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Friday, January 2, 2009

Self control

When I look at how I got myself into this unfortunate situation, it all comes down to my weakest quality of self restraint and restricting and compliance to self set boundaries. Actually it's the inability to set boundaries. I've always been the flexible one, eager to make other people comfortable, happy and create the least amount of resistance. I've always been good at supporting other people/company goals. I've also relied on very close friends in the past to set boundaries for me and keep me in check. In the absence of such boyfriend or friends, I dig a deeper hole for myself.

A long time ago my uncle told me that in order to take care of other people, you have to take care of yourself first. I had always thought this was the most selfish piece of advice. But now I see that it's the best piece of advice that I should've listened to.

Making a routine schedule for myself which include early morning activities, a semi-strict diet and an early night's rest is tough and I'm still learning how to say no to things that are not on my schedule or diet.

I just wonder how to get myself to overcome this urge of compliance, group-think. That would involve breaking things down to what my worst fear of saying no is?
- Is it my low self esteem that I think I'm going to lose all my friends and not be accepted anymore?
- If I don't eat this or show up to this will they carry a grudge and not forgive me?
- Is it because the thought of eating that or doing that activity brings back good memories of the incidents that I performed that act?
- Is it because there might not be another time do this again?
- Is it because it's free? And my natural asian cheapness makes me need to accept it or else I'd be criticized later?

The textbook and logical answer is very clear
- Who gives a $*(!#*? If other people don't understand that you have a certain regiment and schedule then they don't really care about you anyways. They're not your friend and you don't have to bother with them or sacrifice anything for them.
- Be truthful about why you can't make it, can't drink, can't eat that bowl of Pho. Again if anybody has the balls to make fun of you, they're jerks and you don't really need them in your life.
- Well at the end of the day, if I lose all my friends because I'm finally set in my ways - have preferences and opinions, that's unfortunate but at least I'll live, be fit and healthy. But it's very unrealistic that I have such a bad selection of superficial acquaintances. Being an outcast is something I've always been used to since I've always managed to be the "different" one in school, at home, with different circles of friends.
- Sure, I have great memories of restaurants and home cooked meals all over the world in the past. Also of clubbing and drinking and all the smiles and bonding that happened because of alcohol. But I'm at a stage where I've been there, done that. There's no need to eat that steak at dinner, because it really won't compare to Uncle Jack's steakhouse in NYC. There's no need to eat that bowl of pho in the neighborhood restaurant, my grandma's and the little restaurant behind this church in Saigon is absolutely tastier. There's no need to wake up beside a toilet after a night of not remembering anything.
- Not being able to do things again because of natural disasters, diabetes, just fluctuations in the economy/jobs would definitely suck. And if the activity in question is that important and beneficial to your later memories and living with no regrets, I'd go for it. Fortunately, a lot of requests aren't in that dire urgency to be done today or never again.
- Free!=Good for you. Buffets, all you can eat, other people paying, expensed, all those words used to work like a charm for me to get me to ingest anything or do anything. It might be a very natural reaction growing up poor and asian. It is one natural reaction that I know I still need to overcome.

Actually let me rephrase by looking at myself in the third person, the logical answer is to GROW UP Thu. Your social smarts is like that of a teenager - full of insecurities and the need to impress to gather acceptance and feel good about yourself. Look why you even maintain a blog - its probably because of the good feedback and comments you get. Stop looking outwardly to gain acceptance. Look at the people you look up to and respect and admire. They all have very set opinions and values and never really need to mold or change themselves so they can get words of encouragement or positive feedback from you. If you accomplish your own goals and milestones, it feels rewarding as well. You don't need to be held accountable through other people's eyes if you respect your own judgement and take yourself seriously.

This is probably my biggest character flaw. However it really is the one quality that has let me live the life that I did - meet the people that I have - and more importantly learning and being privy to their secrets, experiences, generosity and advice. Taking my thoughts, challenges and goals more seriously shouldn't be mutually exclusive to being sociable, approachable and likeable and experiencing the world.

There you have it, the most personal post so far. I can't believe you found it.

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