Seriously, the No. 1 secret to change your life is this: stop taking yourself seriously.
The more you want to protect and defend your old identity, the less likely you’ll transform the way you think and act.
Cognitive neuroscientist Gina Rippon debunked neurosexism, the sex-linked brain differences in her book The Gendered Brain: The New Neuroscience That Shatters The Myth Of The Female Brain in 2019. However, the difference between women and men are ubiquitous. We hang on to the bad things longer, question ourselves more often, and hold ourselves to incredibly high standards.
Picture an overweight guy in his forties riding a shiny Harley motorcycle on the freeway with loud vroom and even louder pride. His arms outstretched, his face beaming. Did he care anyone watch his love-handle jutting out of his black muscle tank? Not at all. His mind is with the sun, the wind, and the open road in front of him.
Now imagine yourself sitting on a Harley, giddy for the rare occasion of a freedom ride. You feel young and free, you like the feel of the wind on your face, tossing your hair wildly. Suddenly, you become aware of the breeze brush against your midsection, and your mind zoomed in on that jiggering sensation. Is your T-shirt lifted by the wind? How much of the muffin top can others see? You struggle to remain calm while looking for the sign of the next exit. No more freedom on this ride, you see?
The truth is, no one is watching you, at least not for long.
Most of us are not that interesting. Social media made us more fascinating than we deserve. The bar is set so high, it’s stressful to measure up. Can you think of anything more awful than everyone else believes you’re happy when you’re depressed and deprived? Think of the eclectic chef Anthony Bourdain, the talented actor, and comedian Robin Williams. Money and fame didn’t help these celebrities live happily to the golden age, think they would make you feel good?
Crack a joke about yourself if you can. No one is perfect, so why pretend? Superiority repels. The true masters make us ordinary people feel stronger and better than we are. Be genuine, it’s easier to live that way. Research shows people find honesty and humor disarmingly likable. The thing with lies is after you lied once, you’ll have to keep lying to get the record straight until the point you hate yourself. Every lie and excuse we give others is a brick we lay around us; eventually, the brick walls will box us in. Remember back in 2013, how Lance Armstrong finally admitted using banned performance-enhancing drugs in the seven successive Tour de France after years of denying it.
Stop thinking about how others feel about you, focus on how you feel and figure out how you can feel better.
Stop pleasingthe people who only want you look and behave in a certain way. They are not our true friends. If something makes you feel good, do it more often; if some people make you laugh, spend more time with them.
New experiences give you new perspectives, either about yourself, or about life, and often both. Embrace the moment of stepping into new doors, where you’ll find more opportunities inside. Count these new experiences as blessings, as they open up your eyes to a life you’ve yet to discover.
Doctor of Pharmacy, author of The Art of Good Enough. She writes to inspire women to design their own fate. Her writings and interviews have been featured on MSNBC, Thrive Global, Working Mother magazine, Parentology, and The Times of India.