Timing Is Everything

If only I had a quarter for every time this thought has popped into my head over the years, especially recently. Sometimes it’s because of good timing, and sometimes not.

There are occasionally those days where things start going wrong, and they just keep piling up.  I have a near miss car accident, something around the house stops working right or breaks, my sink backs up, the kids are argumentative or throw at me some last minute plans that I have to accommodate, and so on.  I find myself asking why it all has to happen in one day.  I’m already frustrated from the first couple of events, so I don’t always react too well to the rest.  Each thing on separate days would be a little easier to swallow.  But then I find myself thinking at the end of the day that I’m glad it all happened in one day so that I can put it all behind me and move on, hopefully having a completely different kind of day the next day.  Sometimes I am lucky enough to have that happen.

Then there are the times where I am thankful for good timing.  Something good happens when I least expect it, and I find myself thinking, “Wow, just what I needed! Perfect timing!”  I might come upon some information at the right time to put it to good use, or I’ll have a conversation with one friend that coincidentally helps me with a particular situation.  Maybe a friend or relative will check in with me to see how I am doing, and it will be on a day when everything is going wrong.  The best example is meeting new people and feeling like they came into my life right at the right time. Sometimes I don’t always realize right away how good the timing is, but I get it eventually. The relationship I am in now is a perfect example of that.

Unfortunately, there were several years where it was pretty doom and gloom for me with more significant things going wrong all at the same time.  My kids were a major challenge, my marriage was falling apart, I was having various health issues, and so on. Those things were more long term and harder to put behind me and hope for a better tomorrow, especially dealing with all them at the same time.  Some of the time I could stay positive, but often it all got to me.  What helped was focusing on the things I could be grateful for, especially those little things that happened every so often that seemed to be good timing, like a friend checking in on me or my mom offering to help with something or just listen without offering any advice.  I think that’s why I tend to check in on my friends and family members pretty regularly because I know what a difference that has made in my life.

Life definitely has its ups and downs, and timing is sometimes not good at all for certain things.  Just when we think things can’t get any worse, it does.  We need those times to appreciate the better times, so it’s often a matter of perspective how we choose to look at situations and react to them.  We can’t always see that though while in the midst of the storm, whether it is a hurricane or passing shower.  But hopefully after it has passed, we can find the rainbow and appreciate the sunshine.  There’s never a bad time for those!

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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Being Tactful

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Being tactful is getting to be a lost art, if you ask me.  It seems to me that people are much more apt to just say (or type) whatever comes to their mind without filtering anything or thinking about the potential consequences.  Not every thought is one that should be shared immediately or exactly the way it popped into our heads.

We’re now a society though where news is reported in little sound bites, articles are full of short one sentence paragraphs, we share lots of little details about our lives through social media, bashing someone through social media is pretty common, and most people feel like they need to express their every thought on every topic, even though they may not know that much about it.  It’s the norm for us to vocalize most of our thoughts right away, good or bad.

That can often lead to a lot of misunderstanding, hurt feelings, divisiveness, negative energy, misinformation, frustration, and so on.  It’s one thing to think you know what to say, but another to know when and how to say it.  Not everyone is open to constructive criticism or hearing other people’s opinions, so things have to be phrased very carefully.  Other people get very defensive if you challenge their opinions or ideas and even take it as a personal attack.  Some people are very easily offended these days, so there’s that too.  Or perhaps they over-interpret things and take things to the extreme.  There are plenty of other situations where being tactful would be beneficial.

It would be nice if there were not so much of a need to be tactful because people were more patient, were better listeners, were more open-minded, and had many other characteristics I have discussed in previous posts.  But that’s not the case, so it is to our benefit to try to be tactful whenever possible.  That requires thinking ahead though, which not everyone is willing to do.  And it requires trying to get your point across without making the other person feel like tuning out or coming back with an adversarial response.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how tactful you are because of the person on the receiving end, but sometimes it can make a big difference.

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Taking Time To Heal

 body, mind, soul

Healing is a process that is very unique to every individual, whether it’s physical or emotional healing, or both.  But in any situation, the common denominator is that it will likely take time and patience, some support from others, a little determination, and probably some set-backs along the way.

There’s no right or wrong way for someone to recover from the loss of a loved one, a broken relationship, or any other type of emotional hardship.  Some people find it healing to talk about the situation and what they are feeling and experiencing, while others find it best to keep their thoughts to themselves or maybe write them down in a journal.  Not everyone finds a constructive way to deal with negative emotions and may end choose a path that is not a good choice physically. I’m thinking about those who drown their sorrows in alcohol or food, for example.  Many people turn to their faith for healing and acceptance of the situation, or to make sense of it.  That seems to be key for many, to figure out the “why” and be able to move on.

Physical healing can be just as emotional, depending on the situation and what is involved in recovery.  A diagnosis or unexpected injury can be very stressful and emotionally draining.  So can a recovery that doesn’t go as well as expected, which makes it difficult to mentally stay in the game.  That, in turn, can affect the recovery process.  So the two go hand in hand for both kinds of healing.  If we don’t take care of ourselves physically, healing from an emotional situation will be more difficult, and vice versa.  Spiritual healing can be an important piece of the puzzle to keep everything in perspective and balance.

Even the day-to-day struggles and stressful situations we all deal with (our spouse or significant other, kids, job, responsibilities, finances, etc.) can require some form of healing or at least keeping ourselves grounded and on track.  We need to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of those around us.  And that means both our physical and emotional well-being.  We can’t let one go for the sake of the other. Keeping ourselves physically healthy is definitely important, but we also need to make time for all the things that keep us feeling “emotionally full”, such as laughing with friends, being creative, meditating, spiritual connections, or any number of other things.  It’s all about balance and figuring out what works best for you.

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Agreeing To Disagree

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Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like more people are having a harder time dealing with other people who disagree with them than ever before.  People are increasingly set in their ways, unwilling to listen to anyone else’s opinion, and more easily offended by anyone who doesn’t share their opinion.

I’ve experienced this both personally with people I know about everyday life situations, and I see it in social media, in the news, and particularly with this presidential race.  I’ve touched on this topic before in a post called “Being Open-Minded” where I talk about not being judgmental, giving people the benefit of the doubt, and not being so set in our ways and how we view the world around us.  It is very difficult to communicate with people who are judgmental, who don’t give people the benefit of the doubt, and who get upset if someone doesn’t view something the same way they do.  Everything has to be worded so carefully and said just at the right time or it’s likely to evoke a negative response.  And it’s frustrating having my intentions questioned when all I am doing is trying to help.  Both can be very mentally draining at times.

People should be allowed to express their opinions as long as it is not being done in a way that is threatening or harmful.  I’m all for being respectful of others and feeling safe in my environment, but it seems to me that some people are so easily threatened or offended by anyone who doesn’t think the exact same way they do.   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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Dealing With Disappointment

Disappointment-QuotesThis has been a week filled with all sorts of disappointments for me, which has me thinking about how people handle different forms of disappointment.  There are, of course, lots of different reasons that we can be disappointed, whether it be in ourselves, in others, in the situations we are in, and so on.  Some things we can control or change, and others we cannot.  What we can definitely control though is how we view and react to the disappointments.

Most of my disappointments this week had to do with other peoples’ decisions or mistakes that are out of my control, but they affect me.  However, sometimes I have been disappointed in myself for not handling a situation better, for not being as efficient with my time as I could have been, or for making a mistake that I could have avoided that now has repercussions.  I could dwell on all of these things and be mad at myself or whomever else, but I try to focus more on how to resolve the situation and/or help prevent the same mistake from being made again.  Sometimes it’s difficult to not be upset, focus on who is to blame, or hold onto those angry feelings for a while, but it is not healthy or productive to do any of those things.  It’s really hard to get past that frustration at times though, especially when it’s a repeated behavior or decision that is the source of disappointment.

I try to remind myself to find the positives and focus on those, especially if there was some way that I learned something about myself or someone else as a result of the disappointment.  Depending on the situation, I may self-reflect and ask myself if there’s anything I could do differently.  Disappointments are one of those things that help us build character and grow as individuals, and it certainly never hurts to remind ourselves of that.  Something else to remind ourselves is that in some instances, perhaps the situation causing the disappointment happened for a reason because better things are to come if we can just be patient and not lose hope.

Disappointments can sometimes be due to certain expectations we have that aren’t being met.  There are plenty of people who live by the philosophy that if you don’t have expectations and just accept everything and everyone as they are, then you won’t ever be disappointed.  I agree with that to a certain extent, but I think it’s appropriate to have some expectations as to how we would like to be treated and how we would like to raise our children to deal with situations and treat others.  If we don’t have those expectations and express them to others, then they may never learn these things or feel it necessary to change any behavior that may be inappropriate or hurtful.

Likewise, I think it’s important for kids to experience disappointment and learn to how deal with it gracefully as they are growing up so that it is not as difficult for them when they are older and so they don’t behave like some adults I know who can’t handle any kind of disappointment.  If we rescue our children from every situation that doesn’t work out in their favor, then they never learn how to think things through and deal with the frustration in a healthy way.  When opportunities present themselves, we need to allow our children to figure out how to resolve their own situations, deal with the repercussions, and find a resolution all while dealing with the emotions that go along with all of that.  We can be there to guide and encourage them, but we shouldn’t always do it for them.

What I am trying to accomplish myself and teach my children by example is that in most cases, disappointments should be thought of as bumps in the road and not road blocks.  We can get past them eventually and hopefully find a way to do so as smoothly as possible.

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