September is self-improvement month. I guess it gives us time to reflect on how we’re doing with any goals that we have made in the beginning of the year. When I think of self-improvement, it helps me to have an honest talk with myself without any justification. If you are like me, it’s pretty easy to talk myself out of making any changes. I am comfortable with how things are and see no need for change. That’s what makes this type of self-improvement so challenging. It’s making improvement of my inner self that I believe no one can see or notice. Or so I assumed.
Thinking that way sets me up for failure. People are very perceptive, especially those who are close to you. They can tell before you are aware of any self-improvements that we need to make. It could be an adjustment in our attitude, disposition and even our motivations.
Before thinking seriously about making a self-improvement, I needed to identify how others view me, including family, friends and work associates. There are times when I can be short and impatient with some but not others. Identifying the triggers that invoke that response helps me to be laser focused on where I need to make some adjustments. When I feel taken advantage of or being disrespected, it makes me go from 0 to 100 when it comes from someone whom I have treated with respect. It’s a sad but true reality that people will mistake your kindness for being a fool and they will take advantage of you. That is just a fact. The way that I respond to it, however, is what I am in control of.
There are many experiences in my life that have left me to be very protective of my feelings. I have been disrespected and taken advantage of before. For example, a person who was on the board of directors with a well-known advertising organization, and I saw that a deadline was not going to be met. I wasn’t in charge but I wanted the team to succeed so I went above and beyond to make it happen, even doing more work than the person who was in charge. The person who really dropped the ball got all the accolades and I wasn’t even acknowledged for my contributions. That is just one in a number of instances that have caused me to develop this mental block, so I am always on guard against being taken advantage of.
This is where my self-improvement is going to be focused. When I’m in conversations, I take the time and listen patiently, objectively listening to the viewpoint of others without responding. There are really no rules in how much time that I can take before I respond. I can always let someone know that I’m taking time to really digest the conversation before responding. This will help me to remain calm. I recognize that I have this issue and I am working on it, so there’s nothing wrong with me excusing myself from a conversation and requesting that we take this up another day. If a person is not willing to do that, then it’s nothing wrong with just moving on.
Lastly, the power rests with me whether or not I get disrespected or taken advantage of. What I mean by this is not putting myself in situations where this is likely to happen. I am taking the steps one day at a time with this self-improvement project. There will be days where I fail but I will never give up.
About Paul Lane: Paul is a broadcast journalist and accessibility consultant for the gaming and tech industry. He lives with his wife, Rae, in Adelanto, CA. Click here to learn more about Paul.