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

Maintaining Middle Ground

With some people, there doesn’t ever seem to be a middle ground.  Everything is black or white, all or nothing.  Either you’re on their side or completely against them.  I definitely know more than one person who fits this description, and it makes communication quite difficult sometimes.

One of the things that is difficult is trying to get a point across without them over-interpreting things as I sometimes call it, is the fact that they tend to interpret things as being one extreme or the other.  And unfortunately, the worst possible interpretation seems to be the one of choice most of the time.   Continue reading

Removing The Toxins

subtract neg:add pos

Have you ever thought about whether you have toxic people in your circle of friends and family and how much value they are adding to your life?  Or perhaps it’s your significant other who may be toxic.  It’s not the most positive thing to think about by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s also not the easiest thing to admit that a toxic person has been in your life longer than they should have.  Some people are clearly toxic and we can come to that conclusion without much thought.  Other people may be a little more difficult to put in that category, especially if we have known them a long time or if there have been a lot of positive aspects of the relationship which have resulted in us being willing to overlook all of the toxic behaviors.

The degree to which someone can be toxic can vary greatly, ranging from people who easily get under out skin because they are so annoying, hurtful, disrespectful, or any number of other things, to people who just tend to weigh us down because they always have their own drama that they pull us into easily.  These people may have many other redeeming qualities, so we put up with the drama.  But sometimes it just gets to be too much, especially when this person may not realize or be willing to admit how much they contribute to the drama.

I am trying to focus on the positives in my life and making more positive changes.  It’s refreshing being around other people who have the same attitude and focus.  On the flip side, it is mentally draining being around people who are very critical and judgmental, who push people’s buttons but then are surprised at a negative reaction, who blame everyone else but themselves for everything and are always the victim, who are always looking for others to back them up in blaming others, who aren’t accountable for their own actions, who focus on the negatives, who tend to put their own needs first and like to be the center of attention, who tend to take more than they give, who always need to be right and in control, and who are not open to any kind of constructive criticism.

Just as toxins that come from processed foods, sugars, chemicals, air pollution, and so many other things are not good for our overall physical health, toxic people are not good for our mental health.  Sometimes we need to take a step back, evaluate the situation, and ask ourselves if it is really worth it to keep putting up with the negative behaviors.  In some cases, or for a while, the answer may be yes.  But when the answer is or becomes no, then we need to have the courage to let go of that person, even though it may be difficult at first.  It may feel like a big weight off of our shoulders right away, or it could take a while to realize that we made the right decision.  As much as some of us tend to put others’ needs above our own and want to be there for everyone who needs a shoulder to lean on, sometimes we need to think of our own well-being.  I recently saw a meme that says, “Don’t be afraid to rock the boat.  If someone falls out, then they weren’t meant to be in your boat.”  This is so true.

Part of eliminating the toxins has to come from ourselves though too.  It’s important to self-reflect and ask ourselves if we are too critical or judgmental, if we are better talkers than listeners, if we tend to look for things to complain about, if we tend to blame others rather than take ownership of our mistakes or whatever we might have done to contribute to a negative situation, and so on.  It’s never to late to start making improvements in these areas, which will not only be good for those around us, but will help us feel better too.

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Success

success - confucius

Everyone has his or her own idea of how to define success.  It could be measured by how much money you make, what kind of house and car you own, how many friends you have, how good of a parent you are, how far you have gotten in your career, how much of a positive impact you’ve made on the world around you, how you have positively impacted and inspired the people around you, and so on.  No matter how you define it though, it always feels best when it has been earned, whether it be through hard work, dedication, time committed, good character and integrity, positive attitude, or however else.

Success, for most of us, is not something that comes easily or automatically.  It is usually a series of countless small achievements or baby steps in the right direction, or at least mostly in the right direction.  There are usually set-backs along the way, but overcoming those makes it feel even better.  In fact, Booker T. Washington even said, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”  I do believe that to be true in many instances because it is through overcoming obstacles that we build character and learn what our strengths are and what we can handle.

Success doesn’t always have to be difficult though, but it often requires focus and determination, belief in ourselves, willingness to fail, a positive attitude, and including others.  Not only do we usually have to rely on the help of others in order to achieve success, but it is also important to give back to those who helped us along the way.  If our success, whatever it may be, can somehow inspire others to be successful, that’s even better.

Sometimes finding success can be a very slow process, so much so that it doesn’t even seem to be happening.  But we need to remember that success can be like a tree.  You can see it at any point and time, but you cannot see it grow.  It’s important to keep that in mind when it feels like we are not making any progress in the right direction. Slow progress is better than no progress.  As long as we continue to take action without giving up, we can continue to achieve success.  It never hurts to remind ourselves that even though we might not be where we want to be quite yet, we’re closer than we were the day before.  Confucius also said, “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”  Even if we have to take a very round-about way, we will get there eventually.

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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

Confidence

confidence

I read this quote and immediately thought, “Yes, that’s a perfect way to describe it!”  I do think confidence is very important in the grand scheme of things.  It can get you through some tough or stressful situations.  I believe it is an attractive quality in a person, as long as that person is not over confident.  To me, someone who is confident is comfortable in their own skin being who they really are and knowing they are a good person on the inside.  When that is the case, there should be no reason to compare yourself to anyone or anything but your own ideals.

Unfortunately, I think there is a lot of confusion and mixed messages as to what those ideals should be.  I think our society as a whole values a lot of the wrong things, including certain character traits.  If you’ve been following along, you know the whole point of this blog was for me to express my opinion, sometimes using examples from my personal life, as to what I believe those ideals should and shouldn’t be.  So I guess the first step is having the right ideals to begin with.

I think confidence also plays a big part in how successful you become at something.  The more confident you are, the more willing you are to put forth effort in practicing particular skills or trying new things, and the better you may become.  In other words, success breeds more success.  Meeting new people is a little easier if you exude a little confidence too.  If you come across like a know-it-all though, you will most likely be turning people away, or you will be closing yourself off to trying new ways of doing things and seeing other perspectives.

When I was teaching, one of the things I always seemed to be thinking about is how confident the students felt with what they were learning.  I encouraged them to think about it by sometimes asking them as they gave an answer how confident they were in their answer.  Often, a student would think that by asking that I was telling them their answer was wrong, but I usually wasn’t.  I just wanted them to feel confident and be aware of that feeling, especially if it was a student whom I felt needed to have a little bit more confidence.  I also asked my students to self-reflect every so often, which I could see helped build some kids’ confidence levels.  I think self-reflection is an important step in building self-confidence.  Positive reinforcement and encouragement on my part was often a key factor, too.

Many times, all it takes is looking back and thinking about how far we’ve come with something or what successes we’ve had, even if they are small ones, to help build confidence and a more positive attitude about something.  Confidence IS an attitude and one that we need to consciously think about from time to time.  Perhaps after reading this, you are thinking about something that was a bit of a struggle that you were able to overcome or something you didn’t think you were all that good at that you ended up doing well.  If not, take a moment to think about something now.  I can pretty much guarantee you will feel a little more confident, and perhaps you will even end up with a smile on your face.

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.