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Showing posts with label acceptance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label acceptance. Show all posts

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Faking It without being Fake

I think by the time we are well into our adulthood, we've heard society's "grown-ups in the room" spout the cliche "It's okay to disagree without being disagreeable".  Some cliches, no matter how overused they are, still have value.  This one is one of them.  Anyway, we've all heard others discuss having to deal with 'fake people' and it got me to think.

We've all been around groups of people that are fake and hopefully we are not unwittingly part of such a group.  We see them on Facebook and they like each other's posts.  You wonder if they even care about the posts for the others in their clique or they just want to be seen as being friendly or supportive, but I digress.   Sometimes you'll see them virtue signaling on social media or elsewhere and you wonder whom they are trying to impress with their 'thoughtful' take.  Sometimes we'll see them hang out in clubs together.  We may also see them group together at our place of education, employment or worship.  Wherever we run across them, they can be annoying to be around or to deal with.  Unfortunately, they due to circumstance between our control sometimes we have to deal with them--coworkers, classmates, supervisors, etc.

We could get or stay annoyed by them.  However, sometimes, especially if they have authority over us, it is best to learn how to 'play the game without being a piece on the board'.  That is, "Fake it, without being fake".   Before you take this step, you have to determine what it means and if you are capable of it.


The Rules of the Game.
  • Remember when you are 'going along to get along', not to cross you own red lines.  Such as:
    • Not hurting others.  For example, try to avoid piling on when others are being attacked, especially where the ones being attacked could be hurt or get wind of it.  Even if it not harmful to the subject of the attack, it is at the very least harmful to you and those whom you influence.  Besides, it is below your dignity.
    • Not going against your core beliefs.  For example, don't resort to helping them steal or lying about work hours if that's what it takes to be part of the group.
    • Not putting yourself in jeopardy to get along.  For example, if you work somewhere where your coworkers are doing something unethical, don't participate in hopes of being accepted.
  • Be aware of what really matters and what is safe to opine about
    • Some things are throwaway such as talking about your favorite restaurants or your favorite vacation spots.  As long as the 'fake' people aren't rude to you about it, what does it really matter as these are subjects that don't matter in the big scheme of things.
    • Some things are fairly uncontroversial such as rooting for the home teams.  You can typically talk about these things without hurting other's feelings or compromising yourself.
    • Some things you should avoid especially if it is a sore subject for someone in the group, unless it is to empathize perhaps.  No matter how 'fake' a person is, he or she still has feelings buried underneath the facade.
  • Be aware of what is important to others in the game and look for areas of actual agree-ability.
    • Compliment where you can safely (and honestly) such as on their clothes, car or whatever.  Fake people, often are just people search for validation.  If you can provide it honestly, it costs you nothing, but can make a difference.
    • Ask questions that show interest.  Fake people can be very vain and like to talk about themselves.
    • Pay attention to what they talk about, you might learn something which can help in future relations.

Determining if you want to play.

  • What is the cost of the game?  If the cost is too high, such as compromising your values or putting up with too much BS, it probably isn't worth it.
  • What is the benefit of the game?  Fake people might actually be able to help you if you 'help' them.  If you show likability towards them, even if not necessarily 100% genuine, they might be pleasant to you and perhaps offer networking help.
  • There is a chance that someone(s) you perceive as 'fake' are just insecure people who are playing the game too and who seek a true friend.
  • Can you be friendly and agreeable with fake people without the fakeness spilling over?

Is that your final answer?
  • When determining how you want to proceed with fake people--whether you want to avoid them as much as possible, be businesslike or kill them with kindness--you have to consider the costs and benefits.
  • You have to determine how much you are willing to put yourself out there.  When dealing with difficult people in general, it is best to put yourself out there as much as you are comfortable with.  In other words, how much are you willing to safely share with others?
  • You have to be willing to change approach if one approach isn't working.  For example,  
    • If your efforts to kill them with kindness don't work and are draining you, you may have to step back and let it go.  If someone is fake and doesn't accept your kindness or worse, pushes back, you have to make sure your don't allow yourself to get hurt in the process.
    • If trying to avoid dealing with fake people isn't working.  In other words, they try to draw you in, it might be best to accept their overtures and find where you can be agreeable with them.  Otherwise, you might just have to step away from them as much as possible.

This applies to adults as well, but most kids want to be accepted and thought of well.  Unfortunately, I think in some cases, they resort to being whom they think they need to be instead of whom they are.  They look for acceptance among the 'in' kids, they crave something that feel is missing and will do whatever it takes to get it.   I think this extends into adulthood.  Maturity is realizing it is okay to be yourself and not someone 'you need to be' and being comfortable with it.  We have to deal with them in our teens and our adulthood sometimes.  But like the saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" implies, we should make an effort to meet others where they are, especially when we can't avoid dealing with them.  It may not be on our terms, and therefore may feel like we are "Faking It", but it doesn't mean that we are "Fake".  Being respectful of others where they are doesn't mean we are fake, it means that we are considerate (and in some cases out of necessity).  We become "Fake" when we cross our red lines to do so and/or allow it to spill over into how we deal with everyone.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Placing Sadness in the Anger Bin

According to grief.com, the Five Stages of Grief are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.   The idea is that you first deny the reality of that which grieves you; you are angry about what seems unfair or not right; you 'bargain' with your higher power that you'll do better if only you wake up and this horrible nightmare is over; you fall into a depression when you realize that no matter how much you wish it weren't so, there is nothing you can do to change that which grieves you and of course you accept that which you and move forward.

What I've learned along the way is the practice of 'medicine' is as much of an art as it is a science.  I believe this to be the case with psychology as well.  I believe that some models of human behavior, interactions and thought are better than others, that there is no one-sized, fits all model.  Each model has its flaws and exceptions as well as its accuracy and strengths, but I digress.  I believe the "Five Stages of Grief" model has a lot of value to it.  However, I believe the progression of grief doesn't always follow that model and frankly sometimes people never quite reach the acceptance stage.   From what I've seen some people never make it through the depression stage.  It's like they deny the loss, are angry about it, try to bargain the loss away, and hit the sadness or depression stage and struggle to handle it.

I called this post, "Placing Sadness in the Anger Bin", because essentially, the griever is at a point in which he or she should be working through the sadness, but for whatever reason, is struggling to.  What should manifest itself as Sadness or Depression instead comes out in Anger.  The sadness exists, but the griever is not processing or allowing it to fully express itself.  In my own life, this circumstance manifest itself with my brother's suicide, written in Don't you forget about me: The blog I needed to write one day about my late brother,

Due to the circumstances and timing in which he was found, the family was never allowed to see him after he was found.  As I worked through his belongings in his apartment that in the week that followed, a part of me expected him to walk in and gripe about what were we doing with his belongings.  It was surreal and was obviously the denial stage.  Gradually, it gave away to anger.  I knew he was struggling and did what I could to help him, but I felt the family overall had let him down.  He would 'disappear' from time to time and it seemed as if few in the family did anything more than to ask about him (from my perspective).  Had dealt with the same type of sexual abuse that I did as a kid and the struggles that come from growing up in a dysfunctional family which was unnecessarily poor and led by an alcoholic dad.  He struggled to find acceptance and had cried out for help in his teens with an overdoes on Tylenol.  From my perspective, he was largely abandoned and left to his own devices by the family.   I was angry and humiliated that as a family that we let him down.  I was angry at God I'm sure.  I was angry at myself.   I knew he was struggling and I dropped away for a little bit.  I didn't care that I was dealing with my own failing marriage, depression and unemployment.  I told myself I knew better and let him down.

In some ways, I'd wake up for a bit and just hope that this was just a bad dream and he'd show up and hoped there was a way that that could happen.  But, at my age, the 'bargain' stage didn't last too long as I am a realist.  At this point, having gotten over the shock, having worked through some anger and realized that bargaining was fruitless, I was was struggling with the sadness/depression.  Why should I have to deal with this?  Why should I have to feel this bad?   Why was I the one who was the last one in the family to attempt to be there for him?   I bounced back and forth between sadness and anger.  Eventually, I worked through the sadness and came to accept the reality of never seeing him again, but it wasn't a clean, linear five step progression.

As with the story above, I have come to realize in my life, a phenomenon.  I have seen in the life of others, especially, but not limited to kids and younger people that same phenomenon: Sadness hiding behind Anger.  That is Anger being Sadness's spokesperson, instead of Sadness speaking for itself.

  • The sadness hurts. Why should I have to feel this hurt or loss?  
  • The sadness leads to unexpected/uncontrolled expression sobbing or crying.  Why should we have to deal with something that makes us feel 'weak' or 'unsafe'?
    • It can make us feel vulnerable or 'weak'.   Anger tells us we should be able to better deal.
    • It can feel humiliating.  Crying, while healthy, is best done in a safe place.  If not done in a safe place, it can lead to humiliation.  Anger hates humiliation.
  • The sadness seems never-ending.  Why won't this stage ever end?  Why can't I just move on?  Anger hates an unresolved endless repeat of the same painful story.


Anyway, from what I see, Anger serves two purposes, not necessarily healthy, but nonetheless two purposes.

  • Anger can serve as seemingly less draining than working through the sadness.  
    • Anger doesn't require the level of introspection and processing of sadness.  It is a raw unfiltered emotion.  Let's face it, if you don't feel like you should have to deal with sadness, anger seems to be a good option.
  • Anger can serve as a way to block the sadness (at least for a time).   
    • In a way, it can be seen as the emotional version of cutting.  My understanding is that the raw physical sensation of cutting serves as a distraction for emotional pain of sadness.  If you are focused on the acute physical sensation of cutting* and all it involves, for a time, the emotional hurt is overridden.  Anger can be raw and intense, and in a similar way to cutting it can overwhelm sadness the emotional hurt of sadness.

I think most people have seen instances, either portrayed in the movies or somewhere in their own lives or those around them an angry person who is lovingly embraced and proceeds to break down and cry.  While I wouldn't categorically endorse that technique in dealing with angry people, it does emphasize a point: that sadness is often underlying anger.  

I guess my takeaway is this: Before you write off someone who has anger issues at least consider that there may be more than just meets the eye.  It isn't always just some jerk who decides that hating is an acceptable way of life.  It isn't always necessarily some psychopath who has predatory anger.  Sometimes, an 'angry' person is simply a person who is trying to avoid dealing with sadness.  So, instead of placing their Sadness in the Sadness Bin, they feel more comfortable placing it in the Anger Bin.  So, before you condemn an angry person, consider that there may be a sad person inside who just needs some understanding.**

Just my thoughts,
Rich

* I understand there are other reasons behind cutting as the Mayo Clinic details.  I've known people who cut, but I never began to understand why they cut themselves UNTIL one day when I chewed a fingernail too far down on the nail bed.  I'd done this before where it caused an uncomfortable, acute pain.  But, I had found that pressing down on that fingernail until it turned white for a while would lessen or block the pain in the nail bed.  I believe my higher power gave me an insight that day.  What I was doing was substituting one pain for another less intense pain.  In other words, I was blocking pain with pain.  I realized that day that people often cut for the same reason.  They are blocking an (emotional) pain with a less intense physical one.  I realize now that perhaps anger is just another form of pain displacement.

**But don't be so foolish as to try to hug and angry person with a knife or to ignore the symptoms of 'psychotic anger'.   Personal safety comes first.  ;-)

Friday, January 17, 2020

Shutting off the drama: Backing away from conflict and reorienting.

The holidays--and maybe just other times for no specific occasion--can be good for getting reacquainted with family and friends.  If we live out of town, we might choose to fly or drive in and see family and friends we haven't in a while.   If we live in town, we might make it a point to get together with those whom we haven't seen in a while to celebrate OR we might entertain family and/or friends who fly into town to see us.   Most of the time that is good thing.  Family and friends are the ones that be supportive of us, that can re-energize us just by virtue of their presence.    However, at times the hope we have the supportive or re-energizing can instead feel like burdensome or draining.  It doesn't necessarily have to be an open conflict, just personality differences can be enough.

I have written about this general topic matter in at least two posts.

  • Boxing others into our expectations.   This is where I discussed the concept of how we expect certain people to fit roles in our life: Close friend, close sibling, supportive parent, our co-parent, etc.  In a way, in our mind we 'box' them into the expectation of what role we feel they should play.  We then base our interaction with them on our expectations of their role.  This can lead to frustration. The whole idea is that instead of getting frustrated that they aren't meeting our expectations, it is good to pause, reassess them and the situation and adjust our expectations and interactions with them in a way that better reflects reality.  In other words reorient ourselves relative to them to a place that is healthy for us.  In other words, we don't have to necessarily remove them from our lives, but we may limit what we share with them, for example.
  • Dealing with others: People will get along with you IF they want to.  This is where I discuss the idea that while you can help facilitate positive interactions with others, it is ultimately up to others to decide if they want to get along with you.  If they really want to get along with you, they will tend to look for opportunities to do so (and overlook things they don't necessarily 'love' about you).  If they don't want to get along, they will look for reasons or excuses for not liking or getting along with you.  Basically, don't take it personal or try to force it.

We might realize people aren't fitting into our expectations of them. We might be getting frustrated and have to reorient ourselves and how we interact or deal with them Or in some cases how we don't.  However, from what I've observed (and experienced myself), that usually is a process that can take time, a willingness to see and accept a reality we don't like, and in some cases being deliberate.


Time
  • When we are close to a situation, it can be very easy to see what we want.  In other words, a confirmation bias.  Sometimes, it just takes time to see a pattern of interaction over a extended time before we accept it.  If it is a parent for example, they may not be accepting of our choice in a spouse.  We may overlook comments that would point to that reality and instead glom onto any comment or indication that we think points otherwise.  Like a parent might show interest in our spouse, but might be doing it out of courtesy rather than acceptance. It might take time be able to see past what we want to see.
  • Sometimes a realization might be so profound that it take a while to process it.  That could take to form of being huge and/or emotionally demanding.  For example, take the case of a parent whose health is failing.  We might have been close to that parent and that closeness is no longer there.  We may need for our sick mom to be the warm, compassionate person she's always been and counted on.  However, she might be in a different place, focusing her energies on coming to terms with failing health.   It may take us a while to realize the extent of her failing health and effectively disentangle ourselves of the level of dependence we've had on her.

Acceptance
  • No matter how much want, hope for or expected a different type of relationship than what is, it may not ever happen. People have room to grown and there are things you can do to encourage a closer relationship to a sibling, child, friend, or whomever.   However, at the end of the day, you cannot force someone to be different than who they are or what they are capable of.   At some point, instead of conflicting with them on whom you hope or expected them to be for you, it is just time to accept the type of relationship that both of you are capable of.  That maybe bittersweet, but as a brother once said, "A half of loaf of better than no bread".  Just make sure you can accept and have the ingredients that you can afford for half a loaf.
  • We have to be willing to see a relationship for what it is (and isn't).  I always wanted a close relationship with my dad, but it never really developed.  I think he wanted to be decent father that could be emotionally open, but he didn't really have a good example to emulate as he was bounced around in the foster system. Also, he struggled with his own issues, including alcoholism.  He did the best that he could given the example(s) he had to follow and had his moments.  I saw and accepted that he couldn't be this close parent that I could confide my insecurities and flaws to.  I saw that we could get along and I could help him out and vice versa.  Though disappointed, that was something I could work with as I was willing to be realistic.

Deliberateness
  • When we are reorienting our expectations and perspective it is easy to fall back into old patterns.  If we are the one pushing a friendship or relationship we may wonder if the other party is really invested in it or not.  If we are finding ourselves conflicting with a family member, we may want to have a better relationship, but we just wanting it and interacting with them as we always have just lead more frustration.  Sometimes, no matter bothered by backing off from them for a while, we may need to do that and let the situation sort it out.  This can and often should be quietly stepping back.  In other words, letting the situation organically reveal itself as to how to proceed.   They may surprise us after this time and find that they want a closer/better relationship.  However, we may find that the relationship that was to be just needed some space to develop.
  • When we are reorienting our expectations and perspective, it is easy to hang onto the frustration/disappointment.  If we are committed to reorienting our relationships with and expectations of another to a more healthy place, we have to get rid of or re-channel the frustration.  We have to remind ourselves that even though we 'signed up' for a different type relationship with another, that they may not have 'signed up' for the same.  We may have thought that a friend we hang out and do things with would be a good person to personally confide in on a situation.  Over time we may come to realize he or she is not the right person to confide in or relate to on it.  Our friend just not be capable of being there for us in the way we hoped, but we didn't realize it initially.  That's not specifically the friend's fault, it is just a limitation.  We have to deliberately remind ourselves of this realization or understanding until we have reoriented our friendship to a healthier place.
  
When our expectations of others don't meet reality, there is a good chance we will conflict and there will be drama.  Sometimes we just have to step away for a bit. limit our interaction with them until our expectations come into line with the reality of the relationship, and adjust what we what we feel we can offer if necessary.  Everyone wants close family and friends.  Most people don't want conflict or drama, but sometimes it happens despite our best intentions.  Sometimes we just have to step back and 'shut off the drama' for a while until everyone is in a better place and move forward from there.  That maybe an unsatisfying reality, but we know as adults that we may not always get what we want, but that as the Rolling Stones wrote, "but if you try sometime, you might get what you need.".

Just may thoughts for the day and a follow-up to another couple posts.

Piece out.

- Rich




Saturday, September 7, 2019

Evil has always existed

I have long been fascinated by the subject and history of WWII and the rise and fall of the Third Reich. Since I am far removed from the time period involved and especially since I did not have any direct connections in my family tree that I know of offhand, it is easy for me to study it in a detached way. This doesn't quite capture it, but consider when we drive by accident scene, we can't help but look, stare and gawk for a moment in morbid curiosity and try to discern what happened. If we figure out how it--the accident--happened. it may help to reinforce to us how not to drive. In any case, what makes Germany of post WWI to end of WWII intriguing is how a 'modern' society in human history allows itself to be the instrument of evil to the extent it did. While I believe that it is possible for evil to fully overtake a society in short order, I believe it is typically a gradual process.


The reason I named this blog as I did is that I believe evil has always existed in all of humankind or the potential or tendency to drift towards it as a society given the right circumstance. Think about it;
  • We see a small wad of cash on the ground, say maybe $100, $200 or more.  Even if we are honest, I believe that most people think for a moment about what they would do with it.  We may even do the honest thing and turn it in to the police or customer service.  But, I believe most people will hope that no one comes by to claim it and they get it to keep it.  I guess the point here is we fight the desire to have what we know is not ours.
  • We see a conflict off in the distance and it is clear someone is being beaten or otherwise wronged in a bad way.  Do we get involved to defend the target of it, do we reach out to the police or some other governing authority or do we just walk or drive away from it?  In question here is our willingness to put ourselves at risk or at least have to deal with the inconvenience of a situation which doesn't immediately involve us.
  • We ignore a law or rule because we think it is silly or isn't that big a deal.  Heck I speed everyday so there's that.
  • As a child we've gotten into or done something that we shouldn't have.  We know if we tell the truth to our parent or caregiver, there will be negative consequences for us.  But, we also know that if we are dishonest about it, there may be a chance that we are able to avoid any consequences especially if they believe our dishonesty.  
In these cases and many others there is the most proper way to act or be and there are less noble ways to act or be.  Think about it, even in an 'upright society' which strongly suggest golden rule values, people fight the right vs. wrong fight every day.  Now consider if a society has leadership whose priorities are out of whack.  As individuals, we face a challenge to exercise our better nature, with some more successful than other in that regard.   We sometimes face the challenge too of recognizing our better nature. Meaning, not just thinking we are doing right, but also recognizing what is right.  Imagine if you have leadership with very corrupt, if not downright evil priorities.  Imagine too that the leadership is good at masking their intentions too at least until it is too late to effective combat it (as in Nazi Germany).


Anyway, given our split nature.  The right vs. wrong and in a more extreme view, good vs. evil, why don't we just serve our 'wrong' nature more when it often seems to be more beneficial.  In other words, what keeps our 'wrong' or 'evil' behavior at bay?  Some of  the things I believe that keep us in check are as follows:
  • Laws/rules that strictly lay out what is poor behavior and likely punishment for it.  In other words, in the short term, poor behavior may seem benefit us, but with rules and laws that are enforced, we realize that poor behavior may not pay.
  • Faith that gives us a code of proper behavior and that indicates that we will be rewarded or punished for good or bad behavior in this life (or sometime beyond).  In other words, a spiritual ledger.
  • People's desire for approval and a society with leaders/influencers approve the good behavior. I believe people are social creatures and as such seek to approval from others.   If those who influence or lead us reward us with approval or acceptance for upright behavior, we are more likely to engage in such.  Inversely, if they seem to approve poor behavior, members of society will likely engage in poor behavior.

In Nazi Germany, over a period each of these 'obstacles' was overcome.  Hitler participated in a putsch designed start an insurrection.  It failed miserably and he was arrested.   After appealing to the patriotism and resentments of those who judge him, he was able to get a light sentence.  Instead of recognizing Hitler for the threat he was or could become, they convinced themselves it was okay to bend the rules and limit the punishment.   Instead of punishing poor behavior, they effectively rewarded it by giving him a light sentence for his crime.  When he rose to power, Hitler continued a pattern of rewarding poor behavior that he approved of, instead of punishing it.   Hitler, through effective propaganda wash able overcome the spiritual ledger by co-opting elements of existing religious structure in Germany and by creating a sort of quasi-religion of his own.  In Hitler's Germany, his leadership sought the approval of the Fuhrer and as such they engaged in behavior which they felt that he would approve us.  Unfortunately, for all involved instead of rewarding morally good behavior, Hitler tended to reward evil behavior.   Similarly, in part fearful and impart wanting to gain approval, citizens would ignore or even justify the poor behavior of leadership in Nazi Germany or even in some cases condoned if not participate in it themselves.

People look back on Nazi Germany and think evil like that couldn't happen in a modern society these days.  But, with our individual battles to always do the right thing, to resentments or prejudices many have, to our desire to gain approval which can be flipped and our desire to the do morally right thing which also if we are not careful can be flipped as well, I do believe great evil is a risk even in our more modern society.   Jim Jones, David Koresh and many others have shown that even 'good' people can be corrupted, all the while they think they are doing right thing.

I believe we always need to be on guard individual, as groups and as a society and examine:
  • Are we willing to or honest enough to properly recognize upright behavior?  If so, are we willing to reward it when it occurs--recognizing good deeds and honesty?  
  • Are we willing to or honest enough to properly recognize poor behavior?  If so, do we have the stomach to punish poor behavior appropriately or do we ignore it because punishing it might have a cost? 
  • Are we tailoring our beliefs of what is upright behavior to fit our lives OR are we willing to admit when we fall short and not change the definition of what is upright behavior to rationalizing our falling short?  In other words, are we adjusting our 'faith' to fit the circumstances?
  •  Are we putting the need for approval over the need to always do the right thing?
  •  Our motivations for our  decisions, choices and our behavior.

I believe evil has existed since the dawn of man and will exist as long as humankind, as it is, exists but we don't have to give into it.   However, we must be mindful of the tendency for good and bad in all.  We must also be determined to self-examine and be willing to do the right thing or behave in way that we know in our heart is the right way.

Just my thoughts. I don't claim to have anywhere near all the answers, but I enjoy being part of the conversation and hope my posts spur others to think about the things which I write on.   Take what you need and leave the rest.

- Rich

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Validation Circle & Cliches

Maybe I'm a little bit jaded, but I've noticed over time someone will make a post on Facebook or another social media and like clockwork, there are the same set of people which will complement the post or the poster.  In many cases, I do believe it is heartfelt and they really do think the person listed as beautiful, smart, handsome or whatever.  Similarly, they will express the item or experience being posted as nice or whatever would fit.   Similarly, I noticed when someone has passed away they are often portrayed and characterized to the surviving family/friends at their best even when let's just say their reputation in life was highly flawed.

I don't mean to imply that the compliments, words and the like are necessarily insincere, but I do believe that sometimes they are said with mixed motives.    This begs the question, "Why do we compliment on social media and in life?".

WHY WE COMPLIMENT OTHERS AND WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO THEM
  • We are sincerely moved or touch to do so.   Who or what we are complimenting or speaking highly of really does compel us to speak well of it/them.
    • We may be really are taken aback by how nice looking someone in our circle or their kid is.  
    • We may be really are taken aback by how nice someone's house, boat, car, etc. is.
    • We may be really are moved to tell someone how much their loved one meant to us.
  • We want to be polite or proper.  In other words, it is the proper thing to do, even if we aren't necessarily feeling it.
    • We may be paying our respects as we feel it is the proper thing to do.
    • We see that something is important to someone in our circle and we just understood to compliment, speak well, etc. of them is the proper or thoughtful thing to do.  Appearance or face isn't our goal, but being kind, appropriate or proper is.  
  • We want to look thoughtful or alternatively not look like a jerk for ignoring.
    • We see complimenting someone or something that is important to them is a way to appear thoughtful or to ingratiate ourselves with them.  Even if we don't necessarily feel it, it costs us little to 'look good' in the other person's eyes.   After all, who doesn't want to hear a compliment about themselves or what is important to them?
    • We might compliment them on their car, hair or dress or something like that when in reality we really don't care that much.
    • We may notice everyone else in their circle is complimenting them or what is important to them and we want to be sure that we don't look like a jerk and 'properly acknowledge'.  If we believe others or paying attention to how we respond or don't respond to them, we may feel compelled to sound 'approving' or complimentary to make sure we stay on their good side.
  • We (consciously or subconsciously) anticipate the compliment will be returned.
    • We may realize that if we ignore what is important to another, when it comes our time to get hoped for praise, it may not be forthcoming.
    • We are consciously seeking credit for 'properly acknowledging' in anticipation of one day expecting the same--proper positive acknowledgement--from someone in our circle.

The first two motives usually are considered more noble or selfless.   After all, most people welcome sincere compliments and find them uplifting.  Likewise, it is very respectful to treat others and what's important to them, even if you don't totally feel it.   Compliments won't kill you and even if you aren't specifically seeking it, a kind turn will often be returned.

The second to motives are usually considered self-serving.  Though they may not say it, people often see through insincerity, virtue-signaling, and the desire to be credited for what they say or don't say especially when it is said with less than full sincerity.

--

Now that I spent time mulling why people compliment each other let's consider for a moment why people put out themselves or what is important to them in a public setting or forum.   In other words, why do we share?

WHY DO WE SHARE?

  • We are moved by what we share.   We think what we are sharing is uplifting or will be a happy thing for all.
    • We might want to lift someone else up whom we are proud of for example.
    • We might think we are sending an important message, such as it is important to fight for what you believe in or to never give up.
  • We are seeking approval, praise, or compliments or to be thought of well.
    • Sometimes we just need a little uplift or to know someone cares.  We don't want to ask for a compliment or approval straight out and we hope by our share, we will give positive feedback.
    • We might be seeking validation too hard.

The last point kind of really comes full circle to my original idea for the post.   I believe that in life and on social media we compliment and show approval as part of what I call a "validation circle".   We give props, compliments and approval sometimes to things that we could care less about--if we were honest to ourselves we could care less about.  Sometimes we may care, but are not as impressed as the one who posts or shares.   No, we may not think there kid is as cute as they do.  We may not be too impressed with their new set of wheels.   We may not really think their significant other is all that.   However, I believe sometimes the 'validation circle' dictates that we show approval anyway.   That is to say, it is an unwritten contract that says you compliment what I share and I compliment what you share, regardless of how we actually feel about it.   But, then again, maybe in our individual groups, our clichés, our 'validation circle', we are just engaging in behavior that nations engage in: diplomacy.   I think sometimes if we read between the lines we can actually see this process in motion.

To those reading this, I'm just the messenger.   Yes, I care about everything you pose or share.  Whatever you share is the coolest, most important, most attractive, funniest, most touching thing I've ever read or seen.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Just for the record, I EXPECT, my readers to VALIDATE what I post IF they expect me to validate what they do...

-- Rich

In this song, I believe the writer/singer recognizes the truth of the transaction.  Namely, he acknowledges and validate their feelings and well he gets his own 'validation'.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Loneliness is such a sad affair

It's amazing, we live in cities with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions of people, yet we somehow find a way to be lonely.  I'm not necessarily saying lonely all the time, but you know we all have our moments.  For some people, the moments are occasional, but for others the moments are lasting and seemingly without end.

The anniversary of my marriage was the other day.  We were pretty low key about it.  It's not that we didn't consider it important, but we consider it a step in a lifelong process. In my first marriage, we focused too much on reaching and celebrating the milestones and not enough time on the health of the relationship.  So, for me, I look forward to us working together and letting the milestones come naturally and then taking time to celebrate them rather than making a production of reaching and planning them.   We've had many really good moments in which it all seems to click, but we've also had growing pains.  Unfortunately, blended families rarely work as smoothly as The Brady Bunch.  There is a period of time it takes for everyone to get know and trust each other  Anyway, our schedules do not always permit us to spend us much time as we'd like getting to know each other and/or discussing what we need to.  Any married couple with two working parents, I'm sure can relate.  This leads to moments of loneliness in which we feel the other can't always be there for our daily life challenges, concerns or triumphs.  So, it is our goal in the next year to find enough or make enough 'us' time to help with that.

This all got me to thinking about loneliness.  I believe everyone has times of loneliness in which they realize it is just them and their Higher Power (God).  For example, my wife is aware of and empathizes with my current neck injury and I her knee injury, but neither of us has experienced the specific injury problem/level of the other.  Therefore, there is a certain amount of loneliness we have in dealing with our injuries.  I imagine when a spouse has cancer it is sort of like that too.  You support him or her as much as you can, but ultimately, they have to be the one who battles it.


--


So, how would I classify the types of loneliness.  Based on what I've experienced, on what I've seen in others and on what I can surmise, here is a breakdown of loneliness.


Relational
  • Where you miss the closeness of family.  The following are circumstances that could lead to familial loneliness. 
    • Your family of origin is not very close-knit.  For whatever reasons the bonds you see in 'perfect' families never fully took, stuck or were available.  
      • You never really knew your family--this can either be immediate family (such as a missing parent) or extended family (such as aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents).
      • You knew them but for whatever reason or dysfunction there was a lack of closeness.
    • You family of origin is scattered or busy.  Getting together can be an undertaking in some circumstances.
    • Your family of origin has been decimated.  As we get older we lose those who have been a fixture of our family.  This can secondarily lead to a breakdown of remaining family.  Unfortunately, for me, this type of circumstance has hit close to home.
  • Where you miss the closeness of friends.  The following are circumstances that could lead to this type of loneliness.
    • You have few if any friends.  
      • No man is an island.  We all need to be part of a bigger gang.
      • People are generally social creatures and best thrive when surrounded by friends.
    • You have few close friends
      • You may have a lot of acquaintances, people you see at work, church or wherever.
      • However, at the end of the day, you may not really have much of anyone to be able to call on.  To me that is the definition of closeness.
    • You have close friends, but they are often unavailable.
      • They have a busy schedule and it is hard to find time with them.
      • You are separated by significant distance and it is hard to get together easily with them.
  • Where you miss the closeness of a romantic relationship/marriage family.  The following are circumstances that could lead to relational loneliness
    • You are single and unattached.  While being single has its perks, one of the drawbacks is not having someone to curl up with and hear "I love you".
    • You have a relationship/marriage which is by strife and disconnect.  Relationships on balance are meant to be a safe place for us.  One where we can share our joys, fears and all other feelings in between.  When this is limited or nonexistent in a relationship, it can feel vary isolated.  Isolation of course can lead to the disintegration of a relationship.


Existential 
  • Where you wonder about your role.
    • Sometimes we might seem like we are just another cog in the wheel at our job.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we were not present, would anyone care that much.
    • Sometimes in our group (friends/family/etc), we can be just another voice and not necessarily feel like an important one.
    • Sometimes we might wonder about our role in the cosmic scheme.  That is do we matter to or in our Higher Power's universe (God).
  • Where you wonder about your impact.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we are making a positive difference in the lives of others.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we are raising our children in the best way.  That is are we being the best leader.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we are doing anything significant in the world are or we just replaceable?
  • Where you wonder about your legacy.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we were gone if we'd be forgotten or missed that much.
    • Sometimes we wonder if after we are long gone will there be any sign that we mattered.
      • Lasting impact in the lives of others--lives that we positively changed.
      • A 'monument' to what we left behind.  It could be things we built or created, ideas/concepts/writings that we shared, a marker that we mattered somewhere.
  • Where you wonder about your eternal destiny.
    • We think about this during our lives, but we might consider it more as our health starts to deteriorate.
    • We might wonder if we be 'punished' or 'rewarded' for the life we lived and the ideal we tried to follow.
    • We might wonder if we will see those we lost along the way.
    • We might wonder if we will even have any sense of self or awareness after the final curtain has gone down.
    • We might wonder if there is any real existence after this life has passed.  (All we are is dust in the wind?)

--


As I indicated previously, I believe that everyone experiences loneliness of a sort at some time or another in their life.  I think it's unavoidable and can even be beneficial in that it can help clarify who or what really matters in our life.  As social creatures if we feel too much loneliness, I believe we have a tendency to try to assuage it.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, I believe we have to keep a few questions in mind when trying to lessen or assuage loneliness.


  • Is the amount of 'loneliness' we feel reasonable to expect or feel, especially relative to our situation?  
    • Is it excessive and indicates a mental health issue?
    • Is it excessive and indicates a need to interact or connect more with others?
  • Are we spending too much time, effort and trouble trying to 'remedy' it and not enough effort accepting it as 'part of life'.
    • We can recognize some loneliness is okay and doesn't need to be 'cured'.
    • We can recognize our efforts to 'cure' our loneliness may be way out of wack with the extent of loneliness we are feeling.
      • Just because we are feeling kind of lonely doesn't mean we have to go out every night looking for others to 'cure' it.
  • Are we mistaking the type(s) of loneliness we are feeling?
    • If we feel too much existential loneliness, trying to deal with or 'cure' it with a relationship is probably a mistake.
      • Family/friends can support us, but they can't be our reason for being or our crutch to avoid dealing with existential loneliness.
      • If we focus on using relationships to solve our existential loneliness, we may end up with too many, too new, too involved, too entangled or some other unhealthy relationship issue.  Ultimately, while others can help support us and help us walk through life, it is up to our and our Higher Power to work out the existential questions.
    • If we feel too much relational loneliness, trying to 'cure' it with an 'existential' solution is likely a mistake.
      • While it is important for us to feel like and be driven by a purpose in life, a purpose will not replace the benefits of healthy relationships with others.
      • While it is important to focus on our purpose, we can't necessarily focus on a purpose 24/7/365.  Even if we throw our lives into a purpose, there will be downtimes in which it will be hard to relational loneliness.
    • Like resentment, we can only ignore or suppress relational loneliness for so long before it blows up in our face.
      • We will search for an outlet to 'fix' it and it may not be a very healthy one.
      • Our purpose may very well suffer if it has to compete with too much relational loneliness.


I guess my takeaway on the matter of loneliness would ultimately be this:
  • Some loneliness is okay and even expected.  It can also be a positive driver for change.
  • It is important to know when work on changing it and when to learn to accept it (serenity).
  • It is important to recognize the type and degree of loneliness you are facing so you can address it the proper way.
  • At the end of the day, after we strip it all away, it is between us and our Higher Power, but we are given the gift of family and friends just as Adam was in Genesis to support us in life.

Loneliness can be such a sad affair, but like much else in life it is how you choose to deal or cope with it when it is present that can help determine just how sad it is.




This is one of the most hauntingly sad songs that I've heard.  Knowing how she lived and died and how alone she must have felt as she struggled with anorexia 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Please Don't Be a Pleaser

I used to be a people-pleaser by nature.  I found that is a role that can wear one out and frustrate them.  I believe most people--even world-class diplomats--eventually realize you can't please everyone.  From what I see, people-pleasers run into one or more of the following brick walls in that regard:

PROBLEMS
  • There are some people who are perpetually unhappy.  (Eeyore crowd)
    • They are so miserable in their life, that no matter what you do or say to cheer them up or to try to get along, they will play the role of Eeyore.  That is to say, see a dark cloud hovering overhead even in the most sunny day or circumstance.
    • When you recognize this, you realize that it is pointless to try to 'make them happy'.
    • It is not your role to make them happy.
  • There are some people who are perpetually aggrieved.  (Perpetually offended crowd)
    • This doesn't have to be personally against you, it is more a case of them seeing circumstances or others in life have dealt them a bad or unfair hand.
    • Their energy or purpose in life is derived from playing the role of the perpetual victim.  Life isn't always fair and there is a time for righteous anger, but there is also a time for gratitude.  There is a time to realize that that you don't have to see yourself as a victim.
    • They may actually face circumstances in which they are victimized.  This isn't about being victimized, it is more so about a conscience effort to play (or better yet stay) the victim.
    • There is nothing wrong with empathizing with them in appropriate times, but staying in the victim role with them could drag you down as well.
    • They seem to show an immunity to ever seeing things as fair or seeing that they could be wrong.  
    • Even when you work out a problem with them (or they concede a point), they will move onto another victim role.
  • There are some people who have just decided for whatever reason, good or bad, that they don't like you.  (Haters)
    • They may show an unwillingness to forgive you for something you said or did that properly offended them.
      • It can be trivial.  For example, embarrassed them in front of a friend. 
      • It can be significant.  For example, repeated something that was said in private or confidence to you or take advantage of them.
    • You may have been sabotaged (wittingly or unwittingly by another)
      • You may or may not know about the sabotage.
      • Sometimes no matter what you say or try to find out about it, they are immune to seeing it or talking about it.
    • You may have done nothing wrong (and you may not even be aware why they don't like you)
      • Something completely harmless you did or said was unreasonably taken out of context.  In other words, you weren't in the wrong, but they are easily or wrongly offended.
      • Something you didn't do that they expected you to do might have offended them.
        • Doesn't matter if their expectation wasn't unrealistic.
        • Doesn't matter if their expectation wasn't clearly conveyed. 
  • There are some situations in which you are in the middle of two disagreeable factions   (Warring factions)
    • If you try to please one of the factions, you risk upsetting the other faction(s).
      • Working on pleasing one of the factions, might be seen as favoritism.
      • You may just be able to deal with one faction at a time and it isn't meant as favoritism so much as order or more pressing situation.
    • If you try to please all of the factions, you risk upsetting all factions.
      • All sides might claim that you are favoring the other side(s).
      • All sides might believe that you are just trying to placate them and not take their concerns seriously.  Akin to King Solomon splitting the baby in half.



SOLUTIONS

These are just brick walls I see, I suspect there may be more that I don't OR some people's experiences may differ.  In any case, these are at least some of the circumstances in which we realize that we can't please everyone.  So, exactly what do we do in these situations?  Below are a number of ideas to consider.
  • When you are dealing with someone who is unhappy and can't be 'made happy', you don't take it as your mission to 'make them happy'.
    • You do what is right by them, not to get kudos from them, but because it is the right thing to do.
    • You support them, but not enable them or go in the tank with them.  In the analogy of your home, you stay in the house with them and guard the house for them, but you don't stay in the same room for them while they are throwing a pity party for themselves.  If and when they are ready, they will find their way.  Whether or not they see or appreciate your support, at least you know you've done right.
    • You can love them, but that doesn't mean you have to attend their pity party.
  • When you are dealing with an aggrieved person, you have to put boundaries on your dealings with them. 
    • Where they are righteously aggrieved, you can listen to or even support them but that doesn't necessarily mean you bear their cross the way they do.
    • Where their aggrieved nature is not righteous.
      • You may try to 'amuse' them for a time while you figure out if it is righteous.
      • You may have to step away from them and let them deal with their own nature.
        • You can't necessarily 'fix' or help them anyway and you risk them resenting you for trying.
        • There is a risk of alienating or upsetting them when you step away.  But, often times you have to do this for your own mental health anyway.  Drinking from someone else's 'poison' can cause you to get 'sick' too.
  • When you are dealing with a person who doesn't like you.
    • If you know you are part of the problem, it is important to make amends where necessary.
      • Once you've made amends, don't keep piling on hoping to get them back in your corner.  
        • It might not give them time to absorb your amends.
        • It might end up as effectively trying to bully them into accepting your amends.
      • Amends are meant as much for you as them.  Give them a chance to forgive you, but it is also a way of surrendering the problem to clean your side of the road.  If they never forgive you, at least tried.
    • If you don't know if you are part of the problem, it is important to try to ascertain if you are.
      • You can reach out to the other party and observe to them what you see is a cold chill and ask what's wrong.
      • If they tell you what's wrong and it includes you.
        • If they are right, make amends where possible.
        • If they are not right (not being realistic), try to clear up any misunderstanding and try to let them know you weren't trying to offend them or wrong them. 
          • Sometimes it helps to 'apologize' even if you aren't wrong so they know your good intentions.  Leave it at that and if they don't accept it, you should let it go.
          • Sometimes, they are so wrong, there is no way you can show them good intentions.  At that point, let it go and understand some people weren't meant to like you.
      • If they don't tell you or won't admit that it includes you, you can let them know if you did anything to upset them that you are not aware of it, it was not your intention and then let it go.
    • In some cases, it is clear you really aren't the problem, but they chose to personalize it to you.  Sometimes, it is just best to let it go and understand that not everyone will like you in this life.  Sometimes people will dislike you for absurd or misplaced reasons.
  • When you are dealing with 'warring' factions (siblings/friends/etc), you just have to do what you think is best.
    • Sometimes it is showing both sides deference.  This means taking into account the concerns of all sides and trying not to show favoritism.
      • Sometimes that is impossible not to 'favor'.
      • Sometimes no matter how even handed you are, one or more side will still think you are showing favoritism.
      • Even if this doesn't work at least you know in your heart that you did was right.  For example, if you know as a parent that you've treated your children as equally as possibly, you shouldn't worry past that.  You can't view how they see your parenting.
    • Sometimes, you just effectively have to pick a side.
      • Often times one party is clearly in the right.  You pick based on the best information you have at the time.  
      • This doesn't mean excluding other sides or broadcasting to them whom you are favoring.
      • Chances are you were in a no win situation anyway.  Whatever action you took would offend or upset one or more of the parties.  So, if you do what you feel is right, you at least have that to lean on.  Let God be the judge of your actions, not others.
--

Anyone with any kind of sense of morality or healthy spiritual background has a sense of right and wrong.  We generally know what is doing right by others.  I believe we are called on to get along with our fellow man (and woman).  This means not just with our friends or group, but also with our rivals and even enemies.  I believe this call has its limits, however.  While I believe it is important to sue for peace with those who don't like us, it is important not to use the pursuit of peace/neighbor as a tool to feel accepted or validated.  Our lives, our attempts to 'please' others should be made when it is the right thing.  Furthermore, if we try to sue for peace/friendship, it shouldn't be at all costs.  In many cases, we can let it be know that our 'door' is always open, but not stand around at the door waiting for them to come in.  In some cases, if they are too much of a threat, we just have to close our 'door' for our own safety and to let them know that we will not accept the threat.  Ultimately, the takeaway to this whole blog is we have to:
  • Try to avoid our efforts to 'please' others on our own need for validation/acceptance.  Do right by people because you care about them or love them.  Sometimes, this means even those who don't or won't like you back. 
  • If you base decision on trying to 'please' other on what's best for them rather than what you will get out of it, chances are better they will appreciate/respect you more for it.
  • There is no way you'll ever make everyone happy and if you spend your time pursuing that end chances are that you'll end up being the one that is not happy.
So, be kind when you can or should, but please don't be a pleaser.



Saturday, January 21, 2017

Dealing with others: People will get along with you IF they want to.

I was talking with a friend a while back and one of his in-laws has been a divisive force in his family.  It seems as if she never really tried to accept him.  He found a similar dynamic in another situation near to him.   It made me think about something.  Sometimes, for no good reason people close to you decide not to accept you.  Often to the point of outright rejection or hostility, leaving you wondering what the hell happened.  Other times, those close, if they do 'accept' you, it's a grudging because we are related or friend of friend situation. In other words, within the tie-in, they'd reject you.

So, how can you tell if someone close is really rejecting you or grudgingly 'accepting' you?Here are what I see as symptoms of such a relationship:
  • Do they ever ask about how you are doing or do they just go straight to how they are doing?  If they do ask you, do you feel it's a formality? 
    • Sometimes I think people just aren't in a place to be a friend or family, whether it is out of selfishness or brokenness.
    • They talk to you because they feel like 'they have to'.  Therefore, they talk about what they want and not what's important to moving the relationship forward.
  • When evaluating whom to spend time with, do they treat you as a priority--not necessary 'the' priority--or a fallback option?
    • Everyone has to live their own life and take what time they need for themselves.  Healthy relationships start with making sure to treating ourselves well.
    • In unhealthy relationships, they always treat you like they'll spend time with you IF there a no 'better' options?
      • You find out after rejecting spending time with you, they quietly spend time with others.
      • You find out that they asked others first and when they were rejected by others, they reached out to you late in the game. In other words, when all other plans/possibilities fell through, they reached out to you.
  • Do they ever attempt to or offer to meet you half way or do they 'expect' you to always shoulder the burden.
    • This could mean time, money, location, effort, etc.
    • This doesn't mean an expectation of shouldering the burden equally, but instead the sense that they are at least trying to be fair.
  • Do you get the sense that if you didn't have the tie-in, you'd never hear from them?
    • Tie-in could be relatives in common, friends in common, kids in common, an immediate neighbor or some other similar dynamic.
    • They rarely talk to you outside of the 'group'.
    • If they do talk to you, it is only because not doing so would be more awkward or obvious.
I used to get mad, upset or irritated with these type situations or people when I saw this dynamic in a 'relationship'.  I realize there are effectively two ways to deal with these situations: Taking it personally and treat it as about you or treating it as a limitation on their part and deal accordingly.  I have come to realize, it is usually best to treat it as a limitation on their part.  That is to say, they don't know how to be a friend or family to me.  In some ways, it didn't matter whether that was due to their selfishness or ignorance.  It still wasn't worth fretting over.  

Ultimately, my takeaway on how to deal with people who reject you or accept you grudgingly is this:
  • Don't take it too personally. Often times, you just happen to be the person playing the role--brother-in-law, the other friend who is the object of jealousy, the 'competition' for your friend's spouse, etc.
  • Don't repay slights.  It shouldn't be a race to the bottom, but a race to the top.
  • Realized that not all people are capable of treating you as you should be treated.
    • Expose yourself to them only as much as you are willing to safely.  Think of it as taking only the amount of money that you are willing to lose to the casino.  If you accept and put a limit on your loses, then if you actually 'lose' it won't be as big a deal as you've factored it in. 
    • Where necessary, step away as quietly and gracefully as you can in order to protect yourself.  Stepping away doesn't have to be a drama, but it can in a way be a quiet, but definitive statement. 

What it all boils down to this: if someone wants to get along with you, they will and will overlook any flaws you have.  If someone doesn't want to get along with you, they will find a reason not to like you. You can take it personally, but it's usually not worth it.

As I am posting this around Inauguration Day 2017, I realize this applies to Presidents too.  If someone wants to like the POTUS, they will despite any/many flaws.  If they want to dislike the POTUS, they will in spite of good deeds or good policies the POTUS is has pushed.