Hug books about self-awareness. Pore over positive and negative trait thesauruses—even over the emotional wound thesaurus. Relish readings about traits that tag family and friends. These tomes teach about life.
We all bear nice and nasty traits. But how do we flee our own poor traits or those flagged in others? Well, many of us have unhealthy family dynamics. Yet our family doesn’t change. And we can’t change them. And we often don’t change either, despite the saying “we can’t change others but can change ourselves.”
The worst family role is the black sheep. Black sheep are often judged at fault for family failures. Yet, ma, pa, and the siblings each kick in their own flaws. Some are pushy, others devious, catty, insecure, and so on. There’s never just one stooge to blame when families clash.
When brooding over woes, ask what questions rather than why questions, says author Tash Eurich. When we ask ourselves why questions, we act like victims. Take, “Why am I unloved?” Victim! But when we ask ourselves what questions, we power up. Take, “What do we each need that we aren’t giving one another?” Now that’s a clue!
But maybe we can change both ourselves and others. Or at least grow more self-aware. Tasha Eurich gleans light on self-awareness in her book Insight: The Surprising Truth About How Others See Us, How We See Ourselves, and Why the Answers Matter More than We Think:
- What marks the self-aware? “Self-aware people possessed seven distinct types of insight … They understood their values … passions … aspirations … fit … patterns … reactions … and impact” (location 456, 8%).
- To be self-aware, ask what instead of why By doing so, you’ll power-up, not victim-down: “If you ask why, you’re putting yourself into a victim mentality” (a citation from a 42-year-old mother, location 1656, 29%). Ask instead, “‘What’s going on?’ ‘What am I feeling?’ … ‘What can I do to respond better?’” (citation from a 42-year-old mother, location 1656, 29%).
- To grow self-aware, ask, “What major themes, feelings, or lessons do you see in our story? What does the story of your life say about the kind of person you are and might become—your values, passions, aspirations, fit, patterns, reactions, and impact on others?” (location 2219, 38%).
- Also, to polish your personality, ask yourself, “What went well today? What didn’t go well? What did I learn and how will I be smarter tomorrow?” (location 2187, 38%).
- And to up your game, cross-examine events from many lenses: “Looking at both the good and bad from multiple angles will help you maximize your insight and success” (location 2142, 37%).
- But don’t beat yourself up. After all, even Mother Teresa would feel like a stooge if she read news stories about herself: “Ruminators are less accurate at identifying their emotions: their minds are so laser-focused on an incident, reaction, or personal weakness that they miss the larger picture” (location 1821, 31%).
- You can change yourself. But you also stand a chance of changing others, or at least suffering them, with these tricks: “[showing] compassion without judgement …. reframing … [asking] what can he/she teach me? … laughing … stating your needs … clarifying your boundaries … walking away… confronting with compassion” (location 4340, 75%).
I read articles that trashed Mother Teresa. I also read write-ups that slammed Minister Joel Osteen. But these two are saints.
So, accept criticism that helps you grow, not kills your spirit.