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Monday 29 August 2016

1 of 7 - Take Our Own Medicine

(This is the first of an attempt to write a blog post a day for an entire week! What am I, a masochist!?)

Most people are absolutely overflowing with good advice, aren't they?

We've all lived lives. We've been in situations that aren't great or ideal. We've dealt with scenarios that test us, that lead to suffering (or joy), and we've learned lessons from them. We're filled with knowledge on how to survive the modern world, and it's advice we should hand out to those that need it.

Like I could probably tell you a few good ways to eat on a budget, or ways to get the most out of a stay in a hotel. Other people I know can give you killer tips on contouring your face or cooking a full roast dinner or refitting an entire BMW engine.

When it comes to personal advice however - on relationships, on doubts, on regrets, on living life - why are we so bad at taking our own advice?

We know we shouldn't do the thing. When others do the thing, we tell them - hey, maybe not do the thing. If someone does the thing in a movie, we laugh. How could they be so dumb as to do the thing? I'd NEVER do the thing.

Then...we do the thing.

But! But it's different for us, isn't it? Different circumstances, because...

And there it is. The excuse. The complexity.

When we look at someone else's life - either by the medium of their telling us or through our own observation - we don't see everything. We see a snapshot, a slice. What seems so obvious to us as we look at their lives is in actual fact not as easy as one would assume, which is what we find when it comes to applying our advice to own situation.

The thing is... sometimes we use those complexities as excuses.

It's HARD to cut certain things or people out of one's life. I know this. Even if we kind of suspect they are bad for us - hell, even if we 100% know objectively they are AWFUL for us - it's hard to drop the hammer forever. That's before we consider any further issues; we're still friends with this person's second cousin, that would be awkward. How am I going to attend all those fun crack house parties if I don't smoke crack any more?

...but here's the thing...we get so used to making those excuses that we end up just letting the situation continue, long after we would actually step in and act on our friend's behalf if they were in the same situation.

It's easier to suffer than it is to watch suffering. Like I know this for a fact. I've seen other people struggling with similar problems to me and it hurts. How often have we said we'd take someone else's suffering if we could? Because we can deal with it, we know we can. We're strong. We can take on the world, even if we hate watching our friends do the same.

Even if our friends hate watching us do the same. To the point that they give us advice. That they urge us to listen. That they tell us that they know it is hard but...

That's the point. It IS hard. We all have to do hard things in our lives. Even if we know it is for our own good, that doesn't make it any easier - nor any less necessary. It just requires a shift of thinking. We start with the baseline of: It is hard so I will find ways to cope with not doing it.

Really, it is in our best interest to shift to: It is going to be hard but I must do it and so I will find ways to cope with the result.

Let's start taking our own advice, people. Toxicity is profligate in our lives and in the world around us - but we don't have to suffer all of it. Do better for ourselves before we tell others what they should be doing.

Everyone being happier, healthier and more secure is never a bad thing.

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