Do you consider yourself a gambler? Thrill seeker? Irrationally impulsive?
If you’re subscribed to this newsletter, both you and I probably consider ourselves reasonable, rational people. I’ve never even bought a lottery ticket, but today I realised when it comes to how I’m living my life, I actually have a serious gambling problem and I never even realised it.
I’ve been aware for a long time that I’m a bit insecure.
It’s fine, I mean between me sometimes hiding it and it being confused with modesty when it does show, I haven’t really needed to change it yet.
What’s really the worst that can happen if I don’t address this? I don’t post a photo of myself I don’t like? Sometimes I don’t hang out with people because I feel ugly? Is that really a problem? Don’t be ridiculous, I don’t really need to solve this. It’s much better than being narcissistic at least.
And yes, it probably is better than that, but the issue with lack of confidence in oneself isn’t just how you feel you can speak, it’s what you do and don’t say. And what happens in your life because of that.
Yes, it doesn’t really matter if I don’t say I hate the restaurant my friends picked for dinner because I’m scared of disappointing them. But as I consistently hide my true thoughts, preferences, needs out of fear that I will be disliked, judged and abandoned, I never develop the ability to express what I need. And eventually, I realised, I never really had the ability to determine what I need at all.
It’s fine to ‘be easy’. I say it all the time, and I genuinely mean it: I don’t mind what music we listen to, movie we watch, restaurant we go to or what choices people make for me, that’s fine. But if you’re also like this a lot of the time, have you considered when the last time you said ‘I don’t like this’ was?
And what about the cases when it isn’t just a restaurant for lunch? What if it’s someone at school asking you to do their homework all the time? What if it’s your manager assuming you’ll stay an extra 3h after your shift because someone didn’t show up? What if it’s your friends asking you for money?
Never being allowed to recognise our needs, combined with the lack of confidence in our likeability and fear of abandonment leads to a perfect combination of easy-going, modest, but also vulnerable adults.
Because this is where things become dangerous. Yes, we’re fine not having boundaries and not being able to properly say no most of the time. Our friends really are great people, and most humans are benevolent, but what if we’re unlucky? What if our next boss doesn’t care about us and takes advantage of our lack of boundaries? What if the next friend we make doesn’t really have the best intentions?
And this is where I realised, I’m living my life on pure luck. I’ve gotten just as lucky and unlucky as one would expect with people: generous and kind people being absolute ok for me, and more narcissistic and unkind people causing lasting harm to my health.
I’m genuinely gambling with my life. And it’s so stupid.
The point here isn’t to be paranoid about who we run into. But just to potentially warn any Elizabeth-like people that maybe we just need to be a bit more rational in this aspect of life. Being told that our timid insecurity is cute is a problem. Being told that extreme modesty is attractive is a problem. Our lack of boundaries are a problem.
Simple awareness has already made the biggest difference for me, beyond that, there’s endless work to be done in exploring what the fears, beliefs, behaviours come from and how to undo them.
We can’t control the world, but it’s not great to just be beaten about by it, we can help ourselves along too.
I don’t know if this made sense, let me know if you’d like me to share more.
Either way, best of luck to us both,