How to Be A Better Person - An Open Letter (with secrets I can no longer keep)
As humans it's only natural that sometimes we let our demons get the best of us. I've been noticing more and more how less tolerant I have personally become of people around me who are rude or nasty. Less tolerant but more understanding of the idea that maybe they are fighting a battle within themselves.
Sometimes how we are raised or our experiences can really affect how we react to situations and those around us. Most of 2016 for me has been an uphill battle of changing my tendencies and how I react to situations and conflict.
Growing up attending 13 different schools, I was always the new kid in school and often bullied. This put me on the defensive as a person often leaving me to cope with the mental stresses that came with being in a position of helplessness and vulnerability. Growing up in a a family that was often engulfed with everyday conflict and mental strain didn't help either. I recently had a conversation with my mother, who is in India, over the phone about about how everyone is my family has been struggling with mental illness for years. This came only recently because of my brothers clinical diagnosis for severe ADHD and depression. Something my parents would have never even acknowledged a few years ago. I remember telling my father in grade 6 that I was depressed and had anxiety and I had found out about it online. He told me that poor kids in Africa are depressed not my first-world privileged self with a roof on my head and food on the table. I later began to understand that he too was battling with his own inner struggles that at times made him abusive and controlling. We later learned that's how he was raised and he didn't know any better.
I found myself always choosing the a flight response because that was the way I had learned to cope at the time. I realized I had become more susceptible to reacting in negative and defensive ways to situations and challenges.
My brother and I had become the rebels running away from home at 16 and 18 both feeling misunderstood. This spiralled into a lifelong battle of lashing out, being broke, having no support for our livelihood or circumstances. It made us angry, resentful and upset at the world and our parents. Our peers, teachers and friends didn't understand us or why we were broke or paying rent at 19. So we became cold, angry and nasty in our defence to protect ourselves from anyone who didn't understand because we were ashamed of the truth.
Ashamed that we had an abusive father, a mother who couldn't stand up for us because she too was trying to find her way in a new country dependant on our father for support. The tough times made us cold, angry and defeated. Living in a small 300 square feet bachelor apartment making a livelihood off of art and trying to get through school with little money, resources and guidance. Getting evicted and living out of homeless shelters and friends couches, going days hungry made us defeated and prone to addiction and substance abuse in an effort to cope with all the pain we had endured.
We came from a religious community that put importance on higher education, wealth and status. We were the outlaws and we couldn't tell a soul. We feared being judged and our parent and families reputation being smeared. We had smeared it enough by leaving home, but how could we have stayed in that abusive environment. We were defeated, angry and our world has made us cold and selfish because that was the only way we could survive at the time and cope. All we had known at the time was abuse, neglect and violence so we chose to cope in those ways, it was the only way we knew how.
Did we know any better? Sometimes. But did we know what impact it was having on our character or the emotions of those around us? Not so much.
Becoming emotionally intelligent and growing as a person was something I was very new to. I didn't often discuss personal matters like this with friends or coworkers and kept things bottled up inside. As time went on I realized how much my past life as a child and teenager had shaped me as a person and who I had become. I was ready for a change and ready to explore how to better myself on the inside because that is and always will be, what matters the most!
Later on in my life meeting people and surrounding myself with kind hearted, compassionate and positive people made me realize what was most important!
If you are someone who is growing as a person and is open to learning about why we behave the way we do and how you can be better as a person than you've come to the right place. We are all in this world to grow and learn as people and as long as your heart is open to change and growth, you are moving in the right direction!
1. FORGIVE YOURSELF
Recognizing that you have made mistakes. Take steps to acknowledge them and accept your part in whatever conflict that may have occurred. However, it is very hard to hide from guilt and regret. This is when your wrongdoings can get the best of you and put you in a vicious cycle of self-loathing and regret. Fight the urge to go down this path and choose the path of forgiveness. Forgive yourself and heal yourself and focus on your strengths and the relationships that make you feel alive.
This is often harder said than done, especially if you are an emotional or sensitive person. Self-loathing is the easy path because it doesn't require courage or bravery. You are not standing up to your demons but rather letting them engulf you in self-indulgence and self-pity. Rise past this urge and chose the path of courage, choose the path of growth and enlightenment for you will be thankful in the future for where it may lead.
2. MAKE AMENDS
Often times, many people skip over this step. Making amends and admitting your wrong doings can be a tough feat. It puts one in a venerable position which can be very uncomfortable and can feel unsafe. It can open you up to critique and fear of being ridiculed or spoken bad about. Always remember that making amends is about closure for your soul. Closure from any wrongdoings, acceptance of your mistake and most important of all an opportunity to make things right. You are given an opportunity to right your wrongs and say your sorries. This can take a lot of courage however if done right can set you on a path of betterment, enlightenment and fulfilment and sometimes even a second chance at a relationship or opportunity.
However, be ready to not have or expect any of this right away. In fact you have no right to a relationship you may have damaged or lost. Be ready to accept that before going in and have the grace to be grateful for the opportunity to make amends especially if someone is willing to hear you out. The best way to make amends is to not make excuses for your mistakes and rather being open and honest about your wrongdoings and choosing a solutions based approach. Approach it in a positive form and practice kindness and love. It will be returned to you in due time. If it is not, be ready to understand that someone may have been hurt in the process and may not be ready to forgive you just yet. Forgive yourself anyways and acknowledge that you've taken a brave step in the right direction. Choose love, kindness and compassion in a situation like this and move forward.
3. BE THE EXAMPLE
You cannot expect to be a better person if you do not practice what you preach. Practice kindness, tolerance, acceptance and virtue in all that you do. It can often be hard to do this if you are hard wired for years to react in negative or defensive ways to situations. I know I was.
Be open to communication and always explain yourself if you feel you have overstepped. Sometimes we often close up and retract when we feel someone does not understand our inner troubles or struggles. Fight this urge to build a wall for it will only put those around you in the defensive and make you look like you have too much pride.
Be an open book, communicate how you feel and why you reacted the way you did. You will be surprised at how emphatic people can be if you are able to communicate and be transparent. Take responsibility for your actions and always do your best to keep your word. Be tolerant of others mistakes and your own. Follow the golden rule, do unto others as you'd like them to do unto you. Keep a fair distance from gossip and envy. Focus on bettering yourself daily and surround yourself with people who also share these values.
If you ever meet people who do not hold the same values, be compassionate to the idea that they may still be growing and on their journey. However, do not be naive and get caught up in the drama. Always remember drama doesn't just come into your life, either you invite it, create it or associate with it. Keep your distance and your soul safe from the negativity. After all, you are the company you keep. Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves and always have a voice for the voiceless.
We are all on to a path of betterment and you are only in competition with the person you were yesterday. Recognize this and you will focus on the good and good hearted souls around you. Stay positive and cultivate kindness in everything you do. Remember this is a journey and you are growing everyday. Be patient with yourself and those around you and always give someone the benefit of the doubt.
Ask yourself that if tomorrow all your accomplishments were taken away from you, would you still love the person you are? That my friend is your soul and character, keep it safe and nurture it with good deeds and intensions.
From my soul to yours with love,