Anger and Resentment

These are both very strong emotions.  They have the power to completely take over our brains if we let them.  There are plenty of things we could and should be angry about.  It’s not an entirely bad emotion, but it’s what we do with it that’s key.  More often than not, there are plenty of things that we end up being angry and/or resentful about that maybe we shouldn’t be, or we hold onto that anger and resentment much longer than we should.  And then those feelings begin to build and snowball so that pretty soon we’re angry about anything and everything, even very insignificant things. It doesn’t take much to end up in that downward spiral.

It’s definitely not easy, but finding ways to channel anger and/or resentment into positive energy would be ideal.  I do not like to hold onto negative feelings because they get stuck in my head and then I “overthink” things, which only causes more negative feelings to build.  Talking about my feelings and what caused them is usually helpful, but only if the person I am talking to is willing to listen and hear what I have to say.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen all that often for me with certain people, so I end up putting my thoughts in writing.  I don’t know if they are being “heard” any better that way or even at all sometimes, but at least they are out of my head, and usually I can say what I am really trying to say a little more concretely and completely. Sometimes I write to the person who is causing my anger and frustration, and other times I write or talk to a good friend or family member just to vent or help organize my thoughts.  That helps me to not overthink things as well.  A couple times I even wrote a poem about things my husband did or didn’t do that led to the demise of our relationship, and it definitely got his attention more so than just telling him they bothered me.

Keeping things all bottled up inside and not wanting to talk about the issues or circumstances that are causing those feelings is not healthy.  It only ends up coming out in the form of sarcasm, bitterness, defensiveness, and other forms of disrespectful behavior.  And that only leads to further frustration and anger on the part of the person or people who are on the receiving end of that behavior.  Too often people choose to just lash out at others, either physically or verbally, and that’s certainly not constructive either.

So I guess what I am saying is that good communication skills and being willing to talk about your thoughts and feelings are a big part of anger management skills.  It’s difficult to have a constructive conversation about an issue when there is so much animosity built up from keeping it all in.  It makes it challenging to refrain from reacting emotionally and negatively.  I think it’s much better to find a constructive means to express what is causing you to be angry, and hopefully you are talking to someone who is willing to listen to you.  If not, then keep trying to find other constructive ways to get your message out.  You can’t change how the other person behaves or reacts to the message, but you can keep yourself from getting too angry and stressed about the situation.  It may not resolve the issue, but it will help you keep your sanity.

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Communication

There are so many different ways in which we communicate with one another.  We have various forms of written communication.  Verbal communication encompasses not only the words we choose to use but also the tone or inflection of our voice and how well we listen to others.  Body language often speaks louder than anything we are saying.  Even affection, gifts, and kind gestures can be considered forms of communication.  So much of how we think about ourselves and others and how we connect and interact with one another depends on all of these forms of communication, so it is unfortunate that, in my experience, not enough people pay attention to how often and how well they communicate.

Social media and texting have both had a significant impact on communication.  Gone are the days where people sent each other lengthy, hand-written letters to catch each other up on the last chunk of time in their life.  I recently went through boxes of cards, letters, and other mementos that I had saved going back as far as high school.  I could tell when each of my friends and family members started sending emails, because I stopped getting hand-written letters from them.  Even lengthy phone calls and spending face-to-face time are getting more scarce.  It is considered out of the ordinary for young people to call each other rather than text, email, or chat through social media.  Our communication may be more frequent and instantaneous than it used to be, and we may be keeping in touch with more people thanks to social media, but a lot of it is more superficial.  The way I see it, we are sharing little snippets of our lives and connecting less on a deeper level.

People also have a whole variety of different needs and expectations about how much and who should take the lead with respect to communication.  This may be partly due to how we were raised and in which generation we belong to, and partly due to the various forms of communication available to us.  There are so many more options now, which allows for more preferences.  My mother-in-law was raised with the expectation that it was the kids’ responsibility to call home to the parents after they were no longer living at home.  She expects the same of her kids, so she has rarely called just to check in and see how we’re doing.  My father doesn’t seem to need a whole lot of contact with other people, so he is not one to pick up a phone either.  My kids have other grandparents who do initiate regular contact and they don’t understand why these grandparents don’t do this as well.  I honestly think it’s a little selfish to rely on other people to keep in touch with you.  And it can have adverse affects on other people when you don’t.

Communication never works well when it is one-sided, whether it is one person trying to monopolize a conversation or one person who is always initiating contact.  I have lost touch with numerous people over the years because I was the one who was always writing or calling, and I eventually stopped because it didn’t seem like that person was interested in keeping in touch.  Similarly, I lose interest in talking with people who never want to listen.  I really wish more people would see the value of good communication skills (written, verbal, or otherwise) and the importance of making the effort to keep in touch with each other in general.

communication

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Control

The word control has different connotations because it can mean a number of different things.  If that word evokes a negative feeling for you, then perhaps you are feeling out of control about some aspect(s) of your life, or perhaps you have experienced someone who you feel is too controlling.  If it evokes a positive feeling, perhaps you are feeling in control or think of it as a positive trait, like being able to control your emotions or reactions.

Some people feel a strong need to be in control, no matter what the circumstances.  They may like to plan everything out, dominate conversations, always get what they want, be in charge, be the center of attention, and so on.  They may not be able to adapt to change or “go with the flow” as well as others.  Some people don’t like to feel like they are being controlled and typically like to do things at their own pace and schedule and don’t like to follow routines or directions.  I have a spouse who feels the need to be in control in certain situations except the ones where he should be, like when it comes to parenting, but doesn’t want anyone else controlling him and often feels like I am trying to control him when I am not.  I’m sure this stems from having parents who are too controlling.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t recognize that he has control issues or want to do anything about it, and that has been a major underlying issue for us.  I’m pretty sure the word control has a negative connotation for him.

It’s too bad certain people cannot let go of the need to be in control, be first, or be the best at whatever it is that they do.  The way people drive comes to mind as I write this.  Imagine how much better the roads would be if people let go of these needs.  There are so many things we cannot control, like the weather, certain hormones, and how other people drive.  We cannot control what other people do and say, either.  But what we can control is how we act and react, our expectations and assumptions, our attitude, how well we listen, how well we pay attention, how respectful we are, the good or bad choices we make, how honest and sincere we are, how much we smile and laugh, how helpful and cooperative we are, how much we are willing to compromise, how kind and generous we are, how well we communicate, and whether or not we look for opportunities to make the world a better place.  And that just neatly summed up numerous previous posts.

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Are You Paying Attention?

I am a very detail-oriented person, so I pay attention to details.  Sometimes I am overwhelmed with all the details floating around in my head.  I realize not everyone pays as close attention to details as I do, so I definitely appreciate when other people do.  The kind of attention that I am most appreciative of though is when people notice things like my hair looks a little different, if something I am wearing is new, if I changed my nail polish color, or if my mood is a little off for some reason.  I also very much appreciate when someone takes the time to pick out a thoughtful gift that I end up really liking without asking me for suggestions.  These things tell me they are paying close attention to me and to the things that are important to me, which also tells me that I am important to them and my happiness is important to them.  I also am very appreciative when I am talking to someone and feel like I have 100% of that person’s attention.  That indicates they value my opinion or whatever it is that I have to say.  I know how good these things feel, so I am pretty conscious about doing them for other people.  I’m sure I could always improve some.  I just wish more people would see the value in these things too.

attention

 

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Stubbornness

Some people may think being stubborn is the way to go to get what they want all the time, but it’s really not.  People who always insist things go their way are very challenging to work with or be with and end up frustrating the people around them more than anything.  They rub people the wrong way and make other people not want to even be around them, let alone give into what they want.  There may be some people who are willing to just give in for the sake of keeping the peace and avoiding conflict, but I would say most people get tired of someone else always getting their way.

The problem in my house is that I have an entire family of stubborn people, so life is just a little challenging at times.  OK, life is a LOT challenging a good part of the time.  I can’t seem to convince any of them that life is about give and take and not always being right or first or having everything the way you want it when you want it all the time.  My middle child is sometimes willing to walk away or not do something he wants to do just to avoid or end a conflict, but the other two … not so much.  My kids aren’t little kids anymore either, so they shouldn’t expect to get their way all the time.

And then there’s my husband who is not a team player at all and can’t seem to come to terms with the fact that I might actually know more about something or have a better idea of how to do something than he does.  He pouts like a spoiled kid would when he doesn’t get his way, and plenty of other people notice this, but he doesn’t seem to understand that he is doing this and how it is affecting what people think of him.  So it is not really a surprise to me that my kids are very stubborn as well. I can be stubborn to a point sometimes too, but not like he is.

So much of the conflict in my house could be avoided or minimized if one child would just be willing to leave the room they are in but don’t need to be in at the moment because someone else who does need to be in that room is doing something that bothers them, simply because they were there first.  So much time is wasted bickering over who gets to do something like be on the computer first or for how long.  I end up telling them neither can be on it, or they waste so much time arguing over it that if they both get to use it, they both get really short turns.  Perhaps one day they will figure it out that it’s better for both of them if one person can let the other go first, and the next time they can be first.

If you are willing to compromise and not always have your way, and you are dealing with other people who think along the same lines, then life can be a lot less chaotic and stressful.  In the long run, you should get things your way enough of the time because others will remember that you let them have their way other times and should be willing to reciprocate.  And maybe people will even see how willing you usually are to give up what you want and will go the extra mile to do something really nice for you to show you how much they appreciate your flexibility and unselfishness.  So instead of being a “taker”, try being a “giver” and see how much people are willing to give back to you in return.  It’s one thing to be determined to reach your goals and things along those lines, but being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn, refusing to consider other points of view or let someone else have their way gets really old really quickly.

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Givers and Takers

Not everyone fits into one of these categories, but there are people who clearly do.  It’s easy to spot a taker who usually puts themselves first, likes to be the center of attention, likes to be in control, will do or say anything to get their way, will pout in some way when they don’t get their way, doesn’t treat others with respect, isn’t conscious of others around them, expects others to accommodate them but doesn’t like to accommodate others, and so on.  Eventually, people see their true colors, grow tired of their selfishness and self-centered behavior, and don’t enjoy being around them a whole lot.

Then there are the givers who are always a pleasure to be around because they are so generous and are not focused on themselves much of the time.  These are the people who are always going out of their way to help others, to listen to others, to put others’ needs before their own, and to show respect and appreciation.  They don’t expect anything in return for all that they do, but people naturally give back to them in return and gravitate towards them because they exude so much positive energy.

I would say there is a good percentage of people who fit in the middle between these two extremes, which is certainly not a bad place to be. These people do plenty of giving but know when to step back and say no to people sometimes. They take care of others but understand the importance of taking care of their own needs too or are not opposed to the idea of letting someone else take care of them for a change.  It’s all about balance.  Maybe they are not able to be positive all the time, but they certainly make an effort to be whenever possible.

It truly is a whole lot easier to give to people who know how to give back at least some of the time. Takers might get what they want but at the expense of alienating themselves and causing a lot of drama and/or tension in the process.  Unfortunately, sometimes it seems like the world is evolving so that there are more takers than givers, and I wish I could say the opposite were true.  No one can be a giver 100% of the time, but we should all try to be one at least some of the time, if not a good part of the time.

givers-takers

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Life Is Like A Jigsaw Puzzle…

…well, sort of, anyway.  It’s like having all the pieces to the puzzle but without the picture on the box.  We don’t all know what the final picture will look like until the very end when the last piece is connected, and we have the ability to change the picture as we go along.  Some people might have a clearer idea in their minds than others of what they want their picture to look like, so the pieces may fall into place a little more easily for them.  Or it may cause them a lot of disappointment and frustration if their picture is not turning out exactly as they expected.

There are people who are detail-oriented and can focus really well on the individual pieces but may have trouble seeing the big picture.  Others may have the big picture in mind but can’t seem to figure out what pieces are necessary to create that picture. Both perspectives are necessary in order to do a jigsaw puzzle, and I think being both a detail-oriented person and being able to see the “big picture” are beneficial in life as well.

I think it’s interesting watching different people actually do jigsaw puzzles because you can usually tell which approach people take in life by doing so.  Most people start with the edge pieces so they have a good framework and fill in from there.  Some people refer to the picture on the box quite a bit to either see where the pieces fit in or to figure out what piece they need to find, while others rarely look at the box and can really focus on the shapes and colors of the pieces to figure out where they go. Certain people will work on one section at a time, while others will jump around from section to section, depending on what piece catches their eye.  Some of us do a little of everything, and our approach changes as we get closer to completing the puzzle.

Just as we all have our different ways that we prefer to do a puzzle, we all approach life a little differently as well.  We may realize that we need to change our approach to everyday life along the way and not keep doing things the way we have always done them.  We may need to be more of a “big picture thinker” or focus more on details, or just change the area in which we need to focus our attention.  So even though we don’t have a picture on the box as our guide or answer key, life really is like a jigsaw puzzle.  There is no right or wrong way for either one as long as we continue to make progress on the big picture and have fun in the process.

puzzle 1

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