Welcome to Episode 9 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino.
Today we’re going to have a little bit of a throwback. Prior to working on this podcast, I’ve answered a number of viewer questions sent in by my own audience on my website. I’ve made video responses to those questions that already exist, but the questions are still very applicable and important so as the show here goes on, we’re going to sprinkle in some questions that I’ve gotten in the past and my answers to them.
We’re gonna start with this one on opportunities.
QUESTION: “Dear Greg: The other day I was hanging out with a big group of friends. One member of the group, who’s only liked by some of us, had driven drunk to the get-together and was about to drive away still drunk. He drinks a lot, but even when he isn’t drunk, this guy shows no respect and always tries to start something. I really don’t like him, and even though I told my friend to take his keys away, I found that I really don’t care about his safety. I didn’t want him to drive because I didn’t want him to hurt anyone else on the road, but if something happened to him I really don't care. If he wants to act stupid, then what happens happens. The thing is I’m trying to better myself and always be growing. It creeped me out when I realized how much I didn’t care about him. I’m fine with not liking him, but to be more mature I don’t want to let people rattle me so much. What should I do?”
This is a really good question and it addresses a serious topic that most people have very strong feelings about. Maybe a few of us have been in a similar situation.
There are two parts to my answer.
How Are You Assessing Yourself?
The first thing that jumps out at me here, and really the core of all of this, is your assessment of your current self. Feeling “creeped out” about your lack of compassion and feeling as though there is maturing to do.
There’s nothing wrong with either of these things. There’s nothing wrong with where you are right now and to NOT believe that is the trap that most people fall into.
A lot of people don’t like themselves for how they feel about certain things, which can cause this bad cycle of self-loathing. But the fact is that countless moments and experiences in your life, many of which were out of your control then and all of which are out of your control now, have led you to where you are and those feelings (or lack thereof) that you have.
Don't Beat Yourself Up
Recognizing where you are is perfect. Wanting to expand upon yourself is fine. But beating yourself up about your current state, judging yourself and resisting that which is, is senseless. It’s very natural, it's VERY common, but it’s senseless.
You are where you are, and luckily for you, you seem to have more of a forward mindset than a backward one. It seems you’re more interested in trying to grow than anything else. So the first part of my answer is to keep your focus on where you want to go and how you want it to be as opposed to beating yourself up about not having the level of maturity you want or feeling creeped out by your lack of empathy.
But, I know, the question is, “How do you do that?”
What's Your Personal Investment?
Most people are not going to take action on something or be enthusiastic about taking action on something if there isn’t a personal investment in it — if they don’t have an exciting result that they believe in. So if a priority of yours is growth, then that should and can be your driving force in overcoming your feelings towards this guy and any similar situations that might unfold in the future.
My bet is that this guy is going to continue to be a presence in your life being that you’re part of the same friend group. I’m gathering that you’re content with not liking him, but based on how you envision a fuller and more mature you, you just don’t want to let him or anyone for that matter rattle you or just have that much power over your stability. Personally, I might caution labeling maturity as a specific “this” or “that,” but it seems to me you have a vision of where you want to be which is a great place to start.
Using Negative Experiences to Improve
But yeah, how can you get to that place when you still have to put up with this guy on some kind of regular basis? There's a video I once put up on my site called Are You Positive About Positive Thinking?, in which I talk about using any negative aspects of your life as fuel or lessons.
So, use negative experiences to extract the improvement you want in yourself and create better opportunities. And this is a perfect example of how to exercise that.
What I want you to try doing is to shift your thinking about this guy. It’s easy to get our minds made up about certain things so I assume that right now you’re seeing this guy as a pain in the ass and a blockade from who you want to be. But he doesn’t have to be.
Shift Your Mindset
What if you were to start seeing this guy not as some kind of hellion who throws you off your peace of mind, but instead as a facilitator of your peace of mind? What if on days you knew you were going to see him you changed your inner monologue to, “All right, I know he’s going to piss me off, he’s my trigger, I’m conscious of that, and this will be a good chance for me to practice not being rattled and staying level headed”? In this way, he is no longer preventing you from becoming who you want to be — he’s now assisting you.
Based on how you phrased the question, personal growth seems to be your primary concern here, which is why I recommend using this approach. But really depending on what else is driving you in this specific situation, you might also see this guy as one of several opportunities:
- to help someone with an addiction
- to take a stance against drunk driving
- to address the concerns of your friend group.=
Either way you choose to proceed, I want to congratulate you for targeting the source of your pain and being willing to do something about it. Often times it’s frustrating to look back on something and wish we would’ve handled it differently, but the more you do that and the more you reflect on how you could’ve done something differently, the more readily available this mindset will be when you’re in the heat of the moment in the future.
Have Patience with Opportunities
I want you to be patient with yourself and trust that there’s nothing wrong with you. Don’t get wrapped up in, “I should be this,” or “I should be that.”
If you see a change you’d like to make, take action towards that vision by turning triggers into opportunities, and remember that you have value regardless of whether or not that vision is fulfilled.
That’s really the essential element of what I have to say to all of you guys. To be attached to the image of how you feel anything should be is perhaps our greatest source of suffering.
And that does it, guys and girls. I was really happy with that question on opportunities and I felt like its themes were highly important so I was particularly excited about adding it to the roster on the pod here.
If you have a question of your own that you think is important to have answered here on the show, please submit it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking forward to receiving many more great questions. The list is already piling up and we’re thankful for that. Can’t wait to hear from everyone. Thanks for stopping in!