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I’m Sorry

By September 22, 2015 2 Comments

Today I was given a writing prompt. The prompt was to imagine that any aspect of my habits or thinking could be rewired with enough practice. If so, what would I change or rewire? Why?

I generally like to think that I wouldn’t change anything about myself or my experiences. Because if things were different, I wouldn’t be me, and I like who I am.

But this challenge was tempting. Because it’s not exactly erasing something that has shaped me – not in the same way as erasing my illness, or the decisions I’ve made would be. It’s not delving into the past, it’s looking towards the future.

And I have to admit, I’m a bit of a self-improvement junkie. I have so many lists that I’ve created throughout the years, making commitments to exercise more and eat better, to improve my languages, to read more, to meditate every day, to write more regularly – and they aren’t just lists. They are detailed plans of action.

So I guess you could say that I constantly make decisions to try to change my habits, to go to bed earlier, to NOT binge-watch Netflix, to be more pro-active in my relationships. And whenever I make those decisions, whenever I put them into writing I feel fantastic. I feel like I can take on the world.

But clearly, there’s a disconnect. Because I keep writing these things down. Every couple of months, I recommit to starting fresh. It’s not that my goals have changed, it’s that I’m not following through as well as I had planned.

And that’s strange. Because I generally view myself to be an extremely committed person.

I am the girl who delivers 150% on any expectations, from grades in school to music to organizing programs and events.

But that’s just the thing. I rise to people’s expectations. But all these things that I’m trying to work on, habits that I’m trying to change, aren’t expectations for anyone besides me. No one knows if I don’t write something extra. No one cares if I get one less hour of sleep.

Not that it doesn’t affect others. When I eat healthier, I’m in a better mood. If I read, I can discuss what I read. If I improve my languages, I’ll be better able to communicate with more people.

But no one is watching for me to work on those things. They might be affected if I do, but nothing will change if I don’t. There are no markers or signs, apart my own frustration.

So I think that if I could rewire something about myself, it would be to increase my internal motivation. To be able to push myself just as hard, if not harder, when no one’s watching.

This evening marks the start of a Jewish holiday called Yom Kippur. To call it a holiday seems wrong, it’s more of a Holy Day. It’s often translated as the ‘Day of Atonement,’ and is the most holy day on the Jewish calendar.

More than simply atonement though, it’s a day of reflection. It’s a day of acknowledging everything that happened throughout the past year, everything you’ve done, everyone you’ve hurt and every thought that you’re ashamed of. It’s about deciding what you want to do differently, how you want to start fresh in the new year, what you want to do better.

So I want to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to anyone reading this that I have hurt or let down, inadvertently or otherwise, whether you are aware of it or not. I’m going to try to do better.

And I want to apologize to myself. For letting those commitments slide, for not pushing myself harder.

I’m going to try to do better.

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  • Jackie says:

    I think increasing intrinsic motivation is a good choice. I worry a little about the guilt you experience!

    It sounds like when things impact anyone aside from you, you are a perfectionist. I am a perfectionist in many facets of life too and used to do anything (including make myself sick) so I wouldn’t disappoint someone (real or perceived disappointment) or make them feel a related negative emotion. I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing my actions having a positive impact, however small, on someone’s life — I think most people do.

    Perfectionists score high on conscientiousness. It sounds like you are very conscientious, so when other people are involved, you will do whatever it takes. Extremely high levels of conscientiousness is one line of thought on where perfectionism comes from. I have been doing some reading on this and have learned there is such a thing as being too conscientious.

    I know it is out of your control — I experience this type of guilt too — however there is no need to feel sorry for the people who missed out on hearing about a book you didn’t read or who didn’t read the blog posts you didn’t write. I do not feel let down in the least. I would love to read more of your writing. I do get enjoyment and insight from your blog, however if it should turn out you do not increase the frequency with which you write, I will not feel let down, and hope you will not feel guilt.

    Side note — if you give “perfectionism and procrastination” a Google search, it is is pretty interesting. It helped me learn a lot about why it seems I can excel at working on some goals but not others.

    *hops off soapbox*

    • Oh goodness, I’m so sorry for not responding earlier, I somehow missed this comment! I think you’re completely right that I do tend to be a perfectionist and can be very hard on myself. A lot of what you wrote really rings true for me, and I think I’m going to have to do some investigating! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, especially so insightfully. <3

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