Being The Best “You” You Can Be

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The title of this post is one of the main themes from the latest Kung Fu Panda movie, so seeing it was a good excuse to talk to the kids again about striving to be better each day than they were the day before in some way, rather than trying to be better than others around them.

It is kind of second nature to compare ourselves to others, perhaps wishing we could be more like certain people or glad we aren’t.  It’s hard enough to not be critical of ourselves without comparing ourselves to others.  Do we look as pretty?  Are we as smart?  Do we dress as well? Is our house or car up to par?  Are we as happy? Are we a better or worse parent?

It is definitely easy to get caught up in comparing our lives to those around us too, which may or may not be a good thing. Continue reading

Being The Victim

Unfortunately, I have a number of people in my life who like to see things as if they are the innocent victims in any given situation, and everyone around them is to blame for everything that is wrong in their lives.  I can appear to be like that too sometimes, but I do realize my part in certain situations and am willing to admit it and try to make changes where necessary.  Just because I may be vocal in trying to discuss how others in my immediate family can and should behave and react to things differently doesn’t mean I think that everything is all their fault all the time.  I am just doing my job as a parent (and spouse) to help them be the best person they can be, especially considering how many bad examples are all around them of how NOT to be a good person.  It makes my job MUCH more difficult.

All too often I get blamed though for things that I shouldn’t, which is very frustrating. Trying to enforce a regular bedtime for my preteen, asking the kids to pick up their belongings that they leave around the house, and suggesting that they get some homework done before dinner so they are not leaving it all until later in the evening does not make me a “control freak.”  It makes me a good parent because I am doing my job trying to teach them how to be responsible, take care of their bodies, and learn time management.  That is NOT unreasonable.  I am also not mean or a “horrible person” because I choose to sometimes give consequences for things like very inappropriate behavior.  Again, I am doing my job as a parent. That’s all.  But it is often not seen that way, even to other adults, including my spouse.

My concern though is also how many adults still operate as if they are never at fault for anything, can’t take ownership of their mistakes or their behavior and attitudes, and who don’t understand that they have the power to change how they do things, how they treat people, and/or the decisions they make.  The saying, “If you always do what you have always done, then you will always get what you have always gotten” comes to mind.  We all have the power to be kinder, more tolerant and patient, more understanding and open minded, more respectful and accountable, improve our communication skills, and so many other things.  We can’t just be takers and never give back to the people who mean the most to us.  We all have to pull our weight, which includes self-reflection to see what we do to contribute to any given problem and what we can do to be part of the solution.

Seeing ourselves as victims of everyone else’s negativity is the easiest way to interpret our surroundings.  In some cases it is more applicable, but it seems to me that it is a whole lot less likely than most people would care to admit.  While figuring out who might be to blame in certain circumstances does have some value, we can’t look to ONLY blame others for all the negativity in our lives and the world around us.  We need to examine our own attitudes, behavior, decisions, prejudices, filters, previous experiences, anxieties, intolerances, and insecurities and figure out how they factor in as well and then figure out if there is anything we can do to help improve the situation.

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Optimism

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It can be very challenging at times to be optimistic and positive, but it really can make a difference. Certainly, life throws us plenty of curve balls that get us feeling sad, angry, hurt, disrespected, disappointed, frustrated, and what have you, and it’s OK to feel all of those things.  What’s not good is to dwell on those negative feelings for too long, which is often easier said than done.

Not only is it not good for us physically to hold on to all that negativity, but it’s all too easy to let it affect other relationships and other aspects of our life.  Negativity at work can spill over into our home life and vice versa.  Anger towards our spouse can be deflected onto our kids.  Our view of ourselves and our success or productivity can be affected, too.  It’s very easy to fall into a rut of negativity, being critical of others, looking for things to go wrong, etc.  It does take conscious effort to be positive and optimistic when everything seems to be falling apart, but it can be done, and it definitely helps.  The power of positive thinking can be very strong.

Stopping to think about things for which you can be grateful is a good start, even if it is something small.  Coincidentally, I just bought a new wall hanging that has one of my favorite quotes on it … “There is always always always something to be thankful for.” For a while when I was in a pretty bad rut, before going to bed every night was writing down in a notebook at least one thing I was grateful for and one positive thing that happened that day.  It definitely helped.  Channeling any positive energy this might bring about can also help, especially if you can put it towards either doing something that makes you feel good (singing in the car always works for me) or doing something that would make someone else feel good (a random act of kindness, for example), which will in turn help you feel better.  Even smiling and laughing more can trick your brain in to feeling better.  Your brain will react the same way, even if you are fake laughing or just smiling for no reason whatsoever.  So don’t be afraid to give that a try. Finding ways to distress and let go of all the negative energy will certainly help as well.

Some people are naturally more optimistic than others, and I often wonder if they have a more positive outlook on life because things seem to be going well for them most of the time, or are things good for them BECAUSE they are so positive and optimistic.  Perhaps they become a magnet for attracting positive things and other positive people.  It can’t be just luck or coincidence.  I’m sure part of it is not waiting around for other people to make positive things happen and make them happy. They (we) try to be proactive not only with positive thinking but also in our actions, whether things are going well or not, maybe not all the time but as often as we can. It IS challenging at times, but it’s worth the effort.

Comments are always welcome!  Clicking on the “Home” page tab will allow you to scroll through other posts, or you can select a category or tag word to find similar topics.  If you would like to read future posts, please follow the blog or my Facebook page.