Whew. This has been a weird-ass week. I was really pessimistic about work over the weekend, and Monday I found out some changes were happening, right when I was supposed to be gearing up to contribute to an initiative.
But, I wrote myself that perky pushback post, read some of my other messages to myself, and by gosh, I pushed back. I figured out a way to empower one part of my team, make their work more visible, and engage other folks to share their value.
I only had three half days to do this, and I required help, but it happened. One of my colleagues really stepped up to help, and between the two of us, we went from feeling defeated to feeling renewed. We could have just sat there in Eyore mode and moped, but no, we did something.
I was a little worried about the amount of initiative I took, but after enduring me excitedly outline my plans, my boss was impressed, not upset. I felt supported and validated. All it took was leadershipping, as we call it.
Knowing that I’ve developed the skills to pick myself up and start again validates the hard work I’ve put into becoming the person I’d always hoped I could be. You really do have to slog through the pits if you want to reach the pinnacle of your personal growth goals.
On to the next challenge.
By the way, we stayed at a hotel near Tyler, Texas last night. It’s known for its roses, so I had to take some pictures for the blog readers. The white ones even smelled good.
Here is a post where I lecture myself and remind myself of how one of my personality features bites me in the butt, repeatedly, for the same dang thing. It’s bugging me so much that I’ve started writing my own passive aggressive memes about it. I put a picture of Fiona enjoying Johnson grass under the words “You are responsible for your own happiness.” I felt good.
And, by the way, I am still occasionally annoyed beyond belief when people post thinly disguised “messages” to folks who are in their disfavor via memes. On the other hand, some of Kathleen’s do make me laugh, so I’m not saying y’all should never do it. Perhaps I just don’t like the ones aimed at me. Wow, that makes me sound like a jerk. Newsflash: I AM a jerk, at least in the eyes of some people. Hey, it reminds me of another meme I wrote years ago: No one is universally beloved unless they are boring as hell.
Where I’m going here is that I keep re-learning is that it’s not my job to “make” anyone else happy. In fact, when I try to do so, it usually blows up in my face in a spectacular manner. And I’m the one who gets hurt. That’s why I wrote a meme to remind myself. It said: “Reminder time: You’re not responsible for the happiness of others.”
I’ve probably mentioned this before, since I’ve been blogging so long, but indulge me as I repeat that one of my “features” is that I find sad people, see their good points, and want to help them become happier. This started in my twenties, where I tried to help a paranoid grad school friend realize that people weren’t always talking about him behind his back and the professors didn’t hate him just because one didn’t say hello in the hall. I knew I couldn’t “fix” him, but wanted to make things easier on him. Of course, he hurt me badly in the end. And I didn’t really help. I heard from him a few years ago, and he was still thinking everyone was out to get him. I didn’t contact him again.
Moving forward, many (okay, most) of my “love affairs” I now see as me trying to help someone sad feel better. Coincidentally, many had some pretty severe mental illnesses they were living with (a LOT of borderline personality disorder). I’d help with their self esteem and get them to a better place by being kind and listening a lot, but I couldn’t “cure” them, just show that they are worth caring for just as they are. Once that message sunk in, they’d move on to someone more well suited to them. And I’d be sad. I do hope the new relationships went well. And hey, I did eventually see my destructive pattern and STOP IT. Lee’s the last sad person I rescued, lol. I was also sad, though, so this time it was mutual, and we are sticking together through thick and thin.
It wasn’t just people I “fell in love” with. I also would come across younger folks and want to help them get a good start in life. Some of those actually worked out very well, and I have some great friends living wonderful, independent lives. But, I was still drawn toward people whose issues were really not something I could do anything about. I couldn’t “make” them happy by providing them with a safe home, sharing experiences with them, giving them tools for their hobbies, or anything. Mostly I now have a lot of baking and art supplies to show for that.
At least two of these people I tried to help and even brought into my home ended up lecturing me for being kind to them just to make me look good. I took that to heart. Maybe a lot of it was MY problem, not theirs. Ugh. All this self-evaluation is not fun or pretty. But I hope I learned the lesson that each of us is responsible for our own happiness, and while giving people a chance is good, they need to find their own way.
I need to keep writing myself some memes, though, because it has dawned on me that I’ve been trying to make life better to some other folks, STILL. I spend so much mental effort trying to figure out ways to make their lives easier and more pleasant. I want the people in my home and work life to feel like they’re contributing to society, cared for, and not alone. That’s probably okay. I still can’t “make” anyone feel less depressed, less unfulfilled, or satisfied with where their life has ended up. It’s not my job.
I say all that to try to reinforce it in my head. I’m NOT a failure if people I care about are not handling things well. I can’t rescue anyone, including myself! So, right now I’m working to get a better balance between caring for others and protecting myself from hurt. I know I’m not alone in this, but it’s damned hard. I’m not doing a good job of it a lot of the time. I’m wired to be an annoying rescuer, and I’m sure it came from growing up with a powerless, mentally ill mother, or whatever.
All’s not lost, though. I’ve been learning a lot in working with my team in Austin, and my boss has come up with this helpful way of looking at the mentor-mentee relationship. And that’s that the mentor can only give 50% of the effort in improving situations. The other person ALSO has to give their own 50%. Expecting someone to fix everything for you never works; you have to put in the effort. Thanks, boss, you super-stoic.
Forgive me if I’ve ever tried to help you and it made you upset or angry. I’m doing it because I also need help, ya know? Eventually I’ll figure out a balance between being part of a supportive community for those who could use some help and supporting my own self. Maybe even I’ll do better at asking for help. Those are some big dreams.
Until then, I’ll look for memes.
PS: On the podcast, I added that I may not have been clear here. I’m not saying you can’t support, love, and cherish people who are struggling, nor that you shouldn’t. I was trying to just make it clear that you can’t force people to not feel the way they feel. Did that help?
Along with Lee and two other business partners, I used to be a part of a real estate organization called FortuneBuilders. While it was an investment, the classes and networking ended up being well worth it. The leaders were a very positive bunch of human beings, and they brought in good motivational speakers and topics (I am a HARSH judge of motivational speakers, so when I say they were good, I’m not kidding).
Anyhow, one of the things the FortuneBuilder folks stressed was that it takes a lot of small successes among even more setbacks and challenges to get ahead in whatever you’re trying to do. They encouraged us to “Celebrate All Wins” no matter how big or small (if you got a response to one of your annoying postcards offering to buy someone’s home, for example). They even gave out shirts emblazoned with CAW to people who shared their wins at conferences (ah, I remember live conferences).
This morning, I was telling Lee about something that was challenging at work that I did a good job handling, and he said we need to make a bigger deal out of these things, like back in the good old CAW days. The idea works for home health agencies, software companies, horsemanship endeavors, fitness goals, and even interpersonal relationships. In other words, it works in all areas of our own lives!
I’m going to take Lee up on it and celebrate my wins for the past day or two!
Those of you who are my friends on Facebook may notice that I don’t share very many memes, but when I do, they tend to be from the Tiny Buddha page. Tiny Buddha was founded by Lori Deschene in 2009, and has always been a favorite source of content that is both uplifting and insightful. The content they share is always relevant and thoughtful, unlike a lot of meme sources that I don’t particularly enjoy.
Today’s meme that was shared is one of those little ideas that spark some contemplation in me. That usually means I have to go for a walk around the office to think, but since I’m working from home today, I walked the dogs and thought, using the rest of my lunch break to write. (Now you know how I do all this…I fit things into small blocks of time and type fast.)
When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be Supergirl. I wanted to save many planets, bring people in danger to safety, and be invulnerable to attack. In fact, I still like Supergirl, since she’s a superhero with a big heart and a little bit of self-doubt on occasion. I think, in reality, my goal was to do something big with my life, not just hide in the shadows and watch the world go by.
The above paragraph does explain a lot about me. I wanted to be relevant, meaningful, and accomplished (in what I do not know, but I think it involved typing fast, for sure).
Of course, time passes and goals slip away. I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped in my first career choice, thanks to a relationship or two that went bad (mistakes were made and mostly by me) and made me want to flee. I got lost for a while. I floundered. Then I crawled out of a hole, and one reason was that I stopped wallowing in my failures and found ways where I could help others.
No matter what’s gone on in my life since I caught my second wind, I’ve been proud to be able to help others, contribute to important causes, and make people’s lives better (helping mothers with breastfeeding and parenting, along with teaching so many people to knit and crochet may be what I am proudest of). Does that make me a superhero? No, probably not.
I haven’t physically fought bad guys, brought down corporate evil-doers, or written a book that saves lives. But, I can see that I made a positive difference in people’s lives by bringing them happiness, joy, or a sense of accomplishment. As someone recently pointed out, I always seem to be teaching someone something (that may explain the Master Naturalist thing).
You never know what YOU might do that constitutes being a hero. Maybe you listen to a friend in need. Maybe you can share a passion for animals or plants. Maybe you find a way to volunteer. Maybe your kindness to grocery store clerks makes their days better.
Somehow, this all raises my spirits. I can think of people I know and what their “superhero” traits are, and my heart fills with admiration. Mandi mentors both adults and children in community theater, with no reward sought (I was proud she got acknowledged at last weekend’s children’s theater award banquet, though).
My friends Carolyn and Georgia constantly raise my awareness of social and political needs and actions I can take. My sister shares beautiful animals she finds on the Internet. My husband mentors people who want to learn about running businesses, even when he isn’t trying. Facebook friends and fellow bloggers open their hearts and make me feel both smarter and more connected. On and on.
You don’t need to be a superhero. Just be you. It matters.
Getting in touch with your emotional truth, by processing feelings to improve the human condition in the 21st century. Living out loud by my motto,"Triumphing over Trauma" 🌈
In light and in shadow, always with ❤