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I’ve never been a super secretive person. Private, yes, but never secretive. I like to think of myself as an open book; I just don’t like to turn my own pages. But for reasons I think every human being can understand, there are certain negative qualities about myself that I’d rather not share with family and friends and the rest of the world.

Then again, I believe that if I hold back bits and pieces of myself from you, then I’m no better than the millions of people on social media who only post the photos that show their best sides (I’m guilty of that too, btw). The point is, I imagine you don’t want to see the best version of me without also knowing WITHOUT A DOUBT that I’m just as human as you and just as imperfect as the coworker who drives you nuts or the teenager who cut you off in traffic.

So, I’ll lay it all out there—my 5 worst flaws (according to myself, of course). And then I’ll list my husband’s. Just kidding. And because I think it’s important to always strive for improvement, I’ll share with you what I am doing to create change. The first step is always to acknowledge that a problem exists and needs to be changed.

1. I cuss…a lot.

This one isn’t news to most people who know me well. And while I’d like to believe I’ve gotten better in this area since my son was born, my husband might be a better gauge of my progress (or lack thereof). To be honest, the only reason I even care is that I imagine what I would think if I heard my son use the language I’ve normalized in our home. Just like with most of today’s music, you don’t realize how bad a word is until you hear it come out of the mouth of a child. I know many people are offended by curse words, and I don’t want my language to be the reason my family isn’t invited to dinner or the reason my son doesn’t want to have friends over. (I promise I’m not as bad as I’m making myself out to be. I have never cussed in front of my students or grandparents or in church.) While I own that I’m a little rough around the edges, I’d like it better if I knew my kid(s) couldn’t blame me the first time a bad word slips out.

How I am creating change—

  1. I have utilized a swear-jar—this only frustrated me and led to more cussing.

  2. I have had my husband point out every time I used certain words—you can imagine how epically this strategy failed.

  3. I am currently trying to get it out of my system, kind of like binging on doughnuts and pizza before a smoothie cleanse.

2. I’m controlling.

I’m not even the first-born! I’m supposed to be more laid back, according to those personality and sibling tests. But I can’t deny it; while I prefer someone else to make the difficult decisions so that I can’t be blamed when plans go awry, I have a hard time letting go of the reigns when I think I’m right or have a better way of completing tasks. I have to remind myself that unless I want to do all the work, I need to learn to be okay with someone else’s way of doing things. At home, it’s not that I want to be in charge of everything; it’s that I want everything done according to my logic. One thing my husband and I have learned after only a few short years of marriage is that his logic and my logic are often polar opposites. I think I’ve gotten better over the years, especially at work, and if my coworkers are reading this, just let me believe it.

How I am creating change—

  1. I have learned to delegate tasks so that I’m forced to take a step back.

  2. I have occasionally shut my mouth, even though I really wanted to suggest a change.

  3. I pick my battles. When evaluating others’ effectiveness in given tasks, I try to make suggestions only if I think they will actually make a difference.

3. I criticize too much.

This particular quality has affected many of my relationships. In my mind, I’m an accepting person, open to diversity and disagreement. But when I look back at past arguments and some of my marriage problems (yep, you read it right—it’s not all sunshine and rainbows over here), I have to admit that the world might be a slightly better place if I shared fewer opinions of others’ decisions. Maybe one day we’ll know.

How I am creating change—

  1. I shut my mouth more often (but I’m not responsible for my facial expressions).

  2. I remind myself that my opinion is not as important as I want it to be.

4. I complain too much.

I have been increasingly aware of this quality and increasingly annoyed by it. There is so much negativity all around each and every one of us, and I’m adding to it? Why? It doesn’t make me feel better; it doesn’t gain me lasting friendships; it doesn’t make other people feel better. It fuels the fire! Complaints are TOXIC. We often complain just to start a conversation and spawn a friendship. But what is that friendship built on? Negativity. Sometimes I complain, hoping my husband will enlighten me about the positives of the situation. But when he agrees with me and offers his negative views right alongside mine, the negativity grows exponentially. I’ve been part of a workplace that was so negative, I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I dreaded going to work and listening to people gripe about trivial inconveniences and #firstworldprobs. When considering my blessings and the misfortunes of so many around me, I am ashamed to admit that I have the nerve to complain when I get hot or cold or when my food isn’t served in a timely manner or when I hit EVERY freaking red light. Boohoo!!!

How I am creating change—

  1. After listening to a podcast of Girl, Stop Apologizing, by Rachel Hollis, I decided to modify one of her strategies for building myself up and use it to transform my thoughts. I downloaded a voice recording app on my phone, so whenever I travel for work or if I’m going to be in the car for even a few minutes, I record x amount of things I’m thankful for that day. Sometimes I’m specific, like reasons I’m thankful for living in a small town, or reasons I’m thankful for where I work. Sometimes I’m feeling so negative that I have to keep it broad and just think of anything for which I’m thankful. This forces me to look for positives, in effect, diminishing the negatives.

  2. So far, that’s the only strategy that has really helped me to think more positively and to complain less. But since I had an (a.), I had to have a (b.). #Englishclass

5. I have a temper.

It’s hard to describe the thoughts and emotions that race through the brain of someone who struggles with this. Most of the time, after I lose my temper, I’m so angry and frustrated, but not with the person who just turned without signaling. I’m frustrated with myself. (Just to be clear, that was a semi-joke; I do have a mild form of road rage, but when I lose my temper, it’s usually in the comfort of my own home.) Anyway, the shame of realizing I lost control AGAIN is so much greater than the anger I felt at the time. Why did I have to yell? Why did I have to cuss? (See #1)

How I am creating change—

  1. I’m not.

  2. I’m praying.

To be honest, there are hundreds of strategies a person can use to actively create change, or at least try. I’ve tried some of them, like setting reminders on my phone to think of something positive, or counting to 10 and taking deep breaths when I’m angry. Placing sticky notes with inspirational quotes or positive affirmations is a common strategy, but it’s not my style. Most of the strategies I’ve implemented may have worked temporarily or not at all. So I quit.

What I mean is, I quit trying to create lasting change all by myself. One night a while back, I sat in my car, so frustrated that I just couldn’t change. I knew I wanted to be a better person, a better employee, a better boss, a better wife, a better mom, a better Christian. But I just couldn’t do it. As I sat there and prayed, I told the God I worship, “I quit, I’m done trying.” And what a relief! It finally occurred to me that all the changes I was trying to make and all the effort I was pouring into them were just not enough. At that point, my powerlessness was all too clear to me. I decided that, instead of working so hard to change so many things about myself, I would work smarter by doing what I believe I should have been doing all along: praying with purpose and right motivation and getting to know my God better through scripture.

It’s so simple, and yet not easy to stay on track.

If you have any tips on creating lasting change that other readers or myself might benefit from, please leave us comments below. Let’s be a light for each other!