Through my childhood years, I’ve been preached at many times regarding the different traits and characters that I should have. As an example, I remember being told often that I should not be greedy. I should not be proud. Anger is not good, and neither is laziness. I’m sure there’s a few others that I’m missing. As a normal kid who was lazy, a bit greedy, who was proud of his own good grades and who got angry once in a while, such lectures left me feeling guilty about myself.
At the same time, I’ve also been given the talk on how I ought to have an entirely different set of traits. I should work hard and be motivated to move up in life. When bad things happen I need to have the courage to deal with them. I need to have self control; temperance is good since impulsiveness leads to bad decisions. I most certainly missed a few others out. These lectures led me to feel inadequate, since these are not traits that I have.
As I go through life and learn to deal with things better, I realized I’m still not the perfect person I’ve been lectured to be. I can’t say that I’m a brave, temperate man who’s motivated and diligent. What I have been doing is using the same bad traits I’ve had since childhood to go through the challenges I’ve had to face. There were times in the past when I was impulsive, when I would waste money to buy stuff I don’t need when browsing online. It wasn’t a non-existent sense of self control that got me through this problem, but rather laziness. When I noticed myself getting excited and ready to spend money on some product I don’t need, I would sic my own laziness to tackle this problem. Yes, I really want this thing; but it’s late in the evening, do I really want to grab my wallet, get my credit card out and go through the check out process? Nah, this can wait until tomorrow. Laziness would triumph over impulsiveness for that evening. The next day, when I’ve had a good night’s sleep and had other things to deal with, I would have forgotten about the item I wanted to buy from the night before.
To give another example out, I’ve never been diligent either. As mentioned before my laziness is strong. When I do need to work hard, I would sic my own pride and maybe greed at the laziness. Need to get stuff done but don’t feel like it? Ask myself whether I’m inferior to some other guy who has accomplished the same thing, and maybe also remind myself of the benefits I would receive from completing my task. Laziness would lose against the double team of pride and greed, and next thing I know, I have busted my ass hard and accomplished what I set out to do.
Lastly, the times in my life when I had to stand up for myself, or when I’m dealing with scummy people out to take advantage of me, it wasn’t really some idealized sort of bravery that got me through those situations, but rather plain old anger.
Such examples go on and on. What I realized is I didn’t really need to toss away most of the traits that make me who I am and acquire an entirely different set of traits to be successful. All I needed to do was to learn to use the traits I already had properly. The same applies for everyone. It could be just a trait that you have been told is no good, or could be a trait that has caused you real trouble in the past. If you just tame it, it will become your helper in some way, and no longer be your enemy.