Friday, August 26, 2011

Embracing Our Challenges

I think one of the hardest things to do is admit the areas of our life that are flawed and in need of rehabilitation. There are parts of my personality that I was either born with or developed over my lifetime that I wish weren’t there. There are two ways to deal with them – one works and the other doesn’t.

The first way is the path of blame; to see my issues as other people’s problems.

“It’s not me, it’s them. I don’t have to change; they need to change to accommodate my behavior.”

This attitude can be particularly evident with certain disorders. (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, etc.)

The problem with taking this tack is that people will eventually keep you at an arm’s length or farther. There is a limit to what most people are willing to put up with. Interactions will be frustrating and unsatisfying as you seek to be loved and accepted.

The other way is the path of humility. This way is harder at first, because it requires changes to many of our habits and coping methods. But eventually it leads us into deeper relationships with others who will embrace us and help us with our struggles.

For example, if I struggle with compulsive neatness, instead of demanding that others maintain my standards I might say:

“Clutter really causes me anxiety. I know it’s my issue, but anything you could do to help me keep things picked up would really be appreciated.”   

Or perhaps you have the opposite problem as with Attention Deficit Disorder. You might say:

“I have a hard time remembering to turn off lights, close doors and drawers, and put things away after I use them. I would appreciate it if you would remind me nicely if you see me forgetting to do these things.”

It really is hard to break denial and take responsibility for our shortcomings. The people who make little progress in counseling are the ones who fail to do so. They may resist because of fear, or arrogance, or contempt, or stubbornness, or just plain blindness.

But those who are able to surrender in humility will more likely find themselves laboring along with friendly travelers.

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