Help Me I’m Undecided

When I’m having mixed feelings about something or feeling like my head is going to explode, I generally like to talk/vent/rant about it with my friends, family, significant other, or local bartender.  I’ll either bounce ideas off of them, ask for their opinion, or sometimes I’ll ramble until I notice their eyes glaze over.  There are also times when I don’t even ask for advice, I merely make a comment about some sort of disappointment and ideas/opinions/conspiracy theories are thrust upon me.  Although I certainly appreciate the time, the effort, and (above all) the patience of my compassionate audience, I usually come to the conclusion that there is only one person who will provide the answer or solution to my dilemmas.  She is wise beyond her years, open-minded, and delightfully quirky; but she is also quick to change her mind, stubborn, and occasionally gives into her overwhelming emotions.  This of course, is me.  Even though I always end up following my own advice, which for some reason takes me forever to do; I always ask other people for their opinions even when I know there’s a 90% chance I’ll disagree with them.  I know I’m not alone here, so why do we drag others through our messes when we know we’ll be the one who cleans them up?

I think one of the reasons we ask others for advice is because we know the answer to our problem, but we want to hear someone else validate it.  This is particularly true when it’s not an easy one to fix.  Of course there are also times when we simply have no idea what to do about a particular issue whatsoever, but I think that for the most part people generally know how to solve their own problems.  Whether they choose to solve them or not is a completely different story (and a rather annoying one if you’re the advice-giver).  So why is it so hard to fix our problems, even when we know the answers and are fully capable of solving them on our own?

I think there are several answers to that question, but the main answer is fear (laziness would be a close second).  This is particularly true if the answer to the problem requires that something significant must change.  There’s a saying that goes along the lines of ‘the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t’; meaning your situation may be bad but if you make a change then the situation could be even worse.  This is a stupid piece of advice and probably one of the worst sayings I have ever heard (only to be topped by ‘YOLO’).  What happened to optimism and positive thinking?  Why would making a positive change lead to something negative?  Clearly, if you made some sort of change and the outcome was not what you expected, then you either didn’t make the right move or you need to do more.  This fear of the unknown is one of the reasons I believe it is so important to listen to your own thoughts rather than seek outside advice.  People can put ideas in your head and make you question and doubt yourself, which can be helpful (the questioning, not the doubting); however, it can also make you back away from choices or opportunities that might have been perfect for you.  Unfortunately, people have their own agenda and their advice might not be what’s best for you, but more so what’s best for them (people do this both maliciously as well as unintentionally).

In certain situations, you may seek outside advice because you’re the one filling your head with questions, doubts, and fears.  If this is the case, then you need to take a breath and clear your mind (I find walking helps, booze not so much) and figure out a plan.  At the end of the day, everyone does exactly what they want, regardless of how spot-on the advice they receive may be and the many times this advice has been repeated to them.  In order to better ourselves as individuals, and preserve the sanity of those around us, it is imperative to be able to make decisions and execute changes alone.

Of course it’s helpful, and sometimes necessary, to seek the support of others, but when it comes down to problem-solving it is far better to be able to pick yourself up rather than wait for someone to drag you along.  It is certainly harder to be painfully honest with yourself and figure out your own problems, but it is better for you in the long-run by far.

Keep Away the Not-So-Jolly Green Giant: Jealousy

It’s unsettling how easily jealousy can creep in.  Despite having a moderate to high level of self-confidence, it’s still remarkably easy to find yourself ‘green with envy’ of others around you.  While I believe it’s normal to feel jealous once a while (I will always be envious of people who make six-figures or women who can walk in heels and not look like they recently had a stroke), jealousy can not only be crippling to your self-esteem, it can also be kryptonite to your relationships.

When life has you down it can be difficult to be happy for other people when they succeed, especially if they have just received or achieved something that you want.  When I was struggling to find a new job, it felt like a knife to my ego when another friend got a job before I did.  When things like that happen it feels like the flood gates that protect your pride burst open and self-doubt pours in.  You may start to question yourself “Why didn’t I get the job?” or “Why does she/he have a boyfriend and I don’t?” (the two grievances I seem to hear about most), and when this happens it can be almost impossible not to look down on yourself.  It’s easy to think “Maybe if I had tried harder in school I would have gotten a good job just like he did,”; “No one wants to be with me because I’m unattractive”; or “I’ll never be as well-liked as she is”…this my friends is when jealousy mutates into negative self-talk and doing this will eat at you until you actually start to believe things like this are true.  Believe it or not, you have a choice when you feel like this; if you can change your perspective than you can use these situations to empower yourself, rather than burden yourself with more reasons to feel upset.  Maybe you applied to a job that wouldn’t be a good fit for you and that’s why you didn’t get it.  Maybe you’re still not over an ex or need to get to know yourself a little better before you’re ready for a new relationship.  If you think about it this way then you redirect your focus from “Why them and not me?” to “It’s their time, mine is coming soon”.

Another reason it’s so important to be able to change the “I’m a failure/this isn’t fair” attitude is because if you show obvious signs you feel that way, people will not want to be around you.  I’m quite aware that at times it can be unpleasant to watch a friend or partner succeed when you’re failing.  But you know what’s worse?  Achieving a goal and having a friend or partner be too selfish to show any signs of happiness for you; don’t be that friend/partner.  If you’re single and feeling ‘forever alone’ and one of your friends starts dating a good person that makes them happy, then you should be happy for them.  Even if you’re painfully jealous keep it to yourself, no one likes the ‘jealous friend’ or the ‘self-pity friend’ and turn the focus to you; again, do not be that friend. I swear, if I hear one more person say “I’d find someone if I wasn’t fat or if I was more attractive” my head is going to explode.  That is not an appropriate response to a friend telling you they’re dating someone they really like and it’s super annoying.  But that’s not the point, the point is this; showing jealousy instead of happiness for someone is hurtful.  It hurts when you go to a friend with a great news and instead of an enthusiastic hug or even a high-five (I think those are underrated), you’re given a fake smile and then the conversation instantly changes.  It hurts equally as bad, if not more, to have a partner get upset with you for making a positive change or a step forward because they’re too insecure in their own lives to congratulate you.  Those situations can detrimental enough to end relationships, and in my experience they have.

I will admit that there have been times when it was hard to be happy for a friend, but it was because I was too caught up in my own dilemmas and seeing them succeed was a painful reminder that I wasn’t.  When you start to get your life together and be satisfied with yourself, it becomes easier not to be jealous of others and even feel happiness for them, despite where you are in your own life.  This is particularly important in relationships, thus the whole concept of loving yourself before you love another.  When you love someone, you will actually feel genuine happiness when you see them succeed, just like you will feel real pain when you see them suffer, but you need to be in the right mental and spiritual place to do that.

I also believe that when you’re with the right person, you won’t be jealous of them because when you truly love someone their happiness means as much to you as your own (sometimes even more). When your love gets a promotion or achieves a goal (like finishing a marathon or finding the perfect pair of pants), you won’t even think about how it effects you; you will only feel pure and genuine happiness for them.

If you want to get over being jealous of others than I suggest you do this the next time you feel the ‘not-so-jolly green giant’ (my clever term for jealousy) creep up on you: really look at yourself and your own life.  Figure out why it matters that someone has something or did something that makes you feel inadequate because that what jealous really is; the feeling of being inadequate or ‘less than’.  If it really matters  then find a way to get it/do it because you don’t want to become ‘that friend’ (as mentioned above), otherwise just let it go and be happy for that person.  When you find yourself turning green with envy, remember to reflect on why it matters and that patience, perspective, and love are the antidote.