The Big Difference (K.Blais)

Image result for negatives becoming positive

Awful things happen to us or to the people we love and care about. Terrible things occur continuously in our daily lives. We make decisions which end up being disastrous, although they may have seemed like the best option at the time, and in other cases choices are made for us without our having any say in them at all. Sometimes we hold the power in the decision-making process, and other times we are completely powerless.

Through it all though we strive to stand up and not to sink. We do our best not to let the floods drown us or to pull us down into the depths of despair, even though they may threaten to.

It isn’t always easy. And it doesn’t always work for all of us.

It is essential to remind ourselves that eventually the waters will recede. It’s tricky to remember that sometimes though and, by no means, do we ever intend to make light of the terrible things that happen, but it remains extremely important to attempt to search for the positive amidst the negative.

Out of every horrendous situation is there always a positive to be found? Depending on individual perspectives the answers may vary: maybe, maybe not… and maybe not right away. But, if we search hard enough there is always a bit of light, a small glimmer of hope, a tiny piece of dry land that we can place our feet on, even if it’s just a tiptoe to start. Maybe sometimes the negative just requires a different perspective.

A very close person to me, my dear friend Tracy, has struggled with some health issues over the past couple of years. She one day found herself with mobility issues, needed surgery to repair her knee injury, had a health scare with a dangerous item on the job site, and was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after that (all issues completely unrelated to one another). Add to that other issues which she has dealt with throughout her life, the scope of her tribulations was immense. To be perfectly honest, her world was bleak and dark and at some very low points. With so many negatives piling up on her, there were days when getting out of bed was too much for her to think about.

The floods threatened to close in on her on more than one occasion, but through it all she always searched for that tiny aspect of hope, that glimmer of light, that small piece of land on which she could attempt to stand. Her faith led her to the belief that her cancer was a blessing because having gone through what she had, she was able to be a support system to others battling with cancer. Her journey led her to new friendships which she may have otherwise not have made. Her struggles allowed her to realize the love that so many people had for her. The darkness has allowed her to appreciate the light all that much more. All the negatives that have happened to her have led to so many more positives in her life because she chose to see past them.

Some of us battle with physical or mental health issues, or have loved ones which are battling, which have affected our (and their) quality of life. Frustration, powerlessness, and a feeling of incompetency may overwhelm us. It can be hard to find the positive when we feel so awful. Sometimes we have to realize the negative for what it is. Sometimes we need to surf the waves when we cannot stop them.

Financially or materially we may be experiencing damage or loss. There may be days when our situation seems so bleak that there seems to be no place to go. It is hard to find the positive when the negatives are reflected in everything we have, even our bank accounts.

We may have lost a loved one or loved ones. We all know someone who has experienced the immense grief of losing a person very close to them. It’s extremely hard to see the positive in death and loss, especially when we are in mourning. Sometimes though death can bring us closer to those who remain in our lives. Sometimes death brings a new appreciation for all that we had and all that we have shared with that person, and it may encourage us to cherish and hold dear the time we have with the loved ones left with us. A belief that we will be reunited with our loved one one day can offer peace. Sometimes death can lead us back to life: to living each moment to the fullest and with a deeper appreciation, and may even lead us to taking nothing, even the little things, for granted.

Perhaps relationships have dissolved, friendships and partners have been lost, and life as we knew it has become an illusion. It is difficult to see the negative when everything around us in our personal life seems in a disarray. Sometimes it is difficult to understand how things can fall apart so easily… and perhaps we neglect to see that sometimes things need to fall apart so better things can come together.

Being positive does not mean to ignore the negative. There is no need to put blinders on and pretend that the negative does not exist. Being positive, and living a life which chooses to focus on the positive, can simply mean to live by overcoming the negative. That’s the big difference.

Advertisements

Letting The Air Get At It (K.Blais)

An old wives’ tale speaks about letting a wound get air in order to heal better. Although medical opinion varies on whether on a wound site heals better covered or uncovered, I am of the belief that both physical and emotional wounds heal better when air is allowed to get in and the wound is given permission to breathe.

Hurt, betrayal, disappointment, embarrassment, and even humiliation have become emotional wounds common in life. Whether intentional or unintentional, because of simple negligence or ignorance, or because of malicious spite triggered by envy or revenge, wounds occur.

We are hurt by those we thought would never hurt us. We are betrayed by those who we believed had our back unconditionally. We are disappointed by how we are treated by others, especially when we would never treat them in the same way. We are embarrassed when we are called out in front of others, or when we are ridiculed when we least expect it. We are humiliated when we believe that what we thought would never happen to us, has indeed happened.

Image result for emotional wounds free pics

So, what do we do?

Some of us may bandage it all up, wrapping the damage of the wound tightly to us. We may hide the injury away, underneath a protective covering, hoping that in time the wound will heal on its own. And perhaps the wound will heal. It may disappear entirely with only a trace of a scar or it may seep for a long while, oozing within itself, barely contained behind the bandage that holds it, before eventually healing in its own way.

Some of us may decide not to cover the wound. We may let the wound remain open, airing it out, because we believe that when we can air out our wounds they will heal more quickly and with less oozing and scarring. We leave the wound open instead of covered, baring our injury, in the hope that air and time will heal.

Airing out an emotional wound requires courage. For some it may be talking to a trusted friend about our feelings. For others it may be writing or blogging about a troublesome issue, or in a less public forum, it may mean journaling or writing private letters. In any case, the airing out is important for those people to heal.

Airing out takes courage because sometimes people perceive us as angry. They may think that we are on a rant and pissed off again. They may think we are too sensitive, that we take too much to heart, that we need to let things go a bit more. They may tell us to focus on what really matters (which is entirely subjective), and to let things roll off our backs. And maybe they are right.

Maybe we are angry and pissed off. Maybe we are too sensitive, too heartfelt, and too conscientious about justice and fairness to others. Maybe we believe that the world needs to remember that everyone has feelings and those feelings should be valued no matter who you are or what you can or cannot do for someone else. Maybe we feel that being kind will always be more important than being right.

But that doesn’t make us wrong in feeling any of these ways. Airing or ‘talking’ about when we have been hurt, when we feel wronged, even when we feel insecure can help us face our own perspective, as well as to see and hear someone else’s. We can heal faster when we realize that we are not alone, that others have felt and will feel this same, or in a similar, way. We can learn from another person’s experiences, we can receive valuable advice, or we can simply hear “I get it. I understand.”

We may be embarrassed by our wounds. We may feel childish or juvenile. We may think that we appear weak or ineffective when we allow our wounds to be exposed for anyone else to see. We may feel that we are to blame for allowing these things and/or people to hurt us, in some cases repeatedly. We may even believe that perhaps we someone deserve to be wounded.

But, it takes a strong person to speak about hurt and betrayal. It takes strength and courage to reach out and to bare ourselves and our hurt to someone else. We may be allowing patterns to repeat themselves in our lives, but that is why it is so important to air out our injuries. When things hit the air sometimes the reasons for them become more obvious to us. We are able to reflect a little more clearly on ourselves and on the situation surrounding us. We can see and evaluate the truth about ourselves and others. We can learn, we can understand and be understood, and we can grow.

It may also take time, but airing out our wounds can allow us to heal more quickly and healthily. We will still continue to be hurt by others at times, this is most likely inevitable, but perhaps we can learn to allow the air to heal us. And perhaps we may also learn how to prevent a greater wound from taking place in the future.

(photo courtesy of steptohealth.com)

The View From Down Here (K. Blais)

I wrote a love letter to a boy once. In it I told him about the things I liked, one of which was lying under the Christmas tree and looking up at the branches. 

  

I remembered this “love letter” the other night. The idea had struck me in the quiet of the late hours that I should revisit my childhood and lie down beneath the lit Christmas tree. Truth be told I could only get my head and shoulders under it, but as I gazed up at the branches the love letter popped into my head. 

It wasn’t the love letter that inspired me to write this post however, but as I thought about the letter and I wondered if the boy I wrote it to even remembered it, I thought about the secrets we keep. 

I never told anyone about the letter. In all actuality that very same boy is married to a friend now. I’m sure we would all probably laugh and joke about the letter if it ever got brought up, but it seems content to keep its own secret for now. 

As I lay under the Christmas tree and gazed up at its branches I also thought about how different it looked  on the underside and how my perspective of my tree was entirely changed. The angle in which I could see the ornaments was completely different and while the tree was still pretty, it definitely looked less glamorous from underneath. 

I wonder if we only let people see one side of us, the glamorous side, will they ever truly understand us or what goes on under our branches? 

I told a dear friend recently that it’s ok to be weak in front of others that care about us and that it is completely acceptable to show that we have feelings that can be hurt. I truly believe that there is nothing wrong in letting others know that they have caused hurt. It really doesn’t make us weak, or less, or give others any power over us. In fact, it reminds everyone, including us, that we are human and that we feel. It is no secret that if you prick us, we will all bleed. 

But yet so many of us tend to keep so much of ourselves hidden, even the wonderful things that make us who we are. Some of us may feel that people will like us more if they only see certain sides of us. Some feel that they don’t want to be seen as ‘soft’ or ‘sensitive’ or even ‘too emotional’. We keep a lot of our “mushy” stuff hidden for fear that we may scare others away. 

Life is too short for regrets though. Perhaps we should all start baring a bit more of our undersides to others. Maybe if we started to share more of ourselves, the world would become a less complicated place. While filters are good (and we should definitely think before we speak and say something hurtful), maybe we need to filter a bit less and love a bit more. 

What if we all focused this Christmas season on telling others how much we care about them? What if we spread peace, love, and joy by sharing more of ourselves? 

Maybe we don’t have to keep so much of ourselves a secret. Even those things that we perceive as flaws can be intriguing and captivating to others. 

Perhaps we should be more like the Christmas tree – shining bright, beautiful in our own way for all to see, from no matter what angle. 

The Power Of Words (K.Blais)

Over the past couple of days a very dear friend of mine has been telling me of her struggle with standing up for and protecting a loved one who is largely unable to speak for and defend herself. Today, in our conversation, my dear friend was excited to tell me that her diligent efforts had paid off – her loved one’s care was being investigated and would drastically improve. My friend enthusiastically stated, “The power of words – this just goes to show you how powerful they can be.”

I agreed, hands down. I was also struck for a moment as I pondered her statement about how powerful words are and can be, how I had written a few months ago about my war with words and how damaging or destructive they can be. In this moment though, I realized with the certainty of the example she had just provided, how wonderfully constructive and how powerful in a positive way they can be also.

My dear friend had used her words to advocate and to prove what she needed to. She hadn’t demeaned anyone or degraded them in pleading the case of her loved one, but she had used the necessary words in such a way to express her feelings and how important it was that the situation be investigated properly.

Words are powerful. They can build up and they can tear down. They can prove and they can disprove. Words can lead to belief or disbelief depending on how they are used. They can lead to anger or love. They can allow us to forgive or they can permit us to continue to struggle with our pain.

My friend’s situation also led me to thinking about my own life and the issues therein which I have been struggling with and the peace which I am seeking with them. I realized too that we all need to advocate for ourselves using our words when it is necessary to stand up for or defend what we believe in. We also need to use our words to adequately and clearly explain our thoughts and feelings so that they are properly understood by others, especially when we are hurting or in emotional pain.

Last week I mentioned how therapeutic writing often is for me. Writing has gotten me through some tougher moments in my life, has led me to realize that I need to focus on the positive, and that no matter how hard things can get, there are always blessings and strengths which will see me through.

Writing is about using words to explain our thoughts. (The sweet thing about writing is we can also choose our words more carefully and accurately; there is always the backspace or delete button when things don’t “sound” quite right.) I often prefer written correspondence to verbal in regards to delicate manners especially, as I can select my words with more care and precision, rather than stumbling over the words which sometimes don’t come quickly enough into my brain and elegantly out of my mouth.

When we use our words to say, “This is how I feel. This is what I think,” we are essentially empowering ourselves. We are allowing ourselves the permission to say, “Hey, I’m important enough for this to matter”. Words can give us confidence and assertion to say what we think and feel is going on.

Sometimes we can get it wrong though. We can think one thing, when something entirely different is the reality. We can erect immense walls of hurt feelings that no one could ever climb, especially when we coat them with an icy glaze.

We can use our words in all the right ways and still get it all wrong.

But there is still peace in being wrong. Our words can lead us to finally facing what it is that is troubling us most. Those words can lead us to realizing that while we believed things to be one way, they aren’t necessarily that way at all. Using our words can lead us to putting an end to practicing our pain, to forgiving those who have hurt us, and to embarking on the path to peace.

Words can reopen doors which we once thought were shutting for good. Words can thaw the icy film.

Words can heal when we are just willing to use them and to hear them in return.

Dusting Off The Shelf (K.Blais)

(Photo courtesy of
PDPhoto.org)

I had the pleasure of visiting a tiny and quaint used bookstore over the break. W and I stumbled upon Prince Street Books & Coffee Co. after we finished a fabulous lunch at a new favourite restaurant, The Schwarma House. Our bellies full, our breath saturated with garlic (so tasty, but afterwards still tasting same garlic makes one impossibly regretful), we ventured into the bookstore, a place we both had always known about, but hadn’t taken the opportunity to visit.

It was a small place, but a booklover’s heaven. My eyes couldn’t take in all the books on the shelves, each literally filled to the ceiling with a wide variety and assortment of works by many different authors and various genres. We scoured the shelves on the lookout for two books to continue a trilogy she had unknowingly began reading and now had to find out the ending to. I, having reignited my passion for reading for pleasure, was simply looking for something different to dive into.

I came across the book Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany. It’s titled intrigued me and, reading the inside of the trade paperback, I could already feel myself connecting with the main character and her challenges of balancing motherhood and being a writer. Her best kept secret is not one that I will reveal here nor one that I personally can admit to, but I did find myself uncomfortably relating to her relationships with others and how she let very few people “in” to see the real her. (To be honest I put the book down a few times in the bookstore, only to pick it back up and, ultimately, to make the decision to buy it. I knew it was something that I had to read. I guess you could even say that I couldn’t just leave it on the shelf.)

Like the main character, Cadence, I too have felt like I have sometimes only shown parts of myself to others. I know I am not alone in this as others have expressed these same things to me in conversations over the years. We let others see the parts of us that we wish them to see. I have often wondered if this is the allure to our social media outlets – we can paint a picture of what our lives look like and that picture can show only the aspects we want it to. (Check out Down The Rabbit-Hole for my previously posted thoughts on this.)

Sometimes it’s easier to show only parts of ourselves to others because we are afraid of them seeing the real us. Opening ourselves up permits us to become vulnerable to others – to their scrutiny, judgment, and even to their expectations. Maybe we are afraid of them seeing who we really are with our flaws, our insecurities, and our inadequacies. Maybe trust has been an issue with us and we worry that if we allow others in, they will hurt us in some way. Perhaps this worry comes from experiences we have had in the past, possibly even with different people, and we are afraid of making the same mistakes or at least feeling the same hurt or betrayal.

In the same sense, sometimes we protect ourselves in our relationships with others by holding them at arm’s length, pushing them away, or maybe even placing the relationship, person, or issue we are facing up on a shelf to gather dust. We may find it difficult to reach out to those people after we have been vulnerable with them or maybe because of who we were when we spent time with them is not who we are anymore. At other times it can feel like a bridge has been burnt, a hand in cards has been folded, or even that the straw has (almost) broken the camel’s back.

Sometimes the people or relationships which we leave up on a shelf gathering dust are the ones that we often wish we could reach out to or get back to the same place with again, but yet for some reason feel that we can’t. Maybe circumstances or time has changed, making us feel that we cannot break down the wall which has been put up or find the ladder needed to reach the high shelf. Perhaps even an apology and forgiveness is in order but we cannot find it within ourselves to take the first step in giving the apology or even in accepting it.

Sometimes the people we leave up on a shelf gathering dust are the ones that we need the most. The ones that we need to tell us that we will be ok, that no matter what we are still important in their lives even though distance, time, and circumstances may change us. We may have placed these people or relationships on a shelf but perhaps there doesn’t always seem to be an opportunity to reach up to the shelf and bring those things into our view again.

Sometimes it’s hard to apologize, especially without repeating well-worn phrases which lose their meaning over time and repetition. It’s hard to bridge the widening gap between what was then and what is now. It’s hard to open up the compartments in your mind to allow room for things to cross-sect and intertwine. Our lives become so scheduled and regimented that we can lose sight of how things can still fit together and how we can make things work simply by holding onto the hope that they will.

Maybe it’s time for a little spring cleaning. Like the books so high up on the bookshelf in a quaint little bookstore, it’s time to take down those precious things we have left to gather dust and bring them back into the light. It could be time to open again those shelved books and to read a new chapter. Maybe it’s time to renew those relationships which we have left to sit on their own. Perhaps it’s time to reach out to those who we may have forgotten or who we fear may have forgotten us.

You see, that’s the great thing about dust: once it is wiped away it allows us to see the beauty of everything that still lies beneath it.

 

 

 

The Straw That (Almost) Broke The Camel’s Back (K.Blais)

After my post last week, Grace Under Fire, a friend reached out to me. This friend has had a rough go of it lately; she has felt overwhelmed, on more than one occasion, she is and has been extremely stressed, she has been coming close to “losing her s@#t” (in her exact words), and she is getting to the point where she feels that she is reaching her ‘final straw’. In other words, she is almost at the point where the next issue she faces, however big or small, will become “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

(image courtesy of Google images)

With her full permission she has allowed me to share her story because I know, and I have reassured her, she is not the only one to have gone through these things and to have felt this way.

So, let me tell you about Joy*.

Joy is a generous and giving person who is often taken advantage of because of her kind nature. She likes to see others happy and so will give of herself completely in order to please everyone else. She is a thoughtful individual, something which is sometimes noticed by others but seldom appreciated. She uses her time, energy, and even her money to help others, at times barely even getting a thank you for her efforts.

Joy is also a great listener. She not only listens but listens with the intention to help others. Unfortunately, when Joy has a problem she often feels her concerns and issues are pushed aside or ignored by the very people who she has worked so hard to help. Perhaps the thought is that because Joy is so wonderful and skilled at helping others, it is not realized that she may also require help sometimes herself. When Joy needs someone to listen to her she often feels alone. There seems to be no one around to help her pick up the pieces when she begins to fall apart.

Another issue which Joy finds frustrating is that she stands up for others and defends them, but has found herself “thrown under the bus” when a scapegoat or someone to blame is needed. She admits knowing that there are times when she has ended up “under the bus” completely intentionally, but other times it may have happened simply out of the negligence of others. Either way, trust has become a major issue in her life. She limits her trust to only a select few because she has been burned too many times in the past.

Unfortunately, Joy has found herself criticized, judged, and even looked down upon most recently because she and her family have experienced some successes. Instead of finding that people in her life, family, friends, acquaintances, are happy for her and her loved ones and want to cheer them on, she feels she is often spoken about behind her back, shut out of social circles, or worse “pretended” to be liked. Envy does terrible things to the character of others and when you are the victim of envy it can leave you feeling very hurt and as if you yourself have done something wrong. She has also found herself to be criticized and judged in regards to her parenting skills, her qualities as a friend, and even her professional abilities. Sometimes you don’t even have to succeed at anything in particular in order to be raked over the coals in jealousy.

Perhaps the most compelling part about Joy’s story, and maybe even the one that I found most intriguing, is that most people believe that Joy is this outgoing, confident individual who always takes on the world with class, style, and grace. Even though she feels she truly isn’t that person, she has asked me if I think that this ‘confidence’ which she portrays actually pushes people away. Her thoughts are that if people don’t think she ‘needs’ anyone because of how confident she is, then maybe that is why she is held at arm’s length. My response to her has never changed: even the most confident people still need someone in their corner rooting for them.

Joy’s story is not a rare one. We may have felt some of or all of these same ways, or have had friends who have shared these matters with us. We may have all had moments where we feel we have reached a breaking point, where if one more thing happens we may totally flip out, especially when everything comes down on us at once like the saying, “When it rains, it pours.”

While I don’t claim to have any superb advice or stellar words of wisdom, Joy did ask for my thoughts and perspective, so here are my words for her, and for all of us who can relate to Joy’s story:

You are NOT a camel. One more straw loaded down on your back will not break you because you are much stronger than that. People do not always treat you with respect or with kindness even, but you can rise above those times and be a better, stronger person because of them.

When you find that you are at your lowest, look to the highest. Use your faith, your values, and your beliefs to steer you in the direction of how to handle things in the best way you know how. There’s nothing wrong with taking a step back from people or situations where you continue to find yourself uncomfortable or unhappy. There’s nothing wrong with demanding respect and space.

Practice saying no, especially to those people who do not appreciate you. If they do not respect your ‘no’, then perhaps stronger language is needed. Turn the other cheek when necessary, but don’t allow yourself to be anyone’s emotional punching bag.

When you think that you are going to break, make a conscious, determined decision that you will not. You are the author of your story – you decide how each chapter will end. Make the decision that you will NOT go down like that.

Remember that YOU are a good person; a sincere, true, and honest individual. Find people who see that and love you for who you are, not what you can do for them. Choose people who will help you carry your load, not add to the burden of it. Select your allies to be those who build you up, and not those who work to tear you down.

Most importantly, decide today and every day that you WILL NOT become broken by the final straw.

Believe this: You are UNBREAKABLE.

 

*name has been changed

I’ve shared this post on the Fire Fly Dance blog site as part of a writing community. Check out the site: http://fireflydance.net/2014/03/07/weekly-writing-challenge-unbroken/#comment-3061

Liar, Liar: Pinocchio’s Pants On Fire?! (K.Blais)

Lie (noun) – a deliberate untruth

A lie is a false statement to a person or group made by another person or group who knows it is not the whole truth, intentionally. (information courtesy of Wikipedia.org)

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, / When we first practice to deceive!” (Sir Walter Scott,
Marmion, Canto vi, Stanza 17.)

I spent some time thinking about lies and lying this week. We, as humankind, lie. Some of us do it rarely, some of us dabble in it occasionally, and some of us make it a recurring habit. In general, most of us lie at some points in our lives, for differing and various reasons. A familiar childhood phrase would often run through my head as I researched and read up on this tricky blog topic – “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” I’ve sometimes wished that a liar’s pants really would catch on fire from time to time! It would be a lot easier to pick the liar out of the crowd that’s for sure.

I must also add that I am absolutely fascinated by the number of sub-categories or pseudonyms that one can find under the simple word ‘lie’ on Wikipedia.org. Don’t even get me started on the exciting psychology explaining it all! So, while I knew that writing a blog post on the topic of lying would be tricky, I didn’t realize how complexly interesting it would be as well.

There are many different classifications of the concept of lying ranging from the barefaced (or bald-faced) lie (an obviously lie to those hearing it) to a bluff (pretending to have the capacity or intention one does not normally possess) to bullshit (used to make the audience believe that one knows far more about a topic feigning total certainty or making probable predictions). There are many other ‘types’ of lies: big lie, bad faith, contextual lie, emergency lie, exaggeration, fib, half-truth, etc. Regardless of their name or exact definition, lies can be used to protect or promote oneself, to protect or damage others, and even to cover up more lies. Lies can also be used to hurt, betray, and punish others, and, sometimes, lies can even be used without any reasoning or explanation at all.

I revisited my childhood once again, still chanting “Liar, liar, pants on fire” in my head, and pulled out the children’s novel The Adventures in Pinocchio, written by Carlo Collodi. Pinocchio, a wooden puppet created by the woodcarver, Gepetto, always dreamed of becoming a real boy. He was also prone to telling lies and fabricating stories for various reasons. Because of Pinocchio’s tendency to lie, his character has often been used as a warning to young children not to lie or else their nose will grow like Pinocchio’s. (information from Wikipedia.org)

(image courtesy of Google images)

It is not only young children who lie, however. The embodiment of the character of Pinocchio is actually quite prevalent in present day society. The modern day Pinocchio often takes on differing forms in our complicated world.

We all may know a Compulsive Pinocchio, the liar who, when he starts to lie, lies out of habit and just can’t seem to stop. Perhaps he or she can’t help themselves – one lie leads to another and to another and to another, leading to the common metaphor of a “web of lies” and the “tangled web we weave” reference. Lying may be the normal, reflexive way for the Compulsive Pinocchio to respond to questions. It may be stress, panic, or even just a general disregard for being honest with others that leads a Compulsive Pinocchio to be dishonest with others, especially with him or herself, as telling the truth is very awkward for him or her. While the modern day Pinocchio doesn’t have the tell tale nose growing feature, it is sometimes difficult to discern his or her lies from truths.

Some modern day Pinocchios can be pathological liars, (with close similarities to the Compulsive Pinocchio); those who lie about almost every aspect of his or her life and believe the lies they tell, often in an effort to boost their self-esteem. The Pathological Pinocchio feels the need to lie about everything from how much was spent on dinner last night to the last time the dog was taken for a walk. For the Pathological Pinocchio, every segment of communication has “strategic meaning positioned for his or her gain”. (info with help from wikiHow.com) The Pathological Pinocchio is a hard individual to deal with. One is never certain which lie spoken is the closest to the truth. The modern day Pinocchio is a master of the skill of lying. He is able to lie so convincingly, so sweetly, so charmingly, that one cannot help but to believe him. He lies so well that he even believes his own lies.

There is also the Sociopath Pinocchio, someone who lies continuously to get their way with little or no concern for others. The Sociopath Pinocchio is goal-oriented with little respect to the rights and feelings of others. The Sociopath Pinocchio is often charming and charismatic as well, and uses his or her strong social skills in order to manipulate others self-centeredly. Sociopath Pinocchios lack empathy for others. They will lie and step on whoever they need to in order to get what they want. Modern day Sociopath Pinocchios can easily become involved in criminal actions and violence as well.

Regardless of the type or name of lie, or the version of the modern day Pinocchio we may encounter, it remains true that lying is often the easy part. It’s the detecting the lies, catching them, even seeing through them which is hard. But, there are some truths which we can hold onto when it comes to deception and lying: 1) People will never stop lying; deception will never end. 2) There is no sure-fire way to detect lies. Even lie detectors cannot completely acknowledge the diversity of lies. No one is right all the time about whether another person is lying. 3) Lying has and will continue to be a cultural lament throughout the ages.

My final thought – I don’t think all lies are bad. I’m not sure that I would really want to know how other people feel about me or them to know how I feel about them all of the time. I’m not sure that I would always want to know what other people really think of me in every situation I am in. There are lies which are reassuring (“Yes, you’re hair looks great even if you didn’t want it cut that short…”) and there are lies which are horrible and unjustifiable in any way, but I’m not sure that any of us are ready to embrace the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, always and forever. So I think we will just have to keep doing our best in using good judgment to detangle the webs that are woven, to accurately assess the Pinocchios who we encounter in our lives, and maybe, just maybe, one day my wish will come true and I will be around to see Pinocchio’s pants actually catching on fire.

(Researched from the following sources : thetruthaboutdeception.com, Wikipedia.org, and Google dictionary.)

The Bittersweet Bite Of Reality (K.Blais)


(image courtesy of Google images)

 

reality check (noun) : an occasion on which one is reminded of the state of things in the real world. (from Google dictionary)

reality check (noun) : a word or phrase used to bring a person back into the life of those around them, sometimes used to smash hopes and dreams. (from urbandictionary.com)

 

Reality checks can be harsh. In all actuality, I once described a reality check as being similar to a brick to the face. The sudden realization, the slap or bite of reality, can often be a very hard and bitter pill to swallow. (An interesting side note: The idea of the reality pill was popularized in science fiction culture and was derived from the 1999 film The Matrix. The red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are pop culture symbols representing the choice between embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red) and the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue). In the movie, the main character Neo is offered the choice between a red pill and a blue pill. The blue pill would allow him to remain in the fabricated reality of the Matrix. The red pill would lead to his escape from the Matrix and into the “real world”. information from Wikipedia.org)

From my perspective, I’ve noted that reality checks often occur when we believe things to be a certain way, when in actuality they are not. In our mind (in our world, if you wish), we truly believe these things to be true. Maybe we are naïve, maybe we are wearing the proverbial rose-coloured glasses, or maybe we have even been fooled (tricked, lied to) into believing them. Sometimes reality checks are given out by others, sometimes we arrive at them ourselves. At times, reality checks can be enlightening, other times they can be devastating. The reality pill can be a difficult pill to swallow.

In considering my conversations with friends and loved ones, I have noted that the suddenness of an abrupt reality check has been extra cruel as of late. It may seem that we are cruising along on the highway of life when suddenly we are hit with a flat tire. The reality check is not the flat tire, however, because those things do happen just as life happens. Where the reality lies is in the fact that the help needed to fix the flat tire is not available, or is not willing to be available, to help. That, itself, is the bite of reality; when we are disappointed by the actions of others it is often because we would be willing to do so much more for them.

For some of us, we are givers. We give and give and give until there is almost nothing (if not nothing) left for ourselves. Friends and family may need us and may lean on us to provide emotional or even financial support to them on a continuous basis. We love, so we help. Unfortunately, the reality check of ‘helping’ is that there are also many, many takers in the world. Some will take and take and take from us without ever being thankful or appreciative (or, at least without demonstrating it sincerely), let alone returning any of that good back to us.

There may also come a time when reality hits that we must be willing to see things and people as they are, rather than as we hope, wish, or expect them to be. That also can be a difficult pill to swallow. It is especially hard when someone disappoints and hurts us. Perhaps something has been done that is hypocritical or has betrayed our trust, maybe our heart has even been broken. We may even begin to question ourselves and doubt our own instincts – ‘How could I have been so foolish to have trusted him?’, ‘How could I not have seen this coming?’, ‘Why was I so willing to believe the best about her?’

It could also be that maybe we have invested a huge amount of time, energy, and focus into a friendship or relationship only to be pushed aside when we are no longer needed. The reality may hit that while we truly believed that we could rely on that person, he/she was never capable of being the kind of friend that we were to him or her. This is often a sad, but necessary, realization to face and with it comes a huge amount of disappointment and letdown. We may feel embarrassed for having been played for a fool. Perhaps placing expectations on the friendship or relationship may have even been its undoing. But, having said that, there isn’t anything wrong in expecting fair treatment from others or expecting to be treated with the same respect which we give to others either.

Friends, reality checks are not always bad. There comes with the bite of reality a bittersweet realization and clarity. We may experience disappointment in having put ourselves in the position to be let down, but we can learn a valuable lesson from the experience. We can move forward with our eyes wide open. We can lessen our expectations on situations, friendships, and relationships and accept people and things the way they are, not the way we want them to be. This acceptance may also lead to an understanding that the friendship or situation cannot continue in the same direction as well. We can let things take their course and happen the way the way they are meant to happen, all the while keeping this newfound reality in check. The noise and drama can stop – we can accept the bite, we don’t have to like it but we need to accept it, and move on towards healing in a quieter frame of mind. Life becomes easier when you accept an apology you never got. (Robert Brault)

The bittersweet bite of reality can be an opportunity where we take a closer look at ourselves and how we handle conflict and disappointments in our lives. I am strong because I’ve been weak. I am fearless because I have been afraid. I am wise because I have been foolish. (Anonymous) The acceptance of the bite may take time, as most things do, but after all is said and done, if we look at the reality check as an opportunity to learn and grow we can become a stronger, braver, wiser person because of it.

Stepping On and Stepping Up (K.Blais)

Have you ever had one of those days where you thought – ‘This can’t be my life? I mean, I must’ve mistakenly stepped into someone else’s shoes today because this was not how I planned my day when I got up this morning’…?

For me, today was one of those days.

You can maybe relate to the type of day where everything seems to go wrong, nothing seems to be right, and everyone seems to be out for number one. Personally, I have a really hard time dealing with that last one – why is it that some of us are so driven to ‘get’ what’s best for us with no regard, worry, or concern about others? Some even feel that it is their “right” to get what’s best for them; that they “deserve” it.

I realize that, once again, I have chosen a touchy subject to blog about, and, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with setting goals and achieving them. I would like to think, though, that I draw the line at “stepping on others” in order to get what I want.

In all fairness, sometimes this “stepping on” is done unintentionally, or at least unknowingly. At other times, the “stepping on” is a full blown stomp, steel toe boots included. In reality, some really don’t care who they trample on in order to get what they want, when and how they want it. It’s a sad reality. It’s like throwing compassion and regard for others out the window. In some cases, the trampling occurs when climbing the ladder of success, and sometimes it can occur in as simple a situation as claiming something that someone else wanted.

So, why does this happen? Have we become a society so driven to getting what we want that we will stop at nothing to get it? Will we trample on anyone we can to get what we think we deserve?

At times the view of the greater good is lost. By this I mean that we forget that we were put on this earth to help each other. Maybe instead of “stepping on” others to get what we want, we should try “stepping up” to the plate and doing things which are for the greater good or betterment of our organization, our team, and even our workplace. Maybe instead of looking out for number one, we should look out for others to help them, encourage them, and work with them to achieve mutual goals.

John Donne wrote, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less…; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” (taken from Meditation XVII)

“No man is an island” (photo courtesy of flickr.com)

Perhaps a greater concern for others is necessary. We are not alone in this world. Perhaps we need to consider the feelings of others before making choices which affect them, and not simply base our decisions and actions solely on what’s best for us with no regard as to how they might change the lives of other people. John Donne also claims that “I am involved in all of mankind”, even as mankind dies so does a part of me. We should care and be affected by others. Above all else, the Bible states that we are to love one another as God has loved us; a pretty simple statement, but one that is not always so easy to follow.

Some of us are blessed to have those close to us who laugh with us, cry with us, and are there for us. There are those who just know by a simple hello that things are not right. The care and concern of a kindred spirit is irreplaceable. It is comforting to know that there are still people like these in the world.

Being stepped on is never easy to take. A sense of betrayal and disappointment in the “stepper” often overtakes any other reasoning in our mind. “Stepping up” to advocate for the greater good of the greater whole can be difficult as well, especially when it means putting our own desires to the side temporarily. But, we are not put on this earth to trudge through life alone. No man is an island. Step out and away from a focus on your own desires and become a peninsula; reach out to others on the mainland and still be true to yourself. It is possible to do both.

(Dear Readers, I am truly blessed and grateful to have a few kindred spirits in my life, old ones and new. For them, I am now and will forevermore be grateful. Love and compassion, ~ K ~)

Great Expectations (K.Blais)

The idea for this blog post came to me late one night as I lay lying in bed awaiting sleep. It had been a bit of a trying evening, OK, in all honesty it may have been an eventful week, full of interesting turns of events. I mulled over why I was feeling exasperated, frustrated, and beaten down.

(I am taking a deep breath and writing this blog post in that hopes that no one will be offended by my words – I write, as usual, in the hopes that you, dear readers, can relate to my feelings, experiences, and perspective and that, if you have felt this way, you realize that you are not ALONE.)

The realizations:

I place expectations on myself to “be” a certain way. I expect certain things of myself – such as compassion, consideration, and thoughtfulness – which are all things that I am capable of. I do, however, feel extremely disappointed in myself when I don’t say the right thing, when I don’t find the right words, or when I forget something which leads to me being considered un-thoughtful.

I place expectations on my children to behave a certain way. I expect certain things of them – such as respect, honesty, kindness, and sincerity – which are all good and right character traits to have. I do, however, feel greatly let down when they don’t behave in a certain way. I feel defeated when they disappoint me in their actions or words, to the point where I take it as a personal failure that I am a “bad” parent, that I didn’t catch their behavior before it escalated, and even that I didn’t say the right words to prevent the event from happening.

I place expectations on my husband to act in a certain way. I expect certain things of him – such as to listen, understand, and make me feel better – which are all things that a husband might do. I do, however, feel greatly betrayed when he doesn’t have the time to listen, doesn’t quite understand, and isn’t able to find the words to make me feel better. When I am disappointed with his behaviors, or lack thereof, I grow angry and resentful that he just “doesn’t get it”.

I place expectations on people in my life to be the kind of friend that I hope I am to them. I expect certain things of them – such as to support, encourage, and be there for me – which are all the things a good friend would do. I do, however, feel saddened and alone when I don’t feel that some people in my life are there to support me on my low days, to encourage and build me up when I am weak, and to be there for me when I need them the most. When I am lonely, even when surrounded by people, I grow quiet and distant.

All of these realizations boil down to one huge issue: there are some pretty big expectations which I place on myself and other people.

The reality:

I CANNOT control the actions of others. As much as I’d like to control how my children behave, I do not have that ability. I CAN demonstrate and be a good role model to them but the reality is that they are beings unto themselves and only they can determine how they will act. They are also young and experimenting with their own self-control and self-discipline. I can teach and I can discipline, but I cannot control.

I CANNOT assume that my husband will always understand – especially if I do not clearly communicate to him how I am feeling. He cannot read my mind, nor can he assess my mood without having a clear idea of how my day went. I CAN talk about what has happened and how I am feeling in order to gain his understanding.

I CANNOT expect that my friends will always know what’s going on, especially if I don’t share what I am feeling. People will not always know how to help if they don’t know what to help with. I CAN reach out to my friends when I need them and know that they will be there.

The facts:

We can’t expect others to read our minds; if we don’t communicate to others what our needs are, they will never live up to them. Expectations will continuously lead to disappointment if they are considered as exactly that: things, known or unknown, that are EXPECTED of ourselves and others. If we are able to clearly communicate our needs and desires, we may find that we will be easier on ourselves and on those people closest to us.

We don’t have to lie awake at night wondering where we went wrong with our children, our husbands, and maybe even our friendships. We don’t have to second guess ourselves and wonder how we managed to disappoint ourselves so much throughout the day. Being able to adequately express our intents and desires in order to receive what we want from ourselves and what we need from others will be what leads to satisfaction and contentment in our own lives, and a much better night of sleep.

(Dear Readers, Thank you for believing, reading, and sharing! Yours, ~ K ~)