Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Price of Nice

Did you grow up being told you must be nice. Was it ingrained into your behavior to be nice to everyone all the time? 

For many this is the case, even to the point of developing the "disease to please."  People- pleasing becomes a way of life. You feel compelled to put others' needs first, over any of your own needs.

Are you the person who can never say "no" to any request? Do you try endlessly to have everyone's' approval? Do you always want to make everyone else happy?

At some point the price of being nice is too high. People may manipulate or exploit your willingness to please. You avoid conflict or confrontation or the anger of others. Relationships become a burden and your own emotional needs don't get met. This can be deadly to relationships.

Your deep fear of negative emotions sustain your need to be nice. The more you identify with being nice without being real, you become filled with nagging doubts, insecurities, and lingering fears. Anxiety becomes a constant for you. 

Unless you do something to stop this cycle of pleasing others at the cost of yourself, you will eventually "hit the proverbial wall." You will exhaust your emotional energy and may feel like giving up altogether.

The content of this post comes from a book called The Disease to Please, Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome, by Harriet B. Braiker, Ph.D

You may be spending your energy "shoulding" on yourself, living by what you have absorbed that you "should" do. You may think you must always be nice and always put others before you.

If this is the case, I recommend you check Braiker's book noted above. You'll find the 21-day action plan for curing the disease to please.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

World Weary? You Are Not Alone.

All around us are images of needs, of suffering, of people shouting hate. It is on our televisions, our radios, or internet. Many of us are overwhelmed by it all and we become burned out, numb. We are experiencing something called "compassion fatigue". 

Absorbing all this info about suffering and feeling compassion for those who are suffering can be quite overwhelming. And they are replayed over and over. How many times did you watch an airplane crash into the tower of the World Trade Center?

We are deluged with images of tragedy and suffering from all over the world. Mass tragedies presented with sights and sounds , repeated over and over. Images of war, of catastrophes, natural disasters, mass shootings. And the constant barrage of hate-speech growing louder and louder adds to the emotional impact of so much pain and suffering we are exposed to. We often develop psychic numbing that allows us to  no longer feel compassion.

When we feel too much, we shut down and don't' feel anything. Then we do nothing in response to the suffering. We feel powerless over the situations that we witness. Often we just turn our backs to the world, become callous.

The remedy begins with accepting that we can't change the world, you can only change one person's world by doing what you can for that one person or one event. Letting go of that need to fix everything is the beginning. Sounds simple, but it is very difficult for those who want (must?) to change everything or everyone. Letting go and accepting that, on your own, you can't is the hard part

Practice doing something, some simple small thing, to address a situation that breaks your heart, something that makes your heart ache. Practice what you care about. 

Do little things for the people and causes around that may seem insignificant. If we each do a lot of the small things, they add up to big things. Enlist the help of others to do small things with you. People are better together, stronger.

Sometimes it takes only being present for someone who is suffering. Let them know that you care about them and you are there for them. You may want to end hunger, so volunteer to work at a food pantry or soup kitchen. Your being there is felt by those who come for food.

Or perhaps there is a cause you feel strongly about but know you can't do on your own. One of my caring projects is to do for the needy American Indians on reservations. In the fall I ask my friends to donate money so I can have back packs and school supplies for the neediest children on a reservation in South Dakota. With the help of friends I'm able to order back packs with school supplies from a wholesale company and have them delivered  directly to a person on the rez. They are always very grateful. In the winter I do the same to send items needed by the most needy elderly there. Together we are stronger.

Empathy in action is saying something; it's being there for someone; it's tangible expressions of love; it's committed for however long help is needed.

Silence in the face of suffering, however is deadly.

[Much of the content of this particular post is from the book Finding the Lost Art of Empathy by Tracy Wild.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Love the Haters

You can't destroy hate with hate. Only love will break through the hate. But how to love hateful people? When there is hate coming at you from all direction, how do you keep love alive?

That is a current issue that isn't easy to resolve. Keeping love alive is a full time task. We have to make "love" an active verb. Do love. Be kind. Be what you want to see in others.

Don't feed hate by thinking about it all the time. It is easy to close ourselves off in the face of hate, it is our own defense mechanism. But we need to set realistic boundaries and be open to caring about others, even the haters. Love the person and reject the hate.

Compassion for haters is sometimes very difficult. They say and do things that hurt us or others. And it would seem to be logical to cut ourselves off from them. And in some circumstances that is good protection. But while we reject the hateful words or deeds, we need to work hard to not reject the hater, the person acting out their hatred.

Care about them. See the fear that fuels their hatred. See how they refuse to see any other perspective and, therefore, are unable to behave differently. Use patient perseverance to use calming responses without fueling their fear. But you don't have to accept their hurtful behavior. And you don't have to accept their hate.

Listen to what they say. Try to see it from their perspective. Address their fear, not their hate. Are they afraid they will lose something? Are they afraid of change? Do they feel threatened by your perspective?

Hate is usually a result of fear or pain. Try to see that in their belief, their hatred. You don't have to argue, simply state the relevant facts and notice how they deflect and refuse to even look at your perspective. This will tell you that changing them is probably not possible.

Not easy, is it? But only love will overcome hate. And you don't have to continue to engage with them to love them. Be steadfast in your love of others and trust the universe to dissipate their hate. Encourage others to love their neighbors, until there is more love n the universe than there is hate. 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

What's Your Name?

What's in a name? Our name is a big part of our identity. And the way you feel about your name is important, as well. For instance, were you named for someone? Are you proud to be associated with that someone? Or do you really dislike that person and therefor dislike your name?

Parents often take time and thought before naming their child. Should we name the child after someone in our family, someone in our ancestry, or someone we admire? Or should we find an unusual name, or a popular name? Or do we wait until it is born and name it for whom they look like? 

Do we choose a name that would sound like someone successful with the hope that the child will be successful? Do you think about if the name sounds masculine or feminine? Do we wonder if the name would sound like a president or other important person?

Should we give much thought to what nickname their name might inspire? Do we want them to have a powerful sounding name, like "Thomas"? Or worry that calling him "Tommy" would weaken his name? What about girls names? You want a "Wanda" or a "Winter"?

Or how about name that could be either gender, like "Ryan" or "Robin"?
You see, there is a lot in the name you are given. But there are also names we choose to go by. Maybe you like your middle name better. Or you just choose a name other than your birth name. Maybe you have a nickname that you prefer people use for you because it has an image you prefer.

Your name is probably the first thing people want to know about you. It often shapes how you are thought of. 

I was named for my maternal grandmother, "Lucinda". My mother called me "Cinda" and I soon became known as "Cindy". I was "Cindy" for three decades, through childhood, teens, and young adult. After my divorce I went to college and chose to go back to my birth name, "Lucinda". And have been known by that name since then. There are still a few people from my past who call me "Cindy", but I don't embrace that. I wanted to be known as grown and a responsible woman. 
I adored my maternal grandmother, so embracing her name was easy for me. How about you? What's your name and how do you feel about it?