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You Are Not Special, But You Can Be

You Are Not Special, But You Can Be

Is anybody truly special? Short answer: Yes.

Is there anything wrong with being special? Another short answer: Yes.

Very few people are special. You are not one of them. Why? Because there is a downside to being classified as “special.”

Being special in today’s society means thinking that you are an exception to the rules that everyone else has to follow. It has very little to do with self-esteem and very much to do with self-deception.

The downside is that we can be thinking about ourselves in such a damaging way without realizing it. And our unawareness drives us to be ungrateful and even unsuccessful.

Pedestals and Privilege

So let’s be honest for a little while.

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Perhaps you grew up in a family where you were the apple of your parents’ eyes. Maybe you were always seen as the good boy or good girl who never broke the rules, the model student in school, obedient in every way including being home before curfew, and so on and so on.

In short, you were given privileges and people put you on a pedestal. It was assumed that you would be successful because, well, you had such a perfect past (which required very little work from you, of course). It just happened.

Now, here comes the downside. A child who grows up thinking this well of them self will see their self as special. And because he or she has been told in so few words and treated in so few ways — as if they are special — they will begin to expect everything to come easy to them. They can begin to feel entitled to success without any effort.

But sooner or later, you find out that this is not true. You do not have any special powers. You are not too big, too beautiful, or too smart to fail. Everything you do is not guaranteed to succeed.

Conditioning

Children who grow into adults who have been conditioned to think they are above and beyond everything and everyone else will ultimately have to come face to face with reality. You are not special.

Privileged? Yes. Special. No.

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You should never let yourself fall into the trap of assuming that you don’t have to work hard or that life is just supposed to happen perfectly for you. People who think they are special and have been conditioned to think that everything will come easy to them are at a disadvantage.

If it is all just given to you, do you really understand how success really works. Does it just happen? Do your dreams just come to pass? If everything is all there for you because you are already qualified (because you’re special, remember, everybody thinks so), you miss a very important lesson.

The Way It Is

Maybe you are one of those people who has been taught to believe that everything is just going to come to you because of how wonderful and bright you are. Well, I want to make the shock of reality a little less sharp for you.

It doesn’t work that way. Obstacles are the way of life — for everybody.

You are not entitled to a great future because you had such a great past. In fact, for many people, it is the very opposite because they deceive themselves into thinking otherwise. How many rich kids turn out to have completely tattered and torn adult lives. Special? No. Choices? Yes.

The way it is: If you want it to be a certain way, it is within your power to create it.

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You have to choose.

Ego is one of your worst enemies. Thinking you are special is just an excuse to escape the painful reality of responsibility and choice. Avoiding the hard word of owning up to our mistakes and choosing to change is a deceptive tactic that strangles our progress and ruins our future.

After all, it is much easier to sit atop our high horses and look prim and proper than delve into the messiness that is life.

Still want to be special?

Special people don’t concern themselves with being special. They just don’t. Because being special is not important. They don’t try to be the exception to the rule.

Instead, special people do special things. They earn what they have. They put themselves on the line for others. They work hard at meaningful and fulfilling work — work that benefits the larger part of society.

They admit when they fail and struggle because they’re not special. They accept help where it can be found and allow others to gain strength from their stories. They learn and grow because special people actually have time to better themselves.

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Special people know that the world does not owe them anything. Instead, they owe the world something. When special people leave, the world mourns their loss and remembers their legacy. Because it was never about them anyway. It was all about what they could do for someone else.

Life isn’t about you. You want to special? Start giving the world and the people around you something they always needed but never had. Make yourself useful. Make your existence meaningful. Use your perspective and abilities for good. Design a future that others want to emulate.

Why?

Because you’re special. And your “specialness” means something to us.

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Daniella Whyte

Psychology Researcher

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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