By now, it is safe to say that we have all heard the common definition of insanity. If not then let me place this here. It is said that insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting different results. In fairness, there are times when I am not sure whether we are insane or just hopeful. Or, maybe this is a case where I can say, “A little bit of both.”
Einstein once said “The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.” Then again, Einstein also said “The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance.” I assume this is true. However, our ability to limit ourselves is incredible to me. I can see how we fall in the same traps or trip over the same hazards without fail.
If we look at our most frequently self-induced downfalls and if we look at ourselves and ask, “Why does this always happen to me,” how often do we notice our flaws, which lead us to the same demise?
How often do we recognize our patterns? Or wait, how often do we inspect our methods of selection? These are fair questions. Or, for the ease of math, if we find ourselves in a relationship when we are often taken advantage of, how often do we notice that this is a two way street?
How often do we coincide with our character flaws or, essentially, how often do we breathe out so “something” or someone around us can breathe in?
Or wait –
If we find ourselves in specific patterns of mistakes or failures, like say, we do our job well but we always find ourselves in trouble for the same reasons – whether these are deadline problems or behavioral or if this is a challenge between us and our coworkers or supervisors, how often do we recognize the contributory factors in our behaviors?
Safe to say that by now, anyone who will read this has had the chance to either sit in the driver or passenger seat in a car and pull their seatbelt over their shoulder.
By this point, everyone understands the necessity of wearing a seatbelt. However, say a person was in a rush. Say this person assumed a quick drive around the corner to a convenience store or to the gas station – or for whatever the reason might be, a person was in a car without a seatbelt and there was an accident – and due to the accident, they suffered an injury.
It is important to note that an injury like this would be one that is attributed to contributory negligence. What does neglect mean?
To pay no attention, to disregard;
To be remiss or careless, to neglect.
Or from a legal perspective, by definition according to the dictionary:
Contributory Negligence means a failure of an injured plaintiff to act prudently, considered to be a contributory factor in the injury suffered, and sometimes reducing the amount recovered from the defendant.
In the case of us vs our life and the world, the question becomes this: How often have we contributed to our own demise?
Some will say, “Well, it’s your own damn fault!”
Or, someone might say, “You should have known better!”
Or, maybe we do know better.
Maybe our actions have nothing to do with what we know or don’t know. Maybe we find ourselves in compromising positions or situations for a reason – which again, this would provide evidence that there is a pathology (or science) behind our behavior.
Everyone understands the necessary safety measures of wearing a helmet on a motorcycle yet there are riders who enjoy the free-flowing sensation of the wind blowing through their hair while riding along an open highway – there’s nothing around but a vast landscape, which is beautiful as ever.
Then again, no one really assumes an accident will happen. No one truly prepared for something to go wrong, which we really should be because evidence shows that accidents happen. However, the need for adrenaline or to satisfy this “thing” within us or to scratch a so-called itch that nothing else can reach is true and very real.
By now, we have reached a point in our lives where we can see how our behaviors can either direct us into troubled waters or lead us away.
By now, if we have the capacity to understand ourselves and if we have the ability to be honest about our inventory; and if we can speak freely – just for the moment – we know about our habits that serve as an injustice.
To help map this, I will offer a detail of my own personal inventory:
I can see how my biggest challenges with my relationships are linked to some of my behavioral flaws. I can see where my insecurity swelled like a tidal wave.
I can see how this crashed and, in its wake, I can see where my personality traits led me to the same outcomes.
I can see where my problematic thinking led me to make hasty decisions.
I can see where my discomforts around intellectuals have led me to spite myself because I thought I was ‘less-than” or “uneducated.” Due to my discomfort, I would respond to this in ways that were less than beneficial. Or, to offer a better outline, due to my challenges and the need to prove myself – I would overcompensate or overshare and overspeak.
I try too hard and in my efforts to speak my way out of crisis, my insecurity often caused me to dig the hole deeper. Rather than get out, I found myself stuck in the swamps of emotional quicksand.
While addressing my inner narcissist, I can see where my need to be fed (or satiated) has led me astray. I can see where the selfishness of my gratification overwhelms my decision making process. In my moments of neediness, I can see how this blinds me from being fair to the people I love and how this prevents me from being my best possible self.
I can see where the narcissism and manipulation to further nurture the relationship comes in. I tell on myself because I have to. Otherwise, changing this flaw can be impossible.
I can see the internal conflict. I can see where this hurts others or affects my relationships. However, by viewing my inventory in a truthful manner, I know where the motivations come from and, therefore, I can improve.
I understand the need to be comforted or soothed and satisfied. I understand the need to find my “fix” which is a fair assessment to call it this. Same as a drug or a drink and same as a fetish or rush of adrenaline, this is a fix.
This is a quick collection of something that serves an emotional purpose – even if the purpose will later devour and degrade our best possible interest, the internal narcissist is blind to the sanity of better judgment. Then again, like any compulsion, compulsivity defies sanity and, therefore, there we are again – doing the same thing but expecting different results.
My efforts here are to make this both honest and relatable and at the risk of exposing myself, in full disclosure, I am a real person with flaws, faults, benefits and credits. I am like anyone else in the world – even in spite of my mistakes or in spite of things that someone would judge or say, “I would never do something like that!” I offer this as an honest detail to A) put forth humility and B) I would rather be honest about myself and improve than lie to impress a reader.
It is important to pause here and see where the guilt comes in or to see what happens when we find ourselves, yet again, in the same position. Let’s look at why we find ourselves complaining or saying, “Why do these things always happen to me?”
If anything, the question becomes this: Is there something common that has led to your biggest downfalls? If so, what is the compulsion? What is the need? What does this need honor?
In my case, the need to be wanted and accepted and both heard and validated is real. I have a need to feel comfortable; however, I can see where my discomforts lead me to decisions that only serve to make things worse.
I can see how my fixations and compulsions have done a great disservice to my life. I can see where my fears intercepted my best judgment and led me to make nervous decisions which resulted in nervous actions and ended with nervous results.
When I am not at my best or when I “feel” uneasy or believe that I am unwanted; or when I am at a place where my belief system takes on an idea of helplessness – or if rejective thinking and the idea of being a “loser or “failure” creeps in, I can see where I jump towards attention-seeking behavior.
(To soothe me.)
I can see where my defense mechanisms will onboard a stream of responses. I can see where I’ve spoken at times when I should have listened. I can see where rather than avoid temptation, I could have absolutely removed it. But I didn’t.
And why? Answer: Because I wanted to be pacified and satiated.
I can see where my immaturity steps in and I can also see where my character defects respond on this behalf.
Think of a baby being weaned from its pacifier. No comfort. No pacification.
Think about the mottos of the so-called entry-level gateway drugs. Think about the purpose they serve and how our intention is not so different. We want to be soothed. We want to be pacified. Yet, in our path to cruise the world, we find ourselves emotionally achy or uncomfortable – so, what do we do?
We look to find our pacifier.
The “need” is real. However, by always feeding the need without exercising our resistance, we find that our endurance to resist unfavorable behaviors is more of a challenge.
Rather than search for gratification, we can practice mindfulness. We can learn to resist instead of quickly appease.
We can learn to step away from the comforts that eventually lead us to being uncomfortable. Or in short, we can make mindful changes and teach ourselves new behaviors and personality modification.
Rather than share too much or give too much information and find that our confidence was betrayed; if we see this coming, we can say to ourselves “Here it is again” and we can make a choice to resist our previous behaviors.
Same as it is a suggestion for an alcoholic not to go sit at a bar and order a juice or soda, it is important to see where we lead ourselves into temptation and rather than delivering ourselves from evil – we put ourselves in danger.
Call it out!
“You have to stop it to stop it!”
I remember being told these things and as simple as these suggestions were, I admit to my challenges. I admit to my struggles when it came to breaking habitual thinking and resisting my old default settings.
If we are in search of a better life, one would need to do more than seek. We have to find ways to create forward motion. We have to lead ourselves away from our old selves and create a new path to meet a new future.
We have to find out what holds us back and what encourages us to move forward. And once we find this, we have to nurture this – and keep it alive.
This is what makes change possible.
Oh, and for the record, no one says this is easy.
But complicated is not the same as impossible.
Search your inventory.
Find your path.
Understand the meaning of “contributory negligence.”
Get out of your own way.
Get ready, get set,
And make it so!