One of the best advices I’ve been given throughout my life and career was “Stop taking yourself so seriously”. As it might seem shocking to some, the man who gave me this advice was right.
“Who, me? But – I have all reasons to be serious! This is ^%$*ing important!”
- “See? My point exactly!”
Taking myself too seriously means I have to prove something. Having to prove something, means I’m not happy with myself the way I am, and only outside recognition of my sysyphic efforts would make me feel righteous. And you know what? Most people don’t give a damn…so obviously frustration builds up, then the need to prove even more, and more stress.
A vicious cycle – stress comes from the pressure we let on ourselves, from outside. We make it seem internal only because we let it penetrate, and we then imagine it’s so important to us.
Two ways to switch from stress to enjoyment:
1. Stop caring about what other people will say – not in the blunt, careless way you see in rebels. But in an assertive way.
Transactional Analysis holds a concept that we are in one of the four categories below:
“I am ok, you are ok“ – assertive. It means you “live and let live”. No outward or inward pressure.
“I am ok, you are not ok” - aggressive. It means you hold yourself superior, and don’t value the others.
“I am not ok, you are ok” – passive. This was phase one of my development process. Holding a belief that I constantly needed to prove something is damn tiring, don’t you think?
“I am not ok, you are not ok” – honestly, who would want to spend time here? It only screws up your mind and makes you want to grab a gun.
So moving from “I’m not ok” to “I’m ok” was a long term process. I’m not there yet completely, but I let myself see the results I had. I depend less and less on others telling me that it was good, to believe it myself.
The moment I realized something changed, was when I met an old highschool friend, who was used with getting pokes. Did I mention poking and occasional aggressiveness are a means to “force” recognition?
He said something and then sat waiting for my usual “poke”. Nothing happened. I said “You know, I think I don’t have anything more to prove”.
2. Playing – or indeed, stop taking myself too seriously.
Children develop a sense of needing recognition only after society imposes this to them. Before, they are very happy just playing by themselves.
Did you notice the difference between when a child falls down, when his mother is nearby, and when he’s alone? In which of the two scenarios do you think he will start crying?
Inserting a playfulness in your life has two outcomes:
- you might stop taking yourself too seriously
- you might actually have fun
I watched this inspiring video from Sandra Ghitescu (in Romanian) at TED x Bucharest, where she talks about how playfulness changed her perspective, too:
Playfulness is used in coaching too.
Asking “What if…?” and twisting the world upside down sure makes a change of perspective. And, you know, sometimes a change of perspective is all we need to realize …it doesn’t matter that much.
You let yourself go.
You start enjoying the ride.
You have fun.
And the stress goes away.