*Take note, I have no degrees. I am not employed as a counselor, unless you're hanging around my local grocery store in the middle of the night and you ask me a simple question like, 'What aisle for peanut butter, and why do my co-workers hate me?' This post is meant as a fact finding mission of self. Thank you for your time.*
That being said, I'm damn near perfect.
As far as my character goes, I love who I've become as a woman. My conscience is clear. Also, I've done a pretty good job keeping fit for my age, I have a good head on my shoulders and I have accomplished many things of which I am proud. All of these are attributes anyone would gladly carry but still, I look behind me and can't help but notice a neatly aligned, lavender scented trail of devastation.
Why neatly aligned?
Because I've rationalized, categorized and psycho-babbled the hell out of it until it appears to me to be 'under control' destruction.
Why so sweet smelling?
Because I've camouflaged it as a pattern of consequences due to the decisions of others, not myself.
But here it is, behind ME. And not the 'behind me' that allows me to walk further from it but the 'behind me' as something that lurks and follows closely no matter how quickly I run.
Now, being someone who prides herself on seeking personal growth, I continually work to think and act with empathy toward everyone and I routinely examine my motivations and reactions. Possibly I do this so that I won't ever find the blame falling on me when situations go south. ( I did mention I over-think everything, right?) But there it sits; the undeniable trail that highlights pain I've caused and wounded comrades I've left behind.
Because I fit into the category of people who have difficulty finding fault in themselves (I think we probably amount to a pretty large chunk of the population) I recognize that I more easily see faults in other people. After all, someone has to be in the wrong, right? Unfortunately these 'other people' have to be close enough to me to make my life difficult and that often means that they care enough about me to become injured when I point the finger back on them. Remember the phrase, 'You always hurt the ones you love'? It's an ugly situation we find ourselves in, indeed.
So what's the solution? How do people like myself more easily take responsibility for actions that have played a part in the destruction of relationships, the un-syncing of harmony, or simply for blocking a healthy path from someone else? I have settled on a very simple checklist for identifying when we are in the wrong.
1) The first step and probably the most difficult of them all is in recognizing/ admitting to whether abuse is a factor. Although you may be at fault for certain turbulence in life, it is important to know if your situation is as bad as you or someone else may suspect. Are you being abused? Are you an abuser? Only through knowledge, personal acceptance of your situation, and growth will this situation change. The following is a great resource for anyone, male or female, married, single or dating.
Honestly, we should all know the signs.
[If you determine that abuse is a factor you need to immediately remove yourself from the relationship (whether you are the abused or abuser) and approach it from the outside. Hoping things get better or telling yourself you'll never do/ say that again doesn't bring about progress in a dysfunctional setting. Seek help! All may not be lost.]
2) If you've eliminated abuse as a factor in your situation, it's time to ask about a few other destructive actions and attitudes.
*Does it always seem that you are right?*
(And the follow up question to that is, 'Does it make sense that you are always right when clearly everyone else is so frequently wrong?'
This one was written especially for me, but maybe it applies to you too.)
Well, you're not always right! Have some humility, drop your defenses and trust your loved ones to keep loving you despite this very human imperfection of sometimes being wrong. That isn't going to go away, I'll have you know!
*Does someone else's happiness piss you off?*
This one is fun to watch out for because if you notice yourself falling victim to this it's possible you're going to roll your eyes and lighten up immediately. It's pettiness.
And keep in mind we're not talking about someone's sadistic happiness at the suffering of someone else. It's healthy if that enrages you. Here's a little poem to assist...
"A flower for a smile
to grin a longer while.
A poison for a sneer
As Hitler's drawing near."
I know, that guy gets all the bad press but it's his own fault.
Here are a few more questions to ask yourself with some likely reasons behind a positive answer....
*Is there a highway involved if things don't go your way?
It's possible you're being too controlling. Work on trusting the decision making abilities of others.
*Do you drag an early morning bad mood all the way out until evening?
I think we are all guilty of this once in a while but some of us practice it more frequently. Look for it. Change your routine, get up earlier in order to take the time to do what you want. If what you want to do is sleep, get to bed earlier. Often this bad mood is another sign of control issues. We feel controlled by the routines of work, traffic, and schedules in general. Change something, if you want change. If you have a job that pays $ 50,000 a day and you absolutely despise it, give it to me and free yourself!! No, seriously though, you aren't doing yourself or the people around you any favors by being a miserable cuss, albeit a rich one.
*Do you depend on someone else for your everyday happiness?
Yes, being in love is wonderful blah, blah, blah, but having someone in charge of your happiness, and essentially that's what this is, is a lot of pressure on that other person. Looking forward to seeing someone or having them text you is fine but there has to be another part of your life without them. You are still you when they are not there.
And of course there are workbooks, video series', and websites committed to addressing the roots of turmoil in our lives. Look some of them up if you want further (and more professional) guidance.
The major point I'm really addressing with this post is that we can't always fix what we've broken but we can always work in ourselves to better ensure that our mistakes aren't repeated, that our personality flaws don't further aggravate the bonds of our relationships, and that our bad habits (although perhaps well-intentioned ) don't leave an unending trail of damage behind us. The people in our lives are the things most worthy of a lifetime of effort and change. Make the effort and embrace the change.
Visit the June 2013 post 'The Damn Near Perfect Challenge' at Challenge Me! for some more introspective questions.