Respect

For a long time I believed that respect was earned – its value is simply too high to just hand out, I thought. But over the years I’ve changed my tune. Why suddenly such a shift? Well…it wasn’t really sudden at all…

I grew up believing that doing unto others is the appropriate way to behave – I certainly have my moments of deviation, but they are – by a long shot – the exception and not the rule. I’ve always, therefore, subscribed to the notion that what we give out comes back to us, multifold – Karmic law, Law of Three, whatever you want to call it…I’ve seen it far too many times to have any doubt at all. Add some painful and challenging experiences – and don’t we all have our stories? – my subscription to the idea that “rising above” is the right way to be has multiplied exponentially.

Hate is a good example. I don’t sincerely “hate” anything – in my mind it is a wasted emotion, and it gives far too much power to something I really don’t like (people, places, OR things.) Hate takes as much – or more! – energy than love. . .so if I’m giving that kind of attention to a “dislike,” I’m wasting precious resources, time included!

It took some time to understand that, though. As children we love to say, “UGH! I HATE HOMEWORK!” or “I hate so-and-so!” “Hate” just falls into the two categories of #1, a word, and #2, a negative. Over the years, however, I learned that it was an extreme expression, that it carried too much of a negative vibe to carry around, and that the act of hating in and of itself reflects poorly in my own conduct.

As with hate, respect is something I am putting out – it is part of my conduct and behavior.  It occurred to me, then, that believing that respect was something other people had to earn was a really narrow-minded view. I can go around being a tyrant but that reflects on me only. I could also go around being a sycophant or victim-worthy subservient…but that too reflects on me (not to mention gets me into trouble.) 

Treating others with respect doesn’t mean I have to give out free passes or put people on pedestals, let’s be clear. What it means – to me – is that I treat others with decency and kindness.

Now…let me also say… I live in a tough city. Even MY buttons are pushed at times, and that says a lot! But I am constantly checking back in with myself when feeling irrational, upset, frustrated etc… If I can’t be respectful (and in certain moments, I don’t feel I can live up to it) I simply do not engage. Easy as that. The only person accountable for what I put out is me, and if I put out something negative…it’s going to get me into trouble in one way or another.

As my behavior is my own, how other people behave is their business.  In the modern world (and in a tough city), people might argue that others “don’t deserve respect.” Conducting myself in as positive a way as I can doesn’t mean I don’t see the poor behavior of others, that I dismiss it, that I allow it, or that I’m saying “go ahead and continue acting that way.” It just means that I am putting a positive energetic spin on myself. 

When dealing with someone I see often, simply rising above allows me to move forward through my day without the burden of taking on his or her attitude, and neither the weight of being a nasty person (which I don’t want to be.)  If, however, it’s someone I’ll likely never see again, I still can move forward knowing that I’ve been upstanding in spite of someone else’s conduct.

Do I do this perfectly? Hell NO!  I’ve learned that I’ve got plenty of limits, and that I’m just as subject to bad moods, grumpiness, and don’t-play-well-with-others as some serious offenders. BUT…I know that, deep down, I don’t want any part of drama or negativity. That fact in and of itself means that I can do a lot to avoid it – namely, work on my on attitude, and approach interactions with respect. How others respond to that is totally on them (and the great news there? TONS of freedom not having to take that on!)

It is always up to us how we want to feel, what we associate with, what we allow… Acting disrespectfully reflects negatively in every possible way, and speaks volumes about one’s character. To show respect even when it doesn’t feel warranted, however, also says rather a ton about a person. I aim to be the latter, if for no other reason than to me it is a noble pursuit energetically, as in terms of self development. I have a ways to go too but you can be sure I try to check myself. Often. 

 

Life Is Too Short

I believe it matters where we put our focus and energy…

I work on this daily too, but it’s a nice reminder. The only thing we can control is ourselves, which basically means that the only true changes we can make (or impact) are those that apply specifically to us. Those changes can involve our attitudes, behaviors, reactions, responses, beliefs etc. Though we are powerless to alter all beyond that scope, we do have a choice about what we do with / how we react. There is a great deal of emancipation in that idea, and it reminds us that life is too short to get bogged down with negativity. NONE of us have that much time that it’s worth wasting happiness.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to feel, have a bad day, or need some time to work though inner emotions. The point is that life is fleeting and we do have choices. (Read: The Best Revenge, You’ve Come A Long Way, Happiness And Peace Are Up To You, and Look On The Bright Side.)

I work on these choices regularly because happiness and success are my right and wholly up to me. There are some things I, too, need to let go of. Frankly I’m ready to – it’s nice to cut the chains (which we needn’t be beholden to most of the time.) 

Are there things you are holding onto that you want to let go of? Habits, conditioning, behaviors, beliefs? 

If it’s a grudge, this meme might give you a laugh…

It may also – having used humor to diffuse – allow you to move past any you might be harboring. No one deserves to subtract your time, energy, or happiness if they aren’t contributing positively. Give a smile, a nod, a thumbs up…and just move along. Remember that we live with ourselves, they live with themselves…  No one has to be best of friends if they aren’t suited, but we also don’t have to carry the weight of negativity around. Unload the bricks and imagine the person against whom you have a grudge as in the snapshot above – a fleeting moment in time that will meet an end, and you took the higher road while it lasted.

Planting The Seed And Letting Go

There is no contesting that an individual set firmly in his or her ways (and honestly, who isn’t after the age of 2!?), will not embrace change unless he or she chooses to. To change requires a process of self-reflection, of acceptance, and of a willingness to walk a new path – but looking in the mirror and choosing to face the truth of what we see isn’t always so easy. We are likely our harshest critic, and also at times guilty of self-delusion…so facing ourselves head on can be a frightening prospect! In this way, admitting that we even NEED a change can prove a challenge, forget someone else insisting we make one. 

It may be that we want to address something small, such as a relatively benign habit (hitting the snooze button more than we’d like to, leaving dishes around, getting sucked into social media until 2am…) or something more significant (wanting to alter a life habit or behavior that no longer serves us.) Whatever it is, those decisions begin internally – when we are ready, willing, and would like a change, that’s when change becomes possible. It will take work, but opening the door begins within.

All that said…planting a seed ought not be abandoned as an exercise in futility! While we may be resistant at first, there is always room to grow. Criticism is tough to handle for most of us – we have an innate need to belong (refer to Maslow for one theory) and therefore also to impress on some level. Most of us aren’t proud of our quirks or common foibles, and when they are engrained over the duration of our lives, they’re much harder to uproot. But, it can be done…and sometimes the repeated lessons or directions helps.

For example, there are things that I have done much of my life that just aren’t helpful any longer. I know they are habits born of some challenging times in my life – they served, at that time, as a way to cope and survive. So once upon a time, perhaps shutting down served me well – it protected me in that moment. But a deer-in-the-headlights way of operating doesn’t work when communication is required…so, I’ve been working on it. Finding one’s voice is a daunting task, especially when you weren’t really aware you had lost it, when you had lost it, or how the hell to get it back! 

For another thing, I’ve identified with, and hinged my worth on brightening others’ days, diffusing or patching fights between people, and putting others first. For a long time I thought that was a really noble quality – I sincerely wanted to fix people’s hardships and be as little of a burden as possible. But…I’ve learned that there are some not great byproducts of that. It isn’t my right or responsibility to help, fix, or otherwise brighten someone’s existence – maybe they don’t damn well want me to! (That was an immensely tough realization for me, though I’ve learned that not taking this on provides me a great deal of freedom.) And not wanting to be in the way can translate to indecisiveness or a selfless approach that leaves someone else wondering what I feel internally.

If it wasn’t pointed out, I suppose I’d just continue along as always – because why fix what isn’t really “broken?” Learning that perhaps my methods of operating aren’t serving me as well anymore, or those around me, that I don’t need certain defenses, that it’s okay to be selfish and forthright has had a positive impact. That doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly rid of habits – I have to work really hard to overcome conditioning (just as we all do!) But it means I have awareness – the seed was planted a while ago, I’ve allowed it to bloom taking the time it needs, and I’ve reached a point where I am able to see that change is possible. And, that I want it. 

So the point is that maybe a behavior or attitude we carry with us worked in past situations – maybe it was a way that we coped, or got things accomplished, or even the reason we survived in the end. But it’s possible that those methods would do well with a shift – time marches on, life changes, the people and places in our lives change… We don’t always need the same tools. If we are willing and able to take a hard look in the mirror, we may find ourselves opening to change and working for it. In some cases, though, we just aren’t ready. Criticism and constructive commentary may need to take place for some time… Maybe we need to hear the message a million times before we can really make sense of it…and only then are we ready to acknowledge a change would serve us well.

It takes time… We aren’t always open to altering ourselves – we’ve managed well enough as long as we’ve been around, right?! But the positive seeds others plant aren’t in vain because we may yet come to a fork in the road when suddenly those seeds find a way to flourish. 

So remember that it’s hard enough to change oneself – asking that of someone who isn’t ready for the message may well fall on deaf ears. Maybe even rightfully so. But…if it’s a message that might bring about positive change for that person, don’t give up on planting the idea. It may take time for that seed to find the daylight, but in time it may grow into something spectacular.

 

The Power Of The Mind

I believe deeply in this sentiment – the ability to remain in the present (and upbeat!) is a high-level skill in a fast-paced and stressful world. But when we can tap into the positive, focus on what we can change (not what we can’t), and when we refrain from projecting into worry and fear, a world of opportunity unfolds.

Be open to changing an outdated attitude. Shift your wavelength to a positive tune, and the magic will unfold before you…

 

Inner Peace

Ever and always some of the best advice on the planet…

Behavior or actions generally come with – what I perceive as – “pre-existing conditions.” There’s:

. . .Past experiences

The stresses of our current lives

Our mood(s) at any given moment, and. . .

Whatever beliefs and conditioning we have had over time.

That’s a LOT. . .

So just as with us, another person’s behavior(s) and actions(s) aren’t because of you, about you, or even your fault.  Most of the time it’s all that other “pre-existing” stuff that gets in the way…

“You have no power over me” is one of the most incredible phrases you will ever have in your arsenal, and it’s one you should say in your mind often.  No one has the right, nor the ability, to control you, your emotions, your thoughts, your attitudes, your behaviors…or your day!  Only YOU have that power, so don’t knowingly give it away by letting their “stuff” creep in.

Definitely easier said than done but it truly is like having peace in your pocket – peace is in your possession at ALL times.

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Be Ridiculous

Once upon a time I worried about what people thought.  I worried about if they’d like what I was wearing, if I looked silly, or if the things I enjoyed weren’t “cool.”  But it didn’t last particularly long, those worrisome spells, because I simply couldn’t mold myself to fit within the confines that others did.

Boxes didn’t work for me, and I made myself sick – in the short time I tried to care – trying to figure out what I was “supposed to” do, and “supposed to” be.  Based on someone else’s definition, by the way.  I was like a dodecahedron trying to fit into a triangular shape – I had so many facets, I’d make a gemologist spin, and the “mold” simply didn’t work.

I feel like that was fortunate for me, though. . .because I learned to just do my thing and be, unabashedly, my curiously off-beat self. It’s so much easier when you don’t have to squeeze yourself in to other shapes.  It’s SO much easier being authentic than having to remember the details of the “lie” that you pretend to live.

The world doesn’t need more conformists…it needs the beautiful variety that all of us bring to life. It’s not only okay to be you, it’s what you, and everyone else deserves.  If someone takes issue, that’s okay – that’s for them to worry about.

Do your thing, and be ridiculous if you want to.  Even if it means wearing obnoxiously-printed leggings, leg warmers a la 1982, and Thundercat shoes at age 38. 

Happiness is the heart of the beholder. ❤

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