m with my friends I like to do that or my partner and I often do this together’. And it’s not that you don’t enjoy those things or that it’s not the real you but I think it’s important to explore yourself by yourself.

You might discover that there are a whole heap of things that you enjoy doing alone that you never previously had time for because you always prioritised spending time with other people. Or, you might find that you appreciate making time for yourself to spend doing small and simple things like bake, take a walk or read outside in a park.

The importance of introspection

Sometimes taking the time to understand yourself can help you start to understand others.

In particular when it comes to interactions and exchanges not turning out how you’d hoped or think they should. The disclaimer for what is to follow is that of course you don’t need to internalise and understand someone treating you poorly. This is more about having unrealistic expectations based on a false perception of reality.

If you find yourself caught up in thinking about the way a person should have acted in a situation or what they should have said, question it, where are the expectations coming from.

You may find that you’re so focused on the way that things should be, that you’re missing on what is actually happening.

An example could be that someone didn’t ask for your advice on something you had spoken to them about. Your initial reaction may be to feel hurt or annoyed because you feel like they should have spoken to you. But as important as it is to acknowledge your feelings, it’s important to acknowledge the feelings of others.

Ask yourself, why would this person not come to me? It could simply be that they went to someone else instead but you have a habit of berating their choices or trying to make them do what you think is best rather than trust their own judgment.

It’s so easy to just look at things on the surface and get annoyed at the other person but making a little time for introspection might help you see things differently.

Then you can decide how or if you want to change. For example, you could decide to work on telling people what you think is best without pressuring them to do what you think is right.

On the other hand, you could decide to do nothing at all, to stay just as you are. But you can’t continue to get annoyed at people when the problem is you.

And it’s not about getting caught in a spiral of blame, it’s about being aware of your interactions with other people and then figuring out how you can improve them.

A new routine

An easy way to simplify your life and get into the habit of doing things you care about is to create routines.

It could be a morning, evening or exercise routine.

Lets take the morning, start by thinking about what the best way to start your day would be.

In-fact make a list. Maybe you want to feel a certain way or you know that if you don’t do x, y, z your morning won’t run smoothly.

And so that might mean setting an earlier alarm so you have the time to fit in what you want to do, not watching YouTube or going on social media so you can start your day by just focusing on you or preparing things the night before.

Your morning could consist of a combination of things like: meditation, journaling, reading, stretching, Twitter, coffee, tea, Instagram, YouTube, exercise, visualisation, nature sounds, stretches, podcasts, praying, gratitude etc.

You don’t need to do what anyone else does, experiment and find a routine that works well for you.

Bad habits

There could be habits you have that you have carried with you thorough your life for so long that you aren’t even aware the impact they have on your life.

Perhaps, you assume that those habits are ‘just the way you are’ rather than them being something you could change.

Sticking with what you know is easy, comfortable and familiar even when it negatively impacts your life.

And so you do nothing.

That’s why I’m such an advocate for regular reflection. In doing so you’re able to identify the habits you currently have and understand how they impact your life. It could be something like you always wanting to be right because you believe that you know more than most.

This may result in people not wanting to engage in conversations with you because you’re now seen as closed minded, someone that is not open to other points of view. In turn maybe you’re unable to develop close relationships because your desire to always be right pushes people away as they don’t feel respected and they find you frustrating.

Identifying that bad habit and deciding to let it go could be the catalyst to solve many of the problems that you regularly encounter.

Of course, it rarely feels good to know that you’re the problem as it forces you to take responsibility instead of the playing the blame game. But in the grand scheme of things perhaps it is much better to know that the problem begins with you and your bad habits because that way you know that the problems can end with you too.