Honesty

Honesty is something some of my family members seem to struggle with, whether it is out and out lying, being deceitful, or purposely withholding information to be manipulative.  I have a child who prides himself on how sneaky he can be getting away with things, and he very much reminds me of his dad who has modeled that behavior for him over the years.  And he learned it from his family growing up, along with how to manipulate people, which he has also tried to pass on to the kids.  I’m sorry, but that isn’t a family trait to be proud of, how good of a liar you are or how good you are at being deceitful.

The thing is, there’s really no need for all of this.  Part of the problem is there is an assumption made that whatever it is that they want, they are going to get told no, so then they start scheming to figure out how to get what they want at all costs.  It’s more important to get what they want regardless of how many lies they have to tell in the process.  I am always more upset at the lies and the scheming than whatever else.  And much of the time, I would be agreeable to what they want in the first place, so it’s really not necessary.  I am a very straight forward person who doesn’t like to play games, so I would rather just have them tell me what’s going on or what they want and talk about options than to deal with all the dishonesty.

Another part of the problem is that they expect to always get what they want, which can’t possibly happen.  But I would be more apt to have it work out that they get what they want if there was more of an effort on their part to be honest, work together, and not react like a spoiled kid when they don’t get their way.  My work has been cut out for me trying to teach the kids that it’s better to be upfront and willing to compromise and earn what you want than find an underhanded way to get it with what their dad and his family has modeled for them.

Unfortunately, this is not just isolated to my family members.  I have experienced this with other people as well, even people who I have hired to do work at my house.  A big part of having integrity is has to do with how honest you are and whether you are willing to admit that you made a mistake, especially when you are providing a service for someone.  Trying to cover up your mistakes or keep from being caught in a lie, especially if it is going to make someone else look bad in the process, is never a good idea.  It’s even worse than just plain lying in my book, but I have been on the receiving end of that too.

None of us are perfect and never tell a lie, and sometimes there is a good reason to keep a secret or withhold some information to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or to protect someone somehow, but just to be manipulative and get what you want is not a good reason.  Every time we as parents tell a lie in front of our kids, no matter how small it is, is setting the example for them that’s it’s OK to do that.  So we need to be very conscious of how often and in what circumstances we are doing that and then explain that to them as well.  If we are always trying to get away with things and not follow the rules or are trying to cheat the system, then we can’t be surprised when are kids end up doing the same thing.

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The Dance of Non-Verbal Communication

I have been taking a couple’s dance class recently, which has been making me think about the importance of non-verbal communication.  It is absolutely imperative in social dancing.  The man has to clearly communicate what he wants the woman to do, and she needs to be able to interpret things correctly in order to follow his non-verbal directions.  That is such a perfect metaphor for any kind of relationship because both communicating and interpreting are very important.

Some people give off very few non-verbal cues as to what they are thinking or feeling. That makes them hard to read and can lead to confusion, playing guessing games, or even tip-toeing around issues because the other person may not know how that person will react.  That’s been my experience, anyway.  On the other hand, I have experience with people who give off almost too much non-verbal communication.   Continue reading

Taking Suggestions

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Not everyone is good at taking suggestions from others for a variety of reasons.  Some people I know who are like this either think they have all the answers, they want to figure out all of their problems on their own, or they don’t like admitting they were wrong about something or did anything wrong.  If they do listen to others, they may not really hear what is being said.  It becomes difficult to be around people who are like this except for in small doses because, in a nutshell, they are self-centered and are not inclusive.

It is challenging to talk to people who only want to hear what they themselves have to say and who don’t want to consider other people’s ideas or feelings.  I end up feeling like nothing I say will ever have any validity in their eyes.  I react in one of two ways, depending on who it is and how often I have to interact with them.  I either feel compelled to keep trying to get my point across, whether I have to be blunt or very tactful, or I completely give up because it is pointless.

If you don’t want to include others’ during meetings for your organization because you don’t ever ask for their input in the form of ideas, opinions, or their vote, then don’t be surprised if they stop coming because they wanted to be involved but didn’t feel like they could be.  I have seen this plenty of times with various organizations of which I have been a part.  Those organizations that go overboard to make people feel welcome and included thrive because people are willing to put forth the effort to make things happen.  The ones where those at the top want to make all the decisions and tell everyone else how things should be lose people left and right, and the same few people end up doing more than they should.  Yet, they wonder why more people don’t just flock right in.  Word of mouth travels quickly, and people can easily be rubbed the wrong way if they perceive you are more interested in yourself or your agenda than theirs or the whole of the group.

If you are expecting others to always be there for you but are not willing to be there for others, then you need to change your ways.  If you can’t ever own up to any mistakes that you might have made or admit that you are at least sometimes part of the problem, then you can’t expect things to improve.  If you are not open to constructive criticism or making any changes, especially when you have asked for feedback, then you really can’t wonder why things never change.  Furthermore, if you have been given feedback about how your actions or attitude has negatively impacted a situation or other people and you not only continue to keep doing the same thing but your behavior becomes even worse as a result, you may be pushing someone away because you refuse to listen.  Stubbornness often doesn’t pay, and no one has all the answers or great ideas.

I think all of this boils down to how much of a “me” person you are and whether you are more of a giver or taker.  If you are thinking about yourself most of the time and how you can have your needs met, then you will most likely have these behaviors.  If you instead think about how you can meet the needs of others and understand by meeting their needs you may get your own needs met in return, then you are likely to get better results.  Really listening to the feedback people are giving you, whether you asked for it or not, is key.

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Perception Being Reality

perspective 2It’s amazing how much stress and conflict in my life actually stems from someone’s perception being different from reality.  Most of the time, it is someone’s intentions that are perceived incorrectly, and usually it is assumed the intentions are far worse than what they really were.  For example, a suggestion I make will get interpreted as me trying to control things or have things my way, when in reality I am just trying to be helpful.  I catch myself making assumptions about intentions too sometimes, but it is usually because the other person has established a pattern of behavior demonstrating they can’t be trusted, make promises they have no intention of keeping, or other not so great behaviors.

It’s very easy to assume the worst and not give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, it is important to act in such a way that demonstrates that one can be trusted and has integrity and good intentions.  Trust and respect are both qualities that are easy to lose and difficult to regain, and we need to keep that in mind both with our own behavior and being willing to allow others to redeem themselves.  Not being so quick to judge their intentions is important too.

Sometimes two people can perceive the same situation differently and both be correct … or perhaps neither be correct.   Continue reading

Pushing People Away

It amazes me how many people I know who would rather push people away than work on making any changes that they can to improve a relationship, regardless of the type of relationship.  I guess it’s easier than doing some self-reflection and realizing that you are part of the problem and need to make some changes, apologize, and/or make up for something.  I do understand how hard it is to make changes for the better, even if you do realize that you need to do so.  But why is it so easy to do the opposite and behave even worse, which only pushes the other person away?

I’ve experienced this in different forms over the years, and I feel like I’ve been pushed so many times, that it doesn’t take much for me to push back at this point.  I wish that weren’t the case, but it is.  It’s hard to step back from that, and it makes it even more difficult to take steps in the right direction.  And it’s challenging to refrain from reacting the same way or even worse each time to the same repeated behavior.  Trying to keep motivated to make improvements when you feel like you are the only one who is interested in making the effort becomes difficult too.

It’s definitely easier to blame others for everything instead of admitting that you have made mistakes, have failed at something, or have flaws.   Continue reading

Quick Fixes

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A lot of the things I have been thinking and talking about lately all have to do with quick fixes.  It seems like too much of the time whatever is the easiest or fastest solution is chosen, and/or it is expected that change will happen immediately.  Unfortunately, what comes easy won’t last and what lasts won’t come easy.

Many situations or solutions require giving it time and putting in the effort, but not everyone is willing to do that.  Whether it’s a relationship, a health issue, education reform, a social issue, or any number of other possibilities, it often takes a very long time for things to progress to the point where they are at, so we need to understand that it is most likely going to take just as long to see real change.

Relationships are good examples.  It’s easier to just walk away or maybe have an affair that temporarily makes you feel better, rather than admit you might have been part of the problem and need to make some changes or dig deep to get to the root of some of the issues.  Working on the issues requires dedication, a lot of effort and mental energy, and willingness to make the changes, which is sometimes the hardest part.  It also requires a lot of patience because it won’t happen overnight.  If you do decide to work on things, you can’t approach seeing a therapist as a quick fix either, expecting to see results in a couple of sessions.  It takes time for everyone to feel comfortable, to get to the issues, and to work on the solutions.  Even walking away from an argument just to end the argument is a quick fix that is not going to help.  It may end the argument, but if you are not willing to come back and talk about the issues, they are going to keep happening, which will lead to more arguments.

Health issues also come to mind because who doesn’t want a quick fix to lose weight, get rid of wrinkles, have more energy and focus, and so on.  Often our bodies have been out of balance for really long time, so we can’t expect that change will happen overnight.  If it does, it probably won’t last.  But it’s easier to pop a pill, grab an energy drink, or have a little surgery than to really focus on what we are putting into our bodies on a daily basis and anything else we can do to return our bodies to a healthy balance and then keep it that way.

Education reform is another example.  Change takes a really long time, but it seems like too many people don’t understand that, especially those who make decisions about education.  When new standards or protocols are put into place, we are so quick to come down on teachers for not doing their job when their jobs keep getting more and more demanding.  If the first set of test scores after a new system has been put into place aren’t showing a significant difference, then the new system is deemed a failure.  It’s never as simple as people want to make it out to be.
The same thing can be said for most of the issues being debated pertaining to recent events and various social issues.  It’s not just a gun control issue … or a homophobia issue … or a toxic masculinity issue … or a mental health issue … or a terrorism issue … or a Republicans vs. Democrats issue … or a career politician issue … and so on and so forth.  It’s everything put together, and we can’t just focus on one aspect of it and think that any one change we can make such as banning assault weapons is going to be the quick fix.  It’s certainly a start, but it is going to take way more than that.

No matter what situation or personal issue, very seldom is there a quick fix.  The bigger the problem or the longer it has been a problem, the harder and more complicated the solution will be.  The more willing we are to accept that fact and put in the effort, the more productive we can be in resolving any issues, whatever they may be.  I think the harder we work for something, the more rewarding it feels when it finally happens, which is another reason to skip the quick fixes in our personal lives.

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Boundaries

Everyone has his or her own idea of what boundaries are acceptable.  It’s when there is a big difference in what is acceptable to different people that problems arise.  I am talking about boundaries related to personal space, privacy, topics that are appropriate to discuss, and things of that nature.

For example, I’m certainly not one to snoop through other family members’ belongings or things like their computer history, with the one exception of when it is necessary to keep tabs on my kids.  Even then, I don’t exercise that right all that often.  I like to respect people’s privacy and personal space because I would like that in return, not that I have anything to hide.  Unfortunately, I have not gotten that in return.  I know there are plenty of people who think it’s their right to go through their significant other’s phone, computer, and other belongings whenever they feel like it, even if there is no reason to be suspicious of any wrongdoing.  It’s just their right.  I don’t agree with that.

Even though my soon-to-be ex-husband hasn’t lived in the house for a while now, he still thinks it’s perfectly fine to just walk right in as if he still lives here.  He thinks that just because we can get along and work together with regards to the kids, that means he’s welcome to do that.  Getting along and invading personal space are two different things.

Boundaries really boil down to respect and trust, so if someone doesn’t respect your boundaries even if they disagree with them, then they really don’t respect you.  I think that’s one thing that differentiates “takers” is that they tend to not respect boundaries and feel like they have a right to do whatever they want whenever they want.  It’s up to the “givers” to set and enforce the boundaries.

This can be difficult though when you are dealing with someone who not only doesn’t respect boundaries but also reacts very negatively when it is brought to his or her attention.  In my opinion, how adults react to boundaries or view them in the first place has a lot to do with whether or not boundaries were set for them as they were children and how well their parents did at maintaining that.  Obviously, kids are going to push boundaries and test limits.  It’s a part of becoming an individual separate from your parents.  I’m all for pushing boundaries when they are along the lines of accomplishing something that has never been done before and things like that, but when kids push boundaries that have to do with curfews, acceptable behavior, responsibilities, personal space, and so on, I think it’s a parent’s responsibility to remind them that there are boundaries and consequences for not adhering to them.  And we need to teach them that there can’t be any double standards when it comes to boundaries.  If they don’t want a sibling going into their room to borrow a book, then they can’t go borrow one from their room whenever they feel like it.

The bottom line is that it’s perfectly healthy and necessary to set boundaries and expect others to adhere to them.  We just need to understand that it might be necessary to make it clear what the boundaries are because not everyone’s are the same.  If we don’t make it clear, then we may not have a right to be upset if we are assuming the other person understands our boundaries when perhaps that is not the case.  We also need to be respectful of others’ boundaries, even if they are different than ours because if we violate them, it will most likely be interpreted as lack of respect.  If there is a question as to what the boundaries are, it is better to err on the side of caution and not make assumptions.  The more conscious we can be about boundaries, whether it’s from a parenting perspective or the perspective of interacting with others, the better off we’ll all be.

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.