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Random thoughts for a Monday

  1. The best gift you can give someone is an experience. 
  2. Love is most important thing.
  3. Standing in someone else’s shoes is a very difficult thing to do.
  4. Listening isn’t easy, but often that’s all that anyone needs you to do.
  5. Something as simple as a smile can completely change someone else’s day.
  6. Boundaries are important, and it often takes decades to figure out where you should put them.
  7. Enjoy as much of each day as you can. Even the sad, angry, and terrible moments are worth a lot.
  8. Perspective constantly changes… try to look at every situation from more than one standpoint.

Getting over the wall

As per usual, I’ve been thinking. Not only that, but I’ve been trying to simplify things for myself, in hopes of finding a more simple answer to a lot of questions, issues, and problems that seem to be recurring for me.

Why do we feel bad, sad, upset, angry, or anything negative? Aside from physical ailments that make us feel down, it occurred to me that all of these things (and more) have a common denominator.

Uncertainty. Insecurity. Fear.

A closer look:

I did a good job at something and nobody said anything about it, so insecurity sets in. I feel unappreciated and begin to second-guess myself. I wonder if I did a good job and why no one noticed. Maybe I start questioning what people think of me.

Someone puts me down and makes me feel insignificant. Insecurity sets in and in some cases snowballs, making me notice more ‘faults’ that I may have. Subconsciously (or consciously!) I become afraid that people won’t like me.

I’m not sure what to wear to a party and I’m stressed because I want to look good. I’m feeling insecure because I’m worried about what others will think of me when they see me.

I have a fight with a loved one and amongst the feelings of anger, hurt, and upset – I fear that the relationship may be affected, or even end because of this fight.

My thought process:

I’ve been analyzing situations like these as they happen to me, and they all boil down to fear; Fear of what others think of us. Why do we place so much value on how others see us? And why do we place so little stock in how we see ourselves?

On a daily basis, I try to live by one of my own credos “Stop caring so much what others think of you!” This is easier said than done. Fear creeps in. It’s irrational, and often gets blown out of proportion. I try to keep reminding myself that in any and all of these situations, everything will be fine. I try to check with myself to see what I think of me. As long as I’m doing the best that I can and living up to my own code of ethics, that’s all I can do. That’s the BEST I can do. I can’t change how others outside me act and react.

I concluded that the importance must be placed not on what others think of me, but what I think of me. In order to not lose my perspective, the thoughts and opinions of others should always be included in the mix… but I think it’s time to keep my opinion of me in the forefront.

Mlarrrrrgrawrrrrrrgrrrrwaaaaaaaaaaaggggrrrr

A primal growl for first thing in the morning.

I haven’t been able to figure this one out. Intrinsically, we are all connected. We are interconnected. By nature, we are social and reach out to others. When someone is in a bad mood, you try to cheer them up. When people are smiling and happy, it’s contagious.  So what is this conductive nature of moods? And how do we keep the good ones and stop the bad ones from affecting us, and others around us?

My thoughts…

  1. Keep on truckin’ Do what you need to do. Do what you’d normally do. Moving forward keeps the cogs oiled and keeps your mind off of things (often things you cannot change or do anything about).
  2. Find a distraction Go to a movie. Call a friend. Do something out of the ordinary. Read a book. Changing the pace might snap you out of a rut, or keep you from channeling the moods of others
  3. Accept it Accepting what you cannot change (and even things you can change, but haven’t gotten to yet) is not easy, but definitely will help. It’s useless to worry about things you have no power over, but we all seem to do it.
  4. Let it out Talk to someone about what’s worrying you. They might not have a solution, but I always find that venting to someone who is willing to listen really does help.
  5. Let out a primal growl Relieving the pressure by growling, screaming, crying, or smacking a pillow can help too! It sounds silly, but feels GREAT!

While we often think of ourselves as so separate from others, so individual… we really are very connected to those around us. Moods of friends, co-workers, family, and loved ones affect us. It’s inevitable. As long as we don’t sponge up too much of the bad stuff, and make sure to bask in as much of the good stuff as we can, it’s all good. Unfortunately, we almost always let in the good with the bad (and sometimes we more readily let the bad affect us!). Try a primal growl on for size… and remember that only you can make you happy!

Here’s what I’m thinking…

A friend and fellow blogger came to me last week with a dilemma. She’s a stellar writer, but has been struggling with whether or not her Blog has value. And then something happened….

Here is a recount of her question, and my answer. What are your thoughts?

Rebecca writes:

As you may know, I have been toiling away at that blog of mine. Blogging does not come easily to me. As of this morning I had 65 blog posts and 9 followers. Two and a half months of hard work and only 9. I feel a lot of despair over that little 9. (Yes I know how silly that sounds. It gets worse) My ex decided this week that he would start a blog. The man is at times illiterate,has no grasp of phonics or grammar and cannot spell but he’s going to blog anyway. He’s blogged a total of 4 posts and already has 10 followers.

Here’s where my anger comes in. I feel that blogging was my thing. I made a big, life-changing deal about it. Developed a concept. Made a year long commitment. This isn’t something that I deem trivial. And now I feel like my thunder has been stolen. And a little like I’ve been slapped in the face. I feel like my ex and his blog have made a mockery of my hard work.

I think I’m being childish and would like to get over it. But I feel hurt by it. I need an impartial view on it. Right now I just want to vent about it in my blog, how unfair I think it is. And part of me wants to quit because if no one is really reading it, part of the fun has been taken away. I still talk to my ex and don’t want to resent him even more than I already do.

If you want to have a look at his blog… http://out-side-that-box.blogspot.com and thanks for listening.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

Aha! Before even venturing into the world of blogs written by exes, I have a few words of wisdom (if you’re ok with calling it wisdom).

If this was me – my initial reaction would be the same as yours. I’d be thinking What the hell – blogging is MY THING. Is he trying to make a mockery of me? How dare he?! Etc., etc.

Then, after that – I’d probably consider the following…

Maybe he knows about your blog…. which leads us to: IMITATION IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY.
If he’s writing a blog because he knows about yours, it only means that he thinks it’s an awesome idea. Who’s awesome idea? YOURS! Therefore, I can only deduce that he thinks you are awesome, whether he’s willing to admit it or not. 😉 (Monkey see, monkey do!)

Who gives a bucket of squid how many ACTUAL followers you have? Consider this: I have only a few subscribers to my blog, but ZOUNDS more people actually read it. I don’t rely on that little “followers” number, because it’s incredibly inaccurate (and depressing). I’ve had random unexpected comments from the web-universe and had no idea they read my blog. It’s like cockroaches – if you see one, there are 100. Same goes for comments and followers.

Conversely – your ex may have 10 followers, but think about this: how many of those people actually read each post? Are they actually getting anything out of these posts? How many of those people actually pass for human? Oh yeah – and WHO CARES who reads any blog but yours?! 😉

Let’s get one thing straight. What you have to say is IMPORTANT, INFORMATIVE, and FUNNY AS A FLYING PENGUIN. Keep doing it! Try your best to remember your goal, and don’t let anything keep you from it. In the grand scheme of things – your ex’s blog is just another whiff of stardust in this web-universe. It should not matter to you who follows or reads or comments on his blog – UNLESS his blog is important to you and offers you something of value 🙂

The only thing that should matter to you is the awesome effort you put into your blog, and how you feel about it. Are you proud of your blog? (Insert YES here). I AM! So who gives a rotten jellybean if all of your exes start blogs and have ONE MILLION followers? Your blog will still be your blog 🙂 CONTINUE MAKING IT AWESOME!

So toil away, dear writer. You are doing an excellent job. Try your best not to let your ex (or any other “writer”) distract you from your goal. The thing that matters most is YOU. The only thing you can control is YOU. #1 on your planet is YOU (and sometimes your kid.. but really, if you are on an airplane – they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first and I think that’s a pretty valid measure that you are indeed #1).

Why not try turning things around. Subscribe to his blog for kicks, and read it for squirts and giggles. You can start by silently chuckling at the sub-par spelling and grammar. Eventually that will get old, but that’s part of the process. You never know – he might have something interesting or valid to say. Take those nuggets of value with you and throw the rest in the trash (or the compost, if you’re environmentally conscious). Use his crap to fertilize your garden!! 🙂

In almost every situation, our initial reaction (before we take time to THINK) is a childish or negative one. This is the way it goes.

So take your breath,
and refocus on the important stuff,
YOU.

Whatever you do, wear your seatbelt!

I’m beginning to get a better understanding of road rage.. I will admit that I have been one of those angry people cursing at other cars or saying “come on, move!” and on occasion, honking my horn. I have realized a few things:

  1. They can’t hear you
  2. They can probably see you, and you look ridiculous/annoying
  3. Your ridiculous/annoyingness distracts not only you, but them as well, making it more likely that one of you (or perhaps someone else who is laughing at you waving your arms like a gorilla) will get into an accident
  4. honking your horn does not make people move faster, in fact it usually makes them stop (for spite!)
Road Rage
Image taken from: http://www.toothpastefordinner.com

I have learned a few things over the last 6 months, some of them from a very cute little buddhist monk who makes an awful lot of sense. When you are driving, it’s difficult to remember that you do not own the road. I know, we all like to think that we have the right of way, or that the guy over there just took your spot. But simply put, we all share the road. Following that train of thought, it’s not your lane or your spot either that some other car is squishing into. We all seem to feel entitled to our spaces on the road. This type of thinking is skewed. We need to try and think of it from the other side; in terms of us, not them.

What does that mean? It means that we can greatly benefit from concentrating on our responsibility to drive safely. If someone races into the small spot in front of you, instead of fuming over the fact that he/she has just taken up the safe space you have created between you and the car in front of you, try just making sure that you are doing the right thing, and that once this driver has squeezed in, that you are still driving safely – give them some space so that you remain safe! After all, you are the important one 🙂

Road Rage
Image from: http://www.theage.com.au

Also, if you are screaming at someone in front of you and honking, likely they will simply react defensively: cursing and swearing back at you, regardless of who is right or wrong. The damage at this point is two-fold. Now yours and the other drivers’ concentration has been compromised – raising your likelihood of being in an accident. Not only that but the people around you will likely have decided (in their own minds) whether one or the other of you was in the right – and carry the animosity of your situation with them. This means that not only you and the other driver, but also other people may be in an angry state while driving, all as a result of one person cutting another off, or not letting them into a lane. It creates a domino effect of angriness that spreads – more people swear and honk, more people swerve and cut others off – because if that guy did, I am entitled, too! Right? 😉

You can also look at things from the other perspective when experiencing not-so-great drivers who are compromising your safety. If someone is signaling to get into your lane, make space for them. Sure, you might be angry because they have just shoved you back one car length, and now you’re going to be even later than before (by a whole 2 seconds!)… but on the flip side – they are only one car length ahead of you! So they really didn’t get much further ahead, and you are not really that much further behind…

It’s difficult to think in these terms, because everyone seems to think that they are entitled to their spot, their lane, and to cut other people off – but not the other way around. There is a serious double standard in most drivers’ eyes. If we shift our concentration from making sure we are getting what we are “entitled” to when driving to concentrating on making sure that everything we are doing is safe, I think that not only will there be less accidents, but eventually (in a utopia, I know) people will catch on and be more courteous and forgiving on the road. After all, everyone makes mistakes.

Maybe that guy in the Audi cut you off because his wife is in the passenger seat with a huge bleeding cut on her arm and she needs medical attention. Perhaps the lady in the van didn’t check her blind spot because she is not concentrating on the road because her baby just threw up and is choking in the back seat. Or perhaps the teenagers in the K-car are just driving recklessly and not paying attention. You never really know what’s going on in other cars. Sure – most likely they cut you off because they feel like you (or others around you) are going too slow and that getting one car length ahead will help them go faster. Either way, just let them go and make sure that you are being safe. And do it with a smile on your face!

Karma BuddhaWhy? Because KARMA will repay them. I have personally seen Karma in action while driving. I was in traffic, and a car was coming up fast from behind me, switching lanes erratically, swerving, and squashing himself into tight spots so that he could get ahead of all of us who were patiently driving through traffic. Then, all of a sudden he realized he had to go left, and crossed three lanes of traffic (nearly clipping someone’s car!) so that he could get into the left turning lane. Do you know what happened? This guy ended up hitting the curb in the left hand lane and likely did some real damage to one or both of the rims on that side of his car.  I’m sure that everyone who was patiently driving safely had a big smile on their faces.
I know I did!

So when someone cuts me off, or refuses to let me into their lane, 9 times out of 10 I have learned to just smile or laugh (at them!) and make sure I have left safe space around my car, and that I’m doing what I’m supposed to on the road. I try to only use my horn if I feel like I’m in danger and need to warn another driver to pay attention. I have found that not only does this make my commute happier (because laughing at idiots is WAY more fun than honking and swearing at them), but when I get to my destination, I feel a whole lot more fantastic. I’m far from perfect on the road, but I’m getting there. Not only that, but changing my practice has eliminated a whole lot of stress from my daily life!

Where is the middle ground?

I watched this video the other day, where a police officer giving a routine ticket to what I assume was a speeding driver kept his cool while the driver went off on him. This led me to wonder if the cop’s response actually did any good for this guy. He simply stood there calmly, finished his job, and made sure that justice was done. But it didn’t seem to me like the driver got the message. The driver was angry that he got a speeding ticket, and also angry that he would have to take time off work to go to court to fight it. He didn’t seem to realize that if he had not been speeding in the first place, that he would not have gotten the ticket.

So I’m left wondering – what is the appropriate way to get the message across to people like this – and would the message get across at all, regardless of how you deliver it? Would it have been better if the cop had not exercised such restraint – pulled the guy out of the car and taught him a lesson? Or would that simply have been a waste of the cop’s time, and unnecessary stress for both parties?

In this instance, I think the officer’s conduct was commendable even if the driver didn’t get the message. At least the cop was calm and didn’t let this guy’s negativity or anger affect him and cause him to react negatively. I believe that this chain reaction happens all too much in society today. One person’s anger ignites the anger of another person. The second person now goes to the bank and has to wait in line for a teller, but seeing as they are already angry from the previous situation begin to huff and puff and make a scene at the bank. This, in turn, affects all the other people in the line… and  these people all take their experience with them on to other situations in their life. And so on, and so on. It’s like a ripple effect.

If this cop had reacted differently in this situation, I think things definitely would have escalated unnecessarily – leaving this driver with an even worse taste in his mouth about authority and the police. It sounds like he already has a chip on his shoulder about it – or perhaps he was just at the bank and had to wait in line a little too long 😉

Our ego can be a tricky beast – causing us to act defensively in the face of almost any conflict… even when the attack is completely non-personal, it can be taken that way all because of the ego. Take a moment when something like this happens, and ask yourself if it is worth it to react emotionally and defensively, or if this situation is really that important that you need to fight against it so hard. Often times, taking a moment to let your fur flatten down again after feeling threatened and thinking about things can not only diffuse a situation, but offer you time to rationally think of a response (an educated one!). It’s easier said than done though – because we have been acting like this all our lives!

I suppose my conclusion is that we all have to assess situations and try to react accordingly. Sure, we all overreact sometimes – but if we try and approach things calmly like this cop did, maybe we could minimize the ripple effect of anger and negativity that is caused by conflict. If we can exercise compassion and understand that maybe this person is having a really bad day, and try to give them just that little bit of understanding – or at the very least don’t add fuel to the fire.

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