Archives for posts with tag: be love

Merry Giftmas, one and all. 🙂 I hope your holiday shines brightly, and is filled with warmth and love. Presents are nice, sure, but presence is what we’re really after, isn’t it? 😀 I hope you spend the holiday with those you love most, and who love you in return.

Just in case things skid sideways unexpectedly casting a dramatic shadow over your festivities, here are some thoughts:

  1. Breathe
  2. Don’t forget about self-care
  3. Listen deeply (maybe more often than you “hold that thought” to rush into a reaction or reply to a perceived error; we’re each having our own experience)
  4. We’re each having our own experience (that seems worth saying twice)
  5. Meditation helps
  6. Seriously, take a step back, get a few minutes of quiet time for you, and meditate 🙂
  7. If you’ve got to make an assumption, begin with assuming positive intentions
  8. Let small shit go
  9. Savor the connected, beautiful moments of holiday charm, however small, however brief; filling our hearts with our best moments is a very good way to address the less ideal moments
  10. Put love first

Anyway – I hope you have a lovely holiday, filled with laughter, and joy, and all the most wonderful things about the holidays (whether you are with friends, family, or alone and far away).

…I’ll be home for Giftmas…

I’m finishing a short work shift, today, on Giftmas Eve. My thoughts (and heart) are with my Traveling Partner, waiting for me at home. The tree twinkles merrily, there, and I’m eager to find out if I made Santa’s “nice” list this year… pretty sure I did… I’ve been very good, this year. 😀

Treat yourself well. Treat others well. Your results will no doubt vary (mine, too) – it’s fortunate we can begin again. 😀

It’s been a wonderful weekend with much to celebrate and very little stress. 🙂 Life doesn’t always hand out such lovely weekends, uninterrupted by bullshit and drama, characterized by laughter and love; warmth and affection saturated each welcome moment. It was beautiful. I’m sipping my coffee and smiling, and taking time for gratitude. I can even pin-point what made this particular weekend so incredibly delightful; kind words.

It is not an exaggeration to observe that when most people talk about giving “feedback”, they are talking about negative feedback. Let’s be real about that; negative feedback can also, generally, be called “criticism”, and being criticized, especially if it is a regular thing, is not pleasant. It’s quite difficult to give negative feedback in an encouraging way that lifts someone up, and promotes improvement and positive change. It fairly commonly feels like a beat-down, discouraging, punishing, and devaluing. Yes, even when well-intentioned, and particularly if there is no balancing positive feedback or encouragement offered. Negative feedback is hard to do skillfully, and can be damaging.

You know what isn’t all that difficult? Positive feedback – encouragement. You know what is also fairly easy to do skillfully, and rarely causes damage? Kind words. Yep. Negative feedback isn’t nearly as effective, but it does provide a certain something for the giver-of-feedback (that isn’t at all needed by the person receiving it); the satisfaction of insisting on being heard. Many people avoid clearly understanding what the negative feedback experience feels like for the recipient – until they are, themselves, receiving it. It’s a shame, because positive feedback, encouragement, and kind words, given honestly, and from an authentic place, work in the most remarkable way to actually change behavior over time. Seriously.

(No one is talking about “white lies” here! Or lies at all.)

The key to both positive and negative feedback is the honesty and authenticity, but without kindness and encouragement, negative feedback is often just… mean. Whether we intend it that way or not. It’s just that no one likes being criticized. Feeling rejected actually causes an experience similar to physical pain. It does not matter in the least whether we are “right”; negative feedback stings a little every time, and if it comes as a barrage of nagging and complaints, all the positive intentions in the world won’t ensure the person we are speaking to thinks of it as “helpful” or “welcome” or will recognize that we are well-intentioned, at all. It’s often what comes to our attention most commonly, and most quickly, though – all those things we see as “could have been done better”. We notice that immediately. We are irritated by things that aren’t “right”. We speak up quickly to offer “feedback” – or feel like we’re not being “heard”.

Kindness does take a bit more effort; it’s important to actually notice real things that please, impress, or support us, or which we want to acknowledge and reinforce. That means actually actively paying attention to that person we care enough about to give feedback to. It also means understanding what is important to us, and being very aware of words and actions that support what we see as something that “matters”. Where negative feedback has it’s own notification system in place to let us know when something isn’t quite right, positive reinforcement doesn’t seem to do that, and puts the burden of awareness in our relationships where it belongs; it our here and now, a practice we practice. Can you even count the number of kind things, encouraging words, that you’ve said to your partner or a dear friend in the past 24 hours? If you’re like most people, that number is pretty low, most of the time, and the number of criticisms, “negative feedback”, and back-handed compliments are probably pretty high. It’s a pretty sad state of things considering that there is science to support the need for healthy relationships to have a high ration of positive to negative interactions. Just saying. Do better. Be kind. Be present. Be encouraging. 😉 Have pleasant weekends. 😀

…Now, having said that, it’s also a real thing that if we’re not playing the game of life by the same rules, within our relationships, it can get weird and unpleasant very quickly when we make a change in our behavior of this sort. If a person living in the context of a very negative, sarcastic, gas-lighting relationship starts trying to embrace positive feedback and kindness, it’s not going to “fix” the other person, or the relationship. It’s just not. (I’m not saying negative feedback and criticism are therefore the way to go; sometimes the way ahead isn’t easy, and a few small changes just aren’t adequate to put things right, generally.) What I am saying is that otherwise generally emotionally healthy people do well to treat each other truly well, placing more emphasis and priority on positive feedback, encouragement, and kind words, than on negative feedback.

This past weekend really proved that idea for me. The once or twice I was offered any sort of negative feedback in the moment completely fades from my recollection. I remember the points being made, and the suggestions, but not the negative words or moments. What I remember most about the weekend was the kindness, the compliments, the encouragement, the supportiveness, the listening, the connectedness, the shared humor… it was a wonderful weekend. I felt valued, appreciated, and loved. Words do matter. Assumptions do matter. How we approach each other as human beings does matter. All weekend long I’ve felt the heartbeat of this partnership in a warm, positive way, wrapped in love and held in high regard. So much kindness and tenderness. 🙂

There are subtleties to consider. The difference between “a helpful suggestion” and “unwelcome criticism” is in things like tone, context, and intention; it’s super hard to make useful “rules” about how to do that skillfully, that I could share and someone else could make use of. I am painfully aware of the complexities and required nuance – I’m learning as I go, myself. (Sorry for the extra “homework”!)

Empty compliments are hollow, and don’t work as positive feedback. Content, authenticity, honesty, these things matter. The moment matters. The choice of words matters. Tone of voice matters. Sincerity matters (we can all hear a passive-aggressive “tone”, or sarcasm.) It does take some practice, particularly if we’ve tended to be very negative in our life (possibly framing our choice to be so as “taking care of myself” “expressing my needs” or “setting boundaries”). If you find yourself reading these words thinking “well, except for so-and-so, because I literally have nothing good to say to them”, well, now you’re in “if you can’t say something nice…” territory. Seems unlikely that any one individual could be someone with literally no redeeming qualities of any kind worth reinforcing or encouraging… certainly seems unlikely you’d have chosen to marry such a person, or build a life with them, or develop a deep friendship with someone like that, right? So, start where that positive feedback and those encouraging kind words will make the most profound difference; at home. This holiday season, don’t be a dick. 🙂 Tell the people who matter to you that they do matter. Say nice things more often than you criticize or “correct” them. Trust me; it’s painless to be nice. 😉

…And if you just have to offer up a “correction” or “criticism”, definitely try to at least soften your tone! Sounding angry or irritable is real communication of emotions. It’s helpful to be at least aware that the emotional experience we’re having is our own, and to acknowledge that honestly and not try to put it on the person we’re talking to in some kind of blame-laying way. 🙂

Are you afraid of fucking this up? Are you worried about “being wrong” or “taken the wrong way”? I get it. Change – however necessary, or desirable, can be hard. Fortunately, there are a ton of opportunities to begin again. Go ahead – take a chance on being kind to people you care about. Hell, it’s the holiday season, be kind to everyone, as though each person you meet is human, and really matters. (They are, and do.) If you don’t like who you become, the new year is here, soon enough, and you can begin again, again. 😀

I’m starting the morning in a positive place. I feel well-rested. My coffee is hot and tasty – I assume; I haven’t actually tasted it yet, it’s still too hot. lol There’s the key, though; my assumption is positive. I’m grateful for the coffee I’ve got. Gratitude is a reliably good start to a day. (Cool thing about that? I can choose to start with gratitude, if I’ve the will to undertake it.) I sit awhile, feeling grateful. Grateful for love. Grateful for a great partnership. Grateful for indoor plumbing. Grateful that I’m not in pain this morning (well, mostly not). Grateful for the car in the driveway. Grateful for a great team at work. Grateful that there are mornings like this one.

Sometimes my day doesn’t begin so comfortably, or so easily. 🙂

Gratitude is an excellent way to start a day.

I want to be super clear; I understand feeling angry. There’s a lot in the world truly worth feeling angry about. There’s definitely a fair few things that I feel angry about in life. There are challenges and hurdles and problems in the world that are certainly worthy of raising an angry voice. I feel it, too. It’s when feeling angry becomes being angry that things skew towards “the dark side”. “Angry” is a pretty horrible state of being (and fairly exhausting). We become what we practice. If anger is the only emotional state we embrace, we become damned good at being angry, and less and less able to experience much else. Anger gets a foothold and can begin dominating an emotional experience. Anger is “sticky” and immersive. We can become chronically predisposed toward being angry as a first reaction – to everything. That does not sound good to me, personally. (I’ve even given that a test drive. I found it… unpleasant, and worse.)

…I also found that I was more prone to earnestly needing to “be right”, while living a life infused with anger, and a peculiar tendency towards closed-mindedly thinking that I was right, as a default assumption. (Oh, and… I wasn’t. Not so much, no.) Earnest committed assumptions of one’s own righteousness seem to be most commonly associated with great measures of… wrongness. lol Damn. (Do better, Humans!) I’ll also point out, for folks who “tend to be right most of the time” (I see you out there!) – it doesn’t hurt to avoid the assumption of being right, and to leave room for error. Humble looks good on you. 😉

Sometimes the wiser path is to”let it go”. To refrain from taking things personally. To make a point of assuming positive intent. To appreciate, to build, to encourage – instead of resenting, destroying, or belittling. (I’m not saying it’s easy.) To make willful choices to be the person I most want to be. Before I get a rousing chorus of “I can’t help how I feel!”, I’ll gently observe that indeed, the one thing we have reliable potential to “help” is our own experience, “how we feel” – it’s just not a matter of force or pure will. Force and pure will can certainly change behavior. Over time, emotions may catch up. Emotion needs a bit more subtlety and real care. Emotional resilience and well-being seem most durably built, over time, with commitment, and practice, and slowly becoming the person we most want to be. Through practice. That has lasting power well-beyond the immediate moment. 🙂

This is a season of change, of transformation, and yes, of gratitude. What are you doing with that? Me, personally? I’m sitting here with my coffee and my thoughts, and a smile. 🙂 (It’s enough.)

It can be as simple as this.

The Four Agreements are an old favorite of mine for new beginnings. There are other exceptional ways to seed new thinking, and provoke positive change. What will yours be? (It’s definitely time to begin again. Isn’t it always?)  🙂

My sleep was restless and interrupted, and I had very few dreams. The dreams I had were hard on me, mostly nightmares filled with mocking laughter, and a feeling of being emptied, gutted, and vacated, and left at the curb for trash pick up day. I woke as if to a strange noise, but the house was dark and quiet. I tried, unenthusiastically, to return to sleep without success. I got up and started making coffee. My Traveling Partner got up, and I made coffee for him, too, then retreated to my studio to write and to weep. No idea where the tears are coming from. My nightmares? Anyway – I’m not fit company just yet, so I am considerately avoiding humanity and taking care of myself until this bullshit passes.

Yes, “bullshit”. It’s okay to refuse to yield ground to my demons. It’s okay to refuse to be overcome by my personal baggage. I’m not mistreating my heart, hear, I’m just not going to allow a visit to The Nightmare City to wreck my day, but getting there is a journey of its own, and one that I find easier to make alone, generally. I’m less likely to take myself too seriously.  😉

So, I’m sipping my coffee and trying to write without allowing a syntax error, missing word, over-looked opposite, or spelling mistake to slip past unnoticed. It requires my whole attention this morning. My mind is still shattered and distracted by the content of my dreams. It’ll pass, and in the meantime? I won’t be taking my nightmares personally.

I sip my coffee frustrated that I’m closing in on 57 and still chasing lasting relief from the chaos and damage. I’ll just point it out; when we hurt people the damage done can really last a literal life time. Do people “let it go” and “get over it”? Sure – for some values of letting go, for some values of getting over it. The damage is done. If we break a leg, and have it properly cared for, and it heals nicely, and we have full use of it restored… did that do anything at all to remove the experience of having broken it? Of going through that healing process? Of dealing with the pain? Nope. All that is still a real thing. So it also is with emotional hurts, and really any sort of trauma at all. From simple inconsiderate rudeness or petty cruelty, to massive trauma resulting in hospitalization and everything that is traumatic or hurtful, however large or small. Once we do the damage, the damage is done. Fix what you can, for sure. Be accountable for your words and your actions, most definitely. Don’t be under the impression that accountability, contrition, or making amends does anything at all to change the fact that the damage was done. :-\

…Hang on though… I’m not saying, either, that it is a necessary (or good) thing to destroy oneself with guilt or regret, either. Be your own best friend. Be open to failures, and accepting that you’ve done damage, do what you can do to make amends, to offer a sincere apologize (no excuses, no reservations, wholly authentic) – then let it go and hopefully move on in life without being so careless, or inconsiderate, or hurtful, or callous, or foolish, or whatever it was that caused the damage you’ve done to another person! …Because, yeah, sooner or later you are going to cause some damage. 😦 For real, though; no one is immune to hurting another person. It’s actually pretty hard not to, sometimes. We’re fairly fragile creatures, particularly from an emotional perspective. Complicated. We learn most from our mistakes, but there are some mistakes we really don’t want (or need) to make…

…Well, shit. I guess I’m learning stuff? Damn, I fucking hope so. :-\ In the meantime, I suppose I’ll just begin again. It’s a lovely morning for meditation, and a great day to spend restoring order to chaos. 🙂

 

I sat. Then I sat some more. Eventually, I noticed I hadn’t hung up my pants after changing into jeans after work. So, I did that, still feeling pretty frustrated, kind of numb, and fairly disappointed with the evening (with myself?). Even now, I’m feeling pretty raw, sorrow holding on around the edges. I sat here, awhile, fingers resting gently on the home row of the keyboard, just staring at the monitor, not moving, just breathing. Suppressing my agitation and distress with pure will, heavy, stoic, and just barely adequate. Communication failure. Connection failure. Right now, doing “my best” does not seem enough.

So, I sit in my studio. Waiting for understanding. Waiting for peace to be restored within my core being. Waiting for my face to stop feeling frozen. Wondering, now and then, how to drag myself from here to there, and whether that takes some measure of forcefulness I don’t fathom?

Rough bit of path here. My heart aches. I mean, being real, a moment of heartache, frustration, and a resurfacing of despair is grim and exceedingly unpleasant…but… I’m breathing. I’m not in any physical danger. For most values of “I’m okay”, I am very much okay. “Move along, folks, nothing to see here…”

Still. I’m feeling a mix of unpleasant emotion, and more than anything, I’d rather not be doing that. I’d rather be hanging out with my Traveling Partner right now.

I’m fatigued, and my communication skills are reduced. Small annoying mistakes compounded by how very difficult it can be for people to talk about feelings in the first place sent the beginning of a quality evening skidding sideways in a very different direction than it seemed it might. So. I sit in my studio, unwilling to keep at earnestly (haplessly) making it worse while trying to do anything at all that might make it better so unskillfully that no good outcome could be obtained. I sit quietly. I write a thought. I sit quietly-er. Piece by piece trying to think things through and understand more clearly. I’m not doing all that well with it. It’s too early to go to bed. It’s not helpful to sit around crying.

I look around the studio and think about the things I’d like to get done, tomorrow. I guess, first, I’ll have to begin again. Right now, it’s not feeling so easy. There are going to be some verbs involved.