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.
Right before bed, I had a very troubling phone conversation.
My first thought was, “I won’t be able to sleep.”
My second thought was, “If I manage to get to sleep, I will have terrible, turbulent dreams.”
My third thought was, “My life is a speck on a speck that will be over in a flash. Worrying about a speck in the life of a speck on a speck in a galaxy that is a speck in the universe is insane!”
I smiled at myself for trying to control another speck on a speck, turned off my thoughts, and went right to sleep.
When I woke up blissfully rested, I thought, “Not so bad for a speck on a speck. I think I’ll try that again tonight.”
Quit wasting our time on them.
Quit wasting our energy with them.
Invest that time and energy in the things we can control.
(“Never lie in bed at night asking yourself questions you can’t answer.” – Charles M. Schulz)
Move on to things we can.
Turn off the neurotic machine.
Snoopy creator, Charles Schultz practiced what he preached, funneling his personal angst into his humor. And, when he lightened-up, he helped countless others lighten-up.
(originally posted January 2015)
While chopping vegetables for dinner
I was stunned into silence by the celery
Its green parallel lines and majestic shape
And, then, the perfection of the turkey
Moved me to tears (or was it the intricacies of the onion?)
After that, I admired the plump cranberries
And, then, the cherries on the cake
Even the totally impressive appearance
Of the salt and sage
I handled every ingredient with tenderness
But had to stop and ask for help
To do the same with those
Who came to eat
(It’s easier to love celery, even if I wasn’t celery in a former life. Vegetables, fruits, animals, and birds are easier to love because they usually don’t challenge my ego. I guess, if I want to do better in this life, I will have to do better at ego-less living.)
This might sound ridiculous when you are in the depths of despair. I tried it once when I was driving through town with a broken heart, feeling hopeless, empty, and tragically lonely. I turned up the music as loud as it would go, sang with the song at the top of my voice, and chair-danced as much as I could without causing a collision.
I have been using the technique ever since.
Dancing around the house when I wanted to collapse in tears
Dancing in the car when I felt paralyzed with fear
How do you transcend your circumstances?
Why be moody when you can shake yo booty?
When I am frustrated with life, it is usually because I have opted for the “know-it-all” stance instead of the “learner” stance. I trade my sense of wonder with the world for a sense of entitlement, and waste my time talking smack instead of growing through whatever has dared to challenge my expectations.
My most important wedding vow was a promise to delight in my spouse everyday. Failing to do that is a move into stagnation…or worse. Yesterday, I realized this applies to my relationship to life in general.
When I shift into judgment as the “knower,” I lose.
I love this “Turkey Visits the Psychic” cartoon because it reminds me that friends and associates (who want to remain in that relationship) are often not saying to us what we need to hear. Maybe they have tried before and we have:
- blown up
- disagreed with them
- given them clear indications that their honesty will not be rewarded
In order to get helpful truth from those with whom we live and work, we must make a commitment to…
- ask frequently for feedback
- prepare for uncomfortable info
- honor truth-tellers instead of justifying our behaviors
- say “thank you”
- make changes based on feedback
It’s easy to talk self-improvement, hard to demonstrate it.
Here’s to a day of revelations and corrective actions!
Even with the best of intentions, when someone starts talking about “positive thinking,” I cringe a little inside…
Not because I am an advocate of negative thinking, rather, I have learned that productive thinking works better for realists than positive thinking.
For realists, who find it difficult to continually “look on the bright side,” positive thinking often feels like ignoring reality, pretending, or spinning the real truth, while, productive thinking pulls us into an action mode; What is my next step? What can I learn from this experience? etc.
For realists, positive thinking generates a guilt trip; I’m not thinking positively. You shouldn’t be so negative, etc, etc. Productive thinking reminds us to stay away from thoughts that paralyze or steal energy.
The objective for “positive thinking” is commendable: stay out of negativity.
Some of us just need a productive word swap to pull it off.