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I have this tendency to not think before I speak.
It gets me in a lot of trouble....But to keep in line with my January goals (as well as my general efforts to not be a jackass) I try to think about what I am saying and why I am saying it. The why is what I am emphasizing today.
There are two ways to live a life: proactively and reactively. A proactive life is one where you do and say things pre-emptively in order to guide yourself where you want to be. A proactive life is an intentional one. To live a reactive life is to base yourself on other people. What they think you should be, say, and do. You follow the leader, and you play a defensive-reactive position to the world around you. We are all guilty of it, sometimes.
Those times of living reactively have a tendency to spiral beyond our control. We are living by emotion rather than logic. And more often than not- we are basing our lives around a release of that emotion. It's like an itch that we scratch for relief, only to find that it now pains us more. This is because we are reacting, and therefore not focusing on the why of what we are doing or saying (aha, the point emerges!)
How often do you do or say something for yourself, rather than for somebody else? And I don't necessarily even mean that in an altruistic way. For example: a friend comes to you for advice. You give your take on it without hesitation. Think about that advice: was it for you or for them? I frequently find myself giving advice that is more for me to emphasize my character than it is to guide my friend in a time of need. It's like the age-old expression: Who are you trying to convince? I think this lines up with the times when we advise when we ought to just listen. Sometimes (and I'd venture to guess more often than not) the people we so graciously advise are simply seeking out a friendly ear to listen. I had a boyfriend once who would ask me whether I wanted him to advise or simply to listen- and that's something I at least try to emulate. I'm not very good at it, but I'm working towards getting better.
The same conscious action applies to what we do; our actions. Why are we doing the things we do? As I've gotten older, I have begun to question my attitudes and behaviors more and more. Why do I have the goals that I have? Why do I treat people the way that I do? So many things about us are instilled in us by a sort of social conditioning. This is normal. This is not. The older I get, the more I am seeing this truth. The old nurture vs. nature of it all. And there are definitely things that have been programmed into my psyche that I will never be able to change. But I'm trying to at least question the majority of my attitudes and beliefs to be certain that they are stemming from what I believe, rather than what I've been told to believe. And for the record: this applies to everything, not only religious beliefs as it may be coming across. Political standpoints, racial opinions... even the idea of what kind of employment is acceptable- these are all things that we have been programmed to feel a particular way about. Not necessarily bad or good, just particular. I have plenty of beliefs that I spent years battling, only to find in my late twenties I know to be accurate deep down in my soul. But I challenge you to question them just the same- to be sure that they are a part of you and not just a reaction to the norms you were raised with.
Live a why life.