You Change When You Stop Wanting to

When we physically or mentally list out our flaws, we feel productive. This is because, in every other facet of life, recognizing problems is the only way you can begin to combat them.

We feel like if we understand every little thing we want to change about our selves, we can create a plan to begin the process of betterment.

But here’s why that’s entirely incorrect.

Shifting Your Attitude

When you come up with a list of things you want to change about yourself, you are very objectively focusing on the negative.

And by focusing on the negative, you make it very difficult for yourself to want to change, because you see so much already wrong.

And when you see so much already wrong, you may become dejected, hopeless, and ultimately give up.

So you need to instead approach the process of betterment with a positive mindset: but how can you avoid recognizing what you want to change and still make progress?

The truth is: betterment is a holistic progress. In this case, I use the word “holistic” to mean that the path to betterment is not and cannot be crystal clear.

One must also have faith in an end goal, but that’s tricky.

So what you need to do is make small changes, maybe starting with a new habit, and don’t even think about how it helps you. Don’t think about what it changes or how it makes you better. Just focus on performing the action at hand.

When you don’t focus on your flaws, you will find it easier to be gentle with yourself, which is hugely important in difficult times and I will discuss this in a later post.

Therefore, you create a cycle that looks like this:

Be gentle to yourself regardless of what happens outside; it keeps your self-worth steady. If you only care about yourself when you do something right, your confidence will be contingent on prior confidence. And you can’t always count on that.

Forget Everything You Know About Problem Solving

When you approach your thoughts like a problem to solve, you begin to see yourself as one.

But you’re not a game of Sudoku. You’re a living, breathing person who’s trying their best, just as we all are.

So you have to solve your problems differently.

It’s sometimes difficult to try and ignore your flaws and continue building positive habits, because it takes a lot of hope.

You need to have faith that what you’re doing is ultimately going to help you in the end, even when it feels like it won’t.

You need to have faith that somehow, someway, all the pieces are going to fit together as you continue to build your habits and confidence. Because they will—every single time.

Be analytical in every part of your life but yourself. Be introspective but not judgmental; we’re all the products of our environment. You’re doing great for where you are.

Proving My Point

I’m gonna try to prove my point about the importance of curbing your desperate need for change with a hypothetical.

Imagine you’re doing a puzzle. A 100 piece puzzle, so pretty small, pretty manageable.

The picture can be whatever you want: an underwater scene, a windmill, a cat, or an image from your favorite movie.

And just as you slot the final piece into the center, 10 more blank, white pieces show up next to you. You look at them and wonder where they fit. You add them to the edges of the puzzle which sprouted new endings and think the white looks weird next to your picture.

When you place the last piece, 50 more pieces appear. These are also white and these also demand to be placed. When you do, 100 more appear, and so on.

Imagine how quickly you’d get upset at this. You already have a beautiful picture in the center, but for some reason, you just keep adding blank pieces to the sides for no purpose.

We do the same thing with ourselves: we try to fit all the pieces together at once, we try to grow bigger and better, without recognizing that we are already worth our own love and attention.

By choosing to stop doing the puzzle when the picture is complete, in other words, by not focusing on what we don’t have instead of what we do, we can glue it together, we can frame it, we can put lights around it and show it off for the beauty it has.

What to Do with this Advice

So here are the small actions you can take to incorporate this advice into your life.

You need to learn to focus on your actions instead of the outcomes of them.

Think about it: you can study all you want for a test, but you can never ensure you’ll get a perfect score. You can woo someone and buy them a mariachi band to play during your picnic, but you can never be certain they’ll marry you.

By caring so much about the outcomes of our actions, we can quickly convince ourselves not to act.

But if we can find internal rewards just for performing the action, regardless of the outcome, we can become anything we want to become.

If you ask someone out and they say no, feel good because of your incredible bravery. If you write a book and it isn’t very successful, feel proud because you’ve done something the vast majority don’t.

The way we treat ourselves can’t be contingent on our success, because our success is not something we can fully control.

By focusing only on the next action to take instead of its outcome or your strong desire to become a different person, you allow yourself a freedom to be, in time, whatever you want. And even if you get frustrated and feel like you aren’t changing fast enough, those feelings will past—so stay steady.

If you have any suggestions or comments, please leave them for me in the comments. It can be difficult to realize that you won’t solve your problems by focusing intently on them, because that’s how we’re taught to solve every other problem. But when you treat yourself gently and trust the slow process of change through action, you will be much more likely to change in time instead of becoming acutely frustrated at your inability to do so.

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7 thoughts on “You Change When You Stop Wanting to

  1. Great article, Ethan! I have a tendency to over-analyze and it’s something that I continue to work on. The puzzle metaphor is interesting too!

    Solid suggestions and nice work.


  2. We naturally want to make ourselves better, so it can be hard to stop and appreciate who we are, what we’ve done. It’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture, not just a few pieces. I like your analogy and I appreciate your blog. You are doing what the average person does not, therefore you are not average. You already know that of course, but I truly wish you the best. I hope to read your articles for a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow this is what i needed to hear today. I’m so focused on fixing me that i never finish the puzzle because it always opens up new things. But that’s OK just keep working on the puzzle and you’ll see a picture just not maybe what you thought.


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