Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
I used to be foolish and believe what people told me. I do hope I have grown past that by now. Other’s have said that they could look people in the eye and tell what type of person someone is. I don’t have that gift I guess. All I see are blue or green and if they have cataracts. For me, that is like looking under the hood of my car. I can stare all day at the oil dipstick and the battery cable, but I can’t tell a darn thing about the vehicle and why it won’t start.
My way goes back to SHOW me who you are. Yes, people can fake it, but not for long. Something of who the real person is will leak out. I had an incident happen this week that reminded me of this. I was having a conversation with someone, and they had said something but meant another, like “I went to Paris” when they meant to say “I went to France.” I was no big deal, but she was shocked, believing she SAID what she had THOUGHT because obviously her brain doesn’t get her words mixed up. At that moment, I received a very clear picture of that person. Here is a person who never faults herself. It’s not so much that she doesn’t think she is capable of error, more that she couldn’t see it.
Do you know the time when you got that car, maybe the blue one because not too many people had a blue car and especially not the brand that you had? Then suddenly you see blue cars everywhere. You COULDN’T see them before, but now they are everywhere. In that way, SHE couldn’t SEE that she could make an error and didn’t take it into consideration. In her thinking, we heard her wrong. Hmmm, all 5 of us. Blindspots.
Arrogance and Humility
In my eyes, this is the difference between arrogance and humility. The arrogant cannot see the flaws in their judgement. Their opinion is correct because their opinion is all they see. To contrast, there are those with humility. And to that extreme there are the self-abasing humble people who need to see themselves as well as others. These are the ones who have been long considered low on self-esteem and self-conscious. Psychologist have been telling them they have a flaw, and God knows that they are aware of this, and they cringe. They want to hide. They see their flaws and are very aware that of the errors of their ways.
It’s time for some moderation. It is good be kind to others but remember the arrogant ones will never see you except to use you as an example or an icon to prove their “rightness.” You had best move out of their way and shut your doors. The arrogant won’t read this, so I’m not talking to them because they know more than me anyway. So to the humble I say, be good to yourself today. Show yourself some love and lock your doors.
Happiness, to me, is a natural result of health and love. It’s thriving. It’s like the moment my car is tuned just right. Or maybe when my cat is purring on my lap. What would it take to fill up my happiness container? And why did it get low in the first place?
How do you equate happiness? Is it a switch you turn on or off? Or a bucket you fill? This is a lot like the glass half empty or glass half full question. It’s funny since most people think of this as a right or wrong, optimist or pessimist problem, but I don’t see it like that. It could be both.
If happiness is a bucket we fill, then load it up with lots of big stuff first. Vacations, toys, experiences. And don’t forget the ice cream. No one is happy without ice cream. It’s a proven fact. Somewhere there is scientific evidence for that, I’m sure. My friends and I have determined that anything can be cured by ice cream. Breaking a nail? Wreck the car? Lost your job? I guess the only exception would be death. That’s the one thing ice cream isn’t helpful with. Unless you serve it at the funeral.
If you see happiness as a switch or a button, what will it take to turn it on? Medicine? A brisk walk? Sleep? Talking with a friend? Maybe some more ice cream will do it. Maybe happiness isn’t the perfection I’m striving for. Maybe it’s just being in the moment that is. Not with everything perfect and in order. Control freak here. I have to remind myself that happiness can be just having the ice cream even if the rest of my life is in chaos. That’s my on switch.
Here is one of my favorite quotes that reminds me of that moment. I had it on my refrigerator for a long time to remind me of this truth.
“Caretake this moment. Immerse yourself in its particulars. Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed. Quit evasions. Stop giving yourself needless trouble. It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.”― Epictetus
Drama is fun. If you’ve ever been in the middle of a big, chaotic ball of drama you know what I mean. The person at the center of the drama gets tons of attention. The people surrounding her act as her courtiers, fanning, patting and all the little comforts necessary. We all have times that this is necessary, but there are those that create it. Maybe it’s not intentional, but they created it nonetheless.
Have you ever noticed the lull after the big holiday season? Or maybe after the sports season? It’s difficult to know what to do. No rush. No big fire to put out. It’s been said that the hardest times are during the holidays. That’s true if a loved one is no longer with you. For the rest of the population, the highest suicide rates are after the holidays. In January.
Why is that? Why is the let down after the chaos so difficult to cope with? You’ve just made it through all the rush and energy zapping events and now there’s a feeling of disappointment. We’ve used up all of our energy and there’s no outside event demanding our attention. We were probably running on pure adrenaline for days already then we stop. You would think you would be relieved, but no our mind is using its balancing methods to support the previous vigor. It’s been called Dynamic Equilibrium. The body needs stability and our entire system tries to keep up the same weight, the same speed.
This is what It was like before I made boundaries. Here are some things that help me cope. These are some tools to let life flow more moderately.
Your voice. Saying no or speaking up is difficult, but it’s a necessary tool in many situations. There are things to consider before speaking. Would it serve me better to leave the situation, or to let someone know that something is wrong? Such as Thelma, your best friend, talks nonstop and rarely filters when she’s talking. Part of the reason you love her so much is her outgoing personality. There are days that her talking gives you a headache. So the two of you have planned to travel to the beach this weekend. You’ll be in the car for several hours. What should you do? Tell her to limit her talking or just don’t go? Tough call.
Your mobility. Walk away. Distance yourself from the chaos. Sometimes you don’t have control of the environment around you. Once I was out with a guy friend. We were going to cook so I didn’t eat before I went. I was hungry and looking forward to some time together. He wanted to stop over and check on an older friend of his. The older man’s health wasn’t great. I was thinking 30 minutes and we’ll be out of there. No, not 30. 45 minutes were creeping into an hour. I felt bored, hungry and impatient. And feeling sick from not eating. But I sat there. Didn’t say anything. It was close to 2 hours before we left and I was angry. Afterwards, I knew how I should have handled it. I should have politely told him that I was going to run an errand, stopped and ate a taco or burger and came back later. I would have been happy and taken care of myself. Yes, it was rude of him to visit with these people for so long when we had earlier plans, but I can’t control other people. What I do have is the ability to get my keys and take care of myself.
Your environment. Surround yourself with your stuff. What makes you happy? Hot tea at noon? Snacks? Can you listen to music? Make your personal space like your home. Claim your space as much as you can. Pick out your major purchases for your own convenience. Dependability is very important to me. I like a car that can respond quickly. So I bought something with a certified warranty. It cost a bit more but for my peace of mind, it was worth it. I extended the loan period to cover the monthly fee which goes against all of the advice I’ve ever received, but the alternative was to get a car that I wouldn’t trust. Worry is my flaw. Being single in a large city, means I have a little backup. No spouse to call to take me to work or repair my vehicle on the weekend. So AAA is my back up. I’ve arranged my life to fit my needs.
I want to curl up on the couch and be warm and snuggly. I’m on my couch now but I don’t feel warm and snuggly. You know that feeling when you were a child, home and sick. Not so sick you couldn’t watch TV, but too sick for school. I’d lay there with my quilt and pillow and doze off and on, not a care in the world. That’s what I mean by warm and snuggly.
There’s not as many times I let myself feel that way. If I take the time off to lay there then I feel I guilty about not completing a project like putting up some closet shelves. There’s always work needing done. I wish someone would give me permission to sit down. Would it be so wrong of me to give myself permission?
What makes us push so hard? We all feel it these days. The works never done. It seems there’s no dividing line between piling more things on our to-do list and the work we do for pay. It all just keeps growing and there’s no time to complete it. So we keep pushing along. Once the sun was our cue. When we couldn’t see the hand in front of our face we had to quit. Now we get out the spotlights and keep on plowing. No need to stop.
We have the good life when it comes to survival. We have food, clothing, running water, shelter and all of that. We have luxuries and entertainment. But there’s no scheduled time out. No choice. Must stop. One day rolls into another until we finally roll into our 6 foot deep plot. My personality demands a completion point. Even when I’m reading a book, I like to know how many pages are left before the end of the chapter. I look at the total minutes of the movies I’m watching. I mentally half and quarter the time. Strange? Bizarre for certain. I wonder if there are others out there that do something similar. And why do I need to do this? I like completion. When I finish something, I get that temporary mental feedback. That little burst of endorphin that says ‘good job’. We all have it in some degree. Maybe you’ve never noticed. Did you clean out the garage? Did you feel the need to tell someone? Facebook is great for this. We are such social beings that we need to tell everyone the most mundane actions of our lives. “Went to the store. Long lines at the gas station.” “Finally mowed the lawn.” And even though we know most of our friends don’t really care, we feel compelled to share. These harmless little actions just make my point. We completed a task. We checked it off of our list and want acknowledgement. No biggie.
I’ve heard that the chemical reinforcement in our neurological structure is the reason we make lists. Also it’s the reason we add to that list if we’ve completed a task that we didn’t list originally and check it off. We don’t want to miss anything. We are reinforcing our accomplishments. Yay for us! Pats on the back all around.
So my difficulty is, how do I allow myself to rest? Giving myself permission doesn’t come easily. One thing I’m learning is compassion for myself. I’ve started doing a compassion meditation (see below). Very simple. I sit and think forgiving and kind thoughts towards others, whether friends or strangers. I also include myself. I wish blessing and good things on others during this time. I acknowledge them as doing their best and allow them freedom themselves. I believe this makes me a softer person. And by becoming softer, I can allow myself to relax. It’s a start for me. For me this method is more effective than my earlier way, which was lists and lists and lists. As I said, they never seem to be finished. With this way I can relax even when things aren’t perfect. It’s taken me a long time to get where I am, and I know I have a long way to go. This is my journey.
Do you remember the old televisions from the 1970’s with the picture tube inside? It was before digital, so I’m telling my age. When I was young, we had this television that the picture would start rolling up like the credits on a movie. You’d bang it really hard with your hand on the side to get it to stop. Smack it. Our TV was dented on the side.
A very caveman way of handling a piece of equipment.
Today that wouldn’t work. Our televisions are now electronics, with circuit boards. Hit it like that and you’ll hurt your hand on the hard plastic and knock loose a circuit. Won’t fix anything. You have to know your equipment.
We also had an old Chevy truck. It had a choke that you opened. Just a knob that you pulled out on the dashboard. You pumped the gas pedal to let a bit of fuel into the engine. Then you could start the truck. Oh the joys of vehicles before fuel injection. If you knew your truck, you knew from experience how many times to pump the pedal. If you did too many, you’d flood the engine and have to wait 10 or so minutes for the fuel to trickle out. Too few and the truck wouldn’t start. In these beautiful days of fuel injection there is no worry of this. No chokes to pull. No cranks to turn. Please don’t pump the pedal. Just start your car.
We have to know our equipment.
Whether it’s a car or a television. Know what you’re dealing with. If you have a classic vehicle it will handle differently than a newer sports car or even a normal sedan. You might not break the thing but you won’t be driving it at it’s best. You probably won’t appreciate it for its own beauty.
I would hope you wouldn’t treat a newborn baby like a mostly grown teenage boy. Once when I was teaching 1 to 2-year-old class in a church setting, one of the children came in very distraught. With a red face and tears all pouring out her eyes, she was clinging to her mom. For this little girl it was unusual. Some kids go through this normally but not her. Mom was becoming hysterical herself. She said she didn’t know what to do. That her daughter had started being “rebellious” soon after mom had went back to work. My first thought was Rebellious? The whole thing was so obvious. The girl wanted her mom. Her schedule changed. During the week, she’d been forced (from a child’s perspective) to stay with people she didn’t know and now Mommy was leaving her again. She only wanted the comfortable spot on her mom’s lap. Rebellion requires a much more developed mind than a 2-year-old has. Even the so-called terrible twos are not really rebellion, just checking out where the boundaries are.
If you know what’s normal, it’s easier to know when things are not right. If you know what’s normal for your personality it’s so much easier to help yourself in a difficult time. I was once concerned with being too cocky, too proud. I had it repeated in my formative years that God hates a proud heart. Pride goes before a fall. Me, being the compliant child that I was, tried diligently to not be proud. For a compliant child that meant never bragging or talking about achievements. And loads of guilt for thinking anything positive about myself.
Who of us hasn’t been there? We have to understand who we are. I’m speaking only from my perspective at this time since it’s currently the only one I really know. I realize your perspective is different and I don’t mean at all to leave you out of the conversation. I would like to hear your experience also.
I was sitting on the floor with my favorite yoga lady one day. We were talking about food and books we enjoyed. She remarked that I seemed very Vata-Vata. Basically if you don’t know of the Indian Doshas, Vata is the air-like, ether-like personality. All dreamland and spirituality. My Vata-ness was showing I guess.
I had tried recently and in the past many times to eat lighter. More fruits and raw vegetables. This goes along with the advice of all the super knowledgeable people out there. The diet leaves me cold, physically and mentally. I realize to these experts, lightening up seems right. For me I crave potatoes and cooked carrots. Warm oatmeal with toast and jam. Warm tea. I seldom crave a pop. Occasionally yes it hits the spot but not everyday. Too much activity and caffeine makes my head spin. Energy drinks give me a headache. So when people recommend these things I just nod at them and realize I probably need to do the opposite.
All up in the air.
I often listen to the wrong advice it seems. They recommend that we as people need more spirit. More meditation. So I try. They say we need to visualize. Okay, no problem. Then my head hurts. Suddenly, I understood what my yoga teacher had tried to tell me and what others have said, that I’m wired backward. I need more physical not spiritual training. I’m at home in the temple praying. But take me to the swimming pool or the ski slopes and I’ll run away scared. She said I was all up in here (as she waved her hands in the air). I needed to learn to come back into my body. To live in my body and stay at home there.
So when they say I need to control my anger, I have to pause. Back up and reverse. Me, I tend to hold my tongue too long. I think about everything I say. I think twice or three times about all my silly emails and Facebook posts. Things like holding my tongue? Seriously I really need to speak up more, not less.
So now when you get advice, take it into consideration, but also know your own nature. Is it just adding a gag along with the muzzle? Duct taping over the superglue? Redundant redundancy? Or is it helpful?
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