Who’s here for self-improvement? Come on, give me a show of hands. Who among you is here hoping they can actively improve who they are? All right. See, that’s your first mistake. You should be here to learn self-acceptance. – Jesse’s therapist on Breaking Bad
In the past I considered how others saw me as the most important. Did they think I was smart, pretty, studious, whiny, strong, or anxious? In spite of all the effort I could put into my outward charade, you know as well as I do that people are going to see what they want to see. So it’s not my main thing anymore. It’s dropped pretty low on the list these days. It doesn’t matter how others see me, it only matters who I am.
Know who you are.
You can’t be what someone else is. Get comfortable in the body of today. I moan a lot about how much I miss my 16-year-old body. Fit, strong, and resilient. And now as I’m trying to shape up again, it seems so far away. Was I really that fit? But the complaining doesn’t help, it makes it worse. I thought about it earlier. How would I feel if someone else was saying these things to me instead of talking to myself so negatively? You’re being lazy. You should be doing your squats instead of lounging on the couch. Get up and get it done. Why can’t you be like her? Geez, I’d tell that person to leave and shut up. But it’s me saying those things. I have to befriend this body. I have to live with how it is today, not what I want it to be. This is who I am.
Jesse Pinkman: You either run from things, or you face them, Mr. White.
Walter White: And what exactly does that mean?
Jesse Pinkman: I learned it in rehab. It’s all about accepting who you really are. I accept who I am.
Walter White: And who are you?
Jesse Pinkman: I’m the bad guy.
Listening is not the same as understanding. I might say “The sun is an enormous gaseous flaming ball, burning through the centuries.” If your vocabulary is different than mine, your brain will translate what it can and dump the rest, leaving you with the automatic translation, “The sun is a fire ball.” We come from different lives. Have various experiences. Even in the same age generation, you find opposite perspectives. It takes some effort to truly understand another person.
Here is a good example from one of my favorite shows. (Breaking Bad Spoiler Alert, season 4) Skyler is afraid for Walt’s safety. Walt is afraid to of getting caught by the police. It’s an interesting conundrum.
Skyler White: Walt, please, let’s both of us stop trying to justify this whole thing and admit you’re in danger!
Walter White: Who are you talking to right now? Who is it you think you see? Do you know how much I make a year? I mean, even if I told you, you wouldn’t believe it. Do you know what would happen if I suddenly decided to stop going into work? A business big enough that it could be listed on the NASDAQ goes belly up. Disappears! It ceases to exist without me. No, you clearly don’t know who you’re talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!
Walter White: I am the one who knocks!
Sometimes people misunderstand what I say. It happens. Other times, I’ve often been talking with someone and been too quick with my hearing. Later I’ll look back on the conversation and understand what the person truly meant. It’s a moment of humility. I’ve tried to develop the habit of not forming a hasty opinion, waiting for a more true picture. Sometimes putting information on my mental shelf for a bit can help. I may not agree with your opinion, but I want to understand.