I always love sharing this piece of advice from Jordan Peterson in his book 12 Rules For Life - Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.
Even now I have trouble following this rule. It’s so easy to be an eternal victim — we all have our fair share of suffering in this world, whether we were victims of tragedy or malevolence. We can easily become bitter and resentful and blame other people for the problems that we have not sorted out psychologically.
We need to look internally and figure out what kind of emotions we are repressing and avoiding, what we are choosing to keep ourselves in the dark from, and why we choose to act in ways that are not, as the psychotherapist Carl Rogers coined, ‘congruent’. In other words, are we behaving like the sort of person that we wish we could become?
The word house has a twofold interpretation. The literal, physical translation — Is your house, or at least even your room, in perfect order? Are your relationships with your parents, siblings, and friends in a good place? Are your relationships honest and supportive, and are you all aiming to live meaningful lives filled with purpose and love? Or are you criticizing the world to ignore facing the problems that need your immediate attention? If you can’t even improve your relationship with your parents, what makes you think you know how to change the world to be a better place?
The other translation uses the house as a metaphor for your mental state. Have you put in the time to develop yourself intellectually before you decide to go out and criticize the structure of reality and society? Have you reconciled the events of your past and come to terms with painful and traumatic memories that may have affected you more than you can admit? Have you created a plan for the future, and have you started working toward them? Have you spent a lot of time trying to understand yourself?
I’m not saying that these all need to be perfectly sorted out in a short amount of time. I’m saying you can change the world simply by focusing on the problems around you that you can personally solve yourself.
My life has gotten significantly better once I decided to change myself instead of focusing on what needed to change in the world. I used to be unable to talk to my family and friends about my emotions or even tell them that I loved them. I used to be the eternal victim and never accepted responsibility for my own shortcomings. Ever since I decided to take ownership of my life and not wait for others to change first, I have seen so many positive outcomes in my life and surprisingly in a very short amount of time. You can change your life too, if you’re willing to work for it.