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Life is hard. Sometimes you get slammed out of nowhere by things entirely outside your control. Often, those things may not be something you wanted or asked for.
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to assume that it’s your fault or personal responsibility.
And you know what? Sometimes it’s true. Sometimes we do fucked up shit or feel fucked up because of what we’re doing.
Then there are other times when we are compelled by outside forces to do fucked up shit because it feels like we have no other choice. Poverty is a good example of that. Plenty of people stick to a strong moral code in the face of adversity. On the other hand, sometimes those strong morals go out the window if you have kids to feed or haven’t eaten for almost a week.
Still, there are other reasons. It could be mental illness or trauma causing you to do things that you aren’t proud of. Maybe it’s the circumstances you find yourself in that are causing you to act badly. Perhaps it’s just that you haven’t had good role models in your life to know the difference between acting in a right and wrong way.
And by wrong, we don’t necessarily mean wrong in a societal, religious, or cultural sense. Instead, we mean acting wrong, as in being out of tune with how you want to act, what you believe, and what you feel is right.
So, what do you do if you feel like you are fucked up?
1. Consider the idea that you are not fucked up.
Jumping right to that, huh? How dare I try to convince you that you’re not fucked up when I don’t even know you!?
Well, let me explain…
The words “fucked up” are often used as a placeholder because the person using them doesn’t necessarily understand how to express their problems or how they feel. They may not be aware of the appropriate language or may not understand which terms actually apply to them. Let me give you a couple of examples.
“I’m fucked up because my parents were fucked up. They hit me as a kid. They neglected me. They constantly told me I was a piece of shit and unlovable. And now, as an adult, I can’t keep a relationship together, and I can’t find any value in myself. Therefore, I am fucked up.”
Fucked up is one way to put it. A better way to put it? Traumatized. Because trauma is typically the result of being abused that way.
“I’m a fuck up because I did something I regret that hurt someone I care about. I made a bad decision in a moment of impulse and stupidity which caused them pain – pain that may not be forgivable.”
Or, maybe, just maybe…you’re human and made a bad decision. Everyone does that shit sooner or later. Everyone. And if they claim not to? Well, I have to say that they are not someone that I’d trust at all. I’d assume they’re lying to cover up whatever they’ve done, or they’re doing. Not that everyone is entitled to know your business or anything like that, but more that they’re being deceptive about it.
“I don’t want to talk about it” is a valid and honest answer.
2. Improve the area in which you fucked up.
Alright, so you feel like you’re fucked up because you fucked up. Well, are you going to ruminate and drown yourself in that space? Or do you want to do better and be better? I mean, you’re reading this article, so you clearly want to be better. And guess what! There’s great news!
A lot of the things we fuck up in life have some kind of solution to them. There are videos, podcasts, books, blogs – all kinds of information for you to learn, grow, and do better the next time that situation rolls around. Yeah, you might have made the wrong decisions now that aren’t true to who you want to be. But that doesn’t mean you have to make those same decisions next time.
Instead, you can take the time to learn more, consider your actions more, and then take action more in tune with who you want to be.
3. Do better. You are what you do.
People have many points of view on what people are and are not. Some folks want to get to the heart of “who they truly are.” They feel that if they peel back the layers of trauma and crap life has flung on them, they will find some new version of themselves buried underneath. They feel that there must be some person buried under all of that heaviness that would just know how to make good decisions, be compassionate, and be a kind person. And some people believe that everyone is like that.
I, the author, don’t think so; because I, the author, know I’m not that good of a person. I’ve peeled back many of those layers of myself, and all I found is that I can be a self-centered, self-interested asshole if I don’t take measures to not be that way. I’m what clinicians refer to as a “low-empathy person.” And because I’m a low-empathy person, I need to consider my actions before I take them, so I don’t cause harm to other people. I may not have the right feelings, but I intellectually understand that my actions have consequences, and I don’t particularly want my actions to cause harm to other people.
And because of that, I identify more with a phrase that you sometimes hear passed around: “You are what you do.”
No one gives a fuck about what you were going to do or what you thought you should do. They rarely care about why you did what you did unless you’re close to them. What people care about is what you do. And if you do fucked up harmful shit, then that’s how other people will perceive you. That’s very well how you may feel yourself.
The solution? Do better things.
4. Make better decisions.
Oh, it’s just that simple? Make better decisions! Why didn’t I think of that?
I, the author, can’t rely on my feelings or empathy to make good decisions. If I did that, I would be doing far more wrong things than right. And in this case, wrong as in things that I don’t want to do or have associated with myself. So, I rely on external moral compasses to keep me pointed in a better direction.
There are many ways to do this, but I’m going to give you a couple of personal things that have worked for me and some other ideas that may work for you. Of course, what works for me may not work for you. I’m not saying you should do what I do – just that you should find something that works for you.
Philosophy is the study of life and how to live. In philosophy, you’ll find many different perspectives on how to conduct a life you can be proud of. Personally, I found my comfort and peace in Stoicism. Stoicism teaches that Virtue is the sole good. Virtue is composed of four things: temperance, courage, wisdom, and justice.
You might recognize these four things as part of other belief systems. For example, in Catholicism, a version of them is called the cardinal virtues.
I filter a lot of my choices and actions through Virtue. Is it fair and just? Is it wise and reasonable? Is it in moderation? Is it courageous? If the answer is no, then I don’t do it. And let me tell you, after years of doing this, it’s completely changed my decisions and how I conduct my life for the better.
Ask someone you admire.
Maybe you’re fortunate enough to have someone in your life that you can admire. They seem to make good decisions, have their life together, and strike you as a good person. You may consider your choices in light of how they would make them. What would this person you admire do in a similar situation? Can you do that?
And if you’re friends with them, you may be able to just ask them what they would do.
There are many places you can find a better North Star to follow. It could be philosophy, friends, therapy, or even religion. Religion offered plenty of people peace and direction when they needed it. You don’t necessarily need to believe in all the spiritual aspects if they don’t resonate with you. Just the framework of decision-making and how to make better decisions can be helpful.
Just make sure that whatever you embrace and what path you follow doesn’t thrive on hurting other people. That won’t lead you where you want to be. Instead, it’ll just make things worse and harder for you.
5. Seek out therapy from someone that isn’t sheltered.
Anyone involved with the mental health system will know that mental health professionals are of all different stripes. Some folks get a bachelor’s degree and then go into social work or mental health. Maybe they want to help, maybe it’s something they’re passionate about, or maybe they’re just looking for a secure paycheck. The mental health industry is always hiring, thanks to low wages and too many hours.
The problem is that you can sometimes wind up with pretty sheltered professionals. The second therapist I ever had gave me such wonderful advice as “you need to think positively” for my decades-long walk with mental illness, Bipolar-depression, and suicidal thoughts. And you know what? At that moment, it worked! I laughed so hard that I cried. And then I never went back, because what kind of stupid advice is that for someone who’s mentally unstable and in a dark place?
It’s not really her fault. She was young and inexperienced even though she had the paper on the wall.
On the other hand, the first and best therapist I’ve ever had was someone who had been working with people with mood disorders for 20 years. Will that more naive therapist develop her skills and perspective with more experience? Here’s hoping. I hope she has a long and good career because it’ll be good for her and those of us who need her help.
The quality and experience of the mental health professional you lean on matters. Of course, we don’t always have a choice or great choices. People say, “Oh, just find another therapist,” like it’s so fucking easy to find someone who is not only accepting patients but will also accept your insurance – assuming you have insurance. Sure, you may get lucky and be in treatment with a facility with many professionals you can easily transition to. But not everyone is that lucky.
How do you know if a therapist is a good fit?
Generally, people start with a personality fit. Do I mesh well with this professional? That’s not how I approach it. I usually ask, “How long have you been working in mental health?” and “What is your experience with [the problem I’m experiencing.]” Typically, I just want to hear something that shows any degree of relevant experience. Book learning can only take you so far.
Personality fit never mattered much to me. The commonly spoken belief is that you have to sync up perfectly with your therapist in personality so you can feel comfortable enough to be honest and open up – which I largely think is an easy excuse to avoid doing the hard work.
Guess what? Being open and honest with another person is always fucking hard and rarely feels good. I would say it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And personally, I’m thankful that many of my counselors were drastically different people than I was. It helped me see other perspectives that I may not have otherwise considered.
Sure, you can wait years until you find the “perfect therapist,” or you can try to make this one work if they are knowledgeable and capable. However, you can learn a lot from anyone if you make yourself do the work.
(You’ll see in this article and others that A Conscious Rethink recommends BetterHelp.com for those wishing to get direct and immediate professional therapy. And relating to what the author has written in this section, you can switch to a different therapist at any time if you don’t feel the one you are talking to is going to be able to help you.)
6. Accept that you’ll make bad decisions.
How we feel and think about things starts to be formulated when we are children. These things are often guided by the adults that are in your life.
For example, if the adults in your life were loving and supportive, you’re more likely to develop those traits. On the other hand, suppose the adults in your life were assholes, abusive, or not present. In that case, you’re more likely to develop feelings, attitudes, and problems commonly associated with those childhood adversities.
Sometimes, there are things that we just can’t unmake in ourselves, so there is something extremely important to keep in mind.
Your initial reaction to a situation is how you’ve been conditioned to respond. Your actual response to that situation is what matters.
Okay, so maybe you’re in a fight with your spouse. Everything in your brain is telling you to scream at them, tear them down, and make them feel small…because that’s what you learned how to do by watching the adults in your childhood. But even though you have the impulse to do that doesn’t mean you need to honor it.
Instead, you can ask your partner if you can have time to calm down. Then, you both can choose to set down the argument until you cool off. Then you come back and speak respectfully about it to get it resolved.
You’re not what your initial impulse is. That’s just how you’ve been conditioned to respond. Of course, there are always exceptions and difficulties to that rule. Mental illness can cause impulsiveness that can be difficult to control without treatment and help. Still, you can do what you can to improve your ability to respond to the negative thoughts and actions that your brain kicks out at you.
You don’t have to be owned by your trauma or the way it’s conditioned you. You don’t have to be owned by the bad things you did in the past. All you have to do today is make better decisions than yesterday. That may require readjusting your worldview, therapy, medication, or self-teaching skills through whatever media is good for you.
Still, it is within your power to be better today than you were yesterday. You’re not a fuck up. You’re just someone that didn’t know better before, and now you’re growing into something better.
Are you ready to feel better about yourself and who you are as a person?
We don’t pretend that it will be an easy journey free from setbacks. But if you are committed to the process, you can change the beliefs and feelings you have about yourself. A professional therapist can help you to challenge your negative thoughts and slowly build up your self-esteem with tailored advice that no internet article can give you.
A good place to get professional help is the website BetterHelp.com – here, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.
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- “I Hate Who I’ve Become” – 12 Things To Do If This Is You
- How To Stop Beating Yourself Up: 7 Highly Effective Tips
- How To Stop Blaming Yourself For Everything: 5 Effective Tips!
- Self-Punishment: What It Is, Examples, What To Do Instead
- How To Stop Being Self-Critical: 7 Highly Effective Tips!