Resentment, Accountability, and Self-Confidence

I posted the following yesterday on my Facebook just as a musing sort of post, and I got several really positive responses, so I’m sharing here where it’s more accessible to others:

Why do we think we have to follow the advice of others before checking in with ourselves? This is something that really needs to be explored because it affects so many different situations. 

Why are we walking through our lives feeling like we don’t have confidence in our own perspective — that someone else’s perspective is better or more sound than our own take on things with respect to a situation they don’t fully understand (because they’re not going through it themselves)?

“I just nod and smile when given the dumb advice that I used to think I had to follow.”

^This is a common sort of response from mothers, who think they have to follow well-meaning advice from all and sundry when the first new baby comes and then they have their own experiences and realize that they’re the ones who know best after they have to figure it all out on their own. They learn what works for them and they have confidence in that.

I think when we feel like we have to take the advice of others even when it runs counter to our own wishes and desires, it can create situations where we end up feeling resentful and angry at the people whose advice we took. It appears to me to be symptomatic of a lack of self-worth and self-confidence, but also a lack of understanding that you are responsible for your own actions. 

If I take someone’s advice, then I’m responsible for that decision whether that advice was appropriate to the situation or not. Holding the advice-giver responsible for choices you make is inappropriate.

You can be angry at feeling like you have no other choice but to take the advice of a supervisor or manager or professor or advisor or parent or doctor, but be angry at the situation and not at yourself or at the perceived authority figure who likely means well. Blaming them hurts you, too.

I don’t know… I think I’m just really confused with the whole notion of being “weak-willed” or not having a “strong personality.” I don’t really understand that phenomenon. I know life situations are far more complicated than that (because strong personalities get cowed in many situations for various reasons), but just taking it down to the idea of someone with a weak will of their own… I don’t understand that and don’t understand how that is a helpful thing to have. 

It would be wonderful if we were all fairly confident in our own decision-making abilities that we wouldn’t fall prey to thinking we weren’t accountable for the decisions we make or that we wouldn’t be able to be so easily brainwashed as a species or as individuals.

How can we instil critical thinking skills from the get-go rather than having to wait until university? How can we instil confidence in our children so that we don’t have to do this later in life? How can we help each other get in touch with our own take on things and provide support rather than co-opting a situation and trying to get that friend or daughter or son of yours to do what you want them to do with their lives?

Ach, if I had time, I’d break it all down into talking about insecurities and egos and resentment and anxiety and fear (oh god the fear) and relationships with authority figures and responsibilities of authority figures and responsibilities we have to ourselves and to each other, but I don’t have time. So this is my shorthand soapbox.

An Annoying Epiphany

Skimming through Caroline Myss’s Sacred Contracts, I came across this underlined statement: “…choice is your greatest power. It is an even greater power than love, because you must first choose to be a loving person.” p. 17

The night before my recent birthday, I had planned on going out to an event. It had been in my calendar for weeks and I was very much looking forward to it. It was to be an early birthday present to myself. However, by the time I needed to really start getting ready to leave for this event, I had concluded that the series of unfortunate events and miscommunications of that day and the day before had robbed me of any ability to do anything other than lie down and cry myself to sleep. I was completely devastated at missing out on seeing friends and participating in something that I knew would have fed my starving soul. I napped for two hours and came up to have some dinner. I spoke with my partner and discussed what had transpired from my perspective. He gave me his perspective. While I was no longer faulting him, I was still deeply angry that it all happened the way it did, causing me to miss out on something so important to me.

When I awoke the next morning, my birthday, I was still in that state of anger. By this point, I was deliberately using my mood to cast a shadow over everyone who came near me, and I project my emotional state with sublime expertise. I have no poker face. After awhile, I started asking myself if I really wanted to stay angry on my birthday. That would be a lousy birthday present to myself, and that’s when things started to crumble. I thought to myself: Continue reading