Tag Archives: Globalization

The Grand Illusion of online… Who are We?

12 Jun

Humanity has always struggled with the question:  Who am I and where do I fit in the world?

100 years ago, this was easily answered – identity was based on social status (rich or poor), infamy (Bonnie-and-Clyde), profession (you’re the town doctor/undertaker/barman), or  relationship (you’re so-and-so’s mother/father/sister/wife/brother/husband/friend/lover, etc.)

Today, with the “Grand illusion of online connectivity,”

it’s so much harder to figure out what the world thinks of us.  You might say, who cares?, but no one, outside of hermits living in complete isolation in the woods, can truly say that outside opinions don’t affect their well-being.

In our online, connected social/not-so-social, 24 x 7 world, we are infinitely judged by everyone for anything we post/blog/utter/comment online.  I say “infinitely” because once words are pressed into digital media (texts, posts, blogs, comments, emails, etc.) there is a permanent, accessible record.

And judged we are – 24 x 7 – no matter if we recant, remove, erase the words, our persona online becomes what others perceive us to be.  We are judged by people we may never meet, by people in other countries, by people who gain a snippet of our life as we allow them to see online, and our image of ourselves can be forever altered.

I’ve thought about this… Facebook reaches over a billion members worldwide.  People of every facet of global society are on Facebook and pass judgment based on the two-dimensional words, photos, friend lists, and associations we make (our likes, dislikes, comments, etc.):

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Online affects kids AND adults…

Who we are and how others view us is critical to both kids (who are finding their way in the world based on social media, YouTube videos, online comments, etc.) AND adults.  I see this as a looming crisis as we, the civilized 1st world, pretend doesn’t matter.  We comfort ourselves by saying that our kids are connected and safe and loved when we give technology gifts instead of spending our time and energy connecting with them one-on-one.

Our news media is filled with reports of cyber-bullying and intimidation with sometimes dire results (depression and even death, sadly.)  Yet, others profess that online friendships have rescued their lives (the infirm and home bound.)  Ultimately, time will tell what a generation of children raised mostly online will give us.  (Hopefully they will be able to talk and connect to each other as human beings!)

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I’m connected almost 24 x 7, but who am I?

I’ll be the first to admit that I spend  most of my waking hours “online.”  By that, I mean, essentially tethered by an electronic umbilical cord to my smart phone, my laptop (now), or my tablet and am constantly accessible to the world through Facebook, e-mail, text messaging, Facebook messaging, or Skype.

My professional work is home-based and on-the-road based (I teach project management and speak at conferences worldwide) – and when I work from home, I have the luxury (and the bane) of not ever having to step outside my front door, yet I find that my true identity is when I go out and interact face-to-face with other people.

I am confident and secure with who I am, yet I hear of other adults (and youngsters) who struggle to find their place in the outside world – mostly based on their online interactions. One poll stated that over 2/3 of Facebook users BLATANTLY LIE with their  posts – yet the posts are legal and have the power to be used for/against people in court!  (It goes against who I am to lie online… just saying.)

On behalf of friends (and myself), I’ve agreed to conduct a short experiment (that I’ll publish the results of) to gauge if who you think I am matches in any way who I truly am… will you take part (please?)

tethered

Who do YOU think I am (an online experiment…)

Here’s the challenge:  give me a three word description (no profanity please!) based on what you’ve read on this blog or on my other blogs or on Facebook that you think best describes me (I know I’m opening myself up by leaving it free format here.)

To make it easy, here’s a template:

 

Regardless of the Grand Illusion – Go Offline to really connect and stay true

I created a National Offline Day (it’s a Facebook event) as a global way to for people to reconnect with real people in your real life.

Won’t you join in?

I’m committed to reconnecting with the people in my life and my neighborhood for 12 hours – for the sake of my real-life sanity.  Let’s get back to who we really know we are… for real and in-person without the grand illusion of online personas.  🙂

Have a great week!

National Offline Day – August 3, 2014

27 May

I traveled back from London, UK to Toronto last Friday, May 16 after a week of working, and I was dismayed to read the headline article in the Daily Mail about a recent study linking heavy internet to negative outcomes for our youth (click on the image that follows or the link beneath it to read the article.)

Not that I hadn’t been hearing rumors about the negative effects of online and the lack of good, solid communication skills prevailing in North America and Europe (and not just in our young people) … I just didn’t expect the widespread results found in this latest research.

So, I’d like to declare Sunday August 3, 2014 as National Offline Day!  (Here’s the link to the Facebook event page I created: https://www.facebook.com/events/1492244714326734/?source=1#)

The intention is to unplug for 12 hours from social media and be a day for families, friends, and especially children to reconnect with each other and meet people the old-fashioned way – in person!

Here’s what I propose:  Sunday August 3, 2014 from 9am to 9pm (in whatever time zone you are) commit to go offline and unplug for 12 hours!  (After 9 pm, post photos of your experience and add comments to the Facebook event.)

You can use your cell phone to MAKE CALLS only – no texting, no Facebook posts, no tweeting, no email – for 12 hours.  Spend time through direct one-on-one contact with your kids, your friends, meet new people, get in contact with your fellow human beings (or connect with the good in yourself!)

Have a picnic, a beach day, a craft brew bottle share, a bbq – anything you normally would do – but without any online exchange.  Will you support this – what do you think?

Share the idea around, and let’s just do it!  Can we make National Offline Day August 3, 2014 happen?

Background

Here’s the article in the Daily Mail May 15, 2014 you can read for yourself, the Headline speaks volumes!

daily mail web usehttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2629866/Heavy-web-use-harms-childs-mental-health-Every-hour-raises-risk-warns-watchdog.html

While I don’t agree that the Internet CAUSES mental illness (in the same way that the internet cannot cause weak ankles, poor vision or the like) – I do agree that we have nurtured unconscious alienation from each other through “the advancements in communication” technology.

Kids are the first to suffer from a lack of physical love and words of affection – exacerbated with technology. Kids need connection, hugs, kind words of affirmation – in other words direct human contact!

That’s the reason behind National Offline Day August 3, 2014.

(Sidenote, I do agree that the internet has many positive results such as creating community among those who feel alienated in offline life, but bear with me for a moment.)

Online technology has become an excuse for poor one-on-one communication – regardless of age!

Communication experts note that messages received rely on body language and tone, with only 7% of the message getting through based on the chosen words.  With today’s instant messaging and other online forms, 100% of the message relies on words (or stupid acronyms like Laugh Out Loud – LOL.)

Let’s make a point of getting in touch with each other this one day a year (to start) and maybe create it more often too!

Have a great week (as you read this post online!  And probably were alerted to it by Facebook or Twitter… LOL!)

– Carol

Clues as to Why She Might NOT be into You… (especially for men over 40!)

10 Aug

Following on the coat tails of “He’s just not that into you,” I’ve developed a list of common behaviors rampant among men (over 40) in Florida.  Every one of these has happened to me in the past 6 months (!) and my friends concur that they experience the same thing.

While we see these as absolute turn-offs, we constantly have guy friends who say “We can’t figure out why she didn’t call/text/email me back – I thought we were soooo compatible.”

So, if you are over 40, male, straight, and living in Florida (and elsewhere), here’s the top 10 list of disrespectful behaviors that should give you a hint about:

  “Why she just might not be that into YOU”:

1. If she tells you she doesn’t like texting and you insist on texting anyways; it’s likely she won’t be into you.

2. When you ask the type of food she likes and disregard her response & take her to Hooters; it’s likely she just won’t be into you.

3. No advance date planning ahead of 3 hours; this is just plain narcissistic to think that we women are waiting by the phone for your call.  If we are busy and active, (which those of us who are emotionally healthy and happy ARE), we’re not going to find this an attractive behavior.  When you know we are busy and you still do this (because you are NOT busy),  it shows a lack of planning on your part and a lack of respect for our time;

4. Male whining about how bad your ex is/was; We don’t care (just like you shouldn’t care to hear crap about our ex’s!)  You’d be turned off about us bemoaning how horrid our ex is/was -and so are we!  It doesn’t matter what you ex did to you or who she was – unless you prefer to be with her than us… Regardless, this is a turn-off and we probably will just NOT be into you!

5. Smoking without first asking if it’s offensive; this is a big no-no – a guy who pulls out a cigarette in a crowded bar or car and then expects us to share the air with their nicotine.  Would you willingly take part in cancer research we subjected you to – that was harmful to your health?  Unlikely – and so if you do this to us (without asking if it’s okay or excusing yourself and walking away) – we’re most likely NOT going to be into you!

6. No showing after we reserve time when you’ve asked us out and then saying “it wasn’t really a date anyways;”  This one is simply amazing!  A guy I know (who insisted he really, really wanted to see me) pulled out the “I’m too sweaty and tired to see you tonight” after arranging a date a few days in advance.  His response when I told him that I had set aside the time was “well I can see you tomorrow or Friday or the weekend” – NOT!  Any busy, happy female realizes that this is plain disrespectful behavior to assume that he can see you when it is CONVENIENT for him… Gosh, it is any wonder when this happens that we are just not that into you?

7. Calling us “chicks” or “girls” when we are over 25. – Hey, we are women who deserve good treatment – we’re not school girls or barnyard animals (although you might like that – NOT!)  While you may not intend to be disrespectful – you need to know that this is how it comes across.  Don’t be surprised if we are just not into you!

8. Asking if you can meet up with us when we’re out with our girlfriends, then getting ticked off and leaving in a huff when we don’t devote all our attention to you.  This happened with a “friend” who wanted to go out with me (I told him I just wanted to be friends) – he shows up at a place where he knew I’d be with friends (the priority!), ignored my friends (despite being introduced) and tried to monopolize my time.  Is it any wonder after violating multiple points above (whining, smoking, disrespect) that he’s no longer even in the friends WITHOUT benefits category?

9. Ignoring responses to texts you’ve initiated – for hours or days – then expecting immediate responses when you finally do text back; This is a routine complaint from my single friends:  guys will text them and carry on a conversation (multiple texts) then drop “off the face of the earth” when they initiated the text thread in the first place.  When our responses to your texts go unanswered, is it any wonder why we don’t respond immediately when you decide it is convenient to text back?  If we sense a lack of respect or courtesy, you can bet that we will just not be that into YOU!

10. Whining (about anything and everything) – especially when we’re out somewhere. There is nothing more pathetic (and unattractive) than a guy who whines about how great their former city is compared to where we choose to live. Recently a transplant from Scranton, PA incessantly whined about the “high price of chicken breasts” here compared to “Scranton” – it got so bad that I started to encourage him to move back!  If you whine instead of expressing gratitude for life, don’t expect us to be into you!  We have enough drama in our lives without having to take on yours!

Now, I’m not saying all single men over 40 living in Florida (and elsewhere) are bad guys.  I’m simply pointing out that if you are puzzled by female behaviors that confuse or (at times) seem to stymie you – take a look again at the checklist items #1 through #10 – and see how many infractions are part of your regular behavior.

Certainly it is your choice whether you want to/don’t want to change, but if you do want someone to become special in your life, you may want to take a second look at what you might be doing to turn off women.  (And this is just a short personal list of what irks me and my friends – it might not hold true for other women.)

Wishing you all the best – do you agree with my findings above?

p.s., The next posting will concentrate on how to discern:  “You think she’s into you, but you’re just not sure:  A Checklist for Respectful Guys.”

Carol

Is anything “real” these days?

6 Sep

 

 

The internet has spawned an “International Attention Crisis” where people worldwide are addicted to constant (24×7) updates and instant gratification by social media, email, voice mail, and other “indirect” (i.e., non-face-to-face) contact with others.

 

Walk into any restaurant, bar, coffee shop, or even car, these days and you’ll seldom find anyone to talk to – in person that is – and you’ll find the same with everyone else.  It’s as if we’ve all become zombie slaves to our electronic connection tools.

 

Sometimes I wonder if there is really any communication happening in person today… except on reality TV shows where fantasy and reality blend seamlessly to convince us that non-communication in our homes and personal lives is okay.

 

Tell me what is real and what is fantasy in these situations:

 

– People sitting at the same table in a restaurant or bar (who are in-person friends) all texting others who are not there;

 

– Drivers in cars watching their smart phone screens instead of traffic all around them;

 

– Children who text their parents from their rooms instead of walking into the same room to talk;

 

– Facebook members who brag about having 5000+ “friends” when research proves that the human mind can accommodate a mere 150-or so friend relationships;

 

– People who call out or disrespect others using Facebook because they lack the guts to communicate directly;

 

– Unlimited texting is more popular than unlimited talk on cell phones;

 

– Twitter is replacing email systems as the preferred method for some corporate communications;

 

– When you meet someone they ask you if you are on Facebook or Twitter before they ask for your phone number or other contact information;

 

– People know you by your photo on social media and don’t recognize you in person;

 

– Interactive voice recognition (IVR) computer systems block access to real people when you need help desk support – sometimes there is no possible way to reach a live human being who can solve your problem;

 

– The only way to bypass circular menu systems and reach a live person at banks or cell phone providers is to say “Cancel service”;

 

– When people say “I’ll call you right back” it usually means they are bored of talking to you and will often text instead of calling back;

 

– “Events” from Facebook or social media fill out your social calendar where you mingle with mostly people you don’t care to meet again;

 

– Life becomes more isolated, more self-reliant, more independent, and less connected (even though it seems you are ultra-connected!)

 

Perhaps it is a sign that I am getting old, but I long for the days gone by when people went to restaurants and bars to meet and mingle rather than post photos and check-in on Facebook.  I’d like to go out “with” people who are not tethered, have a real date with a guy who isn’t constantly checking his email, and have good conversation with friends who are truly interested in my life and vice versa.

 

While it does happen from time to time, the reality is that nothing that was real yesterday (true communication, compassion, connection, and genuine interest) is real today.  Technology is supposed to be a communication “enabler” but I’m wondering just what kind of “enabling” it is really doing to our life today.

 

Is anything (or anyone) real these days or are we all living in the fantasy of virtual communication?

 

Wishing you genuine connections with real-life people!

 

Carol

 

 

Are Women the Worst (Workplace) Bullies?

3 May

Last week, Forbes published an interesting article titled: Why Women are the Worst Kind of Bullies:

What do YOU think?  My first reaction was:

Charlie Brown’s Lucy (or worse)… in the workplace

If you grew up in North America, you are probably familiar with the cartoon character “Lucy” from the Charlie Brown series.  Lucy would run roughshod over her “frenemies” and friends,  coddle up to her crush Shroeder, and generally disregard the feelings of anyone in her path (especially Charlie Brown, who she would ridicule and torment with endless promises to hold the football!)  Lucy was so ignorant of her own hostility that she even appoints herself the go-to problem solver with her “The Doctor is In” lemonade stand. (No matter, Lucy was still a bully.)

The topic of bullies is front and center these days thanks to the philanthropic efforts of Lady Gaga and Oprah at Harvard, the recent release of the documentary “Bully“, and a rise of suicides linked to cyber-bullying.  But bullying is not confined to schools – in fact, workplace bullying traditionally has been categorized and addressed as sexual harassment, if at all.  Adult bullying can take many forms such as narcissistic bosses (see my post: Walking on Eggshells – Source of Back Pain?), harassment, group think (pressure to conform to the wishes of the group), and biases against minorities/gender/age, etc.  The article in Forbes cites a much more insidious, everyday situation of workplace bullying where women don’t just usurp other women, but can even create hazards and obstacles for others.

It’s not a “Catfight”…

As a female, mechanical engineer by training, and an IT consultant and international speaker by experience, my career has not been traditional.  While it is common knowledge that men are intimidated by strong, confident women when it comes to relationships (I am seldom asked out by professional, single men), it is less frequent in the workplace.  When it is, I have found that in a male-dominated, professional workplace there is a direct and honest response – either the team embraces professional women or they do not.  Seldom when men are involved do I have to “guess” whether I can fit in and be productive.  At this point in my career, I have a name and a solid reputation in my industry, so I find that men will typically accept (and sometimes even celebrate) me on a team and see the positive contribution (there are exceptions of course!)

Stereotypically, it has not been the same situation with women who are on par or above my level – and that has been a source of confusion and at times, “shock and awe”.  In some professional (and more often in personal) situations, same aged women, on the surface, have welcomed me with open arms offering their friendship and help, then reached behind to stab me in the back, and in the process they never stopped smiling.  Sometimes it’s no wonder that men do not understand – I do not understand and I’m a woman!

It is a strange thing… granted, men and women everywhere will step on and use others to get ahead (is it human nature or nurture?) – but the behavior is different.  Men will more often attack head on, directly and consistently; there is no question about their intentions or offensive behavior.  Predictable, consistent, stab you in the chest.  I can accept that and take action to avoid the pain.

What is more difficult to deal with is the in-your-face-nice girl accompanied by the reach-behind-your-back to stab you behavior that women (again stereotypically) use on other women.  While we women are confounded to make sense of female-on-female treatment by our own gender, men often trivialize the behavior as a “Catfight” (thereby marginalizing it as hormones raging out of control.)  There is far more to the behavior than meets the eye, and it is an area undergoing frequent research (with few answers!)

When I look ahead to my daughter in the workplace, I realize that technology advances have not changed the human interactions (in fact they create less face to face communication).  Our workplace and human relations are really not much different today than 30 years ago.  Given my experiences, I posted several articles which may be of interest:

And I found several other interesting posts from others:

And of course, the recent maelstrom of frenzied activity stemming from the UK Mail post:

The question: “Why are females mean to other females?” is today either avoided or hotly debated, but the fact remains that the situation won’t simply go away by marginalizing it as “Catty behavior” or ignoring it all together.

As women, we have enough to deal with in life being parents, co-workers, survivors of the economy, caregivers, neighbors, significant others, and just plain noble citizens without having to watch out for other women gunning to get us!

In the words of Rodney King (the focus of the LA Riots 20 years ago) – Can’t we just get along?

Finding a good team of like-minded people!

I am fortunate to now be a part of a wonderful team at QSM, Inc. with confident, powerful, assertive women who are not intimidated or jealous of other professional women.  Our multi-disciplinary, gender balanced team is forward thinking and definitely supportive of each other.  I am blessed to say I’m on the same team with several high-powered, direct, accomplished, and supportive women – it is a dream come true!

The Way Forward…

I believe that women need to learn to start supporting other women, and we need to stop stereotyping men as the culprits to the bullying phenomenon.

It reminds me of the situation regarding minority cultures who point to other cultures and races as the source of their problems (that they cannot solve), when the answers realistically lie with working within their own community to create solutions.

This brings to mind the saying popularized by the Pogo cartoon:   “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

As popular self-help gurus point out, when you point a finger at another, there are four fingers pointing straight back at you!  As women and mothers, I believe that we need to start a movement (even a movement of one!) that nurtures, boosts, and supports other women – at home, work, and everywhere.   Such a movement of women (and supportive men) would take our country and our workplaces into a brighter future!

Today, take the first step to say a kind word to another – you just never know what that might lead to (especially if that person met a bully only moments before!)

Have a great week,

Carol

Shortcuts and half-baked solutions

2 May

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wow!  Incredibly powerful words from decades ago – yet they have never been more true than today!  Whether in business or in personal affairs, no one seems to value hard work, persistence, or thinking these days.  Relationships are disposable, communication is impersonal (with text-message soundbites), governments look for the quick fix, corporations value capitalism over people, and shortcuts are the norm rather than the exception.

I don’t know about you, but my email inbox seems to attract an ever-increasing barrage of spam – most offering “get rich while you sleep” schemes – and it makes me wonder who is actually working while all of these salesmen are busy promoting.  At tax time (April 15), the Tampa Bay Times featured a front page article showing the latest scam where scammers submit fraudulent tax returns (using social security numbers of dead people) to “earning” an average of $9000. per return.  None of the offenders feared the IRS and they were proud of their endeavors.  Sheesh, what is our society coming to when someone’s 15 minutes of fame comes at a heavy expense to all of us?

Several months ago, the same paper profiled citizens among us vacationing on proceeds their insurance company paid out for sink hole claims for repairs never made.  Both stories highlighted the shortcuts that cost taxpayers millions.

Yet there are millions of other smaller shortcuts to fame and fortune and half-baked scams happening everyday all around us.

Why do we accept (and settle for) short cuts and half-baked solutions in life today? 

The first step to realization is to look at our behavior (before we look at others.)  Why do we take shortcuts or live with half-baked solutions to what ails us?  Probably because it is easier, less work, less stress, and comes with less risk of failure (and rework) to do the least possible.  This allows us to save our energy for things that “really matter” later.  As a result of not doing our best, we are dissatisfied with the results from ourselves or others.

Moreover, when we do do our best, people may not appreciate it, so why bother to spend extra effort?  When we look around, if everyone else takes shortcuts, why shouldn’t we?  The answer is that, in the process, we shortchange ourselves, our children (who learn by example), and our community.

We can see the results of our shortcuts and half-baked solutions everywhere: products don’t last like they used to; quality is down;  expectations are down; product failures are up; and morale goes awry. In the banking crisis, banking professionals bet against their own customers to pursue profits, got away with it, and even got a bonus bailout for their efforts.  No wonder our children seek shortcuts in everything they do.

The Buck has to stop somewhere…why not with us?

When we start to fully perform our work, invest in relationships (they take work), take time to do things right the first time (instead of half-baked), and insist on the same from others, our world (and morale) will improve. The America of yesteryear was filled with innovation, invention, progress, hope and dreams; hard work and integrity prevailed.

I envision a future where I can look back and be proud that I put the effort in to “fully bake” solutions – at least for my life.  How about you?

Wishing you a success-filled week.

Carol

Unknown Unknowns…

10 Apr

The Unknown

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.

–Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

It is said that the known knowns (what we know we know) and the known unknowns (what we know we do not know) are a mere 3-5% of what we could know if we discovered even a few of our unknown unknowns (what we have no idea about that we cannot even imagine we do not know).  Similar to the iceberg above, there is an amazing world beneath the surface of those first two categories.

Once in a while, we gain a glimpse of things we had no idea was even possible in our existence – and it can be exciting to discover these things.  What I find amazing is that the things I do not know that I do not know may be things that others may find obvious or might at least be on their radar that they know nothing about.  How much bigger could your and my world be if we caught more glimpses of positive unknown unknowns in our world.

Yet, so many people, especially politicians and leaders purport to know all there is to know about the world, and a few will even offer to find out things that they know they do not know.  On the other hand, there are those whose minds are closed and not open, and they prefer not to even consider that there are ideas beyond those already on their radar.  The concept of unknown unknowns does not even enter their realm of reality.  Do you know people like this?

When our minds are open (like umbrellas) we are able to embrace new ideas and listen actively. The more we know, the more we discover we don’t know, and suddenly the world can become interesting, no matter how old you may be!

How much excitement and happiness are in the world that we haven’t yet discovered is even there to discover?

So many things to learn to learn, and so little time.  (Just when we thought the world was getting smaller…  I don’t know about you, but knowing there is so much of life yet to discover, makes me happy to be alive.

Enjoy your day!

Friday Folly

23 Mar

What if, just for today, everything was perfect in “your” world?

  • If all your thoughts were happy ones free of worry about yourself or anyone else?
  • If every cell and muscle in your body were pain-free and excited to be alive?
  • If every person you meet today is happy to see you?
  • If every sensation from your six senses (including intuition) was positive?
  • If you felt gratitude just for being alive?
  • If your soul felt optimistic about your future?

Author and sage, don Miguel Ruiz, says:

The dream of the planet is just a dream. It is not even real. If you go into the dream and start challenging your beliefs, you will find that most of the beliefs that guided you into the wounded mind are not even true.

Spend the next 24 hours Dreaming that all the above are already true – just as a Friday folly – and see if your Saturday doesn’t turn out to be just as awesome…

Have a great weekend!

Carol

Walking on Eggshells… Source of Back Pain?

22 Mar

First off, this post is not about physical back ailments, so I apologize if you came here to read about disk failures or arthritic conditions.  The back pain I want to talk about is the pain from having to look back and watch what you say or do because someone else explodes or behaves badly (and blames you)!

You probably have people in YOUR life who expect you to “Walk on Eggshells” (i.e., you have to be careful what you say because they explode if YOU say the wrong thing) – and it causes you grief!

Not only do you have to be careful what you say or appear to say for fear of negative retribution (often explosive) – you have to plan/rehearse/replay what you might say in your head to hopefully avoid a similar outcome. Even then, with careful planning, explosions invariably occur “because of what you said or did”.  Think about this for a moment along with Einstein’s definition of insanity:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

So, if makes sense that if you constantly try to do something different (such as saying things in a different way) and you get the same explosive results, maybe the result has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU.

People who expect special treatment from others are the prima donnas, narcissists, sociopaths, and bullies of our society and invade our work, play, and homes.  If you love someone who does this, you might feel responsible when they explode (especially when they blame you) or treat you badly.  (This is a classic model of abuse: the abuser blames their victim for inciting the abuse.)

Personally, I am at a point where I realize that the “walk on eggshells around me” person is simply unhappy in spite of or regardless of me.  It seldom matters how nice or kind or careful I am because the explosion is not predictable.  (I once asked my ex-significant other what words I to avoid so he would not react badly because it didn’t seem to matter what I said.  His response was “you think you are a good communicator – figure it out!”  The truth was that no words from me could change his behavior – only he could. )

People who use verbal outbursts to get their own way may or may not realize their responsibility for their own behavior.  Or they might have always gotten away with blaming their firework reactions on others!  Why change what works if it gets them what they want?

Is there an alternative to “walking on eggshells”?

When bad behavior is rewarded it continues.  Imagine a child screaming and ranting in a grocery store and the parent rewards them with candy to shut them up.  The same thing happens when grownup children rant and get their own way in board meetings or at home.  Bad behavior is like an addiction – and if we reward the abuser for outbursts (by giving in) we are enabling the behavior to continue.  Easier said than done especially when the other person is a spouse, a boss, a family member or a friend.  It is easier to avoid them or to give in to keep the peace.

I fell for this too many times in my lifetime and today I avoid these people when I can, and if I cannot, I work hard to realize that I am not responsible or a trigger for their outbursts. Still, no one including me, wants to be covered by verbal diarrhea or hit in the face with fireworks – and then be blamed for causing it.

Can you identify with these “walking on eggshell people” I meet or hear about from others?

Fireworks are fun to watch - if they are celebratory!

  • At work I used to work with a guy who huffed and puffed and got red when anyone challenged his authority as a self-appointed expert. Sometimes he even exploded in a room full of people!  I am grateful I no longer have to work with this person.  He eventually named his company after his first name (narcissistic), brags about his religious devotion, yet continues to huff and puff and literally explode when anyone disagrees with him. He is over 65 so one would think he’d have met his match by now, but executives and peers simply watch him pontificate and back away before the fireworks begin.
  • ParentsI see parents everywhere who bully their children into complicity using religious guilt, coercion, and downright  manipulation (“if you loved me/us you would think/feel/act the way we tell you to”).  Parents who are bullies create submissive children who can grow into embittered adults.  While their physical presence is temporary (child rearing years) their damage can be lifelong.  Parents whose behavior creates a “walk on eggshells” environment with their adult children often lose the very respect they “demand.”
  • Spouses/partnersIf you have/had a spouse who tells you that they only said xxx because “you made me say it” you know what it is like to “walking on eggshells.”  Should you dare to suggest that their responsibility for fireworks they ignite themselves, you might be “down the river without a paddle” so to speak.  I can tell you from experience that life can be grander without such a “partner.”
  • Children – We have the chance to influence a child’s behavior to a certain extent (personality weighs heavily here) by not allowing or rewarding tantrum-like behavior.  Even when corrected at an early age, there are plenty of adult children who use explosions and then hold their parents to blame long into adulthood.  I believe that we need to teach children accountability and consequences for bad behavior at a young age.
  • FriendsI have written about the types of friends who explode or behave badly when they do not get their own way (Do Mean Girls Grow up?) – and my solution is to walk away and find new friends.  On rare occasions when I confronted the person, it had  a good outcome, but more often it led to even worse outbursts.  These days I follow the advice of a New York friend who encourages me to say “Next” and move on to the next friendship.
  • People we do not knowIt is painful to witness someone verbally abusing another in public.  I do not believe that it is ever warranted to yell at another adult unless it is to alert others to a threatening situation or assault.  I see this happen all the time and I never know what to do.  When it is an adult verbally abusing a child, I often step in or alert a storekeeper for advice, but when it is adults involved, I am at a loss… I do not want to become a victim by confronting the offender, yet I do not want to show that I accept the behavior by complicity.

If “walking on eggshells” causes (back) pain why do we comply?

Is this an isolated situation confined only to me?

If you have found something that works instead of walking on eggshells, would you share them with me so I can also share them with others?

Wishing you a stress-free week of happy times!

Carol

Wasted, Invested or Well Spent… It’s all Relative

20 Mar

Life is seldom predictable, and when we look back at decisions we made, we are often overly harsh on ourselves about our choices. Hindsight is always 20/20, but… our judgment of whether the decision was a waste, a good investment, or resources well spent is anything but objective.

I believe that living with regret is one of the most harmful and unproductive ways to spend our days.  It is like “crying over spilled milk” (where no amount of assessment will clean up the mess or prevent it from happening the next time). Another analogy is that we living with regret is like driving by looking in the rear view mirror. Both limit our ability to live actively (and happily) in the present.

Regret is a state of mind based on a (negative) judgment of our past decisions. If we judge that we wasted resources instead of investing them or spending them well, we stay stuck in the past wanting to change where we are today. (But we have no guarantee that a different decision would have played out any better!)

I believe that if we were kinder to ourselves and could quiet our inner critic, we could change our outlook and move past regret. Would it not be easier to live  positively in the present?

Moving past Regret

I find that a 3 step process works to move past (and reframe) regret:

  1. Replay the decision objectively: Given the limits on our time, energy, love and money, no one wants to waste it on bad choices.  In this step, I consider the “me” who I was at the time and am compassionate knowing that I made the best decision I could, given the information available at the time.  I realize that my responsibility ends with my behavior (and not that of others) and this helps me to be kinder when I consider the decision.
  2. Realize that I am only one person party in a connected world. When I consider how a decision played out in my life, I remind my inner critic that other people and circumstances were involved to affect the outcome.  Whether the decision involved love (another person was involved), finances (market factors and economic considerations), time (a constant outside my control), relationships, a move (factors outside my control), job (others involved), or a variety of other things, the outcome was only partly determined by me.
  3. Judge the outcome with kindness and integrity. don Miguel Ruiz outlines the first agreement (from his book The Four Agreements) as: Always live with integrity; which means that we must treat ourselves in the same way that we would treat a best friend.  When it comes to judging our choices, we need to consider what we would tell a best friend in the same situation.

Let me give you an example of how these 3 steps can work.  Consider that you lost your house due to foreclosure or are danger of doing so and feel the regret of “wasting your money”.

  1. Consider your decision to buy the house in the first place.  Real estate was historically considered a safe choice and an investment. Regardless of the price you paid, you likely weighed a number of factors before your purchase, and made the best decision you could.  Remember your state of happiness (and probably some trepidation) and optimism when you finalized the deal.
  2. Realize that the market and circumstances are variable. Even if you considered the risks, your involvement in the current crisis was likely minimal.  The real estate downturn, the economy, and your current employment status affect you, but they were not your doing. Give yourself a break.
  3. Judge the outcome with kindness and integrity. If you were talking to a best friend, you’d tell him/her that the decision was the best one at the time and life never unfolds as planned.  You would remind them of the good things that came with owning a house (even temporarily), and how the decision manifested things (like new friends, tax deductions, stability, etc.).  Undoubtedly, you would encourage your friend to look at the past objectively, and to be optimistic about the future.  Live with integrity and do this when you talk to yourself.

Reframing your past with the 3 steps allows us to move past regret and view our decisions properly as investments and resources well spent.  Certainly, we will still view some events as a waste (of time, energy, money, or heartbeats), but the more we can minimize these, the better our present and our future can be.

What do you think – would this work for you?

Have a positive week!

Carol

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