The choice to improve our state has always appeared to be a default setting for human nature. Just like the baby that learns to crawl before learning to walk and then run, adults also seek constant progress with the aim to achieve more comfort or fulfilment in their lives. The nature of this world is such that everything, including the human body with all its marvelous designs is in a constant state of entropy. In the absence of entropy, no effort would be needed to maintain or to build on what we hold dear or true.
The desire to build on what we have reflects an appreciation for it, as well as an appreciation for our ability to create more with the skills and resources to which we have access. If we don’t appreciate it, we undermine its value, and in turn allow it to stagnate or deteriorate. Given the constant state of entropy, such stagnation while coupled with an expectation for things to stay the same reflects an entitlement mindset. A mindset that suggests that we did our part, and it is now someone or everyone else’s turn to do their part. Or we live with the expectation that once something is achieved, it will always be there and we end up taking it for granted.
When we take things for granted, it usually deteriorates or disappears completely from our lives. Take people for granted and they’ll find someone else to make them feel appreciated. Take things for granted and we’ll fail to maintain it until it eventually achieves a state of disrepair. Remember entropy? Inaction on our part allows the destruction to gather pace because anything good requires maintenance. Anything bad can simply be left alone to continue its state of natural degradation. That is why when we want something to fail, we simply withhold our contribution towards its success, or maintenance.
But why allow something to deliberately fail if we previously saw value in creating or maintaining it? I think the answer to that question is simple. We start to see the value of our contribution being more than the value of what we experience or receive in return. Sometimes this results in us abandoning this drain on our life, and at other times we keep holding on because we grow to believe that our contribution may not be as valuable as we thought it was.
The moment we start doubting the value of our contribution, or in turn our worthiness of receiving such appreciation for it, the self-doubt starts creeping in and we start edging towards destruction. Destruction of the self before we destroy something external to us is usually the sequence in which it plays out. A healthy self-esteem never wants to be associated with destruction unless such destruction is believed to be necessary to destroy something that we believe is bad for us.
By the same token, an unhealthy self-esteem will result in us wanting to destroy even valuable things because the destruction of good reflects the self-deprecation that we feel in that moment. When we grow to take for granted our value and abilities to contribute towards wholesome outcomes, we are more inclined to destroy than to build.
And that is how we sway from building, to maintaining, to destroying, without stopping to realise that each state simply reflects our level of gratitude for who we are, and what we have. Instead, we find it easier to be distracted by the actions or behaviours of others in using their negative responses to justify our choice to give up on creating something good, so that we don’t have to look within and realise that we gave up on ourselves in the process.
Therefore, gratitude is expressed in a growth mindset, entitlement is reflected in a fixed mindset, and destruction is reflected in a toxic mindset. Each of which is a choice that we make based on what we choose to believe is true about who we are, and what we are capable of.