All people are imperfect. Yes, some are less messed up than others. But everyone is full of insecurities and character flaws. Many people I’ve met have asked themselves: “What’s wrong with me?”, “Why am I the way I am?”. Perhaps you ask the same question yourself. It is painful to constantly fail and not know where you went wrong.
I’ve listed some action items that help me figure out my flaws and become a better person. They work. If you truly want to improve your life, let’s dive into them.
It is a good practice to reflect and analyze your life. However, getting stuck on self-analysis may even be counterproductive to your happiness and success.
Let's say you decided to play basketball for the first time. You watched others do it - seems simple.
You get a pass. You aim. Your face expresses a complete focus and determination. You feel the invisible energy between the ball and the hoop. You let go. Your arms twist, your posture looks like you just threw a boulder. The ball barely flies that others thought you passed to yourself. Reality sets in. You are physically incapable to get the ball into the basket.
You go home defeated. You ask questions: “Why am I so uncoordinated?” “Why do I lose control of my arms when shooting?” “Why am I so weak?”. Unless you seek solutions to improving these weaknesses, these questions might as well be thrown into the self-defeat and victimhood bucket.
The correct approach would be to figure out what went wrong, watch YouTube training videos, build up your muscles, and most importunately - get back out there and try again.
Moving past self-reflection onto finding solutions is very crucial. The goal is to find Point A in your development journey and seek directions to Point B. It’s not about focusing on the negative and the past. It is not about blaming your mommy and daddy for the lack of love and attention. Once you discover your flaws, ask yourself: “What can I do differently to improve my situation?”.
However, first let’s look at some ways that can help you discover your imperfections.
Why is it easier to see other people’s faults even if you long to improve yourself?
It’s simple. We see others from a distance. We observe body movements, facial expressions, tonality. We see other people’s reactions to them. We experience our own emotional responses to their actions.
When it comes to ourselves, our experience happens internally. We cannot observe ourselves from afar. We can't see our body language, weird behavior, or micro expressions from a third-person perspective. Thus our internal perceptions can present us with alternate realities. This is why two people may react differently to the same situation.
You and your parents probably have more in common than you imagine. You share the same genes. They passed on their habits, insecurities, and worldview. There is a good chance that your biggest frustrations with your parents are caused by your own similar weaknesses.
Observe your parents. What insecurities and other negative traits do they possess? Then examine your life and see if you acquired any of those negative traits. If yes, think of what your parents could have done differently to maximize their potential and happiness in life. And start doing that.
Make a list of situations that make you most uncomfortable. Anxiety comes from a lack of experience and knowledge. We fear the unknown. When confronted with unfamiliar situations, your anxieties may force you to act in a non-constructive manner. You may unintentionally say dumb things to a date. Or shake uncontrollably during public speaking. These setbacks will most likely make you even more anxious and create a bigger dent in your confidence.
Your goal in this case is to admit your ignorance in this particular area and go to the drawing board. Read on this subject, get help from experts. Every time you learn and apply and improve, your confidence will start multiplying, and your anxieties will fade away.
I promise you - nothing boosts confidence more than going out there and confronting your fears. As you build your confidence in one area, it will transfer over onto your entire life. Fall in love with confronting your fears. There is freedom in that.
As we are confronted with life, we begin creating stories in our heads to cope with setbacks and failures. These fantasies comfort us and distract from the reality of our situation. They give us a sense of certainty. They shape our perception of the world around us.
A man who never commits to one woman may tell himself he doesn’t believe in relationships and loves independency. But perhaps the reality is he is scared of intimacy. He falls apart emotionally when he expresses love and shows vulnerability. A woman may never open up her heart by convincing herself that every man she meets it is weird, mean, or unattractive. The truth may be that her relationships with her father and other men have caused her to close up.
These stories may keep us in our comfort zone but will never fulfill us. Question all of them. Discuss them with someone who has an alternate belief. Talk to people who have succeeded in the areas you lack. What are their beliefs? DO NOT discuss your beliefs with people in the same boat as you. You’re not looking for affirmation. You are seeking the truth.
Always catch yourself blaming anything - whether yourself or someone else. Firstly, there are many sides to every story. Secondly, when you blame, you are building a narrative in your mind. You are making conclusions without rational analysis. Your mind seeks closure to release the pressure of uncertainty.
Instead of blaming - reflect on the situation. What could you have done differently? Write everything down. I promise you - it works. It has helped me many times. Again, you're not making self-reflections to blame yourself. It’s about a desire to supercharge your learning and improvement.
If one or two people are repulsed by your behavior - you can probably dismiss it. If most people you meet seem to have similar reactions - you might want to take that into consideration. You have a tremendous power to change the behavior of others towards yourself.
So how do you approach this tactic?
Become a scientist. Find a lab coat, a pair of thick glasses, and start your experiments. Next time you meet someone, try something different in your approach. Perhaps pay a compliment, smile, or maybe assert yourself in a difficult conversation. Check the reaction. Any difference? If something works, start applying it in more often. You're a scientist now - Research -> Hypothesize -> Test -> Make Conclusion.
I remember once I had an annual performance review at a company I worked at. One of the questions was to describe my biggest strengths and skills. I humbly wrote down a list of areas in which I perceived myself to be a master. When my boss checked the list, his facial expression suggested we had slight differences of opinion about my expertise. He didn’t have to say a word. I got the point.
I’m sure you’ve encountered people whose opinions make your ears bleed. In their eyes, they are pure geniuses. Don’t be that ‘genius’ yourself.
When you analyze your situation with your own brain - you will not get very far. That brain created the problem in the first place. Look for answers elsewhere. The best sources for me are books and educational videos. YouTube is a great place. Seek wisdom in areas of underperformance. It will reshape your mind. And perhaps make you a true genius.
The first step to self-reflection is admitting that something is wrong in your approach. For some people, this is an impossible undertaking. When you accept your flaws, your self-esteem may take a hit. However, taking this step might be the best thing you can do for yourself.
You let go of the fantasies and stories you’ve created to inflate your self-image. You let go of your ego. Solid and long-lasting self-esteem is built on real actions and triumphs over adversity. It takes time. It requires willpower.
Yep, I said it! Although you should strive for perfection, keep in mind - you will never be perfect. The beauty in self-development is not to reach a destination but enjoy constant slight improvements in your skills and wisdom.
Being tough on yourself will prevent you from opening your mind to the beautiful journey of transformation. Celebrate every little success. Register them in your memory. This is what builds true self-esteem. I promise you - many beautiful things await you once you let go of ego and seek the truth.