We all make mistakes, and cause problems and harm: we may not want to, but we do.
By going through life hiding from this fact and pretending we are perfect, we just make things worse, and expect perfection from other people, which will only cause disappointment.
Instead, by acknowledging it as adults, we can accept we are human, but learn how to minimise the damage, solve the problem or stand up for ourselves:
We can let go and forgive ourselves.
Deep down, we all want a quick fix to a problem or a happy life.
Here are three simple steps to solving many problems in your life.
Step #1: Be honest
Stop and be honest with yourself. Tell yourself the truth about how you feel about a certain situation, a relationship, a job or something in your life that isn’t as you say you would like it to be.
Do you feel comfortable or uncomfortable? If you’re bitching, moaning or blaming, clearly it feels uncomfortable and you might feel guilty.
It’s called ‘the uncomfortable truth’ for a reason, and there is some responsibility for you to own.
Step #2: Take personal responsibility
Taking responsibility is not about saying, ‘Everything is my fault; I’m bad, I’m wrong’: if you’re doing this then you’re just blaming, shaming and persecuting yourself.
Instead, it is about putting your hands up and acknowledging that you have chosen to behave in a certain way, which may have been a mistake (whether conscious or unconscious) at the time, but now you are taking responsibility for that behaviour.
Saying it out loud, being honest and telling the truth to other people about that choice or action is part of taking responsibility, because it makes it real.
Step #3: Take action
Once something is real and out there, we can’t avoid it, so we have to choose how to deal with it. The answer is not always to make changes but can simply be to accept what is.
Accept that we don’t actually want to change, so we don’t have to keep pretending to want something that we don’t. Or, if we do want change, then we can take action – whether that is apologising, or changing your behaviour, or doing something new and different.
These three steps can be applied to almost any problem, so here are a few examples…
Are you sick of not losing weight?
Honestly, I adore food; I love chocolate and have a sweet tooth. The truth is, I am not willing to give them up. I take responsibility for my health by doing plenty of exercise and drinking lots of water, and I balance things out by eating plenty of greens and healthy food too, but I will never be a skinny size 6 – and that is my choice.
I choose to be healthy and fit. There is no point bitching and moaning if my weight increases, as no one else is to blame for my jeans getting tight. When they do, I sometimes choose to cut back on sugar-based food for a bit and increase the amount of exercise I do.
If you are not happy with your weight and you really want to lose some, it is simple: be honest with yourself about your food intake (how much and what kind) and weight. Take responsibility and take action by eating less crap, eating smaller portions and exercising more, so that you burn off more than you eat.
Are you fed up with your debts?
I struggled with debt for a long time and I still have some which I am paying off. I hate debt, but I am not in debt because I spend too much, as I struggle to spend money on myself.
Instead, for a long time I undervalued and undersold myself, as I didn’t want to accept my real value and so I settled for what I was given. Therefore, I was always struggling financially to survive.
Taking responsibility and action meant learning to respect myself more, and my value, so that I could demonstrate to other people how to do the same by charging more, asking for more, demanding more, and selling and promoting myself more to get a fair value in relation to my skills, knowledge and experience.
This meant I had to be honest with everyone about who I am and what I can bring to the table.
Many people who accept low-paid or non-challenging jobs are in the same situation; often they are really miserable, bored and scared of trying something new so they choose to undervalue themselves. Instead, they can choose to take responsibility and action by getting more qualifications, choosing to face their fear and trying something more challenging to increase their skills.
Of course, the opposite is true too – some people simply spend more than they earn and waste money on things they don’t actually need (food, rent/mortgage, and other basics don’t count) but things that they want. It is your choice to change that, or to accept that you don’t want to change things and spend less.
No more bitching and moaning: just accept that you choose to have debts like a noose around your neck: they are still your responsibility to pay off.
Are you unhappy in your relationship?
There must be trust and honesty in a loving relationship. Trust grows from honesty. All loving relationships develop and thrive, not because people don’t make mistakes, get cross and frustrated or hurt each other, but because they do.
When both people take personal responsibility for their actions and behaviour, and are honest with their feelings, apologising and making amends if they haven’t demonstrated love to themselves or the other person, then that is when relationships grow.
I struggled in relationships for a long time because I took responsibility for everyone else’s mistakes as well as my own, and became untrusting of the other party because it felt as if I was the only one who made mistakes and I was to blame.
By being honest with myself, I could take responsibility for the fact that I had chosen to play the role of the victim because I was afraid of standing up for myself and telling people how I felt.
Learning to voice my feelings calmly and clearly meant that the other person could take responsibility for their actions if they chose to, and I could choose to either forgive or move on.
The same can be said about not having relationships: some people may moan about the opposite sex and complain that they are single because they never meet any good men/woman – when, in truth, they don’t put themselves out there in places or ways to meet ‘good’ people, because deep down they actually want to be single; maybe because it’s safer, but don’t want to admit it.
Learning a new skill or achieving a goal
I started learning to play the piano two years ago; I had said for so long that I wished I had learned as a child. In honesty, that was because I wished I could do something I could enjoy – but I didn’t want to put in the hard work, time and practice to become good at it. I took lessons for a year and, even though I enjoyed parts of my lessons, I still didn’t really want to practice and do the homework.
After I finally decided to end the lessons, I only touched the keyboard once in the following year! The pleasure and achievement didn’t seem to outweigh the struggle of practicing.
So, in truth, I didn’t want to do it anymore.
Ever since I have been honest and accepted the truth, I have stopped feeling guilty about it. I may change my mind again in time and try again, and that’s OK too.
On the other hand, I acknowledge that (unlike playing the piano), I love to surf, but I didn’t practice for a while and so my surfing skills and fitness have deteriorated.
That really annoys me, so I cut back on the sweet foods and have been getting in the sea more to practice.
So is it time for you to uncover the uncomfortable truth that you’ve been avoiding, and find out what you can take responsibility for?
It’s your choice to act, make a change, make amends for any wrongdoing, or just plain accept the truth that you don’t want to change and that actually deep down you’re OK with that part of your life.