Accept yourself for who you are.
But also strive to be better.
That’s what I’ve always told myself, but earlier this year I questioned how exactly I was striving to be a better person. I realized that the simple answer was that I was doing nothing.
To kick my personal philosophy into gear, I decided to ask trustworthy, honest people what aspects of my character they thought I could improve upon. I told myself that, whatever they said, I would not act defensively. I would believe them and accept their answer, because “What is my biggest character flaw?” is not an easy question to be asked.
My trusted allies gave me fantastic replies. I felt honored that people I care about took time to think on the question and respond to it.
The answers gave form to a person I don’t like thinking about very much. I heard about a person who can be arrogant and condescending. Sometimes he plays neutral when it’s better to take a side. He can lack empathy. He keeps quiet when it’s more appropriate to speak up. He often ridicules people and their deeply held values. He’s spacey. He can be blunt, cruelly so. As a whole, this person rang true. I didn’t like to look at him much, but I could recall instances of recognizing his presence, or at least seeing him in my periphery for a second before turning away in shame.
I wrote down everyone’s feedback and looked up resources to help work on these things.
As I began to do this, though, I also began to wonder if this chronicling of weaknesses, and the subsequent attempts to “fix” them, were indicative of yet another character flaw. This project of mine suddenly seemed naive, obsessive, and pompous. At least that’s what the little voice in the back of my head was telling me.
It’s more “human” to accept your rough edges!
No one else in the world is as OCD as you, you weirdo!
You’re being selfish by focusing only on yourself!
But these internal criticisms were neither logical nor rooted in a place of love. They were insecurities – that I’m not “real” enough, that I am “weird,” and that I am “selfish” for trying to become a better person. I decided to ignore them.
The only other negative aspect of this project so far is that now, being more aware of some of my flaws, I often feel more self-conscious. I ask myself more frequently if I am coming across as arrogant or condescending, for example.
So, I’m still exploring. I’ll let you know what I discover. I’m not sure I’ll be able to say, “Hello everyone, after 3 months of hard work I have indeed become a better person,” OR, “I’m still the exact same guy as before despite my efforts,” but I’ll probably be able to tell you something.
Would any of you like to join me? Or have you done something like this before? What did you find?