You Are What You Think: Likes, Dislikes and Change

Mentalist

Have you ever had something come up and you instinctively disliked it?  Was this dislike based on an actual reason, or was the dislike merely because it wasn’t what you were expecting?  Why does something changing have to be about liking or disliking?

Humans have a complicated relationship with change.  We can find it disturbing if it comes upon us unexpectedly, but if things stay the same for too long we get bored.  If we don’t have any perspective or control over our reactions to the changes in life; than we spend our time constantly rocketing from one reaction to the next, a helpless passenger on the roller coaster of life.

I was told recently that you have to divorce yourself from the outcome of a situation and focus instead on doing your best and that is the only way to come through a troublesome situation unharmed.  It was exactly what I needed to hear.  The situation I was going through seemed completely dreadful at the time and I really had no control over it, or any way to make the bare facts of it better.  The sad part, for me, was that I had been looking forward and working toward this moment for quite some time, and now it here it was and it was not at all what I was expecting.  My only option at that point was to try and focus on my attitude toward the situation and not the situation itself and that is what I tried to do.  I will admit that I could have done a better job, as it was I stayed pretty distraught about it for a few weeks.

Looking back now my instinct is to be hard on myself for this lapse but that would be starting the cycle over again.  So instead of beating myself up and disliking my reaction to this change, I’m gonna think about how to do better next time.  Life is never going to stop changing and I’m never going to stop working on myself and those things combined give me something to look forward to.  So bring on the change, life, and I will try to see it for exactly what it is, neither good nor bad but possibly exciting!

Pity Party for One, Table 15…Am I in the Wrong?

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I have recently come to realize that some pity parties really annoy me, “But Funky, how can you say that! What about What’s Wrong With Me? or The Abyss? Those are your pity party blogs!” Yes, I know. I do get down and out quite a bit, but here’s the thing…I’m still happy. Yes, I have been single for a decade, I have watched my mother die, held my pooch as she died in my arms, and seen more pain that should be allowed…but I am still happy! I can say that with honesty.

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Dr Laura on Facebook

Now, I am a Leo, and according to my Sagittarius brother, Leos are zodically inclined to be big bad complainers. Now I do like to complain….but I hate complaining about the same thing over and over again. With my girlfriend’s, they actually listen, so I don’t have to rehash an event over and over. Not so much the case with my boys….so in trying to explain myself to them, I feel as if I get a little redundant.

But what really pushes my buttons? What really grinds my gears and makes me want to throw my own pity party? Listening to someone else’s who really have nothing to complain about (on the whole grand scheme of things), most especially if they are displaying suicidal tendencies. Or if their pity party is nothing but self-pity over circumstances that they had caused themselves. Or if they are just too dang blind to see their own blessings.

Dr Wayne W. Dyer Facebook

Dr Wayne W. Dyer Facebook

See, I know without a doubt, that despite all of the horrors that I have seen, my life is GOOD! I know without a doubt, that there are hundreds of people out there who have it worse! When someone shares a pathetic pity story with me, I practically scream my story at them–“Deal with that and tell me how much you want to die!!”

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Sometimes, the person is seemingly inspired by my story…which I am unsure of how I should feel about that. “If she can live through all that…” Like I have a choice…

Other times, they throw it back in my face. “How can you complain about my pity party by throwing your own?” Which I agree, it sounds silly even to me. What I cannot stand is, after hearing my story, “Well if you hate yourself so much…”

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This got me a’thinking…do I come across as a self-hater? If I do, then I want to assure you that I am not. Sure, I may have self-doubt and question myself quite frequently–but this is purely based on the fear of peer-perception. I mainly worry that I have an arrogant and pretentious view of myself. That I really don’t come across in the real world, the way that I do in my own mind. I probably do think too highly of myself, but I think that is better than being self-deprecating, hahaha! And every time I do start to question myself, too many friends are quick to argue my negative tone. To the point that I feel like a jerk for even trying to doubt myself. I guess on that note, I also don’t like to anger my friends, and if they say that I am sweet, and beautiful, and amazing, and they love me–who am I to question them? Especially if they are going to bite my head off?

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Good tip to remember–if you are full of self-doubt, and you go to a friend to complain about yourself, if they say that you are awesome, listen to them! Don’t argue! 

I guess that is another part of the pathetic pity party that I cannot abide by–the refusal to listen to the good things. The continuation of focusing on the negative. I also admit that I am guilty of this as well….I focus on the fates being against me, a lot. I focus on the fact that those who die actually get the better end of the deal, it’s those of us left behind that have to learn how to survive. So am I being a hypocrite to those who have it bad, but not so bad as me?

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quotesgram.com

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I think that I am, a little.

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Melinda Watts Facebook

So here is what I am going to take from this:

  1. I don’t know everything that has happened in their life, so I cannot make the judgement as to whether or not their pity party is deserving.
  2. Just because someone has not seen the horrors that I have seen, it does not lessen the degree of their own pain. Envy them instead for having it easy. (hahaha!)
  3. I cannot control how they feel. Just because I tell them my story, or try to reassure them that they are awesome, loved and cared for–I am not in control of changing their mind.
  4. I cannot save everyone. Either I believe that everything happens for a reason, or I don’t. And making myself crazy, taking on another’s pain as my own, will not save them either…nor will it help my own psyche.
  5. If someone doesn’t want to hear my pain, then I don’t want that to affect me. I can still be friend’s with that person without them knowing all of my idiosyncrasies. (Although, as Lollipop pointed out, I use my pain as a security blanket–lay it all out there right away so that you can decide to stay or go. Staying is more fun! Just saying!!)
  6. Lastly, maybe I am fairly unique in the sense that I can be serenely happy and still pray for death. I enjoy life every day, even though I think that it is totally unfair, that I am not as strong as the “powers that be” think that I am. I recognize my blessings, and I am in the situation that I choose to be in. I am not “stagnate” in my hometown, I chose to move back, and I am choosing to stay. I see that maybe being single because I live at home with my dad to take care of him and so he won’t be alone; is okay. That being the “strong one,” the “rock,” of the family is a title I should wear with pride; not treat it like a burden. That all of my people love me, but won’t be with me, because they do love me that much, and they know that I can be rather cold once you’ve broken my trust. This too is a blessing, not a curse.

    dailyinspirationnewsletter.org

    dailyinspirationnewsletter.org

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It is all in the way that you look at it. And like I have said before, the only thing you can control is you. So, I am going to make a conscious effort to not fling my pain in other’s faces. To try not to get angry at people who refuse to see the goodness in their own lives. To try and share my pain in a positive manner, not angrily.

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Lean Into the Pain or How Avoiding Unhappiness Won’t Make You Happy

Avoiding UnhappinessI was having dinner with a friend of mine and her parents a couple of weeks ago and they were asking for advice on quitting smoking that they could pass along to their son who is a smoker.  The only thing that I could really think of to tell them was to lean into the pain.  A couple of days later I was watching a movie with Funky called Hector and the Search for Happiness (which is completely awesome I highly recommend it) and there was a line about how avoiding unhappiness is not the road to happiness.

The thing is, unhappiness is just a part of life.  Without unhappiness how would we appreciate happiness?  How would we even know what happiness is?

Having a risk averse way of looking at things gets in the way of being happy!  Why would you pursue a route that is hard but ultimately rewarding if avoiding struggle or moments of unhappiness is your main goal?

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that surviving unhappiness is one thing that can make you really happy.  When I look back on my own experiences I see this play out over and over again.  If there was a project I was dreading because it seemed really difficult or I was insecure about my ability to handle it, I would put off dealing with it.  I was a classic procrastinator.  The result of this, was that I went around with this thing hanging over my head and in the back of my mind, worrying me.  Then I would put the thing off so long that some kind of deadline would pass and the situation would get much worse and much more complicated.

When I finally disciplined myself to take care of the dreaded thing right away, no matter how much it sucked, I would be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and renewed faith in my own abilities.

Here’s another way of saying the same thing.  I was watching a show called The Mentalist and the main character on the show told someone that they would be a lot happier if they didn’t think so much about what they do and don’t like.

I completely agree.  Just by saying, I don’t like being unhappy, you are ensuring that you will be unhappy.  It is a self fulfilling prophesy.

For example: people think, “I don’t want to quit smoking because it’s going to be really hard and I won’t like that.”  Then they finally talk themselves into quitting and they think “yep, I was right this is hard and I don’t like it”, then they start thinking “Is it worth it?  I’m so unhappy and quitting smoking is supposed to make my life better but it’s making it worse because it’s so hard and I’m so unhappy.”  Then they start smoking again and guess what?  They are still unhappy, because they are doing something that they know they shouldn’t be doing and the cycle starts again.  The only way to free themselves from the cycle is to lean into the pain, to just accept it and go through it and pursue their only chance at happiness which lies on the other side of unhappiness.

I’m not saying people should pursue unhappiness for it’s own sake or that they should wallow or obsess over things that make them unhappy.  I’m only saying that sometimes unhappiness is unavoidable and in those situations it might be better to submit of your own free will and truly experience it and then move on, instead of avoiding it and thereby allowing it more control over your life than it deserves.

The Thing about Quitting Smoking is…

landslideThat it’s like the Fleetwood Mac song “Landslide”.

“I’ve been afraid of changing cause I built my life around you, but time makes you bolder even children get older and I’m getting older too.”

This song fits so perfectly with my story because I started smoking at fourteen while still a child and have lived over half my life as a smoker.  I would wake up every day and plan everything around smoke breaks.  I looked forward to them and got pissed when they were delayed. If I was having a shitty day the one thing that could turn it all around, or so I believed was having a sweet, sweet smoke.

But here’s the thing I am getting older and smoking half a pack a day at at thirty makes you feel a lot more of a hag than smoking a whole pack a day did at twenty. Add to that the toll it takes on your face and energy.  I may be getting older but I’m still young, I shouldn’t get winded after playing on the playground with the kiddo for five minutes.  I should’t get constant headaches from not drinking enough water and smoking too much.  I shouldn’t choose to smoke at lunchtime instead of feeding myself and come home hangry from work.  I’ve always considered myself bold and nows the time to put up or shut up.  I know this, it takes a landslide.  The very earth beneath your feet has to move in order to root out something thats been putting down roots for seventeen years.  When you look at it that way you see it can be an opportunity to turn your whole life around.

When you remove the central focus of your life it leaves a vacuum. A void that in the past I filled with depression and despair and I inevitably I went back to smoking, to save myself from what seemed like the more immediate threat.

The key to my success so far this time around is that I’ve filled the void with changes I’ve always wanted to make anyway.  I drink water constantly and suck on vitamin c drops in the car.  I get up early with my hubby to eat breakfast and work out instead of getting a morning smoke in.  On breaks at work I eat veggies, fruit and nuts and suck down even more water.  In my head I worked up to quitting by reminding myself of all the ways smoking was making my life worse and now I meditate on the opposite.

Wouldn’t you know it, everything in my life is actually better because I don’t smoke!  Even more amazing the sky didn’t fall, my personality didn’t collapse, I didn’t turn into a raving bitch and my smoker friends still think I’m fun. Goes to show what crazy lies we tell ourselves when we really don’t want to change.

The Thing About Quitting Smoking is….

Me on the last day of school in 2002, with my bestie Jessica, in the park next to Columbine.

Me on the last day of school in 2002, with my bestie Jessica, in the park next to Columbine.

You’re not just quitting cigarettes. You’re quitting the thing that made you feel better the first time someone broke your heart. The thing that kept you company while you sat on your balcony at 2 am and wrote poetry and listened to music. The thing that helped you bond with your shipmates when you went away from home for the first time and worked on a cruise ship in Alaska after high school. The thing that bonded you to almost every close friend you’ve had since middle school. The thing that you had in common with your mom at an age when most people hate their parents.

It’s not just quitting cigarettes, it’s quitting the person you used to be. It’s acknowledging that those times and versions of yourself are gone and they aren’t ever coming back.

That’s the hardest part for me. I’m a sentimental person, I get attached, and when I’m attached I really hate to let go. But that’s growing up isn’t it?

Change is a part of life and it can be a really good part. I’ve always believed that we change whether we like it or not and the wiser course is to make conscious decisions about how and why you change; so that five or ten or twenty years down the line you recognize the person you’ve become and more importantly you like the person you’ve become. So this is me, being the change, and trying to be better. Wish me luck!

Cliche Day: It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn

It’s time for another journey into the land of clichés, to uncover the deeper meaning behind oft heard and possibly under explored sayings.

Todays cliché is: it’s always darkest before the dawn.  The quote is attributed to theologian Thomas Fuller and is usually thought to refer to having hope during the dark times, that they will not last forever and relief will soon come.

In reality, it is darkest at midnight and not right before the dawn.  This fact lies at the heart of my issue with the common interpretation, which makes it seem as though both the darkness and the light are things that happen to you and that you have no control over, just as you have no control over the sun rising and setting.

This attitude is too passive for me.  I think that it is darkest before the dawn because people often have to hit rock bottom before they decide to change things!

As human beings we often interpret hardship or struggle as bad things happening to us, when really those things are necessary for us to achieve our true potential.  Whether that be physically speaking, where the struggle of working out and controlling our diet lead to a better attitude and level moods as well as looking better and having more energy.  Or emotionally speaking, where through almost losing someone you have increased gratitude for that person’s presence in your life or when going through hardship you have increased support from friends and family.  Or intellectually speaking where study pays off with a larger share of wisdom and understanding or hard work pays off with a more satisfying and fulfilling career.

Without darkness there would be no light and vice-versa.  Ultimately whether you walk in the light or the dark is up to you and your attitude, if you want the light you will seek it and you will strive to banish the darkness.  But at the same time keep in mind that the darkness is necessary and if it has descended upon you perhaps it has done so for a reason.  Perhaps there is some lesson you need to learn or some mistake you should try to avoid repeating.  It is only by learning from the darkness that you can regain the light.

So the next time you experience a dark night of the soul don’t simply wait for the dawn to come; change, struggle, learn and find something in the darkness to help propel you toward creating a new and brighter dawn for yourself!

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True Daring Comes From Within: Unleash your Inner Badass

DaringA few months ago I was watching The Talking Dead with my hubby and indulging in a little daydreaming.  For those of you that don’t know The Talking Dead is a show that airs after a new episode of The Walking Dead, where people discuss the episode you’ve just seen, this is my version of porn, I can’t get enough!  “Wouldn’t it be cool” I said to the hubby, “if I blogged about The Walking Dead and it became so popular that I got asked to be on this show?”  His answer surprised me, he said “No, I don’t think you’d like that at all.  You hate being the center of attention and you don’t like to speak in public.”

I have to admit I was a little bit offended.  I just knew that if I ever got an opportunity like that, I would rise to the occasion.  It reminded me of when I got my first supervisor position at the theater, back in the day.  The theater had so few supervisors at the time that they just decided to have a meeting and anyone that showed up would be given supervisor training.  I showed up and I became a supervisor, but I found out later that several of the managers doubted that I would be able to speak up enough to lead people.  What they didn’t know is that when I have the authority to tell people what to do, I have no problem doing so.  I just don’t like telling people what to do when it is not my place.  I knew that I was capable though and I went on to be one of the best supervisors and was promoted repeatedly after that.

Looking back I don’t really blame those managers or my hubby for the lack of belief because I hadn’t shown them my potential.  I had grown too comfortable in my comfort zone and hadn’t pushed myself.  That is one of the drawbacks of being a self contained person, people don’t know you because you forget to let them see you.  You forget that your rich inner life is not something other people are privy too.

I’m not really as shy as I used to be because I’m much more confident in myself and my abilities than I was as a younger person.  But I didn’t just become confident in my social skills by accident or overnight.

When I was nineteen I decided I needed to get over my fear of people I didn’t know and start having adventures!  So I went to work on a cruise ship in Alaska for six weeks.  I didn’t know a soul and it was the first time I had traveled anywhere by myself.  The thing that surprised me most about the experience was how easy it was.  Don’t get me wrong, working on a cruise ship is not easy.  It was thirteen hours a day, seven days a week of really hard work.  The easy part was getting along with strangers.  Once I got past the fear, once I threw myself into the deep end with no buffer and nowhere to hide I learned that people liked me, even when I wasn’t doing things for them.  People thought I was funny and all those feelings of inferiority and insecurity where just in my head.  The people on the boat had no idea that I was shy or insecure.  I showed them a side of myself that I hadn’t shown before, a strong side, a confident side and they responded to that.  After I came home from my little adventure I used the lessons I had learned to become a better version of myself and when the opportunity came at the theater to be a leader, I knew I could do it even when no one else did.

So take a moment and think about the person you feel you are deep down and the person your friends or family might say you are.  Do those two people match?  Are you showing the world the real you or just the habitual you?  If they don’t match then maybe you need to push yourself a bit more or just focus on communicating better with the people around you.  Don’t be afraid to be brave, to unleash your inner badass and let the true you shine!