Impressive vs Impression
By: Abby Twyman | November 26, 2019
What do you value more: (1) being impressive, or (2) leaving a positive impression? Has it always been that way? When have you felt differently? When you are more concerned about being impressive, what do you usually think, say and do? When you are more concerned about leaving a positive impression, how would you respond to that same question?
What if I told you that the key to success is to always remain 100% focused on leaving a positive impression on your environment and that if everyone on this planet would simply stick to this goal every day the world would be a much more peaceful place to live?
Don't believe me? What would it take for me to prove it to you?
For my whole life up until 2016 (35 years), I was focused on being impressive. I got a good education. I had a great job. I drove an awesome car. I had an amazing husband. On the outside, I looked successful and happy, but on the inside, I was filled with fear and self-doubt. Aching to be heard, but never being able to find the words to say what I really felt and what I really thought.
Be a good girl. Just do as your told. Don't cause a fuss.
Day after day I allowed myself to be used up. Sucked dry of all my resources. Mostly emotional, but I made it about the money. I thought I had to give everything I had, no matter how bad it hurt, because if I didn't I would lose everything and that would be worse. I thought I had no time to attend to things at home because I was busy and had more important things to do, no matter how bad it hurt the person I loved.
During my childhood, I was taught to not talk about my feelings, because that was what was modeled for me by those responsible for my social-emotional development. We did not talk about our emotions or our problems in our family. We pushed them down and covered them up with whatever we each found worked for us: drinking, smoking, eating, gossiping, fucking, fighting, being an asshole, and all other forms of behavior that functioned to numb the pain and make us feel alive again. All of these things felt good to each individual family member at the moment, to be sure, but in the long-run, they left a negative impression on each of us both internally and externally.
Once I entered the real world of adulthood, I continued to carry these negative experiences and impressions around with me all while trying to pretend they didn't exist. I can't speak for any of my other family members, but for me, it took a significant trauma in my adult life to come to terms with all this and start to make personal changes to actually deal with my past and work to better myself.
The Long-Term Impact of Negative Impressions
Years of practice hiding the truth about myself for fear of what others would think of me filled my brain with thoughts of self-doubt. I've engaged in a lot of "bad" behaviors to numb the pain. I did those things. I am human. I've also done a lot of "great" things which have filled my heart with joy, but I've also done some "just OK" things only in the service feeling impressive. While I did leave a positive impression on my environment, that wasn't my goal. And while I did want everyone to believe that I was impressive in every way, the truth was that I wasn't... if people only knew?!? I was so concerned about what other people would think of me if they actually knew everything. They would judge me at that was painful. So I avoided establishing relationships because they were painful. People in relationships knew deep, dark secrets, and I never wanted people to know mine because if they did they would be sad for me and I could never have that... I'm a good girl, and good girls don't cause a fuss.
I focused on being successful because successful people are looked up to and are expected to keep people at a distance. I focused on working hard and getting shit done, without much concern about the impact my behaviors (my thoughts, words, and actions) were having on my environment. I pushed through the pain and accepted the suffering as a fact of life. I kept trudging along...
Until 2016 that is. This is when it all changed for me. This is when I started to stand up for what I believe. This is when I started to speak up and express my true thoughts and feelings. This is when I started living my values. This is when I started expecting myself and others to push against the status quo and expect greatness from each other. This is when I decided enough was enough and I was no longer going to stand idly by while there were pain and suffering in my detectable environment. I made it my mission to realign with my values and help others align with theirs as well so we could all fulfill our individual potential. I started focusing on leaving a positive impression on my environment instead of trying to be seen as impressive but not actually feeling so in every aspect of my life. I learned to let go of my conceptualized self.
To learn more about my story and how learning about the science of behavior and learning helped me overcome trauma in my life, please consider joining our community and participating in our courses. We're on a mission to create a more peaceful world through the systematic application of behavioral science, and a portion of all revenue from course sales goes to building our Alaskan Oasis and developing the Warrior Club afterschool program!