On Self-Improvement

Time to get real for a moment.


My life is a cream-puff of sorts.  I’m not fighting for survival financially (although sometimes it feels that way).  I own a home and pay a mortgage (in this market no less).  I’m well employed and have been for quite some time (in this economy no less).  I have a lovely and loving wife (she’s also a total smoke-show to boot), with whom I recently adopted a child who has rocked our world (in a good way!).

By most definitions I’m kicking ass and taking names.  Having teeth in my head I’m actually already in front of most of the population on this planet.  If you were to go back and as 21 year old Oak if he would have any of those things you’d get a nervous laugh and maybe a “We’ll see.”

So why then do I carry myself like I’m the victim of some tragedy?  Why does everything take so much effort?  Why is it difficult to find joy in all this?

The Truth Hurts

Frankly the answer is because I choose to be the victim.  I choose to see myself as behind the 8-ball.

It takes so much effort to do things because maybe I’ve forgotten why I’m doing it in the first place.  Maybe I’ve gotten complacent, and taking all this goodness in my life for granted…?  

It kind of becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.  The more this thinking takes hold the more a lackadaisical work ethic becomes the ‘norm’.  The further behind I get the more this pity train keeps rolling.

The Truth Redeems

I mean, the pain only lasts for a second here because if I’m actively choosing to be a victim of my circumstances I can instead actively choose to kick ass.

I happen to be extremely well positioned to make this decision.

I don’t think I have zero value anymore.  I’ve identified just about everything my brain can throw at me that made me feel absolutely worthless.  I’ve come a long way to defeat my own brain…  Not only do I now recognize that I’m loveable and am loved – I can love myself for what I am.

What a liberating thought.

I can make changes to my life not because it will implode if I don’t, but because I can choose to make it better.

So how about that resting-funeral-face you’ve got going there, bub?

Life is good.  Life is awesome.  It’s incredible really.  I’m sitting here breathing and typing and holy crap this is a good feeling.  What more could I ask for?

My biggest excuse to get away with not giving my all at home is “I had a hard day.”  No, my day wasn’t hard.  I was challenged.  I had to put on my man-pants and work hard, maybe deal with people who make it difficult to deal with them.  Is this an excuse to be miserable in the presence of my loving wife and adoring son?  Heck.  No.

So what does that leave?  Work ethic?

If I’m being terrifyingly honest with myself, I can admit that I haven’t always worked as hard as possible at the task at hand.  I haven’t always allocated time towards the most important things in my life at that point in time.  I haven’t always remained accountable for my actions, instead creating a comfortable white lie that (I think) preserves my image, in retrospect at the expense of my dignity.

This too can change.  No excuses.

Brass Tacks

Really it’s up to me to have fun doing the things that I do again.  Finding the wonder in every little thing, and generally making the most of my time here.  I’d really love to get to the point where I can dive right in with zero hesitation or worries.

But that’s on me.  It’s my responsibility to choose to bring my best effort every day.  Time to take ownership.

7 Replies to “On Self-Improvement”

  1. Beautiful. Why do I feel like I wasted those ten thousand dollars on that Tony Robins course alluva sudden?

    1. Well shucks, $10,000? Is that what they’re going for these days?

      I more wrote this for myself – to help keep me accountable, but if it helps other people that’s a bonus :).

      The self help genre strikes me as kind of cheesy but I feel like you stop caring if it actually makes a difference in your life.

  2. No one is perfect, and you are allowed to have bad days; they help contrast and add value to the especially good ones.

    It’s important to make these kinds of realizations. I’m glad you were able to open up about this and identify this about yourself. Talk to your wife about how you feel if she’s open to it. Or keep talking to us, your loyal ‘fellow guardsmen and women”. And find other help if you need it.

    I’ve been reading about “Behavioral activation” which is the idea that you force yourself to do activities that will improve your mood, ESPECIALLY if you don’t feel like it because it breaks the cycle. So, if hobby makes you feel better when you feel like shit, break out those paints for an hour. If spending time playing with your child perks you up, schedule it! But only you know how to break your cycles.

    It’s hard, but stick at it. Your Baneblade needs you :p

    1. Everyone is absolutely allowed to have bad days – but I want to take ownership of it. What happened *exactly* to make it bad? Was it as bad as I thought it was, or am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Am I still breathing? Enjoying the Miracle that is life? etc.

      I think part of the issue before was that I thought I was breaking a cycle by distancing myself from a perceived ‘bad’ day by playing video games or hobbying or other methods of escapism (which aren’t bad in and of themselves provided my motivation for spending time on these things is true and good), rather addressing the root of the problem which was/is between the ears.

      Escapism is exactly that though, and as I’m distancing myself from the day that ‘to-do list’ grows and grows, and I feel worse and worse and I need more and more personal time to feel good and it spirals into oblivion.

      …I could really go on and on about this, but ultimately it’s a process and I’m not hoping to be good overnight, rather I’m hoping to hunt and kill habits that were killing me and develop new healthier ones. So far so good on that front.

      I definitely appreciate having this medium to throw my thoughts into the world; the support and accountability provided by others is an added bonus.

      Thank you for your thoughts! Be well sir!

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