Persecution Complex

“I can see that they don’t like me, therefore I’m correct.”

Recently someone accused me of being “willfully defiant” and “intentionally non-cooperative” toward him. And there’s no point in trying to defend myself from these accusations, because apparently, I’m also a liar. This verdict against my character actually took me by surprise. Usually, mature adults don’t place those labels on mature adults. That’s something you might say about a tantrum-throwing child or a troubled teenager. But the most surprising thing about it is that it was obvious that he sincerely believed his assessment, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. How strange for two people to be living in such polar opposite realities.

Clearly, this guy does not know me well. In general, I’m a very low-energy person. I’m proud of myself when I get the bare minimum done for my survival on any given day. The dust bunnies under my bed can attest to that.

The thought of sitting around, plotting and scheming and following some rigid plan to… what? Make someone’s life miserable for the pure hell of it?  That seems like an enormous waste of my limited energy. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

It’s also rather startling that someone actually thinks that I focus my attention that much, either positively or negatively, on someone who is not a loved one. I mean, I have never socialized with this guy, and I never will. I don’t know where he lives or what he likes to eat. Frankly, I have to admit that I’m not even certain of his eye color. Brown, maybe? Blue? I’m not sure.

The truth is, I don’t care about this dude unless or until he decides to do something that affects me. The bulk of his life has absolutely nothing to do with me, and that’s as it should be. If we were drawn as a Venn diagram, a tiny sliver of our circles would just barely overlap. Go on about your business, man. That’s what I’m trying to do.

We do have a lot of philosophical differences. Neither of us seem inspired to try to alter the other’s politics or religion, so frankly I couldn’t care less. Where we seem to butt heads is in regard to how things should be done that will impact both of us.

If he comes up with a great idea, I give credit where credit is due, and I adopt the policy without question. Sadly, he doesn’t seem to have kept track of the times that I have done that. Had I but known there would be a test afterward, I’d have taken notes.

On the other hand, if he floats an idea and I see potential problems therewith, I point those out. But I do that with everybody. By no means am I singling him out for such treatment. But if what he does will impact me as well, I feel I have the right to weigh in. In fact, I genuinely believe that I would be remiss in not mentioning the pros and cons of the concept.

Now, what he chooses to do with that information once it’s provided is up to him. I’d want someone to point out potential hazards in my plans were the positions reversed. That way I can be confident that I’m making an informed decision.

Instead, his idea of feedback is vague and uninformative, and usually a tad condescending. “Your pet project is a waste of funds.” The only thing that informs me of is his general disdain for me. It causes me to explain how I could get around the funds issue, which he then interprets as me being argumentative.

So there you have it. We don’t like each other. The difference, it seems, is that he thinks I’m actively out to get him, and only him, and that it’s my reason for being. But actually, I just think he’s a jerk with poor communication skills, but I know for a fact that he’s that way with everybody. I don’t think I’m particularly special, so when I am the beneficiary of his lack of tact, I know that I’m not the only one. I don’t think he’s smart enough or evil enough to rise to the level of plotting against me. I don’t believe that I take up the amount of space in the world that would inspire someone to give over their every waking moment to destroy me.

And I am truly confused by that mindset. What am I supposed to gain by being willfully defiant? I don’t see any possible motivation for behaving that way. Personally, I prefer to avoid confrontation whenever possible. If my character and/or reputation is attacked, I will speak up about it, mind you, but I certainly don’t go looking for fights.

I’m an introvert. Human interactions exhaust me. So the last thing on earth that I’d want to do is go out of my way to make any necessary interactions hostile. I would much rather exchange pertinent information and then get on with things. Preferably alone.

I made a new friend recently, and in an effort to understand this confusing situation, I told him about it, and he said, “I bet that guy was bullied a lot as a child. He sure seems to have a persecution complex.”

Wow. Perspective. I’d never thought of that. He does spend a great deal of time documenting the most minor transgressions that he sees in all of his coworkers, and then conflates those things into a major crisis. He has a reputation for throwing people under the bus, and I don’t think he truly understands just how universally disliked he is because of it.

He seems to be incapable of allowing for human error. Someone puts a key in the wrong place one time, he will professionally shame that person. He documents it as a safety issue, which it would be if it were a habitual error, but we’re talking one incident as compared to the 125 times that person has put the key in its proper place. What a crisis! No one else at work goes from zero to catastrophe like this guy.

He has said that things would be so much better if he were able to discipline me. And he has absolutely no clue how creepy that sounds. It is beyond me how someone can be so certain of his own self-righteousness that he gets frustrated when he isn’t allowed to mete out justice to everyone around him.

Okay, so let’s face it, we’ll never be inviting each other over for Thanksgiving Dinner. Big deal. But I genuinely do try to understand people, so I decided to read more about persecution complex, to see if it truly fits him, and if so, come up with some coping skills for when I’m faced with his paranoia.

The frustrating thing about persecution complex is that the bulk of the articles out there seem to be discussing only Fundamentalist Christian persecution complex which happens to overlap with Republican persecution complex. It seems that the best way to hold onto your outlandish beliefs without having to defend them is to think that the only reason your beliefs aren’t universally held is that some person or group is out to get you. They’re trying to shut you up, prevent you from spreading the truth. So it’s not your fault. It’s theirs.

How convenient.

I don’t even know if this guy’s a Christian, and while I suspect his politics might make me want to puke, I can’t be certain, so these articles weren’t as helpful as I hoped they would be. I did pull out a few nuggets of information once I stripped away all the religion, though. Here are a few:

  • If you feel like someone is persecuting you, you can convince yourself that somehow that means you must be doing the right thing, so you get to pitch your tent, forever, on the moral high ground.
  • People with a persecution complex find it all but impossible to differentiate contradiction from persecution. (And that, in a nutshell, describes my situation with this guy. I disagree with an idea, and he sees that as the attempted murder of his very essence.)
  • People with this complex think that their beliefs are magically validated if they are hated for expressing them. Further, the more extreme they become, the more they feel they hold the truth in their hands, because martyrs would not die for nothing, right? Their flawed logic tells them, “I can see that they don’t like me, therefore I’m correct.”
  • People with persecutory delusions can’t recognize reality. They believe that someone or some group is trying to harm them. These beliefs often look bizarre and unrealistic to the outsider.

Yep, all these things apply to the guy in question. Does that make me feel vindicated or triumphant? No, actually, it makes me feel sorry for him. He has a sad little life, and that is painful to see.  Another upsetting conclusion I have drawn from my reading is that many people who have a persecution complex either had traumatic childhoods or are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for some other reason.

I can imagine he was bullied as a child, and no one deserves that. I can imagine he’s been through some horrible stuff to have so much self-loathing that he believes he must automatically be completely loathed by others. But he’s taking victim-hood to new depths. He once told me that if his marriage fails, it will be my fault, such was the stress that I put on him by pushing back all the time. And I couldn’t even pick his wife out of a lineup.

So, now I have a better sense of what I’m dealing with. I hope that some day he will realize that I care entirely too little about him to pose a threat. Dude, I didn’t push you down the stairs in high school. This monster costume you’ve put me in makes my scalp itch. It’s time for you to let me take it off.

It must be really terrifying to think you’re surrounded by irredeemable demons whose sole purpose is to hunt you down. But I suppose it’s preferable to looking at yourself in the mirror and admitting that you are your own worst enemy.

Sources:

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Persecution_complex

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_martyrdom

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mizjkPLUFYo (This crazy video allows you to see persecution complex in action.

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/persecutory-delusions

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Do You Like Everyone?

I don’t.

I know several people who seem to like everyone that they come across. I’m not one of those people. Far from it.

My emotional system reacts to toxicity. I tend not to tolerate hostile people, users, those filled with hate, and substance abusers. Stupidity combined with arrogance, in particular, makes me chafe. To quote the Desiderata, I tend to “avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.”

And you know what? I’m tired of feeling guilty about it. I have a right not to like everyone. Heaven knows that not everyone likes me. That’s just a fact. My dislike of you doesn’t really matter in the overall scheme of things. I’m sure there are oodles of people out there who think you’re just peachy.

It’s also okay to stop liking someone that you used to like. People change. You change. Your friends change. You outgrow some people. You get new insights. Maybe that person is no longer healthy for you to be around. Some people are just more adept at recognizing end points than others.

Many religions say that you should love everyone, but the followers of those religions rarely do. I honestly think it would be a rather creepy world if everyone did. It would be a Stepford world. I prefer a little more nuance.

I’m not talking about going around and actively hating people. That is its own form of toxicity. But there’s nothing wrong with curating your friendships. Some people are only meant to be in your life for a season. Sometimes you need to move on. And it’s also perfectly okay if you never form a friendship with someone in the first place. Sure, give them the benefit of the doubt, but if you don’t mesh, you don’t mesh. It’s not the end of the world.

When I do warm up to someone, I’m a good friend to have. I have a lot of love that I freely give. But I reserve it for those whom I invite into my circle.

I believe that people who allow toxicity into their lives tend to get so used to it that they don’t even realize it’s there anymore. If you are abused, after a certain point you begin to think you deserve it. If you grew up next to the Love Canal, you probably wouldn’t realize that there’s clean water elsewhere. If you smoke long enough, hacking your lungs out in the morning seems like a normal part of your routine.

I kind of feel sorry for those who like everyone. They are not living in reality, for a start. They often get taken advantage of. Not everyone is going to have your best interests at heart.

I don’t have to like someone to hear what they have to say. It’s just that my time is getting more precious with each passing year, so I prefer to spend it with people I enjoy. Time is a commodity that you should dole out wisely.

People who claim to love everyone often say they don’t want to live in a bubble. They want all sorts of people in their lives. That sounds great, but every human being is different. If you have more than one person in your life, you have all sorts of people already. Mission accomplished.

I have all sorts of people in my life. Some don’t get along with others, so I share different parts of my life with each of them. Each person brings a different flavor to my feast of life. I’m not intolerant of differences. What I’m intolerant of is the lunatic fringe. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

People who say they love everyone do not seem genuine to me. So you do you. I’ll do me. Don’t try to force me to be you. It won’t work. Think of me as one of the many sorts of people you want in your life and leave it at that. Go off and kumbaya all you like. I’ll be over here when you’re done. In the real world.

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Toxic Positivity

“This dude is about 45 seconds away from forming a cult.”

Recently I overheard a friend listening to some sort of motivational speaker on Zoom. It gave me the creeps. The man actually said that Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” was his personal hero. Ugh.

This speaker was a living, breathing business pep talk. Hearing his over-the-top enthusiasm and encouragement and his assurance that if you think positively, you’ll definitely get what you’re after, made me think, “This dude is about 45 seconds away from forming a cult.”

Don’t get me wrong. I think Covey’s 7 habits have their place, but he is no hero. I think enthusiasm and motivation are wonderful, as long as they don’t turn into a form of criticism or a way to not listen to what others have to say. I’ve even been known to say “An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along” on this blog, and my first book is about gratitude. But these things should be part of the overall balance.

If you’re an unrelenting Pollyanna who sees sunshine and lollipops wherever you go, then you are, frankly, delusional. There are negative aspects of life. These negative things have a need to be acknowledged, too. They, too, shouldn’t be the only things you focus on, but there’s nothing wrong with having mixed emotions, or feeling sad or angry sometimes. It’s perfectly natural.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. I was really happy to see this article in Bloomberg entitled, “Trying to Stay Optimistic Is Doing More Harm Than Good.” It makes several interesting points.

If you know someone who is living on the financial razor’s edge due to this pandemic and is telling you his or her story, for example, then perhaps you shouldn’t respond with a sentence that starts with, “Well, at least…” That sentence shows you are not hearing that person, and you’re not willing to hear them. You’re not letting them vent their anxiety. You’re not acknowledging something that is hugely impacting their lives. (And frankly, you’re being rude.)

If you are a toxically optimistic boss, you pretty much make it impossible for your team to speak up and point out issues that need fixing. If you insist that all your zoom meetings start off with some positive bit of news in the midst of a pandemic with a heaping side order of political and financial unrest, you are not acknowledging entirely legitimate sides of your staff. You’re making them cut themselves in half to feel like they’re team players.

Sometimes things suck. Sometimes people are discouraged and depressed. That’s okay as long as it isn’t the only thing they ever are. Well rounded, mature individuals know that the emotional pendulum tends to swing back and forth. Personally, I take comfort in that. If I don’t like how I’m feeling at the moment, I know from repeated experience that it will eventually change. This, too, shall pass.

Further, if you make people feel as though there’s something wrong with them if they’re not positive 100 percent of the time, then they will seek relief in all the wrong places. They may fall into depression or abuse substances. They may become victims of Ponzi schemes in an effort to gain instant success. They may fall victim to Prosperity Theology, thinking that if their attempts to think positively won’t help, then maybe if they just donate more to religion, the money will come back to them tenfold. That’s magical thinking at its worst. At a minimum, they’ll think they’re not good enough.

People who insist you always have to have a gung-ho, can-do spirit are setting you up for failure. You really are allowed to have a whole host of emotions. Most of those emotions will be relatively fleeting. If not, it’s time to seek help.

According to the article mentioned above, people feel more sad, not less, when they’re expected to hide those emotions. Yes, do your best to look at things in a positive light. Be grateful for the good in your life. Count those blessings as often as you like. But know that it’s okay to get frustrated or annoyed or stressed out or upset sometimes. It wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t have those feelings every once in a while.

Give your cloudy side a great big hug, knowing it has a place within you, too. The full spectrum of your emotions should be allowed to come out and play as needed. If not, they’ll manifest themselves one way or another. They don’t go away. They insist on being heard.

Namaste.

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Our Connection with the Universe

Your reality has a great deal to do with where you are looking.

I read something recently that really made me think. If you lived on the sunshine side of a tidal locked planet (one in which one side of its sphere always faces the body it orbits around), over the generations you might completely lose sight of the fact that there’s a universe out there, because you’d never see the stars.

How tragic that would be. For centuries, Man has been looking skyward and wondering what is out there. We imagine constellations of stars as being part of a group even though they are nowhere near each other. We give them names. We wonder if we are alone.

Personally, I find it extremely comforting that there’s something so much larger than myself that it practically renders me insignificant. It makes me feel that any concerns I may be having are insignificant, too.

There is so much beauty in the night sky. It calms me. It embraces me. I’d hate to lose that sense of awe.

Our moon is tidally locked to us, which is why we always see the same face. But we are not tidally locked to it, nor is it tidally locked to the sun, which is why we see different phases of it as it continues to face us. If you lived on the far side of the moon, you wouldn’t know earth existed. That’s a profound view of reality, because the earth is comparatively huge, and would be rather hard to ignore in other circumstances.

Tidal locking would mean you’d only get to see one version of reality. And over time that reality would be reinforced to such a degree that it would be hard to leave room for any other beliefs. (In fact, one’s very concept of the passage of time would probably be so different that it might render one incapable of imagination.)

It just goes to show that your reality has a great deal to do with where you are looking. That’s why I love to travel so much. I think it’s important to experience other points of view. And by that I don’t just mean the opinions of others. I mean the points from which I get to view the world and the heavens.

I hope you take time to look about you, dear reader. There are many things to see. And those sights will enhance your connection to the universe.

NGC7293_(2004).jpg

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Hallucinations

Reality and the perception thereof.

I’ve written a lot about reality and the perception thereof. I used to think of reality as a solid entity. I thought there was one reality, and all of us had varying abilities to see it. Now I’m not so sure. Reality seems much more fluid these days.

I know that the things I see out of the corners of my eyes when I’m severely sleep deprived aren’t real, but they sure seem like they are at the time. More than once, I’d swear I’ve heard someone call my name, only to look up and see no one who knows me, or, worse yet, no one at all.

When my mother died, I missed her so much that I swore I saw her several times in a mall, or in a train station, or rounding the corner on a crowded city street. Apparently that’s a very common part of grief. But it sure gives you a jolt when it happens.

I’ve had entire conversations with someone only to realize that due to a misunderstanding, we were talking about two separate things. That can be hilarious. But surely there have been times when we’ve both walked away without realizing we were not only not on the same page, but in completely different books. And there’s no way to know how often that happens.

According to this article from the Atlantic, entitled Hallucinations Are Everywhere, a lot of hallucinations come about because your brain anticipates what is about to happen, and that can make you believe it is so. It’s a fascinating read. But it leaves me wondering how much of my reality is crafted by my brain out of whole cloth. That’s a little scary.

Another thing the article says is that a lot of hallucinations are harmless. Whew. That’s a load off.

So much about the world these days seems to be built upon a fragile, shifting foundation. I can’t really blame my brain for trying to fill in the blanks to make sense of it all. But I long for something solid. Something logical. Something I can count on.

Hallucinations

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Examining Irritation

I have no idea why so many people have overlooked the memo that I am Queen of the World, but there you have it.

True confession: I get irritated by stupid stuff.

It’s not that I enjoy irritation. In fact, it irritates me. But sometimes it feels beyond my control.

The good news is that the older I get, the more level headed I seem to become. I think part of that is due to the fact that I can’t work up the energy to be annoyed as often as I could in my younger days. I just can’t be bothered.

Oh, but there still are things. Someone cutting ahead of me in line. People blocking grocery aisles to chit chat. Rude individuals. All things Trump. The common denominator here is that people aren’t playing by my rules. I have no idea why so many people have overlooked the memo that I am Queen of the World, but there you have it.

Another thing that has improved with time is my self-awareness. I am getting better at seeing the physical warning signs of my irritation so as to nip it in the bud. Is my heart rate increasing? Am I feeling adrenalized? Am I starting to fidget? Uh, oh. Time to evaluate the situation.

First off, am I already Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired? Then I need to H.A.L.T. Because any one of those four states are bound to cause me to overreact. At times like those, I’ve been known to look for a reason to be irritated. How stupid is that?

Next, I need to really look at what I’m feeling. Sometimes irritation is a mask for other, less comfortable emotions. Fear. Fury. Depression. Grief. Disappointment. Dissatisfaction with your relationship with the person who is triggering your irritation. A feeling of being disrespected. My own stupid impatience when someone doesn’t comply with my self-imposed time line.

In many cultures, we are taught to suppress “negative” emotions. But emotions don’t hold a positive or negative charge. They are what they are. You feel what you feel. If you suppress that, it’s just going to find a way out in other ways, such as irritation when your boyfriend leaves his dirty socks in the coffee mug. It helps to check in with yourself about what you are really feeling. (For example, you’re annoyed, and frankly a little scared, that he doesn’t care enough about your feelings to put the mug in the dishwasher and the socks in the hamper.) If you aren’t adept at that, and many of us are not, I suggest that you consider therapy. I highly recommend it.

Another thing I try to do is a reality check. When I get irritated, I try to figure out which one of my rules is being violated. (As in: footwear and kitchen utensils don’t mix.) And then I try to remind myself that a) people are not mind readers, and b) not everyone goes by the same rules. (If both the footwear and the kitchen utensil are dirty, perhaps your boyfriend doesn’t see their intermingling as a big deal.) Then, maybe the two of you can discuss your versions of these unspoken rules and form a consensus. That would be ideal.

Probably the most important thing to think about, though, is that you are never going to be able to control other people’s behavior. Never. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t partially to blame for not hearing you when you tell them, however ham-handedly, that their behavior triggers your irritation. What it does mean is you have total control over your side of the equation. You can change the way you react. You can examine it, deconstruct it, and make alterations within you. You might be surprised. That could lead to changes in the other person, too.

But take your irritation seriously. It’s horrible for you and everyone around you. Here’s when irritation gets out of hand:

  • When you find yourself annoyed at what you know, logically, is a trivial thing.

  • When you get aggressive by yelling or being hostile or becoming violent.

  • When you have a chronic problem, such as getting annoyed, over and over again, at the same thing. (How is that working for you?)

  • When your temper gets worse when you drink or take drugs.

If any of the above applies to you, you have an anger management problem that you should take seriously, and I encourage you to seek help. Your life doesn’t have to feel like a miserable nightmare, and those around you shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells, either. Life is too short for everyone concerned.

irritated

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The Curse of Summer Vacations

The reality of summer never fit with my fantasies.

Holy moly, it got up to 88 degrees here the other day. If I were back in Florida, I’d be thanking my lucky stars for that nice, cool respite. Here in Seattle, the land of no air conditioners, 88 degrees is pure, unadulterated hell. It’s really hard to sleep when it’s that hot. People start getting cranky and acting crazy. Welcome to summer.

When I was a kid, I used to long for summer. I’d daydream about summer vacation while sitting at my school desk. (I daydreamed quite a bit. I was usually about a dozen lessons ahead of my classmates.) School was tedious for me. I could have moved much faster along my academic path if I didn’t have to drag all that dead weight behind me.

So summer vacation, for me, meant freedom. It was a time of lightening my load. It was my idea of Shangri-la.

I have absolutely no idea why I felt that way. The reality of summer never fit with my fantasies. I came from a hard working, very poor family. It’s not like we summered in the Hamptons or something. My mother had to work. If we went anywhere, we rarely went far, and we didn’t stay for long.

The reality of summer for me was lots and lots and lots of horrible daytime television, interspersed with the escape of library books, and naps. Blessed naps to break up the suffocating boredom. Often by the end of summer I was sleeping all day and watching TV all night.

It’s a wonder I didn’t lose my mind. Maybe I did. Because as soon as school started back up again, I would revert back to counting the days until the next summer vacation. It took me years to stop looking forward with miserable longing. Now is where it’s at, baby.

summer vacation

For Real

God, how I hate being misunderstood.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that made you question reality? Sometimes two people can draw such different conclusions from a situation that it makes you wonder if you come from the same planet. I had one of those recently.

A friend said, “You just called me an (xyz).”

I replied, “What are you talking about? That word never came out of my mouth. What I said was (abc).”

My friend repeated his assertion. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. Especially since we were communicating via text.

So I said, “Dude, scroll up. Where are you seeing (xyz)? Where? Show me.”

Long pause.

Then he said, “I just talked to (mutual friend E) and she agrees with me. I’m not an (xyz).”

Me: “Wait a minute! Where is this coming from? What are you talking about? I never said you were!”

Him: “It really hurts my feelings that you disrespect me so much that you think I’m an (xyz).”

At this point, my feelings were kind of hurt that he would think I was the type of person to say such a thing. So I said, “On my life, I never said that! I don’t know where this is coming from. If I struck some sort of a nerve somehow, I’m sorry. But I’m not responsible for the nerve being there in the first place. You’re pulling facts out of thin air, so I really think we should leave it at that.”

God, how I hate being misunderstood. Even worse, I hate trying to explain something that seems perfectly obvious to me, only to discover that the other person just doesn’t get it. “But… the sky isn’t lime green with purple polka dots! Look at it! Look!”

I would probably be easily sucked into a cult. Because eventually I’d just give up and I’d really want to believe the sky was purple and green, too. Anything to make the world make sense again. After a while, I might actually see a tinge of green. And maybe a spot or two.

Or not. Who knows?

green and purple

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Let Reality Be Beautiful

Things are good. Almost too good. So good, in fact, that sometimes I panic. That annoying little voice in my head whispers, “This is too good to be true. It can’t be real. You’re overlooking something. Or all the great people around you will finally see you for the inherently flawed individual that you are and disappear. Or a meteor is about to crush you dead. Or something. Because you can’t have the good things.”

If a pep talk like that doesn’t send me into a panic attack, surely it will cause me to dive headlong into a pint of Häagen-Dazs. Neither outcome is optimal to my health. But if I get to choose (“You never get to choose.”) (“Shut up, annoying little voice!”) I’ll take the ice cream.

I was talking about this to my dear friend Anju, whose blog I highly recommend. Of everyone I know, Anju is one of the ones I’d be most likely to consider an authority on this subject, because from what I can tell, she leads an amazing life. She takes risks. She sits down at the world’s table and she feasts of life like a fat kid in an ice cream parlor. No apologies. No prisoners. Her life isn’t always a bed of roses, but it is uniquely and undoubtedly hers. I admire her. I’d love to be her.

After listening to me grouse, she simply said, “Let reality be beautiful.”

Wow. If that doesn’t strike a chord in you, then you are tone deaf.

And you know, why the hell not? If things are good, then I should enjoy them. I need to live in the now, because the now, right now, is awesome!

I may not have any control over the meteors heading my way, but I certainly don’t have to poop all over my own party. I deserve as much beautiful reality as the next person. And so do you, dear reader.

Thanks Anju!

1474639153_Haagen-Dazs_Ice_Cream_Photo11

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Dream Crushing

I used to know someone who seemed to delight in crushing others’ dreams. When I was young, she approached my mother, all concerned, because I talked about wanting to be a teacher, when the week before I wanted to be something else. My mother responded, “She’s a kid. She’s supposed to try different ideas on for size. Let her be.” (That was probably one of my mother’s finest moments. Thanks, Ma.)

This person went on to have children of her own, and it broke my heart the way she used to deprive them of all hope. When one of her kids said she wanted to be a singer, she was told that you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than become famous.

While that may be true, the message she was sending was, “Why even try? You won’t be good enough.” Because of that, that girl grew up and singing isn’t a part of her life. She might have been famous. Or she might have sung in the church choir and made lifelong friends that way. Or she might have become a music teacher. So many paths were cut off from her life thanks to her mudslide of a mother.

When another one of her kids showed aptitude in one area above all others, she tried her best to discourage him, because it wouldn’t be an easy career. But he lived and breathed it. He did manage to get halfway into it, but never went the distance. I often wonder where he’d be if he had gotten just the tiniest bit of encouragement from the woman he admired most.

It’s so much easier to crush someone than to lift that person up. When you crush, gravity is on your side. But I hope you’ll resist the urge.

Watching people fly, even if it’s away from you,  even if the destination remains just out of reach for them, is much more satisfying than having to scrape them off the sole of your shoe.

lift

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5