Who Says? and Who Cares?

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I find it curious when people talk about how they feel bad because they think they should be more interesting by being more interested in something that’s “cool” (I’m not really sure who’s the official word on what’s cool and what’s not, but anyway…) Let’s look at this.

Feeling crummy about yourself because you think you should be more interested in x, y, or z in order to make yourself more interesting. But what happens if you’re NOT actually really all that interested in x, y, or z? Some of the ones I’ve heard are: “I wish I knew more about politics,” or “I wish I could play the ukulele,” or “People who talk about English literature are so sophisticated,” or “I wish I know more about cool-cutting edge indie music.” And to this I say: If you’re interested in it, start doing it and make it a priority to get in to politics, English literature, playing an instrument, or obscure hipster music. BUT if you’re not actually interested, but think you should be, then I say why would you even bother? And why would you beat yourself up for not liking the things you don’t? Really, what’s the point? Why not just like the things you like and not like the things you don’t. Who says there’s anything wrong with that? And who’s actually that final authority on what’s okay to be in to and what’s not? If you’re in to cutting edge music, neat-o! If not, so what.  It’s about what you like, and the whole point of an interest is for it to be something you’re interested in – meaning it’s something you like and want to make time for. It’s simply for your pleasure and enjoyment, so if it’s not all that pleasurable or enjoyable for you, then don’t worry about it. And if there is something you’re into, then do something to make it a part of your life. It’s not really all that complicated. If something’s not working, stop doing it. If it’s working, do more of it!

The BIG HURT.

kid and bottleOne day when I was in Junior High, seemingly out of nowhere I was targeted and forced out of the little posse of 12 year old girls that was my friend group. For some reason, to this day I still have no idea why, the leader of our little group of pre-teen girls decided she didn’t like me and didn’t want me in the group and was able to convince the others of the same (talk about an influential person! I hope she’s using her powers for good now). Anyway, I was out. I say this a bit matter-of-factly, but don’t be mistaken, I was devastated and I was hurt, confused, sad, and scared for weeks and weeks. Eventually though, I did find other people to be friends with, and things got a lot better. And, not so long after, I was also able to patch things up with the other girls, but I never did go back to being in their group – I just didn’t want to be close to people I didn’t think I could trust.

You’d think that although devastating and confusing, because the worst of it only really lasted a couple weeks and then things got better again, that would have been that. Issues resolved and I would have just been able to fully move on. But no, unfortunately that’s not the way it all works. Although short lived, that was a big hurt at a very formative time in my life. I was able to move on somewhat from it all, and I thought mostly forgive and forget, but as it turns out, I wasn’t really able to leave all of it in the past so easily.

That’s because of the way things work up in our brains. The big hurt events from our lives – usually the ones from childhood and adolescence – kind of get lodged right in there. Sometimes they are so locked in there that even when we think we were able to forgive, forget, and move on, the big hurts have a way of creeping back up and rearing their nasty little heads well in to adulthood. Throughout my 20’s I can recall several occasions with friends when something would happen that I would interpret as someone leaving me out on purpose, and when I’d ask about it, they would insist this was really not the case. They weren’t trying to leave me out. Although part of me knew it was true and it had nothing to do with them not wanting me around or not liking me, but that old wound – that old all-too-familiar feeling that my friends were going to decide they didn’t like me anymore and leave me was still right there deep inside and obviously not totally healed.

That’s what happens. And we all have our own little hot button or big hurt in there somewhere. Some of us may even have a few. When something happens to us that causes a pretty intense emotional response that may not really match the intensity of the event or interaction that just occurred, what’s happening is that those vulnerable, unhealed wounds are being poked at we usually get either the pit-of-the-stomach hurt feeling; the hot head-is-going-to-explode angry feeling; or the heavy head-sinking-lower-and-lower-want –to-hide-under-a-pile-of-coats sad feeling.  AND THEN, to make matters worse, we verbally beat ourselves up and call ourselves down for letting stuff upset us and not being able to keep it together by being non-reacting fortresses all the time.

That doesn’t seem all that fair, or really all that useful. We need to learn to be more kind and compassionate with ourselves. We need to understand that there are sometimes deep wounds in there that are not healed. And although in the past, and often quite distant past, sometimes it’s not so easy to just “Get over it!” Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean most of the time, we need to learn to be more compassionate and understanding with ourselves, because goodness knows, those wounds and big hurts really don’t stand any chance of ever healing if we keep kicking ourselves when we’re down.

The Next Three.

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As promised the continuation from last time, here they are:

THE FINAL 3 THINGS YOU CAN START WORKING ON IN YOUR PURSUIT TO BECOME A MORE ADAPTABLE PERSON

1. Experience Rejection without Blaming Yourself: You know it and I know it. Rejection is painful. It’s like stubbing your big toe. It often causes our self-esteem to be wounded as a result. What many of us do then, is kick ourselves when we’re down: we blame and criticise ourselves and are quick to tell ourselves why we’re no good and not worthy of success or acceptance. All this does is make us feel even worse and also makes it that much harder to heal and move on from the big disappointment. What we need to be doing is acknowledge and accept the pain we are feeling and then remind and reaffirm why we are valuable and recall to ourselves the many good and positive qualities that we have and why it’s important to have those qualities.

2. Know When to Speak Up: Learning to deal effectively and productively with conflict is an incredibly important skill for all relationships in our lives – both personal and professional. Most of us are good at coming up with reasons to not address our thoughts and concerns because let’s face it, conflict is rarely comfortable and hardly ever fun, but practicing and learning how to do it in a calm, respectful, and assertive way will ultimately make life much easier and it will make you much happier. It’s no surprise that rarely does it bode well over time to stuff and stomp down our feelings, thoughts and perspectives – especially when we feel they are quite important and valid. Furthermore, in our personal lives it’s almost impossible to have close, connected relationships if we never express how we’re feeling. That said, it’s also important to pick your battles and know when something isn’t actually all that important and worth bringing up. Sometimes it is good to learn to let the issue go as well.

3. Don’t Wait For Happiness: Happiness is not just about being able to deal well with setbacks and crises. In reality, it’s more about being able to prioritize, seek out, and create positive and joyful experiences. Part of being adaptable is about being able to adjust yourself to find as many opportunities for meaning and joy in life as possible in any given situation. Seeking out, savouring and reflecting on positive experiences in whatever ways work best, and honestly it doesn’t really matter what that is, as long as it works for you, is what makes the big difference here.

State or Trait

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Believe it or not, there is a pretty basic trait that you may not realize will really help to make you a much happier person. It’s the ability to be adaptable. And the good news is that even if adaptability doesn’t come naturally to you, it is something you can intentionally work on and learn to become more of.

We all face different challenging circumstances and interactions on a daily basis and how we respond to these can vary greatly. Some of us buckle under the pressure of emotional discomfort and often find ourselves feeling hopeless or discouraged, while some of us get knocked down, rally, shake it off, pull our socks up and keep going. And most of us do some of each… depending on the situation and our state of mind and emotion in that particular moment.

Research has shown that our sense of satisfaction with our lives, our happiness and how connected and close we feel to others has quite a lot to do with our levels of adaptability. In order to learn to be more adaptable there are 6 things you can start working on now! (Don’t worry, you don’t have to do all of them perfectly right away. Just start practicing two or three and go from there). In fact, in order to help insure that you don’t try to take them all on at once I’m going to start by going through the first 3 in this post and then on the next post I’ll go over the next three.

Now, without further ado:

THE FIRST 3 THINGS YOU CAN START WORKING ON IN YOUR PURSUIT TO BECOME A MORE ADAPTABLE PERSON

  1. Learn to Analyze Your Own Coping Mechanisms: We all face setbacks and obstacles in both our personal and professional lives – that’s normal. But being able to take a look at how we deal with those challenges and then having the willingness try a different coping method or learn a new one when necessary is important – if the initial one doesn’t seem to be working. If a strategy worked in one situation, it may not work in another, so instead of beating your head against the wall, take a step back, regroup, and try something different. For example, if talking to a close friend after having a conflict with someone at work helped quite a bit, but talking to a close friend about feeling overwhelmed with all of the things you have to get down over the next week, didn’t prove to be all that helpful, it might be better to sit down with your calendare
  2. Take Some Time to Get to Know Yourself: acknowledge, accept and celebrate your strengths and weaknesses and use both to your advantage. If you’re a person who finds rushing around in the morning before work stressful and doing so tends to make you feel grumpy until lunch break, then own that about yourself. Get up a bit earlier, maybe change your morning workout to one at noon or after work; shower in the evening instead of the morning; bring your breakfast to work and eat it while you’re going through your morning emails. The key is to know yourself and work with yourself instead of fighting yourself all the time. Being adaptable also means adapting your life to situations in which you thrive.
  3. Be Willing to Reinvent Yourself: Knowing your personality and the situations and circumstances in which you thrive is very important, and also being willing to push and expand yourself is also incredibly valuable. Putting ourselves in situations that may be somewhat our of our comfort zone is good for us because when we push ourselves a little bit we allow ourselves to be surprised at what we can do and are thus able to grow as individuals.

That’s all for now. Next time we’ll look at the next 3… so until then you can get a head start on these ones

The Vancouver Real Estate Market: Missed the Boat.

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It’s SO easy to get caught up in things that are really rather menial, but in the moment seem like the BIGGEST DEALS EVER! Just last night I was boo hooing to my most patient, calm, and rational husband about how in the last 10 years Vancouver went from being an expensive city to a totally unaffordable city, real estate wise… at least if you’d rather a family of 4 NOT live in a 500 square foot apartment in a sort of dodgy area of town. I could go on about my discouragement and frustrations regarding this topic, but I don’t think I need to. If you live in this city then you know what I’m talking about, and could lament openly with me. It’s like the real estate market was a handful of sand that just slipped right though our fingers and now all of a sudden POUF! A million dollars for a crappy old tear down bungalow on the east side. Okay. I’m really done now… and exaggerating a little bit… but not really.

Now the point. While I’m busy griping and feelings sorry for us for not having had the foresight to purchase a small home in the not too distant past, (or at least a nice sized apartment back in the early 2000’s), my husband is telling me how he’s been spending his evening reflecting on how grateful he is for all we have. Earlier that day he’d read an article about an organ broker, that’s right, a human organ broker, who works with Syrians earning an average of $7 a day and are barely surviving, I mean literally, barely surviving. As a last ditch effort to feed and house their children, these Syrians are eager and willing to have a kidney removed from their own bodies and sold in order to feed their families. This is what some people have to do. And I’m complaining about not being able to afford a backyard while still being able to live – quite comfortably if you really look at it – in one of the most beautiful and desirable cities in the world?? Hmmm. Makes me think.

I’m not saying we’re not entitled to our own feelings – Quite the contrary. I think it’s really important to allow ourselves the freedom and grace to experience our emotions – at least most of the time sans judgment or comparison, because yes, it COULD always be worse. And if we don’t let ourselves feel badly ever because it COULD always be worse, then we would NEVER be able to ever feel upset, discouraged, frustrated or just plain sad, and that’s not right either. What I am saying is sometimes we need to think a little bit about what we’re complaining about and ask ourselves: Is this something worth getting all worked up about? Because not being able to afford a free standing house on the west side of Vancouver, isn’t.