I’m often asked unexpected questions.
Recently I was asked to offer insights on a few common lies or misconceptions we tell ourselves that hinder progress. My literal mind understood “hinder progress” as meaning in society. The progress of a society. Then, as I was answering the questions, questions that covered specific lies and misconceptions chosen by the questioner, I started thinking they might mean progress in mental health.
And by the end I realized, they’re the same thing. Lies and misconceptions holding back progress of our societies and mental health; they’re the same thing.
So, I’m sharing a few of those misconceptions and how they hold us back as a way to hinder any hindering of progress.
Misconception: It’s wrong to be selfish.
Truth: People tend to have more motivation, focus, and energy when working to get what they themselves want. They also have more intimate knowledge of the subject matter (example: wanting the perfect car leads to a focus on cars and a build up of knowledge). This often results in innovation and problem solving that would not have happened if they were thinking of others first.Thus, they get to see themselves accomplish things that would not have happened if they were not selfish.
Of course, a healthy person in a healthy society exists in a state of balance. Be selfish in moments that require it of you but also be sure to notice, consider, and care for others.
Misconception: I’d be happy only if I could …
Truth: Believing you need to achieve something in order to be happy sets the focus on the future. However, the work is done in the present. So since this belief, the belief you need to achieve something to be happy, prevents being happy in the present, and since unhappiness drains energy and reduces frontal lobe function wherein we problem solve solutions, our progress is hindered.
Of course, a healthy person in a healthy society exists in a state of balance. Be happy in your moments while you build toward achievements that matter to you.
Misconception: My failures are holding me back.
Truth: Seeing failures as practice runs for success enables a person to remain comfortable while failing. It helps them look at each situation, success and failure, in search of a learning. Hence, if you embrace the belief that failures hold you back you’ll have a great deal of difficulty seeking improvement and discovering answers.
Of course, a healthy person in a healthy society exists in a state of balance. Find answers in failure while expecting and course-correcting for success.
Misconception: I’m not unique or special.
Truth: Believing you are not unique creates a bias in the brain to see the ways in which this is true. Thus, whenever your own particular difference tries to bubble into your awareness you’ll push it down. Denying yourself in this way leaves you stuck with an internal battle to be unremarkable. Conversely, looking for what there is to admire in these differences moves the focus away from an internal war of concealing; it allows the person to flourish and grow their uniqueness externally. In this way they can see themselves and grow even more self-appreciative. They, individuals and societies, can progress.
Of course, a healthy person in a healthy society exists in a state of balance. Celebrate your difference and allow it to grow while recognizing innate samenesses that connect us.
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