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Wellbeing / Business psychology

“Toughen up, buttercup!” Hard truths you need to hear

“Life is difficult,” read the opener of the first self-help book I picked up. Of course, I hastily put it down again.

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Twenty years on, I am finally coming to grips with some of life’s less palatable realities. And I’d like to dish out a giant serve of toughen-the-heck-up to you. You’re welcome!

1. You are at least as annoying as everyone else

You know how it irritates you when your partner stacks the mugs in the cupboard face down? How do you think they feel to find your pesky up-facing mugs? Often there’s no such thing as the ‘right’ way, only your interpretation of it.

A related fact is that the more intolerable you find others, the more intolerable you are to them. Ditto grateful/gratifying, inspired/inspiring, humble/humbling. If you want to be liked, practising acceptance is key.

2. You will let yourself, and others, down

Recently, John-Paul and I accidentally missed the ceremony of Amy’s last day at preschool. “It’ll teach her resilience” was JP’s spin. I was riddled with guilt but have slowly accepted being an involved and active parent doesn’t preclude you from being human and stuffing up. It won’t be the last parenting mistake I make, and provided the good experiences outweigh the bad our kids will be fine.

"If you want to be liked, practising acceptance is key."

Won’t they?

Want more articles like this? Check out the business psychology section.

3. A lot of life is repetitive, dull… and necessary

I am the proud co-owner of an amazing small business and get to contribute in positive ways to its direction. I am also the raiser of invoices. I have the privilege of parenting three brilliant kids. I am also the hanger out of washing. An engaged and full life requires lots of work, a majority of which is far from glamorous, but is very, very important.

4. You are not a grown up until you’ve –

a) learnt to apologise.
If you know you’ve upset someone, you owe them an apology, end of story. Doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. After rows chez Leader, the perp will say “I’m ssor…ss..soorr…sorry!” impersonating a Happy Days episode where the Fonz was nearly too cool to say the ‘s’ word to Mrs. C.

b) admitted to being upset.
Loved ones often don’t realise they’ve upset you, so tell them! Staying silent and believing people ‘should’ know leads to passive aggression and lots of it. If you go for this, you’re not a good communicator. Next time, try informing, not acting out.

What have you learnt from the school of hard knocks? Share your hard truth lessons below.

Bonus points to anyone who identifies the book quoted in the intro.

Sam Leader

is a former director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

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