Archive | August, 2015

Spades

31 Aug

In this day and age we are strongly encouraged to be politically correct and go along, and there seems a constant suggestion of conformity.  Everywhere we turn there is the implication that if we don’t follow the currently approved norm we are out of step.  Along with this there is a seeming lack of appreciation for individuality.  Instead of being leaders, we’re encouraged to be followers. We are told to speak out minds but often only if what’s on our minds is what the group thinks we should be thinking about. When did it become distasteful to have our own opinions? We are certainly entitled to them, but it seems that expressing them, if they are different from the group, is more and more frowned on. It’s a sad situation, and it’s boggling.

There is great value in saying exactly how we feel and speaking plainly. Talking in circles, dodging the issue, and dancing around a problem afraid of being offensive never solves anything. But if our main concern is not offending others, we may find ourselves doing just that. The great people of history, and the great examples of today, are direct and clear in their speech. They know what they believe in and it doesn’t matter if others disagree with them. They say what needs to be said with focus and determination. They don’t care if they’re swimming upstream, and they don’t care if nobody else believes in what they’re doing.  They believe in it and that’s enough. It takes courage to say what we think is right.  We may certainly say whatever we think needs to be said, and we may say it boldly, and with conviction.

Our viewpoints are valid, our opinions are worthwhile, and our comments are meaningful. We don’t have to be followers. We can choose to be leaders and share our ideas, our vision, and our perspective. The greatest innovations of our time were created going against the norm. The greatest ideas were often initially laughed at. But innovation starts with a great idea to do something new. Some people are threatened by what they don’t know and they will always be followers. We don’t have to be followers. We can say what we mean and mean what we say. We don’t have to go along, we can call a spade a spade.  After all, that’s exactly what it is, and facing things as they are is critical when we’re communicating.

Today if you’re being encouraged to follow along and you aren’t comfortable, speak up. You are as important as anyone else, and your ideas are just as valid. Be clear and be courageous. You can be kind and polite, and still hold fast to your opinion. Being who you really are is important.  Be your best self, and always be your true self.

Worth It

30 Aug

When we’re making decisions about what we want to do, it’s important to remember that everything we do creates a reaction of some sort. There is no free space for decisions. They always affect something – our lives, other people’s lives, our freedom, our finances, and a dozen other possibilities. Some decisions are trivial, like what we’ll have for lunch today, but even that will have a result. If it’s a good lunch for us, we may feel satisfied and happy afterward. If not, we may have another response. For the important decisions, for the heavy matters that weigh on us, it’s very important to consider not just which way to go, but what the ramifications of those decisions may be. Some responses may be predictable, and some may be surprises that come unexpectedly.

We make so many decisions in our lives that we take the process for granted. We look at a situation and pick the answer that looks best, or easiest, or quickest. Sometimes it’s a good decision and things go well, but sometimes there are complications we may not have considered. We can’t know the future so taking a moment to ponder where our decisions might take us is helpful. Our perspective is ours alone and nobody will share it completely. Nobody knows what we need better than we do, but even then we sometimes make mistakes. So, it’s important to think about our decisions before we make them – even the small ones.

If we’re in a relationship with someone and decide things have gotten too intense, we may decide to back up for a time. We don’t want to end the relationship but we want a little space. Explaining that to the other party may be difficult but if we need the time, it should be addressed. The question is, what will be the cost of stepping back? If we are dating the other person and we take some time away, they may find someone else to spend their time with. Are we willing to accept that? If we are in a friendship that has gotten too intense and we want to take a break, if the other person is offended by the request we may not be able to re-establish things afterward. Can we live with that? Everything we do will bring some sort of reaction. It’s important to think about what that may be before we go storming forward.

Today as you make your decisions, take a moment before you decide and think about what the results may be. Let your mind go wide and consider all the possibilities. Nobody can read the future and it’s wise to ponder what could happen before we choose. If the decision is worth whatever may come, go forward. You are capable of making good, wise choices, and only you can determine what’s best for you.

Last Minute

29 Aug

Sometimes when we need to do something we don’t want to, or have to make a decision that’s hard for us, we put it off. We might ignore it for as long as possible, get busy with other things, and pretend it doesn’t exist. But eventually we reach the time when we absolutely, positively have to do it. We’ve waited until the last minute either hoping we wouldn’t have to face it, or hoping somehow running out of time would help us get it done. Lots of us need the pressure of the last minute to make difficult decisions or move forward. When we put things off until we reach the moment when we have to do them even if we’re not ready, it has to happen. And then we face them.

Waiting until the last minute has its perks. We can forget about the situation for a while, we can live in a dream state pretending it doesn’t exist, and we can imagine we’re preparing so we can make the best decision when the time comes. If we’re in denial these seem like good options. But if we want to live in truth, this dodging really doesn’t help us. Waiting until we absolutely have to do something before we face it just makes the decision harder because we’re short on time, and it rushes us through the task that needs to be done, opening the door for problems.

If we want to do our best we need to be more proactive. Being proactive takes thought and planning. No matter what we have to face, it’s best to take the time we need to prepare for the decision or activity, plan for it to happen, and then confidently go forward. There isn’t anything we can’t face, but we’ll face everything more effectively if we look at it head on instead of ignoring it, and pretending it’s not there. If we courageously and carefully think about it, consider our options, and then plan for possible outcomes, we’ll be more successful in accomplishing what we need to. Waiting things out rarely works to our advantage and having an advantage can make all the difference.

Today if you’ve been putting something off that needs your attention, if you’ve been ignoring a decision or situation you need to address, change your focus. Open the door and look at things squarely, evaluate your feelings, and go forward with confidence. There is nothing you can’t do. There is nothing you can’t face. You are strong and capable of doing anything. Today move forward with confidence and get the advantage on your side. You can manage this. You’re just moving one more step closer to where you want to be.

That Flower Thing

28 Aug

In Greek mythology the story is told of Narcissus.  There are a few different versions, but the basic idea is that Narcissus’s mother was told he would live to an old age if he didn’t look upon himself.  Sadly, he fell in love with his own reflection, and died.  The Narcissus flower grew up on the spot where he died.  Narcissistic behavior gets its name from this story.  If basically refers to people who only see themselves, who only do things that benefit themselves, and believe they are the most important person.  If we have someone in our lives who carries these types of traits, it can be difficult to deal with them.  And because they only recognize their own needs, it’s hard to have a relationship with them.

To build healthy and beneficial relationships, we have to be willing to give and take.  We need to compromise, and carry half the responsibility of making things work.  If we have a relationship with someone who is only interested in serving themselves, it’s nearly impossible to move forward, and build anything that will last.  If we only see what’s in it for us, we will fail.  Relationships are complex, and if we want to make them strong and happy we have to do our part.  That means we have to be willing to give to the other person, and not just take what works for us.  Because the relationship is important, we have to accept that sometimes we will not get things our way.

Probably all of us have known narcissistic types of people.  They tend to be the ones who have to be first, who have to do things their way, who have to be comfortable, and who need a lot of attention.  It’s exhausting to be around them for long, and if we try to build a relationship with them the path is often filled with complications.  If we have these tendencies ourselves, we may expect too much from others.  We may be frustrated that others don’t see things exactly as we do.  But if we want to be successful in our relationships, and if we want to be happy we have to learn to give, and let go of our need for things to go exactly our way.  We have to be willing to concede from time to time.

Today if you’re dealing with someone who only sees themselves, try to be patient and explain what you need from them.  Set the example by extending yourself and including them.  If you are struggling with the need for things to go exactly your way, try to remember that others have great ideas, and working together is very rewarding.  We all have a lot to offer, and we all need to be heard.  Today offer your viewpoint and then listen to others.  Give and take.  That’s what it’s all about.

Sticks and Stones

27 Aug

Name calling is something most of us have done at one time or another. We get frustrated and angry, and before we know it an insulting and derogatory name or label directed at someone else flies out of our mouths. It often happens before we even think about it. We say it, we vent, and it’s over. Unfortunately, once it’s said it doesn’t go away, and it’s there forever. We can’t take it back. If we make a habit of calling people names, we may negatively impact our relationships. The old saying that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” isn’t exactly true. Being called a name is hurtful. It stings and can cause a lot of damage, especially if the other person is someone close to us.

If someone calls us something uncomplimentary, we may throw the insult back at them by calling them a name in return. That’s fair right? They started it, and we’re going to end it. But that’s not the whole story. Our negative response, if it’s strong enough, may well end the conversation, but the damage may be long lasting. There is another way. If someone we’re interacting with gets angry and calls us something derogatory, we can choose to end the encounter. We don’t have to continue the conversation, and we can instead walk away and wait to talk with them until after things have calmed down. It takes self-control not to jump into the fray and exchange barb for barb, but we can do it. If we walk away and end the discussion before the situation becomes more intense, we have a better shot at preserving the relationship.

Sometimes we get angry and are so furious we are the ones to call someone else something awful. We may regret it the moment it passes our lips, or we may regret it later when we think things through. But what’s done is done, and there’s no changing it. If we pay attention we can recognize when we’re reaching a breaking point, and stop the discussion until everyone settles down. If we do, we may prevent situations we’ll regret. It’s always easier to protect a relationship before the damage is done than it is to patch things up after there’s been a destructive complication.

Today if you’ve been called a name by someone close to you, you may be hurt and think of leaving the relationship. Try to step back and give yourself time to think. When the dust has settled and you’re calm again, you’ll make the best decision going forward. If you’re the one who’s lost their temper and said things you regret, as soon as possible talk with the others involved and apologize for anything that was inappropriate. Our relationships are important. They take time to build. It can be hard to fix things when we’ve hurt them, but it’s harder to lose them altogether. Life is a two way street. When we get into the wrong lane, we need to adjust and correct our course. You can do that. Today, choose the high road. Be the one who makes the situation right, and brings things back to center.