Have you ever heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, for the most part, it’s true.
The cover is only one part of something much greater. The only way you’ll learn this is if you read the book, despite the impression that the cover may give off. There’s always more than meets the eye.
Something I learned about myself recently is that I’m terrible with compartmentalizing.
Oftentimes, I have so many ideas, interests and desires that I spread myself too thin. So much so, that things around me begin to suffer; projects, ideas, relationships.
Don’t know what compartmentalizing is? It may just be the most important skill a human can have.
In your mind, build a filing cabinet and fill them with your thoughts. Once you do that, close the cabinet. When you’re in a certain situation, pull out only the most helpful thoughts from the cabinet and let everything else go.
Let me give you an example.
A cop is face-to-face with a bank robber. They’re both pointing their guns at each other. The cop has two thoughts. One thought is to shoot the robber before the robber shoots him. The other is the fear of actually pulling the trigger and possibly being too slow. “What happens to my daughter if I get killed?” The cop thinks. “What if I kill the robber and he has a family?”
See, compartmentalizing is about putting conflicting thoughts and feelings away. So, that’s exactly what he does. He quickly shoots. The robber goes down. He reminded himself of what he learned; it’s shoot or be shot, in situations like the one he was facing. There’s no time for thinking about all the “what ifs.” It’s because they will only generate more and more conflicting thoughts and feelings. It’ll slow down action and lead to more dangers.
That’s sort of what it’s about. Allowing your thoughts to serve you and protect you, rather than consume and distract you.
So, the next time you meet someone who seems to be different, whether that be in a more negative way or simply in an unfamiliar way, remind yourself that you’re only meeting one of many parts of that person. Don’t limit or isolate yourself just because you can’t see the full picture, right now. That takes time, it takes risks. But taking risks can uncover beautiful truths.
That’s sort of where I am right now. I keep having to remind myself to compartmentalize. That the things I hate about myself aren’t all that I have or am. They are only small parts of who I am, but that’s always changing and evolving. If I judge myself solely based on the surface, I’m setting myself up for failure.
Your thoughts need to be your weapon of choice. You need to believe in the good you can do for yourself or your mission. If you spread yourself too thin and so many different directions, it’ll be like wrecking your filing cabinet and bringing in thoughts that don’t belong, in the wrong places.
Believe in yourself. Take things slow. Love what is, the way it is.
I heard a quote once. “If you don’t love her at her worst, then you most certainly don’t deserve her at her best.” Think of yourself in that way. If you don’t learn to love who you are in total, in spite of your flaws, then how can you learn to truly love yourself? Loving all of who you are, including your flaws doesn’t mean you still can’t work on them and change yourself, it just means you appreciate and understand why you are the way you are.
It’s all about choosing the right weapon for the right battle. The right thoughts at the right time.