Do you like who you are? Or do you feel a deep and enduring need to change?
Maybe you feel a little of both. Most of us, at some point in our lives, feel a desire to change some aspect of ourselves. We don't like how we look, or we worry that some deep-seated personality trait, such as a fiery temper or jealousy, will negatively impact our relationships with other people.
Where does the pressure to change come from? Is it the result of a positive attitude, an internal drive to improve ourselves? Or is it reactive, a response to something external? Does the distinction even matter?
Change is a Choice
Every change -- whether it's the hairstyle you wear or a major life-decision, such as where to live or whether to start a family, involves a choice. Other people might try to influence your decision, but you are the only one who can make it. You do this by considering the merits of the options in front of you, and choosing voluntarily to perform one of the options because it is offers better rewards or ethically is the right thing to do. You may choose to do nothing at all.
What I'd like to point out is that we rarely make the choice to change for its own sake. We seek to change ourselves because we care for one another, and ourselves. We appreciate that other people have an essential place in our lives, and we want to do our best by them. We feel this intrinsically, deep in our hearts. Occasionally we receive a push or a criticism from someone else; this reminds us that we are not being the best person we could be.
Changing ourselves is a selfless act. And by that, I mean that changing oneself demands going out of your way to help others. To eradicate the things that cause negative energy in your relationships. To bring positive energies to others.
Shape your thoughts, shape your life
Changing yourself doesn't involve changing who you are. When someone calls you an idiot, they rarely mean that you are an idiot; they mean that you have acted without thinking, or spoken without considering the consequences of your words.
They are not criticizing who they are. They are criticizing how you are -- how you handle situations, and what you do.
You already have the capacity to be cheerful, loving, gracious, empathic, ambitious, influential and kind. Everyone does.
But you may need help bringing out those positive characteristics. You may need to change the way you do things so that your actions align with your psyche. This isn't changing who you are. It's synergizing your personality and your choices, to reveal a more authentic you.
Here's a challenge. For one day, consciously choose to act in a way that reveals the very best you. In your interactions with other people, choose to be tolerant, choose to be resilient, choose to be kind.
This exercise is hard. It demands introspection. It demands that you look within your mind and observe yourself thinking. Before you can make the right decision, you will need to figure out why you sometimes make the wrong decision -- what propensities, habits and motivations trigger certain emotions or cause you to act against your own best interests.
If, by the end of the day, you have made authentic choices when in the past you didn't, you will realize that you can change, and have changed. You will know who you are, and you can start using your thinking, speaking and actions to create more happiness, success and fulfillment.
I know you can do it!