Archives for posts with tag: be considerate

Even more exciting, and much more worthwhile, than The Bottle Cap Challenge! Yep – and we can’t even opt out, not really. It’s The Communication Challenge – the one where any given pair or group of human beings attempts to communicate ideas, across the vast chasm of differences in perspective, filtered through individual experience and assumption-making, using poorly defined terms. lol Oh my.

…It’s not always easy, is it?

Yesterday, my day was literally filled with variations on the theme of challenging communications. It was an interesting assortment.

…Team communications…

…Individual entirely non-work-related social communications…

…Communications overheard in passing by uninvolved-but-now-interested individuals…

…Communication with people who lack emotional intelligence…

…Communication with people far more emotionally intelligent than I am…

…Communication with people who have a clear – but also hidden – personal agenda at stake…

…Direct communication…

…Misleading communication…

…Necessary and also delicate communication…

…Frank communication that was “long overdue”…

…Heartfelt warm communication…

…Tense, purposeful, communication in which I, myself, had a clear (and also frustrated) agenda…

…Dispassionate routine communication of factual details…

…Passionate communication of concerns…

…Communication advocating a position…

In some cases, some of those were a single conversation, others were common occurrences in several conversations; there are so many opportunities to communicate, in a single day. Some conversations were easy, comfortable, helpful, or merry. Other conversations felt like work – real effort was involved in “getting an idea across” or in truly listening with my whole attention to ideas I felt disinclined towards, to the point of being reluctant to hear the speaker out. It was a very interesting assortment of moments.

I arrived home, tired, at the end of what felt like a long day (because it was), and definitely ready to stop communicating. LOL

…I’m sure I learned something. I know that during my struggle to relax at the end of the day, fighting off a surge in anxiety that was making sleep difficult to come by, I was pretty certain that mastering my greatest communication challenges would have a lot to offer in the way of reduced stress, because damn, I was definitely stressed out. I sip my coffee and think about that.

I think over the communication challenges in which one or more parties to the conversation showed signs of stress, or frustration; how can I do better? Create a less stressful experience? Listen with greater care? Be more patient? Define my terms more clearly? Slow down enough to avoid being provoked? All of these seem like excellent steps. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I contemplate the very nature of “being provoked” in conversation, and wonder… to what end? I definitely have some room to grow here. You, too, probably. 🙂 Everyone.

…I promise myself another reread of The Four Agreements. I consider, with some amusement, that none of the books on my reading list are specifically on the topic of effective communication, most especially considering how much of it I need to do, day-to-day. lol I think about how little real coaching, encouragement, mentoring, or development, we provide each other as human beings… Where did we get this notion that so many things in life will just sort of “happen” over time? It’s rather strange, is it not? 0_o

I tell myself “the weekend is almost here”, then tease myself for the lie; it’s only Wednesday, and frankly, weekends do not have curative powers. We’ve all still got the lives (and baggage) that we do. The way out is through. 🙂 Another breath. Another exhalation of breath. Another moment. The wheel continues to turn.

I’m not perfect. Still practicing. There is so much to learn – and so much I can do to be more the woman I most want to be. I see daybreak turn the sky from dark – to slightly less dark. I am reminded that seasons do change, and that moments do pass. It’s time to embrace a new one, and begin again. 🙂

It’s just a list. It isn’t personal. 🙂

1. It isn’t always about you.
2. You don’t know everything.
3. You probably don’t know “exactly how that feels “, even if you have “been there/done that”.
4. Your emotional experience belongs to you, only.
5. You can’t “fix” anyone else, or force them to change.
6. No one owns you. You don’t own them, either.
7. Rejection is painful. For everyone.
8. Heartfelt convictions don’t become facts because you believe them.
9. Sometimes you are wrong.

Have a flower, think things over. Do better today than you understood to do yesterday. Be the person you most want to be. 🙂 You’ve got this, it just takes practice.

Don’t forget to pause and notice something lovely. 🙂

I recently read a meme or a post or an observation somewhere to the effect that we “don’t owe” “basic human decency” to [insert preferred list of “bad people” here]. I found myself astonished that “basic human decency” is so often seen as something we provide on a limited basis, and only to specific qualifying individuals. Then I laughed. Then I felt incredibly saddened. Seriously? “Basic human decency” is something to aspire to because we are human – and decent. It’s a literal baseline for decency; the minimum we offer, because “decent” is a human quality we cultivate. We provide that experience because it is characteristic of who we are. Portioning it out to just those who are adequately deserving suggests to me a fundamental lack of actual decency, altogether. Just saying.

I’m not pointing any fingers. Been there. I’ve been in that place where I was so angry (generally) and so wounded (emotionally), that behaving with any sort of decency seemed… unfair, or unreasonable, or… well… I wasn’t gonna do that. :-\ I did not understand at all that it was not about whether that person was “deserving” of decency – it was always about whether I was sufficiently developed as an adult human being to be capable of decency in those circumstances. It said more about me as a human being than anyone else. It’s very much the sort of puzzle that kept pulling my focus back onto me, when I started down this path – what I am capable of? What I can learn? What I can do to change myself? I have so little ability to change the world, or any one individual, and so much opportunity to become the woman, the person, the human being I most want to be. At this point, I could describe it as my life’s work. (I find it hard to accurately describe how far I have actually come as a person, and how far I recognize that I still have to go.)

My housekeeping? Not perfect. I’m prone to untidiness, but thrive within the context of a lifestyle that is very orderly, well-kept, and managed on a calendar. I have to work at order. I do. There are tons of verbs involved and my results vary.

My self-care? Hit or miss under stress, but generally pretty good these days, otherwise. I work at that, too. It’s a very human experience. More verbs. More practices. I begin again every single day.

My sanity? Mostly fairly well-managed these days. I do what it takes. I see my therapist when that is the needful thing. In years that I’ve been medicated, I’ve stayed the course on my medication(s) and taken prescriptions as directed as much as my memory (and coping skills) allow. I’ve made a point of getting off of medications that were doing me harm. I practice good practices, and I no longer punish myself for my very humanity. I’d say I’m generally sane, mostly fairly rational, and entirely willing recognize my mistakes, whenever that comes up (often). 🙂

My ability to be a basically decent human being? Pretty good, generally, with some misses here or there when I’m not entirely myself, or during some moment of severe stress, illness, or in the throes of misadventure. It’s a work in progress, frankly, I’d like to be more reliably wholly a basically decent human being, as a reliable default setting. I continue to work at that, because from my perspective on life, now, it seems the literal least I can do for the world… which make it sort of obligatory to at least give it a shot, and to really practice it until I am quite skilled. 🙂

My experience is my own. Same for yours. When we make wise choices that are appropriate to our circumstances, we tend to enjoy our experience a bit more. When we practice, and demonstrate, human decency, we are decent humans – something to aspire to, right there. The world would most definitely benefit from having a higher percentage of basically decent human beings. Life gives us opportunities to change, to grown, to learn, to practice – and we become what we practice.

Today is a good day to practice some “basic human decency” – certainly it is worth being good at that. It’s not about whether you deserve my basic human decency, though, is it? It’s about whether I do. (I definitely do.) 😉

Eat less or exercise? Personally, I have to do both. It’s non-negotiable. If I get less exercise, still keep my caloric intake well-managed (and low) and eat healthy food, I gain weight anyway. If I get plenty of exercise, but make poor nutritional choices, I also gain weight. If I eat a poor quality diet, don’t manage my calories closely, and also don’t get sufficient exercise, I not only gain weight, I gain a lot of weight, and I pack on the pounds fast. Some medications cause me to gain weight, too; that’s something I reliably find out the hard way. So… eat less or exercise? I don’t get to choose, I’ve got to do both. 🙂

There are quite a few things in life that we sometimes get snared viewing as a choice between options, when, actually, it’s a choice to change, or not to change; all the options involving change may be required to make change occur in the direction we’d specifically like to see. Real-life doesn’t tend to negotiate with our whims.

Emotion, and the skillful management and expression of strong emotion, specifically, has some things in common here, with a twist; incremental change over time is super slow, but our emotions jump to the head of any queue, lead every moment, and arrive to every party too early. So sure, it’s reasonable, and true, for someone mid-freak out to have the recognition and understanding that their experience is based on “irresistible” internal forces beyond their immediate control; strong emotion, particularly powerful emotions like rage, frustration, and sorrow, can erupt from within us, sweeping over us, taking away our sense of control, and eventually leading to regrettable words and actions. The “I’m sorry”s begin to pile up (if you are that decent sort who regrets treating others badly). So do the rationalizations (about hormones, childhoods, provocation, circumstances…).

It’s also quite true that our behavior is a choice. Yes, all of it. Yes, pretty much all the time, every time. The first time someone lashes out with an act of violence, they might get by with “I didn’t know” or an expression of astonishment that they could be provoked to that point, but second times? Third times? Times that occur after someone – anyone – has pointed out that’s not okay? Yeah, those are choices. Yielding to strong emotion and relinquishing control over behavior is a choice (unless maybe you are profoundly mentally ill and urgently in need of inpatient treatment). Well, if that’s also true, is everyone who ever treated a loved one poorly, or punched a wall, or lashed out with horrible words deeply mentally ill and urgently in need of treatment? Some of them probably are! Most of them likely are not. That they are choosing such behaviors is still a choice, and they could choose differently, and no you can’t “make them” change, and omg – if they decide to change themselves, that is a process that can be infernally slow, fraught will failures, and varying results.

…And before we can change ourselves through our willful choices in the direction of being our best selves, we actually need to 1. be aware that we would like to be other than we are, and 2. understand that change is possible, chosen, and must be practiced. It’s a lot to hold onto. It’s a lot of work. The practice has to come ahead of the need to be changed. It’s necessary both to feel, and to practice our best behavior under the stress of an “emotional load”. We’ve got to do both. It’s work that will have to be done in the face of real-time failures, disappointed frustrated loved ones, relationships that don’t make it through the process, friendships that end because it turns out some of them were invested in what is being changed. It’s work that is continuous and ongoing. Change is a verb – and you have choices.

Another school shooting. I read about it and can’t help but wonder where so many people have gotten the idea that their anger, disappointment, frustration, or any other emotional experience, entitles them to take a life – any life. Where did that come from? How long has this toxic seed been part of our culture? Did the shooter understand this is unacceptable behavior? If he did understand that, and chose to do it anyway, where did he get the idea that this is a course of action appropriate to his emotional experience? Why do so few people understand what poison their “righteous anger” actually is? Even otherwise good-hearted people can be drawn into making the most outrageously hateful statements about the value of another life (don’t read the comments on the internet, People, I’m just saying there’s an astonishing amount of rationalized hate out there), given the opportunity to frame that other human being as a bad guy of some kind. We most commonly succumb to hate due to a lack of empathy… I don’t know how to fix that for the world, or my nation. I’m still working on it for me – one practice at a time. Changing myself is within my control; I have choices.

Time to begin again.

Consideration is a funny notion. The idea that there is value in making a specific point of considering another person, other people, animals, children, the moment, the circumstances, the timing, the consequences, the lighting… all of the things… it’s complicated. What we choose to consider matters, and we often don’t seem to… consider that, too.

Consider a common enough commuter scenario; congestion, cars close together between intersections, blocking side streets, waiting for lights, pedestrians crossing in their turn, and someone in the oncoming lane, stopped with their left turn signal on, waiting for any chance to make their left turn – but the intersection is blocked by the car ahead of you. When the car ahead of you pulls forward, do you considerately remain stopped, allowing that left turn vehicle to turn left? If do you, did you also consider the cars waiting behind you, maybe for more than one cycle of lights, also eager to get home, also possibly waiting a long while, or faced with a time crunch of some kind? Did you consider, too, the car on the side street hoping to turn right, blocking most of that narrower street, maybe making it difficult for the left turn driver to make their turn efficiently? More delays. What about the cyclist coming up on your right, have you considered whether that left turn driver can safely make that turn – does the driver even see the cyclist? So many details, so many perspectives – it’s probably why we’ve made rules about rights of way, and order of operations (life, traffic, and math – all have their rules). Things may work ideally well in a particular sequence, or using a particular set of rules that, if everyone does it just that way, it all goes so smoothly. (When given a manual, tutorial, or opportunity to study the rules – for fuck’s sake, please do!)

I use traffic as an example because it’s hard to take it very personally, unless you’re in your car reading this right now – in which, omg, please do not do that. Not while you’re driving, anyway. Save it for later – literally nothing I write is worth dying over. Seriously. Nor worth taking a life carelessly. Just don’t. It’s terribly inconsiderate to drive distracted, anyway. So rude. So unsafe.

Life doesn’t create a lot of easy puzzles where consideration is concerned. I’m still figuring a lot of that stuff out, myself. Is there such a thing as “too much consideration”? What would that look like? Certainly, there is “consideration gone badly wrong” – we can so easily take actions based on the best possible intentions, truly noble compassionate and loving actions, and still cause terrible harm. I tend to think of consideration as also a possible solution for that particular problem, but we are each having our own experience – and like it or not (I don’t) it isn’t possible to be entirely right, entirely good, and also have nothing but beneficial (to all beings) outcomes of each of our actions and choices. Sooner or later, we’re likely to find that the good we thought we’d done turned out poorly for someone (maybe us) – or that something that experience suggests should have gone very badly indeed has some profoundly positive result… for someone else. It’s easiest to be sure after the action is completed, and the moment is a memory – that’s just not very helpful at decision-making time.

I don’t have any answers to this one. I do know that consideration – basic consideration, delivered in each interaction I have throughout each day that I can manage to remain sufficiently aware to do it has benefited greatly. I just don’t know the words to tell you how. I wish I did. Maybe if I were better at it myself? I’ll work on that. 🙂

In fact… I’ll begin again tomorrow. 😀