Archives for posts with tag: be kind

What an absolutely shit-tastic fucking morning. Maybe I get it back on track, maybe I don’t. Maybe I sort myself out and feel some amount of joy or enthusiasm for living, maybe I don’t. I’m not depressed, I’m just… an emotional trainwreck, this morning. Medicated? Yep – and there are reasons for that, and this morning the medication isn’t enough to overcome my bullshit and baggage. My results absolutely fucking vary. Sometimes I don’t “get it right” and I have to deal with whatever hurt or lack of courtesy I’ve delivered to some (probably) unsuspecting other human being (who may even matter to me)(probably) – and also deal with supporting myself, soothing myself, and managing my self-care. It blows.

…Then I deal with the pile-on bullshit of the aftermath, the feelings of inadequacy, guilt, shame, frustration, self-directed disappointment, the feeling of futility, the sense of “making no progress” and the potential descent into despair, because… “this?? again??” Also major suckage.

Here’s the thing, though, and I’m trying to hold on to it ferociously right now; I do deal with it. I do get past the moment. I do manage – again and again – to soothe myself, sort it out, and move on. It’s just not “easy”, and I’m “having a moment”… about having had a moment. So fucking annoying.

This too will pass. Emotional weather means occasional storms and showers of tears. That’s just real – and very human.

I tried to go to work before I was quite ready, in spite of “where I was at”. I had to park the car and just let the tears fall. I couldn’t really drive. I for sure could not have worked. In an office. Around other people. (I’m 100% done with crying at my fucking desk during work hours. lol) So, I got that over with parked on a dark side street. Then I went on to the co-work space I’m presently working from (working from home is a bit too distracting right now, and sometimes very noisy with the new CNC machine) and got my day more or less started.

…Now I’ve got to begin again, properly. Be the woman I most want to be. Deal with people. Process tasks. Handle communications. Be present and engaged. It’s hard. It sounds like too much to ask. The morning started incredibly poorly and I’d honestly rather just “run away from home” and be literally anywhere else but trapped in my own experience of life and love and self. I’d rather be hiking a muddy forest trail, or a cold oceanside beach. I’d rather be sitting at a sidewalk café with an espresso drink and book. I’d rather be watching a high desert sunrise, or playing with a kitten. Hell, I’d rather be home alone doing the fucking dishes. Anything but being the woman I am, in this moment, living this life, feeling these feelings. Fuuuuuuuuuuck. I’m not a g’damned machine. Just a human being.

…I think about my assorted medications. Is there a pill to take for feeling miserable and emotional and filled with shards of chaos and damage? (No, no there is not. Bitch, pull yourself together. Fucking hell – it could be, and has been in the past, so much worse.)

I sigh out loud, drain my untouched cold cup of coffee impatiently. It’s time to begin again. Again.

Is it worthwhile to “be nice”? Is it useful to “be approachable”? Is it possible to be kind and agreeable and still authentically the person I am “at heart”? Short answer; yes. I mean, that’s my opinion, and I’ve had good results making the effort to pivot from chronic sarcasm, day-to-day cynicism, and bitterness-as-humor, to something… “nicer”. That’s really it. The entire point. You can go have coffee or move on with your day. The rest is just more words. 😉

The tl;dr is that I see value in being pleasant in interactions with others. You may feel differently, or even be inclined to argue the point (but I won’t be taking the bait – I said what I said).

It can be damned difficult to maintain a façade of pleasantness or to force a smile, and a “customer service approach” doesn’t feel “authentic”, generally. The thing is, though, when I was a bit less kind, less pleasant, less approachable… I was also less fun to be around, less likely to be supportive, and more inclined toward being argumentative. Making a change in favor of being more “agreeable”, generally, and more pleasant has not stopped anyone else from continuing to be whoever they choose to be (and thus has not prevent some argumentative interactions with folks inclined to that behavior, though I do endeavor to avoid such interactions – and relationships). Sometimes it is difficult to be nice, kind, compassionate, understanding, and present. Sometimes it is effortless. If I am in pain it can be especially challenging to be my “best self”. Still worth the effort most of the time.

…And it is possible to learn to be nicer, kinder, more agreeable, more pleasant… it just takes a fuck-ton of practice…

My Traveling Partner pops in for a moment and reads the first sentence over my shoulder. “It’s better to be kind than to be right,” he says, “but you can be both.” He looks thoughtful and adds “…be kind first” as he moves on to other things.

Some people are unpleasant, disagreeable, or unkind. That’s not about me, and I don’t have to “drink the poison“, or “take the bait” – although I may need to exert an effort to walk away from bullshit now and then. Look, let’s just take “helping them change” or “fixing their issue” off the table right now – I know it’s tempting, but it’s not actually a thing (even within our relationships). They have to do their own verbs to become the person they most want to be, and maybe they think they’re just fine as they are? If who they are is giving you grief, that’s a mismatch in social values, not a troubleshooting scenario for you (or me) to fix – even if we find ourselves in a relationship with someone who “isn’t easy to be around”.

Similarly… maybe it’s you? Maybe you’re the asshole? (I know it has been me, more than once…) Are you really the person you most want to be? Do you actually want a reputation for being short-tempered, unkind, disagreeable, contrary, cranky, unapproachable, arrogant, terse, argumentative, or unpleasant? Does any of that actually sound good? (I bet it doesn’t.) We usually get around such things in our definitions of self by pointing our finger at someone else (or circumstances) and saying “they made me…”. (Provocation doesn’t excuse bad behavior. Just an fyi on that.) Making excuses for our short-comings doesn’t make our short-comings more acceptable – they just slow our progress toward being a better human being, as an individual, based on those things we can choose to do (or change) to be the best version of ourselves we can imagine from the perspective we’ve got. Another common “out” we reach for too often is that we were not “understood”. Were we not? Truly? Or are we just hoping to be off the hook for a moment of nastiness we really ought to sincerely regret, and move on from committed to doing better? The worst of the excuses is using straight up justification of our worst behavior, as in “I am taking this approach because it is necessary [to get a desired outcome].” (Is it, though? Really? Or are you just being an asshole because that’s less work for you, personally? Couldn’t you do better?)

Anyway. I am sipping my coffee and thinking about how to feel cranky without “being” cranky, and how to express frustration or anger without becoming the embodiment of my worst self, or taking a frustrated or angry tone with someone I love. Seems likely it can be done… I probably won’t solve that over a single cup of coffee but it sure seems worth considering. 🙂 It’s along the same line of thinking as “how do I survive trauma without becoming a monster?”, but that’s a very large puzzle and pretty much 100% of all of the words in this blog touch that one in some way, you know? Breaking down the big challenges into smaller challenges, and finding the small practical details that can become the loose threads that unravel this tangled mess is kind of the point of sitting here at this keyboard. 😀

It’s a whole new year opening up ahead of me. How will I use this mortal time to live my best life, and to be my best self? Where will this journey take me?

I am alone with my anger right now. It’s not my favorite state of being, but if I am angry, I generally very much want to be alone with that shit. “I’m sorry” doesn’t sound at all the same if I snarl it at someone. Barely matters if I mean it, at that point, you know?

“Please leave me alone.” That’s some first rate boundary setting, I guess. Simple. Practical. Actionable. To-the-point. “I don’t want to be yelled at any more today.” Also pretty clear.

I don’t know what the fuck just went wrong with my day, my mood, or my interaction with this human being I generally enjoy so well. I was barely in the door with lunch in my hands and a smile on my face when shit went sideways most spectacularly. I’m medicated very differently now, and I was for sure caught off guard when my temper flared up. I don’t have an appetite, now. What a waste. I could have stayed warm and dry and merry in the co-work space, working. Instead, I am sitting here dealing with my bullshit and wondering very much what I could have done differently and better that would still have been… me.

I’m in (physical) pain (my arthritis, this headache). It’s not an excuse, just context. Don’t know what was up with him that “this” was the outcome – I only know my end of things, really. I for sure overreacted to what felt like – subjectively, in the moment – an encroachment on my freedom of thought, or use of language, or… something. I don’t know that it even was, though. I knew I had gotten too angry too quickly for something so small as… what was it, exactly? It felt like I was being “yelled at”, and that’s a trigger for me. No “emotional runway”… what the hell?? I don’t like that I blew up over something so small, and it’s scary that it happened so quickly (doesn’t matter at all that no violence came of it, it’s still just not okay). Subjectively, my impression is that he took what I had said by way of a reply to something he said quite personally, inappropriately so. That’s a judgment on my part. An opinion. Was I right? Wrong? Neither? Is that what matters most? I don’t think that it is.

Who blew up first? Doesn’t matter as much as that we both lost our tempers. Who is right, who is wrong? Also less important than treating each other well regardless. I dislike how easily provoked I can be. That’s a thing I’d very much like to change. The keys to that kingdom are, rather annoyingly, within The Four Agreements:

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

Well, shit. More practice. More verbs. More failures. More beginnings. I am, if nothing else, so very human. Right at the moment, I’m feeling pretty “broken” and “flawed”. The woman in the mirror lets me down on the regular, and I’m annoyed with myself over it. It is what it is. I have these raw materials to work with, and a finite mortal lifetime to make some fucking sense out of things.

My Traveling Partner leaves the house angry, without telling me. He texts me with his own anger. I respond with an apology and ask that he be safe out there in the world. (It’s windy and rainy, and the driving conditions are pretty bad.) He returns home; it’s just not safe to be out there driving while stressed out. I know he’s home; the slamming doors are a giveaway. He leaves me alone. That’s what I’d asked for. I feel chilled to the bone; it’s a stress response. I know it’s not actually cold in here.

I breathe, exhale, and try to let shit go somehow. I’m not succeeding immediately. I keep at it. I remind myself that this will pass. My “lunch” sits next to me on the desk, silently mocking my lack of appetite.

Funny (not) thing, though; I’ve often had some difficulties with fully understanding “be impeccable with your word”… it’s clear, reading the book, that this is not solely an admonishment to tell the truth, or an emphasis on “honesty”. It’s bigger than that. It’s about using language, generally, in a way that is not hurtful, based on a couple of quotes from that chapter…

The word is a force; it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in your life.

Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds.

Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

I sit reflecting on those words. I hear power tools running out in the shop and feel worried about safety and my partner’s state of mind. I’d like to know what to say to “make him feel better”. I want him to feel similarly inclined toward making things right with each other. First steps are sometimes complicated by the assumptions that exist in my implicit thinking. Why, for example, would I doubt that he does want to make things right with each other? Why would he assume that I would want anything else, myself?

“Don’t make assumptions” is very good advice. “Don’t take anything personally” is also very good advice. There are verbs involved. My results vary.

I would do well to take a different approach toward flat assertions of causality than equally bland assertions to the contrary or equivocating language, I think. Would the conversation have proceeded in a commonplace pleasant and agreeable way if instead of sounding contrary, or feeling forced to agree with something I wasn’t certain I agreed with 100%, I had asked a clarifying question about the cause/effect connection observed? I’m not certain. This headache does not support my best thinking. 😦

I can’t honestly say I did my best on this one. My results vary. A “do over” would be awesome, but in realistic terms there’s no getting around my partner’s hurt feelings; the answer and resolution require me to consider those and address the hurt directly, with kindness and compassion, and quite likely making room to listen. Can’t say I’m looking forward to it. Being the likely “bad guy” in this scenario sucks severely.

I’m just going to have to begin again anyway.

I am sipping my morning coffee (it’s good). It is the morning after Giftmas (it was lovely). Our holiday dinner was delicious (and ample). I am feeling fortunate (and grateful).

I slept better last night than I really expected to. My guts were churned up, rebelling against a “brunch” entirely of chocolate and coffee yesterday, followed by a heavy fairly rich meal at dinner time. I woke a couple times feeling a bit uncomfortable, not quite unwell. It passed. I even slept in a bit, and woke feeling pretty good generally, although aware of my arthritis in the background, and still bruised here and there from my fall on the deck on Giftmas Eve.

I haven’t made a firm plan for today. I probably ought to go to the grocery store… I’m not sure I feel like going out at all. I’m also not sure I don’t. Coffee first. Maybe some time reading by the fire? I am thinking about The Four Agreements. It was first suggested to me by my Traveling Partner. It’s clear that the recollection of them still exist in his thinking. Occasionally, he “calls me out” when I fail to practice one of them in our interactions together. I try to process such things as useful feedback, rather than kick up a fuss about it.

I’ve gotten a lot of really useful practical wholesome insight from The Four Agreements over the years, since I first read it in… 2010?

We have learned to live our lives trying to satisfy other people’s demands. We have learned to live by other people’s points of view because of the fear of not being accepted and of not being good enough for someone else.

Don Miquel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

Here’s the simple truth of everything we learn, and everything we do; we become what we practice.

Practice being calm? We become calm individuals over time. Practice being kind? Kindness becomes a hallmark of our decisions and thinking. Practice lifelong learning? We become educated as we gain knowledge. It is seriously that “simple” to change who we are, if we choose to do so – it’s a matter of practice, and time.

…Here’s the thing, though…

If we practice being angry? We become less able to manage anger appropriately (we become angrier more easily, more often). If we practice aggression? We become more aggressive. If we practice lashing out at others in moments of stress? Yep. You’re catching on; we do more of that, more often, more quickly – we get really “good at it”.

We each have the tools of change in our possession. We have more control over who we are (and therefore also more responsibility) than we may like to acknowledge. Doesn’t mean the journey is always easy. Doesn’t mean we’re in this alone. We live within the context of our circumstances, our relationships, our triggers, our biases – we are human. Personally, my own thinking on that is that this gives me choices – who do I most want to be? How do I practice that? My emotions may be a reaction to my experience, to the world around me, or to a person with whom I am interacting, but that doesn’t get me off the hook for managing those; they are mine. If I practice having tantrums? I will have tantrums. If I practice calm reflection and deep listening? My reaction to the world around me becomes characterized by calm, and consideration. Because I am so human, avoiding provocation can be quite difficult – but I know that even this is about practice. Like it or not, human primates are not entirely domesticated and can be dangerous under some circumstances… we really only ever “have control” of one of them – the one in the mirror. Limited control at best, too. Our practices matter.

It can be hard, sometimes, to practice The Four Agreements. They seem so easy, and I suppose they are easier than a lot of things – they just take practice. Rather a lot of it. (Worth it.)

It can be hard to practice The Four Agreements (or frankly, any personal growth practice) if someone I interact with routinely doesn’t share the basic values or at a minimum respect what I am hoping to do by practicing them. It’s harder still if there is someone in my day-to-day social group or community actively seeking to undermine my progress or growth. Over time, I’ve cut quite a few people loose who seemed invested in the most broken possible version of me. I think that’s the healthiest approach to toxic relationships; end them. That comes up in The Four Agreements, too:

If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If that person doesn’t walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal. Then you can choose what you really want. You will find that you don’t need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choices.

Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

The new year approaches. I’m thinking about who I am, who I most want to be, and what practices keep me on my path. We become what we practice. I smile when I think of how many times I have said that, written it down, read it back to myself – it’s a core idea (for me) in becoming the woman I most want to be. Beginning again is just a beginning (obviously) – it’s that stepping stone to the next bit of practice. We become what we practice. It’s not avoidable or negotiable. It is inevitable. Practice something – anything – long enough and it becomes characteristic of who we are. Good or bad.

Everything you have ever learned, you learned through repetition. You learned to write, to drive, and even to walk by repetition. You are a master of speaking your language because you practiced.

Don Miquel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

So… here’s a question that matters… What are you practicing? What effect does who you are have on the world around you? On your relationships? On people you say you love? Are you the person you most want to be? Maybe it’s time to reflect and make some changes to your practices?

Maybe it’s time to begin again?

My Traveling Partner shared a video with me this morning. I’m so moved by the video, I’m sharing it with you. I hope you enjoy it.

The tl;dr? Be there for each other. Be kind. Be present. Be authentic. We’re each having our own experience – and we’re all in this together.

The holidays are hard for some people. I hope your holiday season is warm and that you feel loved. If you’re struggling, I hope you know it will pass. If your holiday is filled with joy and abundance, I hope you share that with everyone around you, even if only through the warmth of your smile.

It’s a good time to be kind. It’s a good time to begin again.