I’ve been head over heels in research and developing content for myndr lately. Both myself and my co-founder are one of the few businesses to get on the pre-seed Ignite program for start ups in tech. It’s an exhilarating ride but it’s also raising a lot of internal questions that need to be asked.
I’ve been exploring ego and why so many of us suffer pain over things we don’t really care about. I’m trying to understand the self-inflicted standards set by others that we willingly accept.
I always tell myself that just being the best person you can be with pure intent is more than good enough. If I can do that, I can’t expect anything more of myself. However, if I really take the time to explore this a bit more, I know that that’s not enough for me. It SHOULD be enough for me but it’s not. So why not?
I’ve arrived to the conclusion that it all comes down to validation. I can do good things all day but I struggle to be confident enough in myself for that be enough. I need others to recognise what I do in order to feel the impact. As I type this, I do feel some shame in this as it’s tough to admit that we need such support from others to find our worth. But I don’t feel as though I am alone.
In fact, I would argue that this is a sickness we all suffer from because it’s what we are taught from such a young age. From the very early ages of entering any type of school system our children are being held to a standard that someone else has made for them. The metrics and measurements are not of their own and what’s worse, we never get taught how to create our own standards. I know that some will argue that we need this base line. After all, progress is something that does need to be measured. I agree with that. I’ll hold my hands up and admit that understanding what we have mastered and what we need to improve on is an important part of growth itself.
What we don’t do is help children to understand that there is a difference between the work that they produce and the person that they are.
We grow up defining ourselves on the grades we get, the clothes we wear and getting our self-worth from our infatuation with where fit on societies scale of measurements.
And I think we are all aware of this to an extent. However, I don’t think I really knew how engrained this was until an exercise was put in front of me to measure my satisfaction with different areas of my life. Ignite provides us with some pretty awesome workshops and this one was delivered by Vix of The Practical Balance.
You may have heard of it or possibly done it before. You essentially make a kind of spider’s web with the scores you give each spoke. Each spoke represents different areas of your life such as finance, family, home life and social life. Your goal is to make a near perfect circle over time, essentially finding balance.
So I started with the easier ones. Home life is good, I’ll give that a high score. Finances are okay, I’ll plot it somewhere in the middle. Social life? Uhh… well here’s the thing, I don’t really have much of one. I have lots of friends and a great network around me but as far as actually going out and seeing people… let’s just say I’m not used to anyone trying to call me after about 7pm.
So I started to mark this quite poorly, aware that I couldn’t even recall the last time I met with someone just for a catch up instead of also discussing business.
Weirdly though, I also realised that I didn’t feel as though this was bad a thing. In fact, having friends constantly trying to hang out and do things together with me sounds pretty exhausting. I don’t think I’d enjoy it.
I had been measuring my contentment with my social life to what I imagined it should be, based on the general idea that life throws at us.
I wasn’t even aware I had been doing it. I had forgot that this wheel was my wheel to be measured by my standards, my values, my metrics.
Suddenly, the score I placed on the social life spoke was pretty damn high. I don’t have much of a social life because I don’t want much of a social life. Friends are very important to me and I am an extremely loyal person but I don’t need to see you every day. We don’t need to get ready for outings together and I won’t be texting you all night either. For me, it’s enough to share the successes and pick each other up when we battle through challenges.
It hit me like a ton of bricks.
A lot of the pain I experience in my life, nearly 100% of the stress I live through and most of the worry I carry around is simply because I am still allowing others to define the metrics and measurements of my worth.
Things in my life that I am content with, that I am happy to plod along with are often ignored of that comfort because someone else is giving me a hard time about it. And I’m not exactly a confrontational person. If it’s going to be easier for me to just nod until you shut up, it’s kind of what I do. —- side note to that *** this only applies if you are someone I care about. If some stranger started imposing his theory’s and advice on me that I didn’t agree with, well, perhaps I would still nod and smile but I certainly wouldn’t worry myself with how I action his advice. ***
When I say, “someone else”, I specifically mean my parents. I’m nearly thirty but the pain of wanting to make them proud has never dulled. I’m extremely fortunate to have parents that support me but one of them is also pretty damn confident about how they approach the world. One of those “my way or the high way” types. This does not come from a place of malice but rather a bad case of “I know best” and “I’m trying to save you pain”. Paradoxically, it usually causes me more harm than help. I suppose I also worry that perhaps they feel a sense of purpose when dishing out to-do lists and the next how-to. I’m also at that age when it hits home that your parents will not always be the heroes we saw them as when we were younger. It’s just extremely sad. Heart breaking even.
The point is though, regardless of my close relationship to my parents, I am allowing them to hold me hostage by letting their values and expectations trump my own.
I let others around me set the standards for how I measure my self-worth, success, finances, loneliness and even happiness.
Of course, I will always care to an extent about what my parents think of me. I love them and we want those we care about to care about us. But you know, I’m a grown adult now and I should be able to make the decisions that directly affect my life based on my values and no one else’s. I have to live it. I have to be present in my choices, they don’t.
If I am going to lead others to discover a better way of living with myndr, then I must start to explore my own hidden and downplayed demons and actively live what I am teaching. I also want you to understand that I get that trying to put theory into practice, imputing it to a real situation, is friggin tough. Once emotions get involved, the waters muddy pretty quickly and suddenly someone is pouring in fuel and setting fire to it. It’s not straight forward. It’s confusing and overwhelming.
At myndr, we understand that. We understand the frustration at being given advice that seems so simple yet becomes a bit like pandora’s box when we attempt to action it. We understand it because we’ve been through it, are still going through it and will continue to have to revisit our truths to guide us in what we do.
I’d like to encourage all of you to take a little time to think about something that maybe causing you stress. Ask yourself why that stress is there. Is it because the outcome is valuable to you and therefore the expectation is reflected from yourself? Or is it because you are trying to accomplish a task based on another’s orders, expectations or advice? If you feel like you are lacking in some aspect of your life is it truly because you feel the pain of something missing? Or is it because you are not aligned with the norm or expectation that you feel you need to live up to?
I’m starting to learn how to connect better with my values. I’m trying to brush away the shame I often feel when sharing my values to someone that does not hold the same or even similar ones. I will not allow myself to feel I am disappointing someone because I do not share their beliefs.
I’d also love to hear your own thoughts, perhaps a similar struggle. It gets better together.