How to Stop Worrying and Start Living


I have a reflection I would like to discuss with you today; the notion I wish to discuss is, change.  More specifically, can we change who we are?  I know I am capable of deferring gratification.  I’ve done so many times prior – while laying the groundwork for a ‘better’ future, I could deny myself certain gratifications in the moment.  College is a good example.  By the time I was discharged from the service, I was a certified jet powerplant and airframe mechanic and I could have taken a job with a major airline, back in the mid-70s, making north of $40,000 a year.  But I chose to go to college instead and remain poor until graduation.

I could/can change my outward behavior, for long periods of time if necessary.  I also educated myself on how best to accomplish things on my radar screen.  I can exert my will, in other words, over things and situations in order to accomplish certain goals.  I can also craft who I am outwardly to adopt to my never-ending changing environments.  I can do all of this stuff as can most of you, also.

Additionally, I turned myself into a runner during my Air Force years, and have been active most of my adult life, swimming, biking, jogging, hiking, yoga, and blah, blah.

But I’m not talking about any of the changes listed above to my essence at the root level. Everything I talked of earlier deals with stuff at the surface of things.

About midway through my tour in Nam, I took a hard look at myself.  I looked deep into my soul trying to find my center and to discover who I was at those depths.

I had a much harder time finding any ‘good’ core characteristics at subterranean levels, back then, than I did ‘bad’ stuff.  I’m talking about personality characteristics which are inherent as part of our birth package.

I became a Christian in Nam, so I set out to become more Christlike as a result of my conversion.  But I didn’t stop with my behaviors, I set out at first to change my thought life.

I wanted to feel my character change as a result of having spiritual help to do so.  Have you ever set out to change your thinking process itself?  I had hoped for a miracle at this level, I guess.  I desired to not only ‘do the right thing’ but to also experience the proper motivation attached to any ‘noble’ behavior.

First of all, it took decades to discover who I really am.  Everyone who is brought into this life has a few decades of indoctrination where they are told/taught how to act, how not to act, what to think, and what not to think.  These voices in our heads are not ours.  They belong to our parents, Sunday-school teachers, teachers at school, coaches, siblings and friends.  It was virtually impossible to be one’s own person when one was living at home and going to school.  Kids back in my day had countless different bosses telling them what to do, at almost every turn.

Eventually though, I was able to break free from my early years of propagandize-meant and came face to face with the real me.  I learned to distinguish the difference between my inner soul’s voice verses everybody else’s.

Let me say one more thing before I ask you, a question.  I’m not going to identify them by name except to say that there are a few parts of my character which I do not care for that much.  And when I identified them, over 45 years ago, I set out to change them.

Here’s an example – I am a worrier, born that way.  My mother was a worrier, and my dad struggled with anxiety.  Since I have their genes, I inherited many of their tendencies.  I don’t struggle with anxiety, in general, but I am a worrywart.  When I was a practicing Christian, I felt guilty whenever I became too worrisome.  I thought to myself that I should just trust Christ to take care of me and to stop worrying.  But as much as I’ve worked on this basic personality temperament of mine, it has not changed in any substantive way.  And I’m still a hypochondriac. At this point, I’m guessing I will take this worrisome habit to the grave with me.

I’ll end with a question – have any of you been successful at changing some part of you, at the core?  Or did you just develop great coping mechanisms (like me) to somehow manage the parts of yourself that you don’t care for so much?

I have come to fully appreciate the notion that people can’t change much about themselves, even when they want to.  Since there are aspects of my personality that I’d like to change, but can’t, even though it is in my best interest to do so, plus I’m highly motivated in this area, what do you think my chances are of changing someone else’s perspective on something by simply trying to ‘reason’ with them to do so?

Nil fits the bill, here, I believe.

Opinion – with regard to self-help books in general (and I’ve read a bunch of them) most of them serve merely as a giant footnote to Mr. Carnegie.

Until next time…