Saturday, February 8, 2014

Don't be yourself

"Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer." -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983) 
Lately I've been struggling with the snappy part of my self. The part that is irritated by Every. Little. Thing.  God's wisdom and sense of humor has decided I shall live with three people who are wonderful and gifted and I love them just the way they are...but who have less need than I for order, organization, cleanliness, solitude, and peace. 
Maybe I was born this way, needing these things, and didn't get them enough in my childhood because of the eleven other kids and their friends with whom I shared a house. I grew up in a stable loving home that was also filled with mess, disorganization, clutter, noise and chaos. My response was to feel horribly anxious and retreat whenever possible. I came by it honestly - my dad actually built a separate room for himself as his means of escape, and I can totally understand that. I still grit my teeth through every kids' birthday party and can honestly agree sometimes with whoever said "Hell is other people." 
But my irritability can be a problem. I'm not proud of my tendency to yell and criticize. Last year I practiced "complaint free living" by wearing a bracelet to help me increase awareness and refrain from complaining, criticizing, or gossiping. It took me 8+ months to go 21 consecutive days without moving the bracelet. I'm realizing that, sadly, the good habits I tried to "re-wire" into my brain have not lasted. I think maybe I'm a little better than before, but I need to get the bracelet back on.
Anyway, I saw this quote (don't be yourself) and it reminds me to keep practicing my patience and tolerance skills. 
I also like this response to all the "positive psychology" messages out there. You know, all those messages that tell us how great we are all the time. I like that this message frees us to admit we're not so great, but that we can do better.

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