The title of this article pays homage to this 1994 track by the late Tom Petty … it’s a good song!
“You don’t know how it feels to be me!”
This is a line which rings true for everybody, in every conceivable given circumstance. Nobody knows how it feels to be anybody but themselves, and vice versa. And that truth is part of what separates us/makes us all unique; yet it also, quite ironically, is something that we all have in common. That irony is the very essence of this mysterious thing we call life!
The idea that nobody knows how it feels to be anybody else is a thought that we should all try to bear in mind in our everyday life. To stop ourselves from being judgemental of others, yes; but also because most of us have times of feeling like we are not good enough in one way or another…
of feeling like we aren’t capable of achieving some goal, however big or small…
of feeling like we aren’t worthy of someone’s acceptance (in our personal life or our work life)…
or even of feeling like we don’t give two hoots about things that we feel we really ought to be grateful for (and we think that the lack of gratitude maybe makes us bad people…)
The reason for our mood swings and insecurities, though, is simply that we humans are complex critters! We don’t always act in ways that we would have chosen to act, if we had the time to sit and think those actions through … but the truth is that we don’t have the time to sit and think through every action in our life – instead we are forced to improvise, and ‘wing it’. Most of the time, we actually can’t know what to expect from ourselves (let alone other people).
So when we actively try to organise our mind, improve our relationship with the world, and improve our lives generally, we are still certainly gonna be met by future bumps in the road, or more complications. The point being that we shouldn’t get ourselves down if things don’t work out exactly as we initially hoped. Life is complicated! So are humans, so is the world, and so are you … So cut yourself some slack!
Clean Your Bowl…
Just because humans are impossible to understand completely, and life is complicated, is not to say that we should stop trying to get things straight/get our shit together… because if we don’t get our shit together from time to time then the messiness of our minds will become unbearable!
It’s not so different from washing the dishes… the reason we wash dishes is so that we don’t have mould in our next meal. Moreover we clean our dishes in order to dirty them again (another irony of life)! If we don’t wash the dishes in suitable time, then eventually a huge pile builds up, and they all need to be washed at once.
Same applies to our minds, and our well-being. It’s a good idea to make time to tidy our minds from time to time in order to keep it functioning properly in those oh-so-often-times when we’re required to improvise and ‘wing it’ in life. If we don’t tidy our minds, then we will end up with a very messy mind which, arguably, could require professional help. Check out this article on 5 Ways to Tidy Up Your Mind.
“But It’s Not My Mess!”
Some people who actively try to tidy up their minds, though, will point at other people as being responsible for the mess in their mind (or their kitchen sink, for that matter!)… well, in these circumstances it’s good to remember, again, that you don’t know how it feels to be them! So try not to judge these people; you have no idea why their thought processes work the way they do, or why they act the way they do.
Those people that you think are messing up your otherwise tidy mind probably have their own shit splattered all over the place in their own mind! So they can’t help but hurt you clumsily with their low, and messy consciousness. I don’t consider myself a Christian, but this quote from Jesus, as he hangs on the cross, feels rather relevant here:
“…forgive them, for they know not what they do”
Luke 23-34, The Holy Bible (English Standard Version)
The example that Jesus sets here (whether you believe he was real or a work of fiction being irrelevant) is similar to what I’m saying. People act out in certain ways, because they don’t know any different – in fact, on some level, they probably believe that they are making the right choices.
If you can accept that other people don’t have their shit together, and you can be sympathetic to that fact, then you will be more able to keep your distance a little bit too. And when you keep your distance, their shit will not splatter all over you!
Furthermore, when other people’s shit is not splattering on you, you are then better equipped to focus on getting your own shit together. Your mind will get messy again, soon enough – make no mistake about it. But if you can make the time for yourself to tidy up, then you will be much better prepared to accept other people and their odd behaviours – when you’ve got your own shit together, maybe then you will find yourself in a position to help others get their own shit together, if you’re into that kinda thing…
Sometimes we all say and do things that we don’t mean to, because we don’t always have time to think everything through. Life is not straightforward, and nobody ever really knows what the best choice is in any situation … so cut yourself some slack, and cut others some slack too! Life is easier without the drama of a praise and blame game.