The Reason For Tragedy And Heartbreak

No one likes to experience either one of these or watch our friends and loves ones have to experience them either.  Whether it’s a tragic accident, an unforeseen break-up, a suicide attempt, some form of hardship, the death of loved one or favorite celebrity, or any number of other situations, these experiences can be painful, devastating, and gut-wrenching.  We sometimes ask ourselves all kinds of questions including why it had to happen or what we (or whoever else) did to deserve whatever happened.  Some people really struggle with the answers to these and other questions.

To me, these things are there as reminders for us of so many things…

  • that life is precious and fragile and can be taken away at an instant
  • that nothing and no one should be taken for granted
  • that we are stronger and more resilient than we think we are
  • that we can face our fears and overcome them
  • that change is sometimes a good thing
  • that the people and relationships in our lives are more important than things
  • that we need to continually remind our loved ones how much they are loved
  • that others may seem fine on the outside but are struggling on the inside
  • that we need to be kind and understanding to one another and really listen
  • that we shouldn’t sweat the little things
  • that sometimes our words and actions are more hurtful than we realize
  • that we should accept and celebrate our differences
  • that together we are stronger, and so on.

Most of all, I think they are reminders that we need to continually take a step back and be grateful for what we have, even if it’s not much.  There is always something positive we can find to be thankful for, and there are always so many people going through situations that are far worse than our own. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Of course, this is all easier to think about when we are not the person going through the particular tragedy or heartbreak or while we are not in the midst of it ourselves. We may never get over the pain or disappointment of the given circumstances, but hopefully at some point we can at least get to a place where we have a more positive perspective of why these things happen and what they were trying to teach or remind us.  I don’t think enough people stop and consciously think about and appreciate all the positives in their life. Maybe if we did, we wouldn’t need so many reminders.

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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

Letting Go

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Often one of the most difficult things to do is letting go … letting go of fears, negative thoughts, pain from being hurt, the need to be in control, , the need to be right, expectations that things will be the way we want them to be, guilty feelings, the notion that others will change their ways because we want them to, negative feelings such as anger and disappointment, and plenty of other things.  Sometimes it’s difficult to let go of tangible objects too because they are sentimental and remind us of someone or something.  So in that case, letting go is difficult because we are trying to hold on to our past or our memories.

While letting go is not easy to do, sometimes it is harder not to.  But if we don’t, then all the things we are holding onto prevent us from moving forward or living in the moment because they weigh us down.  They can cause stress and frustration and prevent us from focusing on the positives, what’s really important in life, and what we need to do to make changes so that we can move on to bigger and better things.

Fear of change can be pretty powerful, but sometimes we just need a little push or to get to the point where we are willing to let go of whatever is holding us back.  For me, there seems to be a connection with getting rid of stuff I no longer need or that is cluttering up my house (or my brain) and wanting to make changes for the better.  It is both cleansing and motivating.  Sometimes the decluttering motivates me to make other changes, even if it’s just in my attitude about things, and sometimes my desire to make changes motivates me to purge.

There are plenty of things I would not ever want to let go of though, and those would be my dreams and hopes for what’s to come for myself and my kids; the important people in my life whom I cherish; the willingness to learn and grow to be a better person, to have an open mind and give people the benefit of the doubt, and to be kind and empathetic to others; and my desire to make a positive difference somehow. Maintaining a positive outlook is definitely easier once I consciously let go of all the negative thoughts and feelings.  It’s something I struggle with at times, but I am working on it.

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Making A Difference

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This is the time of year when most people are a little more conscious of what they can do to have a positive impact on the world around them. We think of ways we can be more giving, whether it’s through volunteering our time or donating money to a good cause. Some people make a conscious effort to think more about the things for which they can be grateful. Then there are those who might consider performing a random act of kindness.  It’s a typical time to do things like thank others who serve us such as people in the military by sending Christmas cards or care packages.

Beyond that, some people focus more on the smaller things that can have a positive impact like finding a way to put a smile on a stranger’s face, using words of affirmation with the people we love, surprising someone with a phone call, or anything along those lines. These are all things that can and should be done year round, of course, but for many people these things are not second nature and require conscious effort, which may be difficult to maintain. They can become second nature though if they are done often enough.

Just as important is to be conscious of how you might be NEGATIVELY impacting those around you and try NOT to do those things. One does not cancel out the other, so (hypothetically speaking) volunteering at a soup kitchen does not make up for speaking to others very condescendingly on a regular basis. All the little things add up, so whether we are making them positive or negative experiences can make a big difference. A day that involves having to park far away from a store because the only close parking spot had two shopping carts with garbage in them left there, people driving unsafely around me, multiple people being rude or impatient, and finding out someone lied to me is a lot different from one that involves a friend texting just to say they’re thinking about me, a stranger complimenting me on my coat, someone offering to return my cart to the store for me, and my kids thanking me more than usual for things I do for them or randomly giving me hugs or telling me they love me. At the end of the day I could be in a completely different mood.

So please take Jane Goodall’s advice and decide what kind of difference you want to make, and hopefully chose to make it a positive difference in any big or small way you can. A multitude of small things can have just as big of an impact as one big thing.

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.

Reaching Maturity vs. Being Mature

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There are numerous ways you can define maturity, but I really like this one.  That’s because it perfectly fits why the topic of maturity seems to keep finding its way into conversations about my family lately. I wish I could say it’s because I’m impressed with how mature everyone is or is becoming, but that is only partially true.

My two teenagers do continue to impress me with how they are thinking more along the lines adults would typically think, especially when it comes to how to handle certain situations.  Their behavior can still be somewhat immature at times, but their thought processes are changing.  They think about the big picture more and how their decisions affect others.  And they think less about their own needs now, at least some of the time.  They understand that they can’t have everything they want or need immediately, and they are conscious of their needs inconveniencing others. Continue reading

Poking the Bear

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In my last post on being good role models and setting standards for our kids, I talked about how I now tend to lose my cool relatively easily, even though I often talk to the kids about not overreacting and trying to stay calm in a variety of circumstances.  I am doing my best to not do that, but I can’t seem to convince my family that I am not just randomly lashing out or lecturing anyone because that’s what I like to do.  I am reacting to something they are either doing or not doing, and most of the time, whatever it is has been an ongoing issue or something more than one person tends to do or not do.  Therefore, I have very little patience with whatever behavior and am easily frustrated.  That makes it very difficult to keep calm all the time.

What gets me is that everyone is always surprised at the fact that I am upset or frustrated yet again and that I am reacting accordingly.  I don’t want to feel those things or react in a negative way, but it is a cumulative thing that has been more and more difficult to control over time.   Continue reading

Being a Good Role Model and Setting Standards

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This is so true, but it seems to me that there are a lot of parents out there who don’t understand this and/or who don’t see how their own behavior is so different than what they expect from their kids.  I’m certainly not a perfect role model, but at least I am aware of when I occasionally do something that is the opposite of what I am trying to teach my kids.  The one example that comes to mind is losing my cool when I am always trying to get them to stay calm and not overreact to various situations.  I do talk to my kids about that when it happens and let them know I am aware I have not been setting a good example and at least try to explain why.  Then I tell them I will continue trying to improve.

I can think of plenty of other examples that I have witnessed where parents say one thing to their kids and then do the opposite themselves.  Lying and being deceitful is a big example in my house. Continue reading