Guilt, fear, and low self-esteem can stop you from living by your own wisdom. Here’s how to overcome them.

Guilt, fear, and low self-esteem can stop you from living by your own wisdom. Here’s how to overcome them.

by Arthur C Brooks via the Atlantic

In 1896, a man in Dummerston, Vermont, was driven from his beloved home over what should have been a minor family dispute. He generally got along well with his brother-in-law, who lived next door. One day in an argument, however, the brother-in-law—who was a bit of a hothead—threatened to punch him. In reaction, the man had his brother-in-law arrested, which the neighbors saw as a massive overreaction. At the trial, the man acted haughty and “arrogant” toward others, according to newspaper accounts. He became so unpopular for his attitude and actions that, shunned by the local residents, he felt compelled to leave the town he loved, never to return.

This man could certainly have used some advice on keeping things in perspective. One great example, by the poet Rudyard Kipling, was written some months earlier: “If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, / If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, / But make allowance for their doubting too.” Verse by verse, the poem, titled “If,” dispenses the soundest of counsel on how to keep petty conflict from blowing up into a major life disruption.

Had he heeded that wise poem, the unfortunate man in Vermont would have let the altercation run off him, not overreacted, not talked down to others, repaired his relationship, and gotten on with his life. In fact, he was familiar with “If”: Though the poem was not published until years after the spat, the overreacting man was none other than Kipling himself.

Kipling wasn’t a hypocrite; rather, he simply was unable to take the excellent advice that he had offered others. It’s a version of Solomon’s paradox, named after the wise king from the Bible who failed to live by his own wisdom, leading to the demise of his kingdom. Researchers find that this sort of behavior is strikingly common. Maybe you can relate: For example, although you would counsel a close friend to swallow her pride and reconcile with a family member for the sake of her own happiness, you might struggle to do the same. Or though you would strongly advise a friend against infidelity, knowing that the result will be catastrophic, you might commit it yourself…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE