Posts Tagged 'perspective'

Words to Live By

There has been a lot happening in my life. Some good, some not as good. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on what I learned in all those years of behavioral therapy. 🙂 Yes, yes, how to behave. 🙂 Although I doubt I’ll win any blue ribbons for best in show. *grin*

I just finished reading an article that came up in my Twitter feed: The key to loving your job in the age of burnout by Cassie Werber. I don’t usually read these articles. I’m not burned out (yet) and I rather like my job and my work. I clicked through on this one because the associated image was interesting. It looked like footprints on water, but had to be mud or sand, but there was someone on the dock next to the footprints. 🙂 It was the picture – I thought if I could see it more clearly I’d be sure of the substance. I’m still not 100% sure of the photo and I’m not sure I am completely comfortable with some of the observations in the article about the nature of work, the gig economy, part-time versus full-time employment, and bespoke careers. That may be because of my age and experience. But I do know that there are several key observations that I consider “truths” to a happier life.

“More and more, our sense of self is connected to the kind of person we believe ourselves to be—a combination of profession and meaning—and not to our place of work. In this, we’re reverting to an earlier mode: before we had companies and careers, we had professions (for example, stone mason) and tasks (build a bridge.)”

Yes, absolutely yes. My corollary to this is that we need to appreciate ourselves and value ourselves in order to be confident and content. To phrase that differently: other people cannot ‘fix’ us. Happiness (contentment) begins within. The foundation is internal, not external. Yes, other people and external factors can make us unhappy, sad, stressed and other negative and bad things. But if we can see that as OUTSIDE of our core, we have the strength and belief to keep going and not despair. Or so it is for me.

“Despair, and railing against the unfairness of the system, are both reasonable. Many people, globally, do not have the freedom to choose. Some work situations—losing your job through no fault of your own, being bullied, suffering discrimination—are certainly unfair. But the narrative of entitlement to a fulfilling job obscures the fact that it’s not our job’s job to be meaningful. It’s our job to find meaning in what we do. Some of us have the option of changing our work situation if that becomes absolutely imperative. But we can also change the narrative we choose to explain our work to the world and to ourselves—and in so doing, change our experience.” (Boldface my addition to highlight the text.)

WORDS! The words we choose to express ourselves and describe our situation make so much difference. I used to say such things as: “I can’t STAND IT ANYMORE”, “This is killing me”, “I HATE him”. It’s very hard to feel as if I can make a change when I use such absolutes. I’ve learned to dial the emotion back a notch: “It is so frustrating when this happens”, “This is so uncomfortable”, “That behavior is not enjoyable”. The latter group of phrases gives me room to maneuver. Did anything about the external situation change? No. But how I perceived it did. I can handle frustration and discomfort. Those are normal experiences.

“… the difference between finding a situation bearable—possibly, indeed, happy—and unbearable is about whether we experience ourselves as performing a willing sacrifice, or simply as suffering. When working hard tips over into working too hard, or with too little reward, sacrifice has slipped into suffering. … “Sacrifice might be hurtful and exhausting, but it is a conscious choice,” he writes. “Suffering is the result of feeling that we cannot slow down or else we will be shamed and lose control. Sacrifice makes us who we are. Suffering keeps us captive.””

You need to read all of the article to understand the “because” part of sacrifice. We sacrifice for a goal. We tell ourselves a narrative to put the sacrifice in context, to make us feel that the ‘suffering’ is bearable and acceptable because of the end goal. We have choices. There are at least 2 choices in this sacrifice/suffering discussion. The first choice is that we choose the language to describe it, we CHOOSE whether we make it a sacrifice or suffering. The 2nd choice is the harder one. We can choose to change the situation (leave the job, leave the relationship, not fix the roof). I used to argue this one over and over and over and over. “It’s NOT a choice” I’d scream, “I HAVE to fix the roof if it leaks!!!” And Howard would say, “No you don’t. You can let it leak.” And I’d point out that the wood would rot, the house fall down and on and on. And he’d reply that it was a choice I was making – to NOT let the wood rot. There are obviously practicalities involved. But there is also a choice, when you stop, breathe and look at it. Once you frame it as a choice, it’s easier to confront. If you can confront it, you may also see how you might bring about an actual change, not only an emotional perspective change.

One of my former co-workers, Jim De Piante, had fantastic presentations about managers and project management. I have always remembered something he said (and my apologies to Jim for any mistakes in the quoting): “Think of your management as your client.” That change in wording shifts the perspective radically. It goes back to the point that words matter. It goes to the point we have a choice. The difference in connotation between ‘client’ and ‘boss’ is HUGE. When we have clients, we are in the driver’s seat, helping to make our clients successful. When we have a boss, we are powerless with no buy-in to the outcome. I think of this approach whenever I have the endless tracking and administrative work that comes with being part of a huge corporation.

“Unreasonable conditions and real misery need to be met with concrete changes. But other conditions, Petriglieri says, can be radically changed by reframing what we expect from ourselves—and how we see what we do with our days in the context of our lives as a whole. “There’s some pain that needs a solution, and some pain that needs a story,” Petriglieri says.”

Tell yourself a story, and choose your words with care. 🙂

That Wasn’t the Test

We all know that events that occur in our childhood can have lasting effects throughout our lives. My mother loves the theater, art, museums and galleries. Her home has always been filled with art and music. I took many of the pictures for granted given that they were there before I was. *grin* But as she acquired new works of art, I formed my own opinions. Mostly I liked her choices. Until she bought what I call “that apple picture”. I HATED this picture. Hated it. She LOVED it. My good friend Sarah is also an artist. She was an artist even then. Sarah liked that picture too. Now comes the “scar”. My mother turned to me and said (in my opinion very smugly and condescendingly) “THIS picture separates the TRUE artists.” *blink* There was no doubt in my mind that I had been weighed, judged and deemed inferior. I HATE that picture.

Why do I hate it? Because you can’t FIX all those pieces of fruit. They don’t match up. Check the number of seeds. The shape. The picture was pointless (the fruit wasn’t DOING anything). It was unbalanced (not visually, but conceptually). Not only that – one of the apples had littered seeds – messy. I looked at that picture and what I saw was the equivalent of Humpty Dumpty. And I was frustrated and thwarted.

I’ve acquired a new mentor at work. She is helping me to focus on what I do, what I can do better, what I might like to do in the future. So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about who I am, what I am, how I work and think. I saw an article about “how to find your passion”. It described personality types and what people with those traits like to do. I realized that I think of myself as someone who fixes things. (Which, in a side note, is how my father defined himself. He said “I’m an engineer. I solve problems.” *grin* I love and miss you Daddy.) And then, the clouds parted, the sun came out, I had an epiphany.

That picture is NOT about identifying the artists. Oh my NO. That picture is about identifying the “engineers” – the ones who SOLVE PROBLEMS, FIX THINGS.

You know, that picture’s not half bad. *grin* Have a good day all! Keep adjusting your perspective! 🙂

Did I Hear What You Said?

When I was growing up, my mother gave me two wonderful books. I wanted to post a picture of the covers but they have the word “copyrighted” on the pictures on Amazon, so I’m guessing that means I shouldn’t cut and paste the picture. *grin* Both books are by Sesyle Johnson and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. They were books on manners or, as described inside the cover: “A Handbook of Etiquette for Young Ladies and Gentlemen to be Used as a Guide for Everyday Social Behavior”. The one book, What Do You Say, Dear?, explained the proper response a polite person would say for a given situation. The other, What Do you Do, Dear?, (Proper Conduct for all Occasions) taught the correct action to be performed. *grin* Oh my, I loved them. They were funny and witty. And they told me exactly what to say and do. I didn’t have to figure it out for myself if perchance the Queen fed me too much spaghetti to fit in my chair. If I followed these guidelines, I would always be secure in my interactions with others.

I bet you think this is going to be a rant on manners, don’t you? Hah! Fooled you.

Life was simpler then. I think. It could be reduced to formulas. But I suppose the meanings behind the words were as obscure then as they often are now. You see – I KNOW what I mean when I say or do something. So if YOU say or do that, well then, obviously you mean the same thing I do, right? Errrm, no. It has taken me a very long time, and sometimes I still mess it up, but just because we do/say the same thing, does not mean that we are attempting to convey the same message.

My father rarely said to my mother “I love you”. He used to tease her (and she used to joke) that he already TOLD her he loved her, she knew that, why did he need to repeat himself? Never mind that my mother would have loved to hear it many times a day, probably. (I don’t know – maybe she would have gotten bored of hearing it? Who knows now, right? *smile* ) But…. everyday in so many ways he showed his love through actions. You simply had to decipher his code and hear HOW he said it. He warmed her car and scraped the ice every day in winter. She always had the groceries she liked (he did the grocery shopping). He supported her acting career, taking over household chores without complaining to give her space. It was so clear to me.

I fret at times, get insecure. Yeah, *grin*, I get insecure about being loved, being liked, about people caring. It’s one thing to know this intellectually, it’s another to feel it inside always. Many of the people I have met in SL I’ve not met in the atomic world. I only know them through the written word, the occasional voice chat. I love many of them. On cold dreary fragile days, however, I worry that I am wrong, they don’t care, I shouldn’t bother them, it’s not reciprocated. The other day the proverbial light broke through the clouds. I got it. This one took the time to send me a one-line email/IM to say hi. I was focused on the shortness, missing the fact that time was taken not only to think of me, but to act on it. Not everyone likes to blither on and on (/me clears throat, abashed). That one pinged me after not chatting for a week and when I said “what’s up?” said “nothing, just wanted to say hi” and that was all you wrote. The other one, I realize, always responds extremely quickly when I IM. I could go on and on. So could you, dear reader. Everyone has their own way of saying “you are special to me”. Those responses seem to be such trivial actions. And, in a sense, if it were I doing them, yeah, I’d probably say a lot more if I were trying to convey importance. *laugh* But some people just don’t talk a lot. Some people are really busy. Some people are very comfortable with long periods of silence.

Is there a point to this blog? If there is any point, it really goes all the way back to one of Botgirl’s posts. Or it’s the famous don’t judge someone til you’ve walked in their shoes. Take a deep breath. Pause. Think. Try to hear what was sent and not what was received.

It can be said in so many ways. I love you.

I sat on this post for many days. I wasn’t completely satisfied or even certain that it said what I wanted to say. Not that I am sure what I want to say. But I think it needs one more paragraph.

I CAN hear you. As someone said to me on a different subject – we speak the same language but a different dialect. But. Sometimes it’s not enough to hear the message. Sometimes the medium is the message. And sometimes – I need to hear it in my dialect.

So I guess it comes full circle. I CAN hear your dialect. But sometimes, do try to use mine. I think we all need both sides of that equation.


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