This is part 4 of my 10 part Life Lessons Series, where each week I will be taking a lesson (in random order) from 10 Life Lessons From 30 Years, sharing my own personal experiences with that lesson, and expanding it into a more detailed post. This week, Life Lesson Number 6:
Focus on your own side of the street. The only person you can control is yourself, don’t waste valuable energy trying to fix others and use that energy to improve yourself instead.
YOU CAN ONLY FIX YOURSELF
I have a confession to make, out of all the lessons I’m writing about, this is the one I probably still need the most work on. Because I’m a fixer you see. A fixer of myself, but also of the people closest to me. And it gets me into trouble quite often. Just like I enjoy an organized space, I also enjoy an organized life. I like to look around both my physical and my emotional lives and see that everything is in its place and working as it should. Unfortunately, unlike our physical spaces, our emotional lives and relationships just doesn’t work like that, and I’ve discovered the hard way that trying to force it is just a recipe for pain and suffering.
MY INNER PERFECTIONIST
I partly blame this on astrology. My sun sign is fun and curious Gemini, but my moon sign (governing one’s inner emotional landscape and needs) is puritanical Virgo. Virgo’s are the perfectionists of the zodiac with a strong focus on self improvement. This fits me to a T, and of course, because I’m human, I can often project this perfectionism and self improvement habit onto those closest to me. And the thing is, I’ve come to realize this usually happens most often when I’m feeling out of control of my own habits.
I’m usually hardest on those around me when I feel like I’m personally floundering. It’s when I’m struggling to eat healthy, or be more productive that I get more easily frustrated with my loved ones for struggling to do the same. As if their own struggle is making my struggle harder. I think this is true of most people, especially perfectionists. The thing is, your frustration isn’t going to make their own attempts any easier. In fact you are more likely to hinder them, as well as yourself.
FOCUS ON YOUR SIDE OF THE STREET
We need to remember to take a step back and ask ourselves what’s really bothering us about the situation. Is it them, or is it in ourselves? 99% of the time we will find it’s our own shit that’s bothering us. Most of the time we need to take a deep breath and surrender to the fact that we can’t control everything. That it’s not in our power to fix other peoples lives for them, and the only person we have any real control over is ourselves. To stop expending this energy on things we can’t control, to let those things go, and take the energy we’ve saved ourselves and use it to accomplish our own goals. Because it’s when we ourselves are our best selves that we are most likely to inspire those closest to us to be the same.
Carina Covella is a writer and currently working on her forthcoming memoir, Love Dogs, detailing her six month transformational journey from Hollywood through India. Carina graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University cum laude with a degree in Art History. She also attended the Sorbonne in Paris and studied opera at the Manhattan School of Music through the university exchange programs. Until recently she lived in Mill Valley, California with her wonderful Welsh boyfriend Anthony in a house nestled in the trees, but now they’re off on a two year adventure around the world. When she’s not writing or traveling, she loves to cook for her friends and family.