Tag Archives: Standards

T stands for…Tough?

Have you ever been in a situation where someone, of the opposite or same-sex, be it a friend, a relative or someone who you’re involved with, who you care deeply about, does something which completely goes against your standards of how you want to be treated? Or YOU hurt someone because of something mindless you said or did or a mindless reaction you had to them thereby failing to meet their standards?

Two wrongs don’t make a right is what my friend B always tells me and it’s so true. Sometimes when someone hurts us we lash out because we almost want to impregnate their entire psyche with the pain that we feel, the pain which they placed on us intentionally or unintentionally, be it through their words, actions or lack thereof just to make sure that they know how WE feel. After all that is what our defensive ego enables us to do. And since we’re creatures of habit, unless someone lets us know, how would we become aware that we’re doing something negative and break the cycle we’ve been participating in for so long???? Oh yes, it does require us to be able to see ourselves outside of ourselves, which is very difficult if we’re consumed in our own pain, darkness or undisclosed and un-felt feelings.

The difficulty always lies in the involvement of the heart and the fear of loss. If we love someone, we want them in our life and therefore we want to forgive whatever it is that they did since we don’t want to lose them. But when someone does something which makes us feel disrespected, hurts us or breaks our trust, there has to be a time-out and a reassessment of the situation. For one, many ‘little’ things can add up to create a big problem in the future, for they create a precedent for what is acceptable if left as not addressed or ignored at the time of their occurrence.  The second part of it is that these ‘little’ things can plant seeds of doubt which cause cracks in the foundation of the relationship thereby making its future collapse almost inevitable.  The most important part though is in situations where we are faced with something that our gut or instinct tells us is wrong, we have to take a stance, uphold our standards and stand up for ourselves. A perfect, and unfortunately a very common example would be infidelity – if you forgive it because you love your partner, you are sending them a message that it’s okay and that they can (AND IN 99% OF CASES, THEY WILL) do it again. (Of course, some people cheat because they cheat but often the roots lie in the relationship itself, for we are the ones who ‘create the monster’ so to speak. Therefore in cases of infidelity, both people have to go away and take responsibility for the cracks in the foundation of the relationship which led to its collapse.)

Other side of the coin lies in our own reactions, replies and choices of words and actions, whether it’s in reply to something someone’s done or a mistake we made. In being real, we have to be mindful of and take responsibility for what we do just as much as the other person who is involved. And sometimes we don’t fully understand the impact of our replies, actions or words, until the storm has passed and we can now look at the field and view the damage we’ve contributed to.

Many times, our emotions take over when we’re dealing with a conflict and it affects how we handle and deal with the situation. Unfortunately, that is what gets us in trouble. Sometimes we get lost in our own emotional turmoil that we’re not able to fully and completely listen to the other person nor accept their truth. But if we do, it doesn’t mean that we are agreeing with whatever they did wrong (if they were the ones who did something wrong) or that we are lowering our standards and sending them a message that it’s okay, but we’re creating a situation where healthy adult communication can take place.By the same token, if we are the ones who did something wrong then we also need to be able to hear the other person’s truth and accept how what we did or said made them feel and the impact that it made on them and the relationship.

I do want to point out that this is not a tit-for-tat type of situation that I’m describing or endorsing at all. It’s about being mindful in how we deal. I’ll be honest and speak from my own experience – I have learned not to reply to or participate in a conversation when upset and emotional for it leads to things being brought up which are not only hurtful to the other person but also stray from the situation which lead to that conversation in the first place. (For example, sometimes we bring up things from the past, which may or may not have anything to do with the other person. The person who is bringing up old stuff may just be looking at it as examples of situations which brought up the same feelings but to the person on the receiving end, it can in fact be hurtful because they may feel as if we’re comparing new raisins and old coconuts – the magnitude of the situations being completely different. The end result is usually a ‘blowing up’ of sorts where the ‘conversation’ becomes so involved that it’s emotionally draining for both people.)

I realize that it’s hard to sometimes end a friendship or a relationship with someone who we love or care deeply about because they made a mistake and did something wrong, but if they’re not made aware of what is acceptable, then really would they even think that that is something they’d have to correct, work on or be mindful of in the future? And remember, the same goes for you – if no one tells you, then how will you know?

I also believe that time does make a difference and that people can come to a place where they are on the same page if they take an appropriate amount of time apart (this could be years for some!) and work on their own ‘issues’. True love is unconditional and it doesn’t stop if someone hurts us. Sometimes, love does conquer all…but only if you stand up for yourself, listen to each other’s truths and keep it real.

We all make mistakes, say or do the wrong things and fail many times. But from all of that we can choose to learn and grow, or to keep doing the same thing over and over and over again. Bottom line is that I believe in standing up for yourself and upholding your standards AND I also believe in being mindful in how we react to or deal with a situation.

T

“Courage can give voice to those who are voiceless. Those of us who have a little courage, we can develop more. I don’t believe courage is something that you’re born with, I think you develop courage and you can develop it in small ways.”
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination.”
“If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.”
“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But, people will not forget how you made them feel.”
“The truth brings the past into the present and prepares us for the future. That’s what truth does.”
All quotes – Dr. Maya Angelou

Mindfulness….can we just try it?

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I don’t think that there is ever a date where you “start fresh” per se. After all the person who you are on December 31st is STILL the same person who you’ll be on January 1st. To me, I think if you want to achieve something, you should just start doing it NOW. Besides, most of the ‘resolutions’ made each year are really lifestyle changes and involve depth, understanding, reasoning, and time, which are all strung together with mindfulness.

Mindfulness. It’s a lovely word isn’t it? The way it just rolls off your tongue and comes out almost like a lyric in a song, sung in harmony of different notes, beats, words and sounds but yet stands on its own and projects out clearly even if heard by a foreigner with no knowledge of the language or the word.

I know you’re wondering how do lifestyle changes and mindfulness really relate to one other but I ask that you please bear with me and keep reading for as Common once pointed out, “One Day It’ll All Make Sense”. 😉

I have found that choosing to be more mindful has made me a better friend, coworker, sister, daughter and that it has made my interactions with the people around me, happier and better. Although I’m far from perfect (but then again, who isn’t?) I still choose to practice mindfulness in my every day life to the best of my abilities – from basic errands, responsibilities, work life, to all forms of dealings and communications with people both in my professional and personal life. So instead of giving you a dictionary definition of what being mindful means, I’m going to give you some examples instead. Of course this being my own interpretation, I welcome any and all opinions!

Being mindful is keeping your word or clearly communicating when you cannot. Example: You make plans with your friend on Thursday to hang out on Sunday afternoon. You both agree to spending time at your place. Sunday afternoon comes around and there is no sign of, or word from your ‘friend’. You contact them only for them to tell you ‘I can’t make it down – I’m stuck doing something and cannot leave.’ Mindful action in this scenario would have been your friend letting YOU know as soon as they knew that they wouldn’t be able to make it without you having to contact them to ask if they’re still coming. A mindful reaction is you letting that person know that your standard of friendship requires them to respect you and your time by letting you know of the change in plans as soon as it happens. (Another example of this is you speaking to a friend on the phone and you having to get off the phone, telling them that you’ll phone them back and then you don’t. Your friend has every right to be upset and not speak to you – after all, if it was a business deal, you’d go somewhere else right?)

Being mindful is also keeping it real. Example: There are only a few words that I can say I hate hearing or being addressed by. One of them is short form of honey – ‘hun‘ – which in my personal opinion not only sucks as a ‘word’ in the way that it’s said or used, but it’s also very overused and often comes off as fake. So, I cringe anytime anyone calls me ‘hun‘ and I’ve made it a point to let my friends know that I hate being addressed as such and for them to refrain from using it. Now when I tell my friends that – my real friends – they refrain from addressing me that way. Hence they are mindful of my feelings by not addressing me as ‘hun‘ and I’m being mindful by telling them how I want to be treated, rather addressed by them.

Being mindful is being open-minded and accepting of another person, making them feel good about being themselves around you. I am sure you can pick from a slew of situations you’ve experienced where this applies. In the end we end up being around people who we feel comfortable being ourselves around without feeling that we are judged. This includes friends, family, and those who we have intimate relationships with. Of course this is a two-way street as no one is going to be comfortable being around someone who is constantly criticizing you and making you feel bad about yourself.

Being mindful is also encouraging and being supportive of someone’s passions. Example: I’ve started doing spoken word events where I actually get up in front of people, on a mic, and recite my own poetry. It means so much to me when my friends send me messages of encouragement or good luck. It gives my performance more confidence and makes me feel good knowing that they want me to succeed. They’re being mindful by taking the time to simply send me that message.

There are many ways of being mindful but I’ll leave room for you to think about things that are important to you and to those around you. Instead I’ll leave you with this:

Mindfulness is kind of like your mother who took the time to do laundry on the weekend so that you have clean clothes to wear for school on Monday – mindfulness is another expression of love. It’s also kind of like your grandmother who disciplines you when you start acting out while she’s taking care of you – it sets a standard on how to treat and speak to others while teaching you that you must set your own standards on the way you allow others to treat and speak to you. Mindfulness is also kind of like your father who took you on a trip to an orphanage and showed you how other kids live – it makes you more aware of others and gives you a different perspective on life. Most importantly, mindfulness is kind of like your spouse – it’s a choice.

Mindfulness is so many different things but it laces together truth, honesty, integrity, communication, standards, respect, love, support and care. It makes us grow as people, it makes us feel good and it makes others who we interact with also feel good! Mindfulness….can we just try it?

T

“We achieve mindfulness when reality takes precedence over our ego.”~David Richo (from his book “How to be an Adult in Relationships – The Five Keys to Mindful Loving)


Standards, not expectations.

I have had the hardest time writing this week’s blog because, although I’m writing about something I believe in, I fear it being interpreted as a preaching of sorts, as that is not the vision I have for my blog. If it hadn’t come up in numerous conversations I’ve had with my friends, I probably wouldn’t even consider writing it but here goes…..

I have this theory which I think makes life simpler and aids in decision-making, and that is to live life with standards, not expectations. It is kind of a loaded statement yet simple. I know that people know this but not everyone actually uses it in their everyday life. For me personally, I cannot write about or discuss things which I do not practice, experience or have not been a witness to.

It has been my observation that expectations often lead to feelings of stress and unhappiness because most of the time expectations are not fulfilled (although they usually involve great emotional and/or mental investment). In contrast, I see standards as being more concrete, solid and realistic and often lead to feelings of fulfillment and happiness when they are upheld or maintained. I think that standards are very personal but carry with them responsibility, for as we develop standards for things and people around us, we also have to maintain a standard of our own.

I feel that, in maintaining a personal standard, there is accountability that is quite powerful as it is an accountability to our self we have to fulfill and are thereby responsible for maintaining our own standard. I also think it’s important to remember that there cannot be an expectation of anyone else to keep us on track to maintain any standard we have chosen for ourselves. It sounds complex, right? But actually it’s not.

I have been re-writing this blog for the last week trying to come up with great real-life examples to explain all of this and it’s actually tough as I don’t want to cause a sway of thought in any specific direction for anyone nor use examples of confidential conversations I’ve had with my friends. So instead of discussing a personal story, I will use made-up examples. (WARNING: Stepping out of my box!)

Say you made it your standard to bring your own lunch to work everyday as to avoid eating junk but one day you didn’t get a chance to do groceries and therefore didn’t have a lunch from home to bring. The choice you make on what you eat on the day you don’t bring your lunch to work, is where your accountability really comes into play – are you going to grab a salad or deep-fried Kool-Aid? No one is going to know or care what you eat therefore you only have one person to answer to – YOU! As it applies to this and all situations, you have a choice to maintain your standard.

I think that this idea of maintaining your standards is very useful in its application to bigger decisions in life, such as choosing a partner, a family doctor…really anything which holds importance.

Although I wish that no one has, most people have been in a relationship or two where, although we have deep feelings for someone, somehow it just doesn’t seem right. And it’s not that they’re a bad person or treat you badly, but it’s simply a matter of what it is you want versus what it is they’re offering you. So then in assessing your own standards, you can figure out if this person does or does not meet them, and if they do not meet a certain standard, then you have a choice – to stay and settle for that (people don’t usually change which is why I didn’t say “to stay and work on that”) or simply let go and move on. Now, let’s be clear – I’m not talking about their favourite colour being purple and yours yellow or them being a pescetarian and you a complete vegan as a comparison of standards. I’m talking about something more fundamental like family views and values, goals in life, how they conduct themselves with you, and so on. We all have standards which we require of our partner – some MUST be met, and others are negotiable (ex. Someone could decide: “I’m okay if my partner is not a vegan but they must be honest, loyal, respectful, and have good family values”.)

Another way of looking at this in a different situation… I think that a great doctor is one who listens to each patient and is thorough in the medical assessments he or she makes, in addition to having a great grasp of the medical knowledge and information which he or she may specialize in. But such a doctor made it his or her standard to practice medicine this way. (In my opinion, how you do something is just as important as what you do, and they both can have standards.) On the other hand, as a patient, I cannot expect all doctors to have this standard, but I could make it MY standard to only receive medical care from doctors who do. After all, just like in everything else in life, we also have a choice in our health care and from whom we receive it.

Although our standards are influenced by our experiences and people who we interact with, ultimately we set the standards which we choose for ourselves and the people around us. I do not think there is a definitive right or wrong, but I do think that it’s important to consider and think about it.

“Live life with standards, not expectations.”

I’d love to hear what you think… 🙂

T


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