People like to say we start out perfect. “Look at that perfect baby.” I remain unconvinced regarding the accuracy of that statement. For one thing, the idea of the “perfect” baby denies the reality of babies born with problems of a wide variety of types. Positing “perfect” as the default position is unkind.
It’s also, I believe, inaccurate.
I don’t think babies are born perfect. Parenting has led me to conclude that a lot of programming is pre-installed prior to arrival and not all of it is good. We often start out with issues. Then life happens and further damage accrues, leaving us with cracks and holes of varying sizes and depths we are desperate to fix.
Much of our life is spent in pursuit of repairs.
But can’t it be said that the process of making repairs and making ourselves complete is kind of the point of life? We accumulate damage, sure, but the search to correct it is growth and evolution. Growth is not possible when there is perfection. Or so I suspect. I haven’t encountered perfection in my journey through life so it’s just a theory.
But the pursuit of repairs can be disaster if we focus not on growth but on shortcuts and quick fixes.
We have a tendency to look for solutions without. And mostly, we’re not looking to God or a higher power.
We look instead for things we can buy, eat, drink, consume, or distract ourselves with that will make everything okay. We look for the person or people we can attach to that will make us whole. Or at least let us believe we are for a while. We want to deal with the damage but we want it done quickly and easily.
Perhaps I can find the solution on Amazon?
It would be nice if that was possible, and I’ve bought things that might come into the “fix me” category over the years but I’ve come to realize through trial and error that solutions must come from within.
I should have applied that bit of knowledge moons ago. I could have spared myself some knocks and saved myself some money.
The fixing requires us to look at ourselves, see the truth, and make the necessary adjustments to our thoughts and behaviours. No one and nothing can do that for us.
Repairing the holes is definitely a “you” problem.
What you do to fix yourself determines the end result. It determines whether you are repaired or simply shored up. Most of us pick temporary patches. It’s an easier choice and that factors in. We are a species that likes easy.
We choose the temporary fix we don’t understand is temporary because we aren’t really encouraged to spend time thinking about the kind of person we want to be and how to get there. Working on ourselves is not a big part of our younger years’ educations.
We are encouraged instead to show productivity. To get good grades and positive reviews and tangible results. We are encouraged to embrace pre-established roles and slot into societal demands. We aren’t encouraged to analyze the kind of person we want to be in those roles or even if we want to try them on. Even in the twenty-first century, rocking the status quo is hard.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” A question most of us heard ad nauseum. A better one that is rarely asked is, “Who do you want to be?” Most of us aren’t encouraged to explore that question and it’s a shame. I think it would be a helpful bit of information.
If you know who you want to be, it can help you repair the holes and broken bits in the right way. It can help you get past the things that are preventing you from reaching personal and character development goals. It’s better than choosing to patch in whatever way seems necessary in order to allow you to carry on (but not thrive).
I have a lot of holes – factory-installed and life-acquired – and I’ve used a lot of temporary patches over the years. My eating disorder, my tendency to buy too much, my tendency to get into relationships with damaged people, my tendency to numb. I didn’t know they were temporary fixes when I applied them. I thought they would permanently ease my discomfort and make me okay. But they were external and therefore, they ultimately failed.
It could be argued that books are internal. The can help you change the way you think and what you think about. I used books to escape my discomfort with reality for years; unfortunately, I didn’t use them to help me answer the “who do you want to be” question in the specific. I had vague ideas over the years and encountered characters I admired and wanted to emulate. I even pretended to be someone else at times, basing the new me on the characters I’d been reading about. Faking it is not the solution either. I couldn’t maintain being someone else.
I just jumped from this thing to that, hoping that something would be the magic solution that would fix me overnight.
Real change, however, takes time. It also requires a plan.
I’ve been spending time on the design of mine for a few years as I make supportive changes to my habits. I’m getting there, albeit slowly, but that’s okay. Methodically is a good way to go about things if you want the changes to last.
The goal of the plan is simple on the face of it: stop doing things that hurt me and become the person I want to be. Defining that, figuring that out, however, takes time. “The year of being a good person should help”.
Part of the plan involves studying philosophy. Philosophy is working for me. It’s helping me answer, “who do you want to be?” It’s helping me repair rather than patch the holes. It may not work for everyone. I’ve never believed in the “one true way” argument anyway. There is more than one correct way to human. Other paths are quite likely to be effective although there is “one true” caveat – the solution must come from within.
External solutions will almost always fail. Get working on the internal stuff. What else are you doing with your time?
Do you consciously work on your growth and evolution? Do you have a plan?