The title of this post might be a little misleading. Your assumption could be that I am referring to women. I am not – this post is about men. A crucial trait for any modern man is the ability to be self aware. In other words, you need to be able to ruthlessly evaluate your own behavior patterns so as to spot weaknesses and self destructive behavior. We all have them. Most men however, find it too confronting to admit that they have weaknesses in the first place. They bury their heads in the sand rather than expose themselves to any self-examination that risks throwing up uncomfortable truths.
Self-evaluation is only the first step. Once you have identified a weakness you then need to actually do something about it. It’s called fixing the problem. This takes time. It is simply not possible with deep rooted behavior patterns to change them overnight once you have identified them. It is a gradual process of weening yourself off your emotional dependency that causes you to behave that way in the first place. Even when you have been successful it is amazing how years later in just the right context the old negative behavior pattern rises to the surface like scum on pure water.
For the last five years since I moved back to Australia I have been steadily working on one of my own weaknesses. The behavior in question is my tendency to gossip and snipe from the sidelines whenever a group that I am involved in is heading in the wrong direction through weak leadership. Although I behave like this from good intentions, (I want the group to succeed), paradoxically this behavior usually results in the opposite of what I intended due to undermining of the leadership. It also promotes distrust in the more coherent members of the group.
In other words, I do myself no favors behaving like this. My positive traits are so numerous that they tend to outweigh this negative behavior but it still has ramifications. I can point to several previous professional careers where I held myself back due to this tendency. Interestingly, when I took the time to examine this from an impartial perspective I discovered that the professions in which I have had my greatest successes had seen an absence of this behavior for one reason or another.
The key to fixing the problem was identifying why it didn’t surface as much as why it did. It was all a road map of clues and false trails that eventually led me to a certain clarity on the subject. In essence I was behaving like a little bitch. Harsh but true.
Yesterday I had an opportunity to be a little bitch, a big opportunity. I declined it by staying silent. The other person was expecting me to have a whinge. My non-conformity to my previous behavior surprised him to the extent that he subsequently bent over backwards to fix the unmentioned issue. Isn’t that strange? I got what I wanted but not doing anything, or rather by not doing something in particular. Which was the opposite of what I had previously been doing.
It’s important to recognize personal successes of this sort due to the unavoidable failures that await me on the same subject. Like I said, you can’t fix this stuff overnight. But I am getting better. It’s only taken me five years thus far.
What’s nagging at me is what will be revealed once I do succeed in putting this demon to rest. There is undoubtedly some other toxic behavior that I am engaging in that I haven’t even identified yet. Just don’t all pile on me at once with your enthusiastic suggestions. There’s only so much I can take.