We like to think the best of ourselves. That we are strong, calm, reasonable, collected – or whatever other traits we find desirable to have.

I think what we ultimately are is shown to us through our own reactions to the circumstances of our special little lives. It is revealed to us in all its ugly glory when something turns upside down and sideways in our seemingly controlled worlds.

We cannot deny that the arguably undesirable and ugly emotions of jealously, greed, desire for fame, and thirst for admiration, approval and praise from the world are a reality among us all. There are those of us who wear these emotions out for the world to see, proudly displaying our acceptance of these desires within us, and chasing after the fulfilment of each and every one of these pleasures.

Is that the formula for self-content? For some maybe, for others no.

Then there are those of us who deny ourselves the very existence of these emotions. After all, we want to believe the best of ourselves, don’t we? The ‘good’ in us. The ‘selfless’ in us. We can genuinely want good for others and feel warmth within us when others smile. We try our very best to convince the world of our humility and humbleness. But then, we want the credit for it. We want our ever-generous contributions and assistance acknowledged, the credit handed over on a silver platter, with perhaps an award or two. Take that away from us and see how we react with cracked smiles. When our names are not being echoed in the great selfless things we do, all of a sudden, the resulting happiness of others is simply not a sweet enough reward.

So, is the formula for self-content denying that these ugly emotions exist in us? No, probably not.

I think to be truly content with ourselves, we need to first understand ourselves and what we are capable of. Being human means being happy, sad, angry, calm, jealous, greedy, fame-hungry, status-seeking and narcissistic. Being human means being fallible.

Once we understand that feelings and traits we find undesirable exist within each and every one of us, some with a little more of one and others with a little more of the other, we can accept that to feel them is normal, and to tackle them is extraordinary.

We understand that unwanted, undesired emotions need our focused energy and self-determination to combat them (if that’s what we decide we want to do with them), to ensure that they do not seep into our actions at the very least.

Understand your mind then establish the boundaries. Setting boundaries for our behaviours and actions will be much easier once we understand them. Getting it perfectly right from the get-go is a false expectation that we shouldn’t place on ourselves; life is simply not that convenient. And would you really want it to be? Isn’t the glory of this life found in the moments we discover the unknown, the unseen and the unfelt – in the world around us and the one within us?

If we are after self-content, we need to understand the path our minds take when we feel emotions we find undesirable within ourselves. Unlike, say, a gorgeous Switzerland-set movie where the handsome lead overcomes his tendency to be a borderline-abusive jerk because of the love he found in the ever-so-coy actress, we have the capacity to find contentment in ourselves rather than from those around us. Our own acknowledgement and understanding of the wanted and unwanted emotions we feel gives us this power.


Sajda Yakub
Sajda Yakub is a born Melbournian, her father being born in London, her mother being an immigrant from Fiji, and her ancestors being slaves from Uttar Pradesh in India.

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Sajda Yakub is a born Melbournian, her father being born in London, her mother being an immigrant from Fiji, and her ancestors being slaves from Uttar Pradesh in India.

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