Why Compliments Are Hard To Receive

If you’ve ever felt uneasy about a compliment that someone has given you I think it’s because you’re starting to understand that you don’t – and never have required the validation of others to live a good life. The trouble is the way you’ve grown up makes it really hard to shake the feeling that you need to be complimented – otherwise you’re doing badly.

I think we’ve all grown up in a world where we have this messed up social reward/punishment system that’s drilled into us from a very young age. Our personalities are twisted, pulled, shoved and totally manipulated by the people who raise us to the point that most of the time we actually don’t understand how to practice self-belief – unless we’re indulging someone else’s wants and needs rather than our own. We seem to mostly rely on others to validate our actions with praise – or punish our actions with negativity. Have you ever had someone tell you ‘You just gotta have a bit of confidence in yourself’. Damn man, I wasn’t raised to have confidence. External validation was all I knew – my confidence literally was other people cheering for me – none of it came from me. If my teachers said I was wrong or that I wasn’t good enough – I believed them. If my parents said I should to do something, I did it. Personally I rebelled a lot and it messed me up big time because even though I knew I was trying to do the right thing and believe in myself – everything else in the world was telling me NO NO NO.

Good advice is good advice, but I think that we’ve become quite socially backwards. Like we’re totally selfish when it comes to what other people do – we often want to control them with our influence to benefit us rather than them. We’re also totally neglectful of what we really want because we allow everyone else to make our decisions for us. All of this because we were taught that it’s not ok to be ourselves and do what we want to do. We’re also told what the consequences of our actions will be before we take the action – and in an attempt to make us ‘see the light’ our peers and parents manipulate our situation so that we learn a lesson as close to what they said we would as possible – which is a way for them to validate themselves by telling you you’ll screw up and almost ensuring that it happens rather than supporting you. Most advice is selfish – I rarely come across advice that doesn’t have a hidden agenda. Why? Like I said, I think our practices of love and caring for others is just structurally backwards.

With where I’m at in my life now I’ve come to the conclusion that compliments are nice – they do feel good but I do not need them to be happy within myself. I know that I’m good at what I do and I know that I’ll do well in whatever I choose to pursue. My advice is to stop asking people if it’s a good idea to do something. You already know if it’s what you want to do – which makes it a good idea even if it’s a mistake. Stop trying to validate your life – just live it and love how crazy it can be. Also be kind to those who try to fuck you up. I don’t think they truly want to – what they really want is to be able to love themselves – they just don’t know how to live life any other way.

Thanks for reading!

Sean ❤

Irrational Anger, Mindfulness and Growth.

I reckon that we’re all going to meet a few (if not many) people who make us angry. Like irrationally angry. It’s these people who bring out a side of us that we very rarely see, and even more rarely acknowledge. I believe that the reason these people bring such strong emotion out of us is not at all because they’re mean, selfish or just all-round bad people (though they may well be some of those things) – but because they reflect a part of our own personality that we simply cannot accept. The result is often angry rants to friends, defensive comments, going out of our way to prove that they’re the ‘bad guy’. If you haven’t caught yourself at this, there’s a good chance you’ve seen this kind of behaviour in others. It’s when we’re exhibiting this kind of behaviour that we’re right on the edge of dealing with an emotional issue that we haven’t quite been able to get to grips with yet – only it’s so easy to turn what could be an experience of emotional growth and development, into a raging emotional battle. A battle almost entirely fought with ourselves, I might add – though it probably doesn’t feel that way at the time. The way I see it, this is a large part of the reason people say that there’s a fine line between hate and love. In fact it’s often the people we do love who bring out those irrational feelings of anger. I think this should be viewed as a positive thing – an opportunity to acknowledge a part of your life that you haven’t been able to accept, one that doesn’t have to be negative either. It could well be that we need to admit to ourselves that ‘I am good enough’ or ‘I do deserve to be treated better’ just as easily as it could be ‘I’ve always been selfish in this area of my life’. The only way to understand and accept what’s really going on in these situations is to be mindful and to take responsibility for our own feelings. I think we generally know the truth to some degree – it’s more just a matter of unlocking it through understanding. Sometimes we don’t manage to uncover the truth and it stays buried, ready to emerge at a moments notice when the next ’emotional opportunity’ arrises. (I think this is why some people avoid certain situations like the plague – they know what’s coming and they’re trying to run away from the feelings.) Sometimes we achieve truth by yelling and screaming until it eventually comes out – but it’s often easier than that if we’re consciously looking for a solution and not attempting to run or blame others for our feelings.

Being mindful of your feelings is not all that different to being mindful of your surroundings – like making sure to be consciously aware of traffic when walking near busy roads. Much like learning to look out for traffic, you also have to learn how to calm your mind and take a moment to understand what’s going on inside your head before ‘blindly walking out into the road’ – so to speak. I actually find thinking of traffic very helpful for this. Imagine your feelings are big cars and trucks driving loudly around you – then turn off the sound, place yourself in a protective bubble and watch your feelings drive past you and back the other way without the stress of all that noise. This way you can observe the chaos of your emotional state without feeling like a direct part of it.

You’re also going to meet people (younger and older) – who are more ’emotionally experienced’ in certain aspects of their life than you are. These people can make you irrationally angry too, only in my experience they are the people who are easier to learn from – because they generally don’t throw your feelings back in your face. This can be a really positive experience if you see past the potential feelings of jealousy or inferiority you might experience in the presence of someone seemingly more confident or composed than you are. The phrase ’emotionally experienced’ could easily be replaced with ‘tolerant’ or ’empathetic’. So if you meet someone who’s emotional experience is much greater than yours in a given situation that you’re not coping with well – you’re much more likely to receive kindness, care, or at the very least a neutral response from them because they understand what you’re dealing with – and likely have no care to indulge your irrational behaviour.

Try to think of a time that you’ve been treated kindly when you know you didn’t deserve it. It’s one of the most humbling experiences you can have in life – to have someone take all of that anger and pain you’re throwing at them and rather than getting emotionally involved themselves, they give little attention to how rude you’re being and simply acknowledge what you’re really saying to them – that you’re upset – quite likely not because of them and that perhaps you need some help. I’ve experienced kindness like this several times in my life and it’s these experiences that make me want to be a better person more than anything – that make me want to be as good to other people as this person was to me, even though I didn’t deserve it.

My message here is to embrace all interactions, perhaps even try to enjoy the raging battle of emotions life can throw at you – just try not to take it out on other people. Take responsibility for your own feelings – believe in yourself and your values enough to know that you’re not directly responsible for the way others feel. If you find yourself in a situation with someone who is equally emotionally inexperienced as you, take a minute to be mindful of your feelings before you say or do something regrettable. If you’re confronted by someone less emotionally experienced in a particular area than you are, and they’re taking it out on you, don’t bite back or antagonise them – be the bigger person and imagine what kind of an impact you might have on them. Consider how much they might seriously benefit, learn and grow from not being chewed out for being an asshole, and simply being understood – or at least listened to.

Thanks for reading!

Sean ❤

Respecting People As Individuals

Firstly, I’d just like to say that I believe respect to be the core foundation of any positive relationship and I also believe that respect, especially for a person as an individual, is incredibly undervalued in society today. I’d also like to mention that everyone is different, and as a result we can’t possibly expect to get along with someone if we only like and respect them for the labels we place on them or the assumptions we make about them.

Respect is an interesting concept. You can show respect for someones abilities with words like “That was very impressive, well done!” and really mean it, however this doesn’t necessarily mean that you respect them as a person, or individual. Respect for someone as an individual means accepting who they are, who they might be, what they do and what they might do in the future. Obviously it’s hard to know all of these things for sure, which is why respecting someone is essentially like having faith in them. Now you could be wrong about a person and they might, in your eyes, change for better or worse. This is not of major importance because if you respect yourself then you can accept that you could be wrong, things might change and that it’s ok either way.

Respect is very give and take. You’ll often get respect from those whom you respect and vice versa. The trouble we often run into is expecting or perhaps demanding respect without first offering it. Giving respect to someone as an individual – having faith in them – can feel a lot like giving the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t matter what experiences you’ve had in the past that might cause you to make assumptions about a person – allowing your assumptions to dictate the way you treat them is, in my eyes, incredibly disrespectful. I’ve seen it a lot between children and adults, where the adult will demand respect from the child in a totally disrespectful manner. These conversations tend to manifest from the assumption that ‘this is how you speak to children’ – as if there’s some sort of formula for dealing with a child like you were mixing concrete or calculating your tax return. I’ve often found that this demand for respect comes in varying forms of verbal and/or physical abuse, and the resultant behaviour from the child is either retaliatory or mindlessly obedient – neither of which I would view as healthy. I’ve seen it between couples, where one party is being totally unreasonable or difficult and just expecting the other person to know what they want without explanation. The response is, again, retaliation of some description, or mindless obedience. In both examples the underlying problem is the same. You have a child who is responding to a lack of respect with, you guessed it, a lack of respect, or perhaps they are too afraid to confront the disrespect and simply accept it. By doing this they are essentially admitting to themselves that they don’t deserve to be treated better. Having been a child in this situation, I know that sometimes you feel powerless to question things so you just accept the situation and the baggage that goes with it. Exactly the same applies to the couple, only in my experience irrational expectations are often caused by feeling disrespected in the first place – interesting thought huh?

In regard to these examples, my solution consists of two parts; firstly you have to respect your own feelings and values. I believe this is absolutely imperative to being able to respect others. If you don’t respect these things, or you compromise your values, the result is generally just giving in and quietly accepting the situation as mentioned in the example. If you only respect your own feelings then you end up retaliating in an attempt to defend yourself and your values – which brings me to part two; respecting the feelings of others. If you can do this then you put yourself in a position where, even though you may feel the desire to retaliate, (chances are they’ve said some hurtful things), you are able to give them the benefit of the doubt and allow them accept that their feelings are their own. Whether you want to or are able to help them or not, your respect for their feelings will, at the very least, never worsen a situation. For couples it generally only takes one person to break the negative back and forth, and as time progresses I think you learn to help each other, even when you’re both having a bad time.  In my experience with relationships of any kind, the ones that last do so because mutual respect is present. If one party in the relationship believes themselves to be above (or perhaps below) the other, a bitterness tends to develop between them that will inevitably end the relationship, often not on good terms. In the case of children (at least young children), I think it can be different and more difficult because the responsibility lies primarily with the adult to initiate a respectful interaction. You can’t teach someone to be truly respectful by demanding respect disrespectfully – am I right?  I’d love to know what you think.

Thanks for reading!

Sean

 

Let’s Talk About Kindness

To me, kindness is a wonderful thing you can offer to an individual or group, it’s often not free (and I’m not just talking about money) but you can really change someone’s life by being kind to them, even for just a moment. Personally I think the world could do with a lot more of the stuff – the genuine kind anyway. I certainly think there would be a lot less anger and judgement in the world if this was the case.

First of all if you ask anyone if they like to be kind to others, like to do nice things for them – the answer will probably be ‘of course’. I mean who doesn’t like making someone else’s day. It feels good right? It is something I really want to talk about though, because I think that plenty of people consider themselves (or are considered) as kind or giving, but when their kindness is really needed by someone and it isn’t just an added bonus, often these people are nowhere to be seen.

I believe that kindness is subjective and therefore goes hand in hand with understanding. I think it’s very hard to be kind to others if you’re not able to empathise with their situation. Otherwise you’re just behaving in a way that you think would be kind and not in a way that is actually beneficial to the individual. I suppose you might be asking yourself, why does he have a problem with people’s kindness being taken the wrong way – surely it’s not my problem if my being kind results in upset? In most cases I guess you’d be right. If you have good intent in your heart then it would be hard to say that you’re entirely responsible for how your actions are perceived – I believe it’s often ignorance that leads us down that road. However it does beg the question; what’s the motive? Are we being kind because we genuinely want to help, do something nice or make someone else feel good? Or is it about you, and making you feel good? Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware of the fact that doing good for others has a tendency to make you feel good too, and that’s pretty cool because it provides us with an excellent incentive to be do-gooders, so to speak. This being said, if the primary motive of your act of kindness is to make you feel good, (which in theory should only be a bi-product of your action) then the resulting act is actually that of a selfish nature, not a genuine giving one. Before anyone gets the idea that I’m saying that offering out a bag of muffins to your work colleagues and one of them being offended because they’re on a diet is wrong and that you were being selfish or inconsiderate..I’m not. Really what I’m talking about here is intent, and the kind of impact it can have on both yourself and others.

Consider that someone is yelling at you, a close friend, relative – heck, even someone on the street claiming you looked at them funny. In my experience, as human beings we’re prone to naturally defend ourselves from attack, verbal or physical which makes it awful difficult to take a moment to understand the situation and it’s often our ‘animal brains’ that respond, often with more aggression – like a puffer fish blowing up to make itself more intimidating so as to ward off further attack. I imagine this defensive response may well be necessary for the safety of all involved on rare occasions, but most of the time I don’t think it is. In my experience, people are actually pretty nice underneath it all. You’re a nice person right? But I would guess that you also have pretty bad days, probably said and done things that you wouldn’t like to be remembered for, just like the rest of us. Take the person yelling at you, I imagine it’s very easy to yell back, especially if  they’re being wildly accusatory and you believe them to be ‘off their rocker’, but if you’re able to take a moment to come to the conclusion that you’ve done nothing wrong and this person is mad (which we often do pretty quickly even if it turns out we are at fault), then it can’t take much longer to consider that if you’re not the problem then maybe this person has the wrong end of the stick, or perhaps another problem entirely unrelated to the situation at hand. Surely the kind thing to do would be to politely make them aware of your position and perhaps even offer to help, rather than telling them to bugger off. How many of you would do that though? It’s certainly not the easy thing to do, but then if it’s so easy to offer out a bag ‘o muffins, then I ask again, what’s the motive?

Thoughts?