Death by 1,000 Cuts
“Death [is] the high cost of living.”
While I don’t think it’s healthy for people to have on their radars their imminent death, I do think that sometimes we forget just how easy it is to run out the clock, and to let life flow to its inevitable conclusion. It’s heart-breaking to see people waste their lives, but for me one of the greatest tragedies (in the developed world) is watching others with fantastic potential and genius allow themselves to die the slow Death by 1,000 Cuts.
What do I mean by that?
When life is uncomfortable enough, it spurs us to action and we feel compelled to make changes. Namely, to remove ourselves from an unbearable situation. However, when things are subtle, when the cuts and bruises are small, we believe we have to ‘grin and bear it’, ‘that’s life’, and our mettle is shown by how we well we take it on the chin.
While perseverance and long-suffering can be values, in one particular scenario this behavior hurts us beyond words: when we do not understand ourselves, when we are not understood by others, and when we think this is normal, unchangeable, and ‘just how life is’.
Each time we put ourselves in a situation that feels wrong for us but we don’t think we have permission to change it, that’s a cut. When we work a job that is clearly not meant for us, or we stay in a relationship with another person who fundamentally misunderstands us… these are all cuts. By themselves, they are survivable. As they stack, however, they break our spirit and our will and we ask – who is this person I’ve become? What life did I choose for myself? Do I even have control over my decisions anymore, or am I perpetually on auto-pilot? And if I took control, would I even know what to do with the wheel?
We see this Death by 1,000 Cuts play out over and over and over again. Now, usually the solution to this issue is called the ‘purpose of life’ – to “know thyself.” That is, to spend a lifetime getting to know who you are. And while that’s a great mission, we have a slightly different take on this.
To get from New York, NY to Los Angeles, CA you can either walk or take a jet plane. Both will get you there, but one does so with enough speed and efficiency that it affords you the opportunity to do far more traveling, all over the world in a lifetime if you’d like. This is one of the reasons why personality psychology is so amazing and truly helpful, not just a rainy day curiosity. It’s the jet plane strategy of “knowing thyself,” being able to put language to things that are so unconsciously natural to you they otherwise take a lifetime to figure out.
On top of that, having language to understand how your mind works gives you the ability to explain it to other people. So, not only can you “know thyself,” others can know you on a profound (and profoundly helpful!) level.
Think about how many “cuts” that prevents. Think about the increase in the quality of your life. Not just ‘taking it on the chin’, not just being on auto-pilot, but grabbing the wheel and knowing what to do with it.
This is why Personality Hacker is so dedicated to personality psychology. The power of knowing who you are frees up the mental real estate you’ve been applying to surviving life, and unleashes potential that may go unrecognized even by yourself.
Death may be the “high cost of living,” but Death by 1,000 Cuts is the high cost of not understanding yourself. Live your full potential, know your Genius, and live the highest quality of life a person can before ending this ‘mortal coil’.
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