Advice I Have given Myself but Have Not Particularly Put into Practice

I’m not very great at practicing what I preach

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I’m not very great at practicing what I preach (to myself, especially).

In many cases, I know what I should be doing — how I should be interacting with someone, coping with my own thoughts and temperament or approaching one of the innumerable issues big and small that attempt to plague a sensitive, immature vaguely maladjusted and highly neurotic 30-year-old who seems to have not yet figured any of his shit out.

I suppose the kind of advice I dole out to friends who confide in me and when talking to my own self is more easily articulated than activated, at least when it comes to activating it in my own life. (See? Just did it right there. I’d probably give the advice to simplify language when possible, to write the way you might talk, and I could have just went with “easier said than done” just now. You know who says “more easily articulated than activated?” in casual conversation or ever? Fucking no one, that’s who.)

Here is some (mostly unoriginal) advice I’ve given but have had difficulty following myself (or that I have flat-out ignored):

Don’t beat yourself up too much about the past. You can’t go back and change it, so instead of dwelling on it try to use your occasionally uncontrollable reminiscent tendencies to learn from the things you’ve fucked up, the scenarios in which you have hurt people, the rash decisions you’ve made that have changed your life trajectory or narrative in a way you believe (or know) has not been and won’t be for the better. Carry those lessons forward. Leave the guilt behind. It’s not getting you anywhere. Additionally, try not to look back in anger at perceived slights or at those who have wronged you. After doing so to a certain extent, it loses any therapeutic benefit and turns exclusively to mind poision. You don’t have to forgive people, but partially forgetting is often for the best. Life is how it is, not how it was, as Conor Oberst says.

Never, ever wear bootcut jeans.

That thing you said to someone that they took the wrong way or that hurt their feelings? They probably aren’t thinking about it and probably don’t care about it as much as you tend to assume they do. Just because you remember it with a cringe or a stomach-level sadness weeks, months or even years later doesn’t mean that they do. (And if they do they’re probably working through some of their own shit.) So try not to worry about it too much.

Don’t leave the mayonnaise out on the coffee table overnight. Put it in the refrigerator. Seriously.

You shouldn’t be afraid to be honest with people when it comes to your wants and your needs — as abnormal as you may think or feel that they may be. And you shouldn’t cede your wants and needs to something or someone because you think you’re supposed to be doing something a certain way with or for a certain person.

Stick with a diet and exercise and self-care routine or regimen that works well for you. It will make you look better and more desirable, sure, but more than anything it will help you feel better about yourself, live a better life and stave off some of the issues you’ve been experiencing that don’t at first glance seem directly tied at all to diet and exercise.

Sometimes it’s okay to not care.

Stop getting so drunk that you do things to fuck up your life. (Or for that matter so drunk that you do even little things that will embarrass you or will undeniably have a poor result, because you know you’re still sometimes the kind of person who looks at these little things as big things that have effectively fucked up your life, even if they really haven’t in the grand scheme of things.)

Make your bed every morning. It’s a tiny little accomplishment, but doing so can help you establish extremely important positive momentum. Same goes for flossing every day and washing your face before bed.

When you start to feel weird or mentally sick or terrified, always try to remember to look toward your Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and your Schema Therapy for relief. The shit works and will continue to work better the more you practice it. Try to remember that your thoughts and feelings are not you.

Stay away from the social media profiles of people you miss or find yourself pining for, or of people you often fall into upward comparison with. It won’t do you any good at all. Remember that their portrayal on Instagram is a tiny fraction of their life, and they are able to curate it to present themselves how they want people to see them.

In fact, cut back on the social media altogether a little bit. Don’t look at it during commutes. And give yourself some time away from it before you go to bed. Read a fucking book or something.

One more thing about social media: Don’t ever do a thing because you think it is going to get a lot of likes. Do it because you earnestly want to do it.

Just go ahead and talk to your superintendent about how your toilet won’t flush. It’s a simple human confrontation, and he should be expected to do his job. If he’s a dick about it, shrug it off. I mean, you’re a dick about stuff sometimes and you’re not even making your living fixing toilets.

Remember that you’re lucky you’re not making your living fixing toilets. But also remember that sometimes the way you make your living is actually not as important as fixing toilets. It’s all about perspective.

Maybe it’s time to stop sleeping with stuffed animals. Or at least to put them away when there’s a chance someone might come over.

Don’t let work define your worth. It’s highly unlikely that on your death bed you will be reflecting on something you wrote or did not write, unless of course you allow that to be all your life is about. The world will be fine with or without your words, your advertisements, your carefully crafted tweets, or whatever the fuck else you consistently allow yourself to put too much value and (negative) energy into. It’s not as simple as “if you don’t want to do it, don’t do it,” but always factor in how something is weighing on your psyche, health and all-around will to live.

Never make a decision based exclusively on money.

Don’t take rejection so personally in both your work and social life.

Believe that you are going to be okay.

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Scott Muska

Scott Muska


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