Friday, January 18, 2013

Everything in me fights improvement

Over on Reinventing Fabulous recently, Jenny Crusie talked about a post: 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person is usually strictly humor but this post had some hard truths in it. I really appreciated truth #1: Everything Inside You Will Fight Improvement.

From the post: "The human mind is a miracle, and you will never see it spring more beautifully into action than when it is fighting against evidence that it needs to change. Your psyche is equipped with layer after layer of defense mechanisms designed to shoot down anything that might keep things from staying exactly where they are -- ask any addict."

Apparently there are many mechanisms for this. Some which I have gotten under control in my 55 years of life so far. Others which I haven't.

I'm generally pretty good at not seeing every criticism as an insult. I am also fairly good at embracing criticism, unless it is personal, and either, using it to improve myself or honestly evaluating and deciding to disagree with it. I'm not perfect but I've worked at this. It's a skill you can learn.

I'm generally pretty good at not focusing on the messenger to avoid the message. There are exceptions, though. There are people who have a history of lying and I always question everything they say. I think this is necessary self-preservation for everyone.

There are also people that I just don't like and I don't want to hear criticism from them. My long ago friend, Bernadette, used to say that we should all be less politically correct and more like dogs. Dogs will sniff another dog and decide they don't like it and growl and bark. We, I should say, I, tend to be polite and not express such feelings.

What do you think? Is it necessary to keep your feelings of dislike about someone to yourself?

I am really, really good at not focusing on the person's tone to avoid the criticism. I used to be a very defensive person. I worked extremely hard at letting that go. It is now very difficult to make me feel defensive.

I don't revise my history to keep from seeing the truth. Mostly because I believe it is insanity to do the same thing in the same way and expect a different result.

I have to admit that I can fall prey to the belief that certain self-improvements would be selling out my true self. I, in fact, don't even want to admit to those right now.

"...misery is comfortable...Happiness takes effort.
Also, courage. It's incredibly comforting to know that as long as you don't create anything in your life, then nobody can attack the thing you created."

I absolutely hate feeling attacked. I hate feeling like I need to defend myself. I often don't have the courage to put myself out there if it involves being seen. I am comfortable behind the scenes.

What about you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

From the blogpost: "Yeah, whatever you try to build or create -- be it a poem, or a new skill, or a new relationship -- you will find yourself immediately surrounded by non-creators who trash it."

I have found that to be true both in my life and watching others. I try not to be the trasher. That is one reason why on this blog I will talk about books I enjoy and just not mention those I don't. (With 2 exceptions and most of you know who those are.)

I have a good support system but when I think about people trashing me, I feel drained. Discouraged. Weary.

From the blogpost: "Just remember, they're only expressing their own fear, since trashing other people's work is another excuse to do nothing."

Years ago I was working in a lab and there was a lot of down time. One very slow day the idea for a novel came to me. I wrote an outline right there and then. I worked at it for 2 or 3 days. Until the day that one of my roommates asked me what I was doing. When I told him he said, "I would never write a book if I didn't have a computer." I put my notes down and didn't pick them up again for years.

Why? Why did I do that? The roommate who said that to me was chronically unemployed and wasted his days away doing nothing, living off of other people. Why in the hell would I listen to him?

Because he said what my brain wanted me to believe. That I couldn't write a book. It would mean change. Everything in me fights change.

I THINK I'M GOING TO OBJECT TO THAT STATEMENT. Or actually one word of it - 'everything'. Not everything in me fights change because there is a part of me that wants it, embraces it, chooses it, goes for it.

What is fed is what will grow and that is what I'm going to feed; the part of me that wants to improve.

How are you with change?


  1. Very interesting topic! I'm working so freaking hard on my Transformation (it seems to help that I don't call it change), but I've had some set-backs recently.

    Every day is new, so it would seem as though we'd be so much BETTER with these changes....

    Sorry I missed the birthday question post, but I wouldn't have been any help. We have that same problem, and do a sort of combined celebration in the spring and the fall, with as many of us as we can gather. Also, sometimes there just needs to be days-off asked for to make it work.

    1. So true about the days off. I am going to have to flex off a few hour so that I can make the January birthday thing.

  2. I quite enjoy change. Backed when I worked a paying job, it wasn't uncommon for me to start looking for a new job after about 18 months. I'd start the job, learn the job, then get bored and want a different job. Sometimes promotion would do the trick, but often not.

    It's the same with my environment. I live someplace long enough, I want to move. If I can't move, well then we need new paint. Or new carpets. Or to rearrange the furniture. Or I need a new haircut. Or color. Or to change my style of dress. Something.

    That's why I love writing so much. Every book is different. A different story with different research and different challenges. I hate to stagnate.

    1. Ugh. *Back* not backed. Silly fingers.

    2. Yeah, I'm pretty much up for that kind of change, too. It's necessary self-improvements like reducing my weight or seeking out a publisher that I have trouble with.
      I'm with you on the job thing. I get bored pretty quickly.

  3. Fascinating article, thanks for linking to it. Very relevant (and helpful) for some changes I'm trying to make right now. And I love your thought at the end--not *everything*, you're right. We just need to encourage that little bit that does what to change, nurture it, pay attention to it. I think. :-)

    But the thing that article doesn't address is hypocrisy-- people who do good things for really, really bad reasons. Since he's in fuck-you-jack-shit mode, he would probably say what difference does it make as long as you're DOING good stuff, but anybody who has ever been burned by that type of person knows it really does matter.

    1. Nurture it - that's good phraseology. I like that.

  4. I've enjoyed change a lot in my life: location, houses, jobs, haircuts : ) but yeah, when it comes to the really personal, like my writing and having to put it out there and take the pot shots, that's hard.
    This year is all about change for me. When I wrote to entertain myself I was so secure and happy. Now I'm scared and nervous because my life is changing, and I have no control. I know I'll get through it because I always do. I have to remind myself to feel the fear and do it anyway. But it's still damn scary.

    1. I can see where it would be scary. At the same time, I can't wait to read your books because judging by everything else I've read that you have written, I know they are going to be good.

  5. Excellent post. :)

    I tend to resist change*--I'm happy in my comfort zone. But when comes down to a choice between changing and stagnating, I will choose change every time. Change may be unsettling, but it doesn't stink like stagnation.**

    *This could be why I'm writing a series...

    **And this is why I'll stop the series when it starts to feel stale.

    1. For those of us reading your series and not writing it, stale is a long way off!