Getting What You Want Requires Doing What You Don’t

Getting what you want is hard. Who knew how important the things our parents made us do growing up were. Things like teaching us to not quit or doing chores. Things that teach you the very hard lesson that to reach major goals requires you to do things you don’t want to do, consistently.

Twice in my life I’ve lost over 100 lbs. Getting in shape is important to me for several reasons. When I am in shape I feel better and more confident in my skin, I have more energy, and less pain both in my back and knee. But to lose weight, to reach those weight loss goals, to keep the weight off, requires me to consistently do things I don’t want to do. Like walking in Florida when it is 100+ feels like degrees outside. I hate walking but I especially hate walking in heat. I have a bunion on my foot, a skin condition that doesn’t fare well with heat or sweat, a knee that has had 3 surgeries and is full of arthritis, and a bad lower back. Trust me when I say that I hate walking. But I’ve found at my age to lose weight it requires me to be active. In addition, having fur baby companions requires outdoor activity for them to also be healthy and happy. So I have to talk myself into doing what I don’t want 1 to 2 times daily.

Getting into shape requires me to talk myself out of eating what I want multiple times a day. Would I like to eat pancakes? Yes, that is most definitely what I want, every morning please, but reaching my goal requires me to not do what I want, over and over again. Funny thing about food too, is in the Noom program they teach you that you do need to occasionally “feed the elephant.” Which means that it is important to occasionally allow yourself to have a treat. Which is true. However, this is a slippery slope for me. In fact, the more I feed my elephant, literally, the more vocal that thing gets and the more frequent are its demands. Tracking what you eat on a day where you binged, or facing the scale the next day, no one wants to do that. However, to get what I want, I have to do what I do not.

Getting my bachelors degrees and post graduate degree required consistent actions of things that I didn’t want to do. It required me to spend my weekends researching instructional design theories and writing papers. It required me to take classes I had no interest in taking. It required me to walk through fear every time I got a new course or new assignment that I was certain I could not do. When the easier softer way would have been to just give up. The easier and softer way is alway giving up or not starting to begin with. It is avoiding change. It is remaining comfortable.

I really love the feeling of a clean and organized house. I have more peace and feel more happy when I can walk into my house and it is clean. To achieve this though requires me to do chores on a daily basis. Even on days when work seemed long and I’d much rather just binge some show on Netflix. Could I skip it on certain days, sure, and I do, however the longer I am lazy the less happiness I have with my surroundings and the more work it takes to get it back to that place of serenity. It took me a long time to learn that it is easier to maintain cleanliness and organization when it is consistently looked after. The result of consistently doing what I don’t want to do is a consistent sense of peace from my surroundings.

Financial health is something I’ve been working on for some time. Along with food it is one area in my life that has been hard to control. I like “stuff” and I like nice “stuff”. However, the debt and anxiety of that debt, I do not like. Therefore, to have financial health requires me to find ways to say no to myself. It requires that when I get my tax return and bonus, instead of buying things I want, like a jet ski or new clothes, that I put that money towards debt, or responsible things like a new AC. It requires me to reign in my spontaneity nature of wanting to take random trips and stay at expensive hotels to staying home or finding much lower costing compromises. It also requires me to look at what causes me to want to numb out with purchases and food to begin with.

I really like having nice eyebrows and prefer to not be that woman with a hairy lip. This requires me to pay someone to rip out my hair with either wax or thread. Or if I’m looking to save money for me to sit through the pain of plucking them out via tweezers.

Becoming good at a new skill requires consistent effort even when you suck. Nobody wants to suck. It is very demotivating. I would love it if creative ideas just popped out of my head and got transmitted to paper as a masterpiece every time. Unfortunately, it does not work that way, at least that has not been my experience. If you ask any great artist, regardless of medium, they will tell you that getting to where they are required them to practice their craft every day. To practice even when they didn’t want to, even when they sucked.

Being a person of character requires me to be willing to look at my part in every situation. Even if the other person had a part, a BIG part, it requires me to see my part to bring acceptance for theirs. We are human. It requires me to assume positive intent of other people even though my mind is constantly convinced that others are most definitely out to get me or reject me. It would be much easier to blame someone else. My part sometimes is not letting that shit go. Being a person of character requires me to do what I say I’m going to do even when it is not convenient. Even if I no longer want to do it. It requires me to examine my motives on things and not always just doing what feels good. It requires me to play that tape through and think about how I will feel about myself after or how it might affect other people. It requires me to have compassion for myself when I fail, which I do, frequently. It means even when you can’t be perfect, continuing to strive for perfection.

Back when I drank I didn’t try to achieve goals because it was easier to deal with being an underachiever than a failure. I lowered my standards and expectations for my own life so that I didn’t live with any cognitive dissonance. If I didn’t want to go to work, I called off, or I quit. If I wanted something I manipulated or stole. Getting sober required me to learn how to be comfortable in my own skin and with my emotions. Dealing with emotions has been one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve had to learn how to do. Something that I am still learning how to do. It was much easier when going out on a first date to throw back a few to get past those jitters versus just feeling your feelings and learning how to channel anxiety into excitement. I didn’t want to start a continued pattern of waking up in jail and this required me to do many things I didn’t want to do at first.

Successful adulting is hard. Reaching goals is hard. This is why not everyone does it. But it is worth it. I guess that was the point of this monologue.

Art and Flaws – Random Thoughts

My long lost love. I’ve left these keys abandoned for some time as I’ve been thoroughly courted and engaged by the colorful arts. However, you’ve been calling to me the last few days. For whatever reason I’ve been resisting. When my underlying emotions get too stormy though and anxiety has me questioning sanity, then I know. I know it is time for a visit. I have to speak even if there is nothing to say. I have to speak.

Some thought that has been persistent that I felt worthy of discussion was what makes something realistic. What is it in art that makes something beautiful? When painting or drawing the very things that make it come to life are all of the details. The shading and subtle hues. All the tiny details are what catches your breath. Writing is very much the same. In pretty much every English class i took in both high school and college they expressed the significance of the use of adjectives and descriptive words. It can feel corny at times to describe someones physical attributes in words when you are simply trying to tell your story. However, it is these details, these tiny strokes of adjectives and adverbs between the verbs and nouns that capture our imagination.

If you were to paint a pool and you painted it all one color of blue, how flat and boring it would be. It is all the shades of colors, refracted light and shadows, and reflections that create its depth. Just as you can train your eye to see these nuances and apply them to paper, I suppose it is with practice that you can do the same with words. The greatest writers and poets lapping on words linguistically to pages like oil to canvas.

On this same note, it is the these nuances of people which makes them beautiful. I suppose that is one reason why I favor women more than men. The very nature of women, packaged with so much mystery, so much depth, and intelligence. Complicated but beautifully so. Strange that it is the little things of others that often drive us crazy. However, it is those very little things that paint that person. Like the shadows and colors captured in oil paintings, it is only through the defects and flaws that you can accurately capture someone for who they are. Would you tell the ocean how much prettier she would be were she without the variations in color? How dull we would paint people to please the irritable beast that lies under each of our skins.

Something within us, our selfishness perhaps, self-centeredness, our ego, that causes us to tear at the flesh of flaws in the character of the imperfectly perfect souls who walk among us. As though we live without these flaws within ourselves. We are teeming with them. The flaws make up the very fabric of our being. We were not born to fear flaws. Perhaps from our red letter grades in our systematic schooling. Or the the materialistic ads depicting beauty in unascertainable forms. Like a splinter these foreign messages embed themselves under our skin. It is through nature, where we are free from judgement, which helps nullify and silence the pain. Pain that prevents us from feeling whole both internally and externally with ourselves and our fellows.

Yet we destroy the nature. The medicine we all need, we destroy. Unaware. Allured by greater highs, not peace.

The Light of Dreams

The light on the house feels warm,
For a moment I get lost in that life,
Or what I imagine that life could be,
Coming home to the one who sees you,
Having someone to consider…
The best part of every past relationship and love story flash before my eyes,
Constructing this dream where everything stays new,
If the feeling were a potion it’d be a mixture of ocean breezes, the smell of sunscreen and salt air, beautiful sunsets, and full moons on paydays starting a long holiday weekend.

Then the light at the intersection turns green and I have to go,
Leaving the house with the warm light and the dream behind,
Back to reality,
Where nothing new can stay.

Integrity

I’d never given much though to the meaning behind the word integrity. I knew integrity meant having morals and values and abiding by them. However, in reading, “Further Along, the Road Less Traveled,” By Scott M. Peck. M.D., he provides a more complete definition which is, “the state of being whole and undivided.” Basically having all of you be integrated. Being consistently you in every situation. When you think of integrity in this way it is much more profound. You can’t be you consistently if you don’t know who you are. You can’t be you consistently if you have fear of showing that self to others. Many people including myself have played the role of a chameleon at times. It takes real courage to be you at all times. A true level of honesty and vulnerability that most people are afraid to have. Committing to integrity has its price.

Many people I believe mask their emotions to others. Especially in business, it is almost expected for you to do so. To some degree this makes sense as you wouldn’t be successful operating under hysteria. However, as humans, emotions come with the gig. To expect someone to operate without them or to mask them expertly at all times is unreasonable. My honesty to myself and others about my internal state of emotions and thoughts are one area where I display high levels of integrity. This has not always played well in my favor. Especially during the years where my internal state was extremely volatile. My moods still, if I am not consistently using my tools and being mindful, can fluctuate unexpectedly. To some degree this is a part of just being human, moods and such. Having struggled with a mood disorder though for many years, my mood shifts are much more extreme than the average person.

In retrospect, I’ve wondered would I have a less muddled image if I had a better poker face? A better reputation if I were able to better hide my energy and emotions and put on the mask that many people are savants at wearing?

Brene Brown when she talked about vulnerability said:

“Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: “Who has earned the right to hear my story?”

I’ve always struggled with this sort of discernment though. I’m not sure I’ve ever made anyone “earn the right” to hear my story. My story is always here, accessible, and available. This could leave me in a place to be hurt, if I allow it to hurt me. It feels like I’ve trailed off from my topic a bit, but I think these are connected. My struggle with sharing who I am, my internal state, as a form of integrity. Should I be making people earn that right? Is a lack of discrimination in who I am honest or openness with, integrity? Or just stupid recklessness?

Online Shaming During the Pandemic.

I woke up this morning feeling very heavy with the amount of shaming that has been occurring over the last several weeks on social media platforms regarding the pandemic. People expressing their opinions, judgements, and jokes about others regarding toilet paper, travel, social distancing, and now wearing masks. Online shaming has in itself become a new norm providing an avenue for someone to express their judgement and get validated for it.

I’ve never had much education around shame. The most amount of education prior to today that I’d received on shame is from the TedX talk by Brene Brown. In her talk, she stated, “Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is “I am bad.” Guilt is “I did something bad.”

Shame occurs regularly in society. It has been there all along and I never recognized it for what it was. “Shame is external and comes from judgment from others to try to enforce social norms…Social Norms are unwritten rules about how to behave. They provide us with an expected idea of how to behave in a particular social group or culture.” (McLeod, 2008). Examples of social norms include flushing the toilet when you exit a bathroom stall, washing your hands before leaving the restroom, covering your mouth when you cough, and chewing with your mouth closed.

Shaming is an “attempt to enforce either a real, or perceived, violation of a social norm…External enforcement for norm violation might be shaming or ostracizing the violator from the group; or it could be honoring an individual for compliance with the norm” (Klonic, 2016).

Shaming has been and is used in religion, politics, our schools, and legal systems. “In the bible, nakedness is a source of shame. The book of Genesis 2:25 says of Adam and Eve, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” That changed when they rebelled against God’s commandment and ate of the tree of knowledge. From then on, they felt ashamed in each other’s presence: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” This biblical interpretation of nakedness as shameful still deeply informs the social norms and conventions that determine how we deal with human physicality and sexuality. Although our notions of whether, how, where and in the presence of whom a person may be undressed have changed over the centuries, the shame we feel when we transgress the norms has remained” (Kammerer, 2019).

My Catholic upbringing kept me in the closet for years for the fear of being shamed and shunned for being gay.

Our legal system uses shaming as a means for punishment and one form which I’d not given much thought to before is by forcing those who receive a DUI to have “drunk tags” on their car. Alcoholism is something in particular that is often publicly shamed due to the misunderstanding of the illness. Social shaming occurs within the recovery community itself to aid in enforcing certain behaviors such as getting a sponsor and service work. During the pandemic there has been shaming around those choosing to stay home and attend zoom meetings versus those choosing to continue to go to in person meetings. Those choosing to go to meetings quoting the responsibility statement. Those choosing to stay home quoting the CDC. Both creating a divide within the community.

As I continued my research this morning one article discussed how shame has been used in our school systems through charts depicting good or bad behavior. This made me reflect back to my second grade school teacher. She had a giant cutout of a dog house that she kept at the front classroom. Each student in the class had a bone with their name written on it. If we misbehaved in class we were asked to get up in front of the class and retrieve our bone and put it in the dog house. Clearly this made an impact on me considering this is one of the few things that I recall from my early years.

From the limited amount of research I have done, it seems that shame can sometimes be effective in controlling behavior, hence its still prevalent use in society.

The problems though with using shame as a means for social norms enforcement is, “it creates an ‘us or them’ boundary that reinforces group affiliation and separateness. It can become about groups, perceived good guys and bad guys and not about issues” (Rutledge, 2015).

“Shaming  is an attack, it triggers our desire to protect ourselves and withdraw. It is not the opening of a dialogue.  While I am in favor of highlighting places in society where change is desirable, promoting shaming as a solution hurts us all.   Negative emotions make people (and organizations) close-up; they diminish cognitive flexibility and lessen the willingness to consider other points of view.  Using social shaming creates exactly the opposite environment to the one that would be most likely to lead to positive resolution” (Rutledge, 2015).

The problems specifically with online shaming is that the effects are unending. Once posted, the punishment is ongoing which seems unjust for a potential slight infringement. In addition, it does not always take into account the full story. Perhaps the reason you saw xyz person without a mask, or out in public, is for a “good” socially acceptable reason? “When the state punishes, it has applied a process to determine whether the person being punished has in fact committed the thing for which they are being punished. No such measure exists in norm enforcement and the Internet’s ability to amplify social norm enforcement punishment is made even worse when there was no actual norm violation to cause it” (Klonic, 2016).

The other down side to using shame is that you can’t be sure of its effectiveness. Shaming is only effective if those it is being used on have the same societal norms as you and place the same value on those norms.

You also never know how shame will be internalized by another individual. Some people are more shame-prone and others more guilt-prone. People who are more shame-prone tend to have greater levels of depression and anxiety. Your intentions might be good in attempting to shame people to “right behavior” however if they are shame-prone it can have a much deeper effect. An example provided by Kammerer, 2019, shows the difference in guilt-prone vs shame-prone individuals. “A shame-prone individual who is reprimanded for being late to work…might be likely to think, ‘I’m such a loser; I just can’t get it together,’ whereas a guilt-prone individual would more likely think, ‘I feel badly for showing up late. I inconvenienced my co-workers.’ Feelings of shame can be painful and debilitating, affecting one’s core sense of self, and may invoke a self-defeating cycle of negative affects.”

We all are going to have judgements, we are human. Understanding the impact judgements and shaming can have on others though has been extremely eye-opening for me.

To end this on a more positive note, here are a couple tips I found on the Clearview Treatment Programs website, 2020, on ways out of shame:

  1. Seek out relationships and commit to vulnerability with safe people.Do everything in your power to find community. Shame begins to disappear when it is shared in a safe place.
  2. Move out of your head and into the open.Don’t keep everything inside. Put your shame out into the world. Write about the shame. Share your story of shame. Create artwork that represents your shame. Shame finds healing when it is taken outside of ourselves and placed into the world in some way.
  3. Develop self-compassion.Consider what you would say to a friend who was feeling the same things you feel. Begin to respond to yourself with love and care and concern, just as you would respond to others with love and care and concern.

 

 

References

Kammerer, A. 2019. The Scientific Underpinnings and Impacts of Shame. Retrieved from:  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-scientific-underpinnings-and-impacts-of-shame/

Klonic, K. 2016. Re-Shaming the Debate: Social Norms, Shame, and Regulation in the Internet Age. Maryland Law Review. v. 17., Issue 4.

McLeod, S. 2008. Social Roles. Retrieved from: https://www.simplypsychology.org/social-roles.html

Shannon, Lori. 2020. Clearview Treatment Programs. 5 Ways Shame Can Shape Your Life. Retrieved from: https://www.clearviewtreatment.com/blog/5-ways-shame-can-shape-life/

Rutledge, P. B., Ph.D. 2015. Psychology Today. Shame on Social Shamers. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/positively-media/201505/shame-social-shamers

COVID – 19 Word of The Day Journal

Well I suppose we should talk about the thing that is on everyones’ mind. The Corona Virus Diseases of 2019, in abbreviated from, COVID-19. When it first was identified in China, many of us, including myself, compared it to one of the many other dooms day news stories we’ve heard in the past, such as SARS or the West Nile Virus. Perhaps it was when it began to spread and people begun being quarantined. Or after the National Guard’s sortie in New York to quarantine a city. Maybe it was when an entire country shut down and we woke to the news that Italy was closed. It may have been on Black Monday when the stock market had its greatest drop since the recession of 2008. Regardless of when, it became clear that the comparisons were odious. This lunker of a virus is something unlike anyone of our generation has ever seen. It is overwhelming, partly because of the intake of all the available media concerning it. To top it off we are amidst the US political presidential race causing the virus to be used for political gain amongst both parties, and biasing our media.

There are many conspiracy theorists and skeptics stating that this is a hoax or a move to take down the global economy. The distrust in our political systems and in our government has caused me to question the motives behind some of the actions that have been taken. This virus has become yet another thing to turn the people against one another. You’ve got one side taking it extremely serious and abiding by the social distancing recommendation from the CDC. Then you’ve got the other side who doesn’t buy into the severity of the issue and living out life as they typically would. Both sides having verbal altercations over the matter through social media and/or in person. Perhaps this was the plan?

The hysteria around the issue has caused people to panic and bulk buy items from the grocery store. You then have those judging the ones bulk buying. Yet, when those same ones judging stumble upon reservoirs of supplies, find themselves snatching up extra. This virus has resulted in an awareness of just how fragile all of our social and economical systems are. Leaving many of us longing for the easy street we had unknowingly been walking for most of our lives. Already reminiscing the days as epicureans when the decision between a t-bone or ribeye was our biggest challenge at the store.

It has only been a week, maybe two of social distancing, and already I feel the effects. The question looming on all of our minds, how long will this last?

 

Abbreviate – to make briefer; especially : to reduce (a word or name) to a shorter form intended to stand for the whole
Lunker – something unusually large for its kind.
Epicurean – Devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, particularly the enjoyment of gourmet food.
Sortie – a military action in which besieged troops burst forth from their position
Intake – the number of things or people that are taken into something
Long for – to want something you miss very much
Easy Street – financial security
Comparisons are odious – Comparison (especially of people) is not productive and can have unpleasant consequences. People should be judged on their own merits. Note: comparison (noun) = the act of comparing | compare (verb) = measure or note the similarity or dissimilarity between people or things | odious (adj) = extremely unpleasant; distasteful

How Bizarre

Sometimes my mind gets so full with awareness of how bizarres it is, this world we live in. Take corporations for example. People make up some service, give it a label, put shiny things around it, logos, websites, business cards, marketing. Then with a dash – include your “important” title, CEO, and Co-founder, your name. There you go. Legitimacy. Then you work to get followers on social media. Then, if you begin to get big enough you can build social classes within your org structures. The kind where when someone says jump others say how high. The place where you go but don’t allow people to have feelings or original thoughts. Where you can evaluate people annually by a set of unrecognizable standards that aren’t applicable to anyone which are ignored anyway and ultimately give raises based on how well you like people. Were we better off on a bartering system?

Or how about the system of housing where unless you live somewhere until you die, the poor house just never gets paid off. If a house was originally built for $100,000. It sells for $150,000 in 1815. Just making up numbers and dates. Then let’s say every 20 years it gets sold to a new owner. It is in an up and coming neighborhood and with inflation, each time it gets resold the cost goes up $10,000. So now the person who bought the house in 2015 owes $400,000 for a house that is almost a 200 years old and has already probably been paid for twice over. I’m terrible at math so not even sure if those numbers work out, but you get the point. It will continue to re-sell unless someone stays in it until they die and passes it down in the family forever. How bizarre.

The other thing I was thinking about is how everyone, including myself, wants to think we are special in some way, even though really we aren’t. I mean, I know people are like snowflakes, right? Each one unique. Unique yes. But is everyone really special? We all crave opportunities to feel unique and special. I am going to give some examples, some that I have been guilty of myself. Being the #1 fan of anything. First of all, you aren’t, lol. Second of all, who cares. Why do we feel like this makes us special in some way. And lord forbid if you luck out and a new movie of something you were always a “#1 fan” of comes out, or the main character in that movie dies in real life. You just hit the lottery! This is your moment to REALLY shine. You get to post on social media, to make sure everyone remembers how much of a fan you were, and how significant this is to you. What is that?? We’ll try to one-up someone on how much trauma we’ve experienced. How “hard we’ve had it.” Or on the flip side, “look at how good I have it.” Why? We are all looking for a niche to show some sort of skill to try to find our self-worth? Is my self-worth under this painting? Perhaps inside this sculpture? Did they hide it in my bonus? Perhaps it’s in this kid I accidentally had? I never checked behind this degree on my wall. Will they forget me or did I even exist if I don’t find it? I must be here for some reason. I must be special. I know I’m special my mother told me so and everyone around agreed at how special I was compared to other babies. They didn’t say those things to all babies right? No, definitely not. I was special. But are we? Do we have a purpose? Argue your point. I don’t have one, I’m just lying here wondering,  how bizarre.

We are on a roll so lets keep going. Other random thoughts. I read a psychology study one time and it talked about how upon interviews with doctors, people, primarily women, but I think even men too, they hide their underwear when they get naked in doctors offices. Why do we do that? Is the underwear dirty? So why do we hide them? Are we ashamed of our underwear? Do we think they smell? Are we worried someone will steal them? You tell me? I think for myself, there is some weird embarrassment around someone seeing my underwear. But again why? I’m about to spread eagle in front of that same person. They can see my labia but not my jockey shorts? Another question I wonder a lot about is when women go to the gyno, why are some more comfortable seeing a man vs seeing a woman? I prefer to see a woman EVERYTHING, therapist, pcp , eye doctor, surgeons, ob/gyn. I’ve always had male dentists though. I think that might be more due to the lack of female dentist in my network near where I live tho perhaps. Why do I want all female doctors? Am I looking for the nurturing I did not get as a kid? Does anyone else think of this shit? I must be special because I have these thoughts, lol. How bizarre.