Friday, December 26

Humans & Labels

Humans are the most fascinating creatures in this part of the galaxy. If Aliens exist, and all these videos of spacecrafts in the sky are their ships, you know what I think they are doing? Watching us in fascination. I bet we are the greatest soap opera in the Milky Way. And the best part is they know that it doesn’t matter if we see them, we still won’t believe in them; just making us more interesting.

We are super complicated, super stupid, and super narrow minded. And yet… we have amazing skills and abilities. We have emotion, creativity, language, music, and the ability to believe anything we wrap our narrow minds around.

To compare humans to any creature on the earth, is to make a short list of similarities. Two eyes, hearing, eats, shits, wants affection, all things of shallow comparison. I’m not saying Humans are better however, Humans are just tremendously complicated. Take music as one example. We use our voice, we use strings, drums, man-made instruments like keyboards and sound mixers, and the result of “music” is magic. So incredibly beautiful I don’t have the skills to describe it easily or quickly. We humans are making that music, we do it alone, together, and it’s full of message and emotion on top of it all. Do you see what I mean by Humans are complicated? We are. There is so much to us. Our health is complicated, our relationships, our talents, our transportation, our homes… you name anything, and you further prove our complication.

I make this complicated point because I want to show that our language skills are too basic for this level of complexity. I have to use endless words to try and explain how I am seeing something, I have to pick my words carefully because if I arrange them a little differently, they mean something else, and I fail at trying to convey what is happening in my mind. I fail at explaining or sharing.

Which brings me to our need for labels. We RELY on labels. They make us feel like we are easily communicating our complicated thoughts, and we even think they organize our complicated existence. “He’s white, she’s fat, I’m Swedish, you’re lazy.” And they get pretty detailed: “You are passive-aggressive. I am intolerant. She has a personality disorder. He is a Jew.”

We use them to represent more than one thing. A label is the best word for it because just like in a filing cabinet, you label a folder and then proceed to fill that folder with things that fit under that label. It’s natural for us, it’s what we do, and as I said, we rely on these labels to make our complicated thoughts easier to explain.

And why do we need to explain our thoughts? I think we need to explain them because we need to understand ourselves. I don’t mean we label others because we don’t know who we are. I mean that labeling others means that we organize our life and relationships under these labels in our mental filing cabinet, so that we can easily know what we believe. “Here is how I am seeing this, here is how I am reacting. Here is what I think, here is what I am feeling.” For some of us it’s a way to only look at the label on the file, and avoid all the things living in the file. The label is easier for us to process and deal with.

Which is why I’m now going to say, I see labels as counter-communication. They are the short version, so they are the easy out. It’s like insisting on not seeing what lives in the folder. As though the label is plenty of information, and people who become so label-loving tend to be more hardened people. They don’t want to listen, they know everything, and they believe their labels are more accurate than anybody else’s. Their labels become “truth”. Their communication is shallow with a reliance on labels, and then they become harmful.

Harmful in a slight sense, where they damage good relationships, but also harmful in an exact sense when people are lessened by being labeled. Which needs more clarification… If I call someone by a label, I have the ability to affect how they see themselves. The label-lovers know this, and they most often use labels to be harmful and to make themselves more right. Not necessarily more right in everyone’s eyes, but possibly more right in their own eyes, and a few others.

Think right now of someone you know who is a label-lover. You immediately know how they see many of the people around them, and you very possibly know how they see you… what labels have they given you? Their labeling nature may have something to do with how you see yourself. Yes?  If so, is it a negative or self-esteem-damaging view? Yes? (you don’t surprise me.)

Now think of someone who is NOT a label-lover. Think of how they see you. Have they told you who you are, or have they conveyed how they see you over time?

What I’m trying to point out is how detrimental and yes, harmful the labeling people are. They are not uplifting, they are not easy to be around, and they are always right with a closed mind.

I would like to suggest we all pay more attention to the action of labeling. Notice when you do it, when others do it, and whether or not it’s a positive or helpful thing. Our amazing Human skills don’t require us to use labels, we don’t have to be narrow minded, and even when it’s frustrating to have to use so many words to explain yourself, the benefit of taking the time to do so is obvious and it’s using the skills you have, which is a complicated body and mind. (One that Aliens would come here to watch. ;)

Saturday, December 20

What counts? The thought?

There are some sayings that have been around since the hills appeared. Their popularity and repetitiveness doesn’t make them worth keeping, and many need to be chucked. Especially when they get misused so much.

Ever noticed that it’s one sided when somebody says “It’s the thought that counts” ? Oh? Whose thought? Because if we are looking at how the person saying this is thinking, they are telling you that how they are perceiving your thoughts is not good, and labeling you, essentially saying their thoughts matter most. So then, the comment can be made back, “If it’s the thought that counts, your thoughts make you a jerk. My thoughts are no longer what we should be looking at.”

We need some examples:

If someone thinks of you on your birthday, they don’t tell you, but they thought of you, is it the fact they actually thought of you that counts? If another friend sends you a text, that too was a thought, but it manifested in your knowing they were thinking of you… so is that when it counts? Yet another friend turns up on your door with a card in their hand, gives you a hug, and tells you in person how much they hope you have a wonderful birthday… is this the kind of thought that finally counts? One with action? The old saying insinuates thought only, so if it’s not just a thought, does that negate the thought counting? Does this make it null and void from the expression, because there WAS action? Lastly, another friend calls you, says they are in your driveway, tells you to come get in the car, because they are taking you to a concert where one of your favorite bands are playing. Does their thought count? Is it only the thought that counts, or do their thoughtful actions count too?

Are you like me and finally wondering why the heck people even say this? If all the examples ^ counted, were the numbers equal? So, if “It’s the thought that counts” is true, are we supposed to be doing continual math to measure one event against another, one friend against another, one day to another, and if one friend has great thoughts for you one day, but none the next, do you tell them you are adding things up? That you have numbers, and you are not pleased!

Ya, this sounds immature, I’m trying to see it a different way, but actually, the thought that someone gets to tell you that what you were thinking, how you were thinking it, how it manifested itself in your actions, or lack of—is crazy. And then they get to decide how to treat you because of you living your life? Well, it’s all VERY immature.

Sure actions can speak louder than words, but that’s another of those sayings where the person saying it thinks they know the situation in which you acted. Maybe they do, but maybe they don’t too! Who gets to dictate actions? The person wanting to be upset that the action was not the action they wanted? They should dictate?

I want to suggest that we don’t know what others are thinking, how they are feeling, and nobody needs to use this saying, because they are JUDGING people in using it, and then being a hypocrite, because by their definition their judgmental thoughts have to count too!!

Wednesday, December 10

Ready... Jump!

We become so used to the relationships we have, that often we are not surprised by certain situations when we should be. I take that back, sometimes we are a little surprised, but we are so used to the status quo of our everyday relationships, we don’t notice things we should be noticing.

What I’m specifically thinking about is the way we are treated by others. And even more specifically, how we are treated by the people we spend most of our time with. Those are the people that we tend to accept and easily live with POOR treatment from.

I have a friend who is so poorly treated by her family members (ex-husband and children), that she doesn’t usually even see it. She has been shown that she doesn’t matter, that she does not have value, and they continually put her down. They even quantify her level of love for them by her willingness to be pushed and told what to do. So when they continue to walk all over her, she doesn’t feel anything but sad. She’s not angry when they are jerks, she doesn’t stand up for herself and say to them, “you don’t run my life”, and despite being quite the adult, she even apologizes when they are mad because of the rare occasion when they say “Jump!”, and she can’t. Her unavailability to jump when told to, becomes reason for them to harass, to label her as not caring about them, and inevitably she is left needing to try and explain herself, when really, her living her life shouldn’t be explained to anyone or apologized for.

In telling me what is said to her, and what is expected of her, she doesn’t even hear what she’s saying, so when I come out with advice about how she owns herself—nobody else does, she isn’t sure how to hear that. She hasn’t belonged to herself for so many years, that continual put downs, and the endless pushing around means that she is always living with the knowledge that she needs to be ready to jump when told to.

There are many things difficult for me to stomach in this situation because of the importance I give self-esteem and self-respect. And no “Christian” people should be allowed to call themselves so when they harass, belittle, bitch, and pick at a person like this. For them to feel they own anyone to the point that they think it’s ok to dictate choices, actions, and even availability… well, blow me down, I am in awe. She even has to continually lose hours at work to be running around, for these family members, and that is totally expected of her.

It wouldn’t matter who this friend was, how well I know her, how much I care for her. To hear how she is talked to, how she is put down in every way thinkable, and for her level of love to be continually measured by her willingness to jump, I would still be giving the same advice.

  • Stand tall!
  • Say “NO” more often.
  • Teach them how they are going to treat you.
  • Notice when they are telling you that you are last on the list of people who matter.
  • Excuse yourself from being a punching bag.
  • Refuse to acknowledge being TOLD how much you love anyone based on your availability to jump or do what you are told.
  • Accept you are not a slave to anyone, and YOU OWN YOU!
  • You can’t change them, but you can change how you react.
  • Know they will not like you being strong.
  • They will be very bugged by not having you to push around, because they can’t push most people around the way you have allowed them to push you.
  • Consider saying “no” when you don’t want to. Not just when you can’t.
  • Be strong, realizing that if you are weak you are teaching them you are willing to be walked all over.
  • Notice all wording that sounds like you are being told what to do, and repeat it back to them. Insist they hear what they are saying.
  • Show that you think it’s strange, and unacceptable.
  • Don’t let them make you hate life.
  • Consider opening your door less. (how available you are)
  • Look at your beauty more, and remember most of the world sees it.
  • Accept there are people in this world who will never want to change.
  • Accept you can’t change others.
  • Negativity and put downs are sticky, the faster you refuse to listen to them, the less they stick.
  • Do your best to remember others who think highly of you, and don’t ask you to jump are important too.

Tuesday, December 2

Kindness and Acceptance

I started writing about kindness, and I realized I wasn’t writing about one thing. In the aspect that I was thinking about kindness, I was noticing how often kindness is connected to acceptance. No, the two don’t have to go together, but neither do ice cream and caramel sauce, but the marriage of the two is great.

If somebody forced me to find a name for my religion, I would have to answer “My religion is kindness, and I’m a hardcore believer.” The sacrament I partake in in that worship is acceptance of others.

There is so much to be said for accepting people as-is. In doing that you don’t need to involve yourself in what they believe, what they think, how they react, or what they do. THAT is liberating!

When you are kind, and allow people to completely be themselves, accepting they are not like you, you are doing yourself favors. You are making YOUR life easier. 

 Why don’t we all already know this? Why isn’t this already a core belief in human kind? Why isn’t human kind—kind to everyone and everything? I have numerous hypotheses, but truly I don’t know. What I do know is that we need to learn more and realize the benefit of kindness.

Yes, benefit, because I’ve learned this thing about kindness and acceptance… they are building blocks to self-esteem. Many already know this on an unconscious level, because when they treat people bad, they feel bad about themselves. And when they are kind, everything feels comfortable, happy and good.

But what many people don’t do, is practice kindness all the time to experience it being a builder of self esteem and self respect. I think people are continually alternating between being kind and not being kind, that they are continually undoing the benefit of kindness. One cancels out the other. People don’t build up a reserve of this awesome feeling from being kind all the time, and if they would… if they would create this mountain of kindness they would see they are creating this giant reason to like themselves. It is cause and effect. And accepting others is like practicing how to accept yourself. 

If you are kind all the time, you are someone you can respect. Respecting yourself means you like yourself. Liking yourself makes you comfortable in your own skin, and you have that magical thing called self esteem.

No, kindness and acceptance aren't the only things that contribute to self esteem, but it’s a big enough deal to write about, and it’s a big enough benefit to suggest everyone reading this acknowledges how kindness makes them feel. Not just when they give it, but when they receive it. It’s easy enough to prove to yourself. Pay attention to your feelings when being kind, being unkind, and when you are treated kindly or unkindly. Separately notice the same things about accepting, and not accepting people as they are.

Your world can change from average to amazing. I suggest you give yourself the chance to experience it. Especially if you feel like there is room for more happiness in your life.

I bet there is.