So, back to the dishes.
If we do them or do any other act of service with resentment, superiority, complaining, bitterness, distaste, or a judgmental attitude we are probably doing more harm than good. Kahlil Gibran compares this behavior to a baker putting poison in the bread that he bakes.
Even the “love chapter” in the Bible labels acts that are done without love, however impressive they may be, as noise, bad music, counterfeit money, and a waste of time.
Most humans have “antennas” up for insincerity, arrogance, anger, and condescension. Nobody is really fooled by our “service.”
Maybe we should just do everyone a favor and quit kidding ourselves.
I whined about my workload more times than I can count. Once, when I said, “I’m the only one who ever does the dishes around here,” someone responded, “So, don’t do them anymore. I’d rather have a dirty kitchen than be around a martyr.”
Although, not the answer I was going for, he had a very good point. No one enjoys the poor-little-me martyr. Setting boundaries and agreements is a much better option.
In offices and homes all over the world, people are getting bitter about other people not shouldering their fair share of the work and carrying around bitterness about it. That bitterness infects and dismantles relationships, contributes to ulcers and illness, and sucks the fun out of any environment. I’m not advocating rewarding irresponsible behaviors, only managing them productively.
Tell people what you need.
Agree on a plan.
Set contingencies for exceptions and failures.
Follow through without drama.
If you’re not hurting and not alone this season, don’t assume everyone is sharing your joy. Don’t assume it’s the hap-happiest season of all.
Invite people in you normally wouldn’t.
Ask more genuine questions.
Have honest conversations.
Value the people around you enough to ask about the ways they’re hurting.
Listen well, love well.
And regardless of your situation: lean in to relationships, to other people.
Adapted from Robert Vore (from The Mighty newsletter)
My niece, Susannah, found an archived Decatur, Illinois newspaper article about an accident my mother was in at the age of 22. The name of the driver was a man my mother would marry the following year. Another article revealed that man drowned in Vegas at the age of forty-eight. My brother was sixteen when this stranger died. He wouldn’t know the man was his father until years later.
The info triggered an uncomfortable realization; I didn’t give my mother enough credit for her difficult life.
Or, my brother for his disjointed life.
Or, so many others for the painfully broken roads they have traveled.
Maybe the realization will help me be nicer to my fellow screwed-up traveling partners.
Things that I’d rather not be honest about but when I am, it makes me less judgmental and easier to be around:
I am disgusting sometimes too. It’s not just the people I criticize.
I have lied and manipulated facts when I was scared of getting in trouble.
I have made myself look better than I actually was.
I have feared rejection and looking unworthy to others.
I have sometimes done things to get attention.
Sometimes, I have even wished awful things upon cable and mobile phone companies (whom I perceived to be arrogant).
I have screamed at family members like a crazy woman and would have killed my sister if I could have gotten away with it.
We may not have killed people, but most of us have thought about it.
That makes me more prone to forgive people who actually fall off the edge.
Today, I found encouragement in the messages of The Glass Castle movie (in theaters August 11, 2017).
The message that we don’t have to be ashamed of those things over which we had no control.
The message that there is hope for kids and employees and spouses who are under the thumb of crazies.
The message not to give up on the escape plan.
The message that there are essential things to love about everyone.
The message that we can survive (and somehow thrive under) radical pain and confusion.
The message that all of our stories hold much more mystery than we ever dreamed.
Our health, relationships, jobs, and special concerns have a (significant and scientifically-proven) statistical advantage of survival if…wait for it…we learn to state our opinions on emotionally-charged issues honestly and respectfully.
Most of us don’t, and skillfully blame the other party for our failure, i.e., “They don’t listen to me,” “They think they are always right,” “I tried,” “It doesn’t do any good,” etc. When the actual truth is: our approach fails to provide a safe place for the exchange of real information.
Getting better results is easier than we think. We just have to be humble enough to learn, prepare, and practice new skills.
If, instead, we choose to do what we have always done, we must accept the consequences…
- The costly games we play sabotage our jobs, relationships, and plans.
- Relationship stress and frustration break down our immune systems.
- 75% of all violent crimes are committed against family members, coworkers, friends, and neighbors.
“Most true breakthroughs in life are break-withs; creating a break with the mediocrity or mistakes of the past.” -Stephen Covey (from the forward of Crucial Conversations)
Breaking with our mediocre behaviors (especially when it comes to emotion-laden relationships) takes resolve and the humility to learn new techniques, but this is our best chance for the lives of our dreams.
A few “breaks” that have radically improved my quality of life:
Break With New Technique
Playing the victim Setting Boundaries and Contingencies
Getting defensive Healthy Emotional Detachment
Arguing Active Listening
Judging Giving the Benefit of the Doubt
When we hear ourselves complaining, criticizing, whining, or attacking it’s a good sign that we have settled for a mediocre existence.
I had a dream that I totally went ballistic on a family member who suggested I needed to lose weight. So glad it was a dream.
Yet, my relief dissipated when I imagined what I would have done if that person, accidentally, said something so cruel. My reaction wasn’t that far from reality.
I tend to react defensively when I feel…
When I am brave enough to face the truth about myself, I can detach my emotions enough to learn from criticism instead of…
- Biting someone’s head off
- Criticizing back
- Getting depressed
- Expunging the challenger from my life
Prevents wasted rides