What’s Your Problem?

Has anyone ever asked you that? I remember my grandpa Jack yelling that at my grandma Esther one time. Her answer, as I recall, was something along the line of, “YOU!” Their relationship was fragile at best.

Maybe you have started out your day very upbeat and happy. Suddenly – sometimes very suddenly – everything changes to the proverbial going to hell in a hand basket. Of course, everything is subjective and the outcome largely based on our attitude.

Suppose you get a flat tire on the way to work. One driver might just change the tire. Another person might become totally unglued over a flat tire, allowing it to ruin their day and outlook. Our upset friend with the flat starts grousing around looking thoroughly miserable or cranky. That’s when we hear, “What’s your problem?”

Does that mean the person who freaks out over seemingly little things is not well-equipped to handle stress? Perhaps … perhaps not. It could be avoidance, an unwillingness to handle a stressful situation.

Often we aren’t angry or upset for the reasons we say we are; if that’s the case then we’re most likely still ticked off about something in the past. In other words, it’s not really the flat tire that causes the drama. The reason our drama queen is really having a meltdown is that he thinks he can’t afford another bill, is worried about being late for work or feeling guilty that he didn’t avoid the object that caused the puncture.

A great deal of grief results from not taking cares of issues as they arise, delaying the process of addressing the problem or even burying them completely. It’s like rotten potatoes at the bottom of the bin; sooner or later the stench is going to force you to at least open a window.

We must decide individually when and how to deal with those areas of our lives which will ultimately require our attention. I would propose that now or sooner is better than never or later in most cases. Sometimes a little distance is a good or necessary decision.

But, our hurts, anger and resentments have the habit of fermenting, not like a fine wine, but much like rotten potatoes. I’m not saying we need to clean out the recesses of our minds today in one fell swoop. But … have you ever had to clean out rotten, smelly and squishy potatoes from the bottom of the bin? The longer we wait the worse it gets. Jus’ sayin’.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Terry

Facts and Opinions

Have you ever been told you “need to get your facts straight?” I have. But in retrospect I have found that it wasn’t my facts that needed the examination. It was the opinion of the other person. And, in all fairness, I’ve definitely been on the other side of that conversation as well.

My friend, Judy, recently turned me on to a quote by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, not his own facts.” There’s a tremendous amount of power in those words.

The “facts” we hold dear are often colored by our sources. This is particularly true when the statements are in line with our own beliefs, worldviews and underlying (or overt) prejudices. Thanks to the Internet, information is more available now than ever before in human history and from an almost unlimited number of sources. That doesn’t mean that it is all factual.

Those many news outlets, treatise and blogs are not going to agree on certain subjects. Most will be slanted at best and bias at worst. We can expect individuals and organizations to be slanted in the direction of their own views, i.e. the NRA is going to be pro-guns and the families of the victims of mass shootings will not be. There’s nothing wrong with publishing those opposing points of view and the conversation is worth having.

Where we often go wrong is when we are biased. This is different from being slanted in one direction. A bias writing discounts, ignores or even distorts whatever information that disagrees with or disproves the position being put out there. For example, the non-partisan “fact tank,” Pew Research Center in Washington, DC, recently published a report on the accuracy of the major American news outlets. The report indicated that the news channel with the highest viewer numbers had their facts wrong an astounding sixty percent of the time. So whose “facts” do we believe?

I've become very aware in the past few months about I how have often reacted instead of responding to conflict. What I’ve discovered is that when I have to go in print to explain, justify or defend my actions I know one of two things is going on:  (1) I feel the need to convince or coerce everyone to agree with me, or, (2) I know I've totally screwed up and just don't have the balls to admit it.

I would challenge you to be brutally honest with yourself for just the next day. Instead of initially reacting to conflict or disagreement, take a very deep breath and instead respond with the intention of understanding the other person. Ask them why they feel the way they do – even if you have already have an arsenal of why they shouldn’t believe it! It is through articulating our beliefs that we stand the test of fire in being sure our convictions are worth having. Oh, and just for the record, the world is round. That’s a fact! <grin>

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Terry

Rest

Do you get enough rest? Perhaps you’re a working parent with two or more kids and a full-time job; that would be a “no.” Maybe you’re working full-time plus attending college to finish a degree; another “no.” Or, you might be maintaining your home life while working full-time, as well as caring for an elderly parent and helping your young adult child through university; and that makes three for three.

I hear from readers all the time that there just isn’t enough time during the day to get everything done. It doesn’t matter whether it’s going to the gym, working in the yard, starting your next (or first) book, cleaning the house or getting a massage – time is the “reason” we use for why we aren’t doing something. And, when we don’t have another time to do our “chores,” how can we be expected to rest? That only comes when the work is done, right?

We have all the time we need to do what we want to do and still have sufficient time to rest. Let me say that again:  We have all the time we need to do what we want to do and still have sufficient time to rest. At the risk of hearing cries of “You don’t understand,” I stand by that statement. Why? Because I’ve proved it over and over and over and over again in my own life.

More of others

If I find a deadline is looming for an article I have due next week it’s because I chose to put it off. I may not go to the gym that often – it’s really cold outside and the gym is ten minutes from my house – but instead of going downstairs to the Bowflex machine I own and working out for 15 minutes I have another bowl of ice cream. I choose to watch TV programs I have recorded on our DVR instead of reading material I “don’t have time to get to,” knowing full well that the programs are mindless drivel. Why?

Sometimes we procrastinate because we’re afraid we can’t accomplish our goals. Other times we put off doing what could propel us forward in our career or lives because we lack sufficient belief within ourselves that we deserve the reward. And sometimes it just might be that we’re tired of being the adult all the time and just want to escape responsibility.

I’m not suggesting we stop watching all TV, read only spiritually uplifting or self-help books, or criticize our every move. What I am advocating, however, is that we stop to see just what it is we want to do tomorrow. Make a list, right now, of what you want to accomplish tomorrow. You don’t have to abandon all obligations to others, but if you are one of those people who consistently complain about not having enough time, chances are you’re doing more of what others want you to do and less of what you want to do.

Give it shot. Why? Because at some point your body is going to react if you don’t act. It might be a cold or flu that keeps you home because you’ve run down your immune system. Or it could be a heart attack or stroke because your body just can’t take it anymore. The choice is ours, as always, so make it your resolve to not only concentrate on doing what you want, but getting sufficient rest to have another day to enjoy.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Terry