I find that a lot of my attempts to be better than my current self are in a well-intentioned place, but often… not in the right approach. That is, I keep fixating on habits as if they’re something I have to be or become. Like, it’s not a natural shift in gears for me. The most effective approach when it comes to adopting new habits involves an internal identity shift: “I’m not a good student, so I need to work harder at studying” (a scarcity mindset) vs. “I AM a good student because I study x everyday for at least an hour” (an abundance mindset).
I realize that this all sounds pretty woo-woo, but I’ve noticed that a lot of my troubles stem from me recognizing my lack at something and getting really stressed out about it while redoubling my efforts. The stressing out part is what I’d like to pinpoint as being counterproductive (and honestly, pretty psychologically uncomfortable). I like to be self-aware and grounded, but at the same time, it hurts to recognize lack. I was looking over one of my drafts when I came across one that contained my heartbroken feelings over the fact that I craved external approval so much. It was hurting my work performance, my ability to think rationally, and my ability to focus on what mattered. In grad school, everyone’s focused on making it through for themselves, and no one will celebrate or monitor your progress for you but yourself. It’s a fact of life, and I need to be more invested and responsible for making my own dreams happen. But for some reason, I was more inclined to not care. My parents were financially invested in my success, but I just felt so alienated from my work and the desire of accomplishing this for myself that I couldn’t do it.
Anyway. I’ve done a lot of things for them. And while it worked out in my favor in the past, at some point, I had to come to terms with the growing sense of emptiness that was building inside of me. Soon, my parents were no longer giving me the recognition that I didn’t know I was so dependent on, and consequently I felt at a loss.
Anyway, the abundance mindset. You start to adopt new habits because you identify yourself as someone who does those things. Because as long as you continue to identify yourself as ‘not being the kind of person who has this habit, but needs to,’ you internalize this psychological distance that will prevent you from properly ingraining said new habit. I believe that this is all from James Clear’s book, “Atomic Habit” which I totally haven’t read but so many self-improvement YouTubers highly recommend.
I wish I had learned this earlier rather than beating myself up over the fact and feeling like a failure. It’s important to remember to pace yourself and only pick one new habit every 7 days or so, and to continue to do them at the same time and environment/cue/reward until about 1-2 months or so. But this apparent internal “woo-woo” stuff is really important too.
So yeah. I am a healthy, happy person who cares about her wellbeing and those of others. I will achieve my dreams, and I will work efficiently everyday to do so. I am a good daughter, sister, friend, and student, but above all, first I will be the best chiisana I can be. Someone positive, persistent, supportive, generous, and clear-eyed.
P.S. Lately, I’ve had to withdraw from optometry school since my grades weren’t good enough for me to continue. It was really depressing, and I’ve yet to share the news with some of my friends, who I feel I only share negative news with (I’m a very reserved and serious person in real life). But I’m looking forward to restarting again. Or at least rekindling my desire before pursuing it in earnest again.
Because no one else is responsible for doing this:
chiisana, I believe in you. I’m so proud of how far you’ve come and how hard you’ve worked to keep me happy and well. Keep up the good work and continue to look for ways to share your love, good fortune, and blessings with others. Stay grateful and humble. You’re not alone. Never give up.