In every human there are traits considered “unfavorable.” We are all an endless amalgamation of all of our preferences, habits, and quirks. The question is, do we allow some of these more prominent traits to shape our lives?
The problem is not that we have these traits, but the way in which we develop an understanding of them. Each characteristic we have, good and bad, has the ability to blossom and expand into an overwhelming and all encompassing facet of our personality – if we allow it. People that we identify with certain adjectives such as rude, prideful, kind, or patient, have cultivated and allowed that part of their personality to become prominent, guide their actions, and shape other’s perceptions of them. The trick to this is cultivating consciously, rather than just allowing one trait (more commonly a negative one) to overcome others. When does a prominent trait begin to wreak havoc on your life?
In Epic Hero stories across the world, hero have “fatal flaws” that lead to their demise. The most common flaw in epics is “hubris” or overwhelming pride. Achilles was a victim of Hubris, believing that he was invincible when in reality everyone, even he, has a weak spot. Tragic flaws are also seen in Oedipus, who ended up fulfilling the prophecy because of his hubris, as well as in Hamlet. Hamlet’s fatal flaw was not hubris, but indecisiveness. Fatal flaws can manifest in many different forms, but most commonly are seen in the form of a large ego and hubris
Reflecting on lessons that Epic’s teach, I began to wonder if our modern day flaws could be having the same effect for some of us? Not necessarily the idea that they bring about our literal demise, but with consideration to the outcome of our lives and how it could have been different if we’d been more mindful and aware of our flaws. People are often blind to the pitfalls of their own personality and there-in lies the danger of the fatal flaw. A person that has not developed a self-awareness will never see their fate coming until it is upon them. Knowing yourself inside and out and being able to reflect on yourself and your interactions is crucial to developing a personality that you feel good about. However, it is not a process without difficulties.
Learn to have conversations with yourself. Be gentle. Brew some tea and sit down with yourself every once in a while. Open up the doors of communication and let your judgement go. It’s natural to discover things about yourself that you do not like. Some of these things you can fix if you’re aware of them, and some of them will never be fixed. Self-awareness can allow you to improve yourself, but it is not about perfecting yourself. Perfection is a myth. It simply does not exist. When you let go of that idea and learn to simply work with yourself towards who you’d like to be, things will start to go your way.
When approaching myself, I often have to confront the reality that I am far from the world’s most patient person. Not only that, I tend to get frustrated and then take it out on people by snapping at them. It is a nasty habit that is hardly fair to anyone involved. However, it is (unfortunately) one of my most deeply set habits. It’s a habit that I see no improvement with some days, and it is one that is hard to be control in general. It’s an impulse. That being said, I don’t beat myself up over it constantly, although I don’t give myself a free pass either. Yes, I do feel bad when I unfairly snap at people. However, I do understand that there will be ups and downs in the process. When I’m having a high-stress week, I’ll probably snap a little more than is warranted. The mindset of “I need to change this” and the strong awareness that I participate in this behavior is what will help me to grow away from it with time.
Change of habit is a lifelong struggle. The path to change can be a disheartening one at time because it is not linear. It does not have linear increments of success. There are many ups and downs along the way, some tiny, some huge. For this reason, self-awareness is an essential in daily life if we are to improve our character and better our soul for greater peace of mind.
Happy habit changing!