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Archive for the ‘Thoughtful’ Category

There are some feelings I consider wasted emotions. 

I suffer from some of these wasted emotions and I don’t mind talking about that.  Worry is probably my biggest wasted emotion.  I’ve wasted time, energy, good relations (temporarily mostly), and lots and lots of sleep worrying about things.  Worry, on occasion may lead to something productive.  If, for example, I manage to write out and complete a to-do list to ease my stress.  Or, if I spend extra time or attention with someone I care about because I am worried about them.  There are many ways that worry can become worthwhile.  But, I freely admit that I’ve spun myself into circles with needless useless wasted worry.

Insecurity is another wasted emotion I am constantly dogged with.  Too often Sweetie bears the brunt of this wasted emotion and it is awful.  Simply awful.  You would think by now that all my insecurities where my husband are concerned would be gone and we wouldn’t be weighed down by it.  But no, it rears its ugly head time and again and I am still trying to learn to discipline my own thoughts to banish insecurity forever.

Thankfully, there is one (what I consider) wasted emotion that I don’t tangle with too often: envy/jealousy.*  Maybe my brain just figured out that I’m wasting enough energy on worry and insecurity.  Or maybe I’m just not wired for jealousy.  (Have they figured out what parts of the brain these emotions come from? I need to finish reading my Destructive Emotions book.)  But throughout much of my life, when I have been handed good news by people I know, I manage to process it through my brain without the filter of jealousy kicking in.  Or maybe – like that lesson I learned the hard way with my sister and talking about people behind their backs – I learned a long time ago that envy can be ruinous not just to me, but to my relationships.  Sitting here writing about it – I distinctly remember a conversation I had with one of my best friends in high school.  She was so happy about something concerning her family and I remember making some biting comment alluding to how much money they had.  I was sort of happy for her but I do believe that my own jealousy made me snarky and mean.  She called me on it.  Literally.  She called me up and told me how much that hurt her (or maybe she passed me a note….I’m forgetting).  I agonized over it because I felt so bad and I knew she was right.  And I think because of my obvious envy – among other things – our friendship took an unrecoverable slide.

It’s interesting how some particularly painful experiences can shape my behavior for years after.

All I know is – I didn’t feel jealous of one of my best friends in high school when she got a boyfriend – something I very much wanted.  I felt like so many stupid young boys didn’t appreciate her enough and was glad that someone finally did.  I didn’t even feel envious of friends who got loads of attention from different guys in college.  Sure, I would feel miserable for myself for being single and feeling so unattractive for so long.  But there was (as far as I remember) no major encore of my high school Snarky Jealousy.  I stopped worrying altogether at the grades my friends were getting when mine nose-dived.  I don’t begrudge my friends material happiness.  And I’ve never stood beside a loved one on her wedding day feeling lonely for myself – I’ve been too dizzyingly happy for her. 

So maybe I’m just over-aware when I see the destructive trail that jealousy leads people on.  As far as wasted energy is concerned.  Sure, I understand a bit of envy here and there.  But it strikes me in particular when people are jealous of their own loved ones.  When that envy swamps what should be a shared joy, I think it is such a tragedy that someone ends up spending more time feeling bad for his/herself than happy for someone else.  What happens when someone is greeted by a loved one with news of new love, happy family, new children, bigger paycheck, job recognition, or some other joy?  Do you feel joy?  Or do you end up feeling sad?  And does that one moment of good news lead to countless moments of feeling loneliness, loss, bitterness, rage, or worry?  And how is someone supposed to feel when they share good news and know that it makes someone else miserable? 

I recently commented on someone else’s blog about how I enjoy getting Christmas letters from people and I don’t understand why some people hate them so much.  People who revile them call them “brag letters” and maybe their hatred comes from constant jealousy.  But my letters are what they are.  The year my uncle died I think I just wrote a long poem.  When my father died I told people my father died.  I wonder if my jealous friends and family members enjoyed that particular letter more than my others.  Who knows.  I hope not.

In any case, I’m left again feeling I don’t have a proper solution.  I just hope that people can learn to separate their own disappointments in life from the joys of others.  Especially from others you claim to like, or love.  We spend so much time concentrating on ourselves.  At the least, we should be able to afford other people sincere happiness when it is due.  They say the word jealous comes from the Low Latin zealous and from the Greek word that meant zeal in a good way – like emulation, ardor, zeal – with a root connoting “to boil, ferment” or “yeast.”  I just keep thinking how the word ends in “lousy,” which is pretty much how it makes you feel.

What if we could learn to turn our negative “jealous” back into positive “ambition?”  If we must feel the pangs of envy for someone else, can we bend it into achievement and use that energy to help us work harder to fulfill our own goals?  At the end of the day, think how bad you feel when you hear insincere congratulations when you yearn for shared joys.  How crappy it is to get criticism instead of praise?  Why do that to someone else?  Even if you don’t express it out loud.  If you want to be selfish at all, spend the energy on yourself and figure out how to get closer to some semblance of that other person’s joy.  Then share some good news and see how people’s faces and voices light up in celebration.  Savor those sincere congratulations.  Sometimes they are hard to come by.

I snagged this picture from HERE, where there are also a few good words about jealousy.

*There are differences in the etymology of these two words.  Maybe I should be focusing on Envy, which seems to have a more negative connotation than jealousy.  For now, I’m sticking with jealousy and I figure you understand the point.

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Are you surprised, sometimes, by the things that people *don’t*hear?

 

It’s why I hate it when people walk past you and say “How are you?” without slowing their gait or even looking at your face. It’s why I avoid asking people this question if I don’t have time to hear the answer. What’s the point really, if there is no real interest behind the question? I don’t need people to feign politeness for my behalf. If you’re busy or distracted, that doesn’t usually bother me. I’d rather know that up front.

 

Sometimes, in conversations with friends, we say things to each other that never really register with the other person. Oftentimes, it’s something that is less-than-positive with regards to ourselves. But do you ever walk away, or hang up a phone thinking that part of the conversation was inadvertently screened out by the other person? Like you had two completely different conversations?

 

There are several reasons. Sometimes, someone is genuinely distracted and just doesn’t hear. I’ve had that experience when even a good friend will ask “How are you?” and I express something negative. She told me that was great, until she caught herself and realized I didn’t say anything good, let alone great.

 

Other times, people are so caught up in their own negatives that they filter out everyone else’s bads because they have too much on their plate. Or they think they do. They listen to what you have to say, then wander off the subject and never return. Having spent years living with other women, I find this to be the case many, many times. We are very supportive of each other when our own plates are clear. But once we feel that our negatives outweigh someone else’s, we sometimes just tune out. Not that we don’t care. We just feel that our own problems are more pressing.

 

Other times, it seems that people have an opinion of your situation, and their outlook is much more rosy. I’ve said the same bad thing over and over to people and have had them say “Oh, but [the situation] is just fine.” They have determined that the situation *is* fine, and nothing I say about it will sway them. Or really, maybe they desperately want it to be fine because any alternative is much too complex to deal with. That’s a tough one. I’ve been in that situation, and sometimes I have helped a good friend face a hard problem head-on. Even if it meant literally weeks and months of working it out. Sometimes, I’ve tried to make myself scarce, thinking “I don’t know how to make this person feel better, and there may be someone better able to help.” Is that a little chicken-shit of me? Yes, I’ve had those moments. And sometimes I’ve been an idiot and completely missed that there was a problem at all. Ack!

 

What’s a good solution? I’m not entirely sure. I’ve had situations where I feel that my own plate is too full and I know I am less responsive to other people. Sometimes, I find it’s best to avoid everyone for a while to recharge my own batteries. I know my own fuse is short or my own attention is distracted. Because, when I am talking to someone I care about, I try my hardest to actually listen to what he or she is saying (unless, of course, I’m calling to tell them something really really bad). I admit all the time if I am helpless to offer much in the way of advice, but I still try and listen. It somewhat amuses me that some people sometimes do not hear what I say out loud.

 

Oh wait. That’s not amusement I was feeling…

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