Start the new year right by taking inventory of your “worst-self.” If you don’t know, it’s time to get honest and ask your circle of friends this question: “What is it about me that is hard to tolerate?”
Then listen with a complete and open mind to those blind spots that are hurting your ability to connect and relate well. What needs to go? It might just save you tons of hardship the rest of the year.
Here are some common examples of what makes it hard for people to be around others.
What’s Gotta Go
1. Your immature social network (which may be holding you back).
You deserve better than hanging out with people who won’t contribute to your path toward excellence. If you find that it’s getting exhausting being around “old friends” who play dress up in suits, briefcases, and drive Beemers to six-figure salary jobs, but are stuck in a perpetual drunken frat party from 2004, it’s time to cut them loose. Look for a new network of driven but responsible and mature peers who share the same values, interests, and motivation for the same things that makes your world come alive.
2. Your Facebook “friends” that suck the life out of you.
The incessant negativity that dominates your feed (political debates, religious and other insensitive drivel), and drive-by comments by haters and critics trolling your status updates, may be draining you and hurting how others perceive you. Protect your personal brand reputation, not to mention your dignity and self-worth. Make no excuses and start unfriending them. Keep the people you know you can rely on to contribute, build bridges, and foster positive connections.
Do you think too much before pulling the trigger on a decision? Sure, a few hours or couple days is normal. But three months? If this sounds familiar, you have “analysis paralysis.” If you’re thinking too much, you’re probably stuck in your head and intellectualizing things too much. The most important decisions you’ll ever encounter will always be based on your feelings — it’s a heart thing, not a head thing. This is the practice of being sure by leaning on your intuition. Not sure if you can rely on it yet? Fine tune it by documenting every decision you make over the next three months. Look over which decisions were spot on because you chose to rely on that “inner voice.” The better the outcome on those decisions, the more accurate your intuition is becoming. Learning to use your intuition is a much more effective way to make decisions than to get stuck in analysis paralysis. It’s empowering, and your peers and close friends and family will look at you in a whole new way.
4. Your tendency to be judgmental.
Since judgmental people criticize anything and everything as if it were a hobby, they shouldn’t expect anyone to come to them for advice or problem-solving (others know it’s a total waste of time to do so). What a judgmental attitude will do is alienate colleagues at work. If this is you, your best plan of action is to stop jumping to conclusions before hearing all the facts, and start listening intently to improve your communication skills. Make this a priority, and watch your peers slowly gravitate toward you as you make it safe for them to do so. Remember this: When we judge, we invite judgment upon ourselves.
5. Your junk (in other words, your baggage).
Yes, we all have issues, we’re all wounded in some way, and nobody is perfect. But if you’re still processing that toxic relationship from three years ago with your co-workers, you’re not over it. Deal with your baggage and stop treating your colleagues like they’re counselors and shrinks. They’re not. Respect their emotional space, and know when you’re overstepping professional boundaries. Time to get help: Go see a counselor, talk to a close friend outside of work, enroll in a 12-step program, or do all three.
The most courageous thing you’ll do at the beginning of the year is acknowledge your blind spots. It may not come from you, so be brave enough to consider that what others speak to you is truth. And as the saying goes, “the truth will set you free.”
As you increase your self-awareness, that’s only half the battle. Look at this as an opportunity to address whatever is holding you back. Now you can do something about what others are saying is a problem. Take heart in knowing that this is for your own greater good. It will make you a truly better person in service to others.