I’m personally guilty of several negative tendencies. Changing them would not only make me happier but a more compassionate human being, yet it’s not something I’ve made enough efforts to do. Through this retrospective post, however, I’d like to identify those tendencies and think about how I might challenge myself to overcome them.
1. I compare my worst with someone else’s best
Social media makes it easy to compare my worst circumstances with someone else’s best. Aside from this blog, I usually only share highlights and accomplishments on social media, as opposed to my personal struggles and the ugly side of life. Even though this is something I am aware of, it’s hard not to compare myself with others. It’s easy to get caught up and not consider the effort someone might have put in or the unimaginable struggles they’ve been through to get what they have.
Solution: Perhaps the best approach is to look at every situation with “oblivion.” Rather than make immediate judgments, I’d like to assume that I don’t know the entirety of the story and that there are sure to be details in between that I’m missing. I need to ask good questions and be happy for them, even if I’m going through a lot myself.
2. I take appreciation and compliments for granted
Giving compliments and being appreciative of others requires courage. When people express how much they admire me or are thankful of the work I put in, I didn’t realize how much effort it takes for them to convey it. I try to be humble so I also struggle to accept these warm expressions of gratitude. Seeing other’s efforts takes a lot of strength. It doesn’t come easy for anyone to look at someone else and recognize their positive attributes.
Solution: The easiest way to not take compliments and expressions of gratitude for granted is by expressing more of it to others. Not only does it feel good to tell others what I appreciate about them but it also adds value to their lives as well. In addition, I have to commit to accepting words of praise. Brushing off what others say is not an act of humility but dismissing their courage and I don’t want to do that.
3. I have biases and it creeps into my decisions
I’m glad I live in a culture where it’s okay to call each other out for our own biases. I’m all for diversity, inclusivity, accessibility, etc. But I know with certainty that I cannot remove my biases when I make decisions. It’s especially hard when I’m tasked with making decisions on my own when it would be beneficial to have other perspectives to consider. Sometimes, I’m afraid of my biases because I don’t want to do anything hypocritical against what I would like to be representing and working for.
Solution: Rather than fear being politically incorrect and offensive, I need to recognize that that will happen in this endeavor. What I find offensive can be seen as unoffensive to someone. I need to have those open and difficult conversations as much as I can with people who live very differently than I do. This will also require me to set aside my anger for someone else’s biases so I really have to develop a heart of steel to have these kinds of dialogues.
4. I don’t understand the weight and proportion of effort
Sometimes, certain things are easy for me. But for other people, it’s not the same. On the flip side, some things are easy for others and are extremely difficult for me. That’s okay, but recognizing that discrepancy is really important because without it, it’s easy to make assumptions of others and judge them on that basis. I know that personally, I don’t appreciate it when people assume that what I have in life or what I’ve accomplished didn’t take effort when in reality, I hustled like crazy.
Solution: Similar to the first one, I try to be a bit more oblivious. Or rather, curious. I find that asking questions about people’s processes to get to where they are gives me a better sense of the effort that went in. Taking a step further and asking about the roadblocks and challenges throughout the process is great in learning about the proportion of effort that was put in.
5. I appreciate feedback, only if it is convenient for me to take it
As a designer, I’m very much in tune with how important feedback is. The kind of feedback that I don’t want to hear is especially important! I love that process in design. But in life, I often complain about companies, organizations and people who don’t take feedback and I’m seeing that it may be a problem I have too. Sometimes, filtering feedback that is actually useful for me versus feedback given to me without good reason is already hard. But to what extent am I rejecting feedback because it’s not convenient for me to accept them?
Solution: I try to read between the lines. Sometimes, feedback that seems convenient to take sounds like empty encouragement. But if someone is being stern and has a very legitimate reason for providing that feedback, whether it was solicited or not, it might compel me to receive it and apply it to my life.
This post was hard to write. These tendencies and bad habits are things I notice in others. I get upset about it when I see others exhibit it and I am usually the first to let them know about it. But if I see these traits in other people, it also means that it’s something I have to work on as well. We only notice what we are capable of exhibiting ourselves. Therefore, I’m committing to improving myself in these areas and opening up for growth.