Coming Full Circle – with Paint

Life is full of cycles and new beginnings.  After years of resisting change, I now embrace it and look forward to what is coming my way.  I can honestly say that over the last 12 years, each year has been better than the one before that.  I have learned something new every year, whether it is a new skill or something about myself or others.

Around this time last year, the relationship I was in ended.  To ease the pain, I decorated most of the walls in my house.  Painting was very therapeutic.  When I ran out of walls, I picked up a paintbrush and made some paintings.  Then I went on holiday and met someone very special.

This year is very different from last year.  The New Year started with a celebration of Love.  What better way to ring in the New Year than at a wedding party!  No, not mine!  Though I am still with that special someone.

Instead of painting walls, I am painting furniture.  I find painting ‘things’ very therapeutic.  There is a process and usually a big mess before it all starts to look good.  I would love to have a workshop and a space to sell stuff I find.  I am also painting ‘art”, though not as much as last year.  I am very focused on working on things I have had in my house for a while.  It is part of my nesting and making a lovely home.

I am learning something new every day.  I am trying out a new type of paint and learning what it can or cannot do.  I am learning to keep things simple.   Sometimes we learn by making ‘mistakes’.  I am in a period of ‘trial and error’ with paint.  The great thing is, whatever I do can be done over if it doesn’t work out the first time.  Kinda like in life, except in life you might just have to wait for quite a while before you get a second chance, while with paint it could only be a matter of hours! 🙂

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Making an Apology and Complaining Effectively

Most people find it difficult to apologise.  It can be a big blow to one’s ego admitting that one might have been wrong about something they said or did.  Our egos cannot cope with the fact that we are not perfect human beings and don’t always make the right decisions or say the right thing.

By the same token, many people have difficulty complaining effectively and tend to avoid confrontation.  Most people don’t like to create a ‘scene’.  The easy way out is avoidance.  They don’t go back to the restaurant where the food or service wasn’t acceptable.  They stop seeing people who said or did something upsetting without saying why.  If you don’t complain effectively, how can the restaurant improve?  If you avoid people who have upset you, how can that person change something about themselves to improve the situation?  If you don’t say what is bothering you, how will the other know that an apology may be in order?

About this time last year, the relationship I was involved with ended.  Just like that.  No dialogue or forewarning.  The most difficult thing about the relationship ending wasn’t the fact that it ended, but knowing why it ended.  I wasn’t given any reason other than the relationship had changed and wasn’t like it was before.  No kidding!  How vague can one be?  No matter how I tried, I really didn’t get anything more than that.  I found it very frustrating and hurtful.  Things weren’t perfect, but what relationship is?  I knew things didn’t feel right for the last few months, but I couldn’t put my finger on it and didn’t know why.  It was just a feeling.

The real problem was communication, or lack of.  I pride myself on being able to communicate effectively.  It has taken me years to develop this skill.  It is important to me to be understood.  Have I made myself clear because I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding? 😉  However, there are times I don’t communicate effectively, or at all.  There are times I don’t like to ‘rock the boat’.  By ‘handling a situation’ rather than being completely and utterly open and honest (I thought I was being mature) about my feelings, I was actually controlling a situation.  My control freak tendencies had not completely dissipated.  It is something I need to work on from time to time.  If I had completely and utterly expressed myself during difficult situations and honoured my feelings, would the relationship have ended sooner?  If my partner communicated to me things that were bothering him as and when they occurred, rather than after he ended the relationship, would the relationship have survived?  We will never know.   However, the relationship lasted as long as it had to in order for me to learn that open and honest communication is the key to any successful relationship.  (Well, I knew that, but didn’t always practice it.)

By not saying what is bothering us, we build up a huge pile of resentment within.  The key is to complain effectively, but many people do not know how.  It is actually very simple.  I wrote about it here.  The Daily Temperature reading teaches us how to communicate effectively at the most basic level.  If you complain, you must follow it up with a recommendation.  This is the nicest way to complain.  You are already telling the other person what is bothering you and you are also telling them what would make you happy.   There are no guarantees that the other will listen effectively or apologise, however, you have opened a door and provided insight.  By the way, I did use this method of communication in my previous relationship, but not always.  In order for it to be effective in relationships, it must be done constantly.

As I stated earlier in this post, the ego can’t handle criticism.  It automatically puts us in defense mode when we come up against any form of criticism or perceived negativity, even when put to us in the nicest possible way.  The ego is what stops us from making an effective apology or any kind of apology at all.  The ego stops us from really listening to the other person and caring about their feelings.  The ego is all about me, me, me!  The ego makes excuses for their behaviour and tries to justify actions.  Sometimes the ego will go on offensive mode and make it seem as if the person doing the complaining is the one with the problem.  It is at this point when things can go horribly wrong and further dialogue becomes useless.  The ego has shut down the situation and has gone into overload.

So, what does one do?

Step 1:  If someone has the courage to tell you what is bothering them and you get a little twinge of ego, pause.  Yes, pause.  Do not react!  Take a deep breath, count to 10, do anything but respond straight away.  Overcome your ego, become pro-active.  Listen!  Look at the other person.  They were very brave to tell you their feelings.  They could have been working on it for days or weeks!  If that person is of some importance in your life, they may have been weighing what the outcome might be, good or bad, and hoping for the best reaction.  Even if they are not that important in your life, that person is a human being with feelings and needs to be listened to.  Acknowledge their humanity.

Step 2:  Look at yourself.  This is one of the most difficult things to do and is one of the most important.  Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  If the other person has ‘hit a nerve’, well, maybe they have a point!   What may be important to the other person might not be so important to you, however, you cannot put your standards onto other people.  If the issue was big enough for the other person to mention it, then it needs to be seriously looked at.  Remember, this isn’t about you!  Well, it might be about something you did or said, but the situation is brought to light by the other person, so this is about them and you need to look at how your words or actions have an effect on others.

Step 3:  Apologise.  Do not make excuses or justifications as it will only null the apology and it won’t be sincere.  This is the most common mistake people make when offering an apology and can cause nothing but further problems.  It is a guarantee to lose friends and alienate people.  If you don’t care about anything other than yourself, then this isn’t going to be a big deal for you.  If you do care about others and feel there may be room for improvement in your personal development and relationships, then this method of apologising can be the easiest to master.

Before writing this article, I already knew the best way to apologise.  I wanted to see what was out there in cyberspace to confirm what I instinctively knew and found this link , one of many.  It is good to know that I can trust my feelings to know when something is right or wrong.

If you are on the receiving end of an apology and it isn’t going quite as well as it should, you need to look at your complaint.  If you complained effectively and the other person is not apologising effectively, then you may need to pause.  We all have choices.  Sometimes people need space and time to reflect on their actions.  If a sincere apology comes our way after an unsuccessful attempt, we have the choice to accept and move on.  Even if it doesn’t, we have the choice to accept and move on.  Either way is a win-win situation.  We either improve relationships with others or we weed out those that drag us down and make room for those that will treat us with respect and consideration.  Best of all, we create a wonderful relationship with ourselves.

When One Door Closes…

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

Helen Keller (1880 – 1968)

There are a few variations of this phrase, but I really like Ms. Keller’s take on it.  She makes a good point about staring at the closed door.  Many of us can get stuck in our drama rather than accepting events as they unfold around us which prevents us from moving forward and missing an opportunity that could transform our lives.  I have been guilty of that on occasion.

Stuff happens.  Good stuff and bad stuff.  When the going is good we tend not to think twice about it and just enjoy the moment.  However, when the going gets bad we agonise over things and create a drama about it, which in turn stays in our present moment longer than we need it to.  There is something to be learned/gained from every experience we encounter.  We just don’t always know what that lesson is going to be, or how we will benefit from it.  Sometimes we need to have a little bit of faith that everything is going to work out, because it usually does.

Most people are resistant to change.  If it isn’t broken don’t fix it.  What if: if  it may not be broken but we can make some improvements?  It is usually when change is thrust upon us when we least expect it that we go into a panic and start to resist.

I believe that our subconscious thoughts send out signals to The Universe which attracts situations to us to deal with.  Unhappy with your job but not really doing anything about it?  Was that really a coincidence that you were made redundant?  Don’t really like where you live but haven’t done anything about changing your space?  Was it really a coincidence that your landlady is selling the property and you have to move? (this actually happened to a friend of mine)   Not happy in your personal relationship but unwilling to change the status quo or hoping things will work itself out?  Was that really a coincidence that the relationship didn’t work out?

The thing about the situations listed above is that they are all things we wanted, change, but for some reason we got stuck about doing anything about it ourselves and The Universe intervened on our behalf.  The Universe is great that way.  Unfortunately, the kick up the backside we needed to move forward may not have come to us in a way that we would have liked.  But then again, would we have done anything about changing our situation without drastic measures?  Food for thought.  When things come to us in ways that are unexpected sometimes we get into a panic.  It is important at this stage to pause and reflect and to try to accept the situation.  Then we can move forward with a clear head and maybe a plan.  Most things happen for a reason.

There are times that life throws us challenges that have nothing to do with our subconscious wishes.  Shit just sometimes happens that we have no control over and we have to get through these situations as best as we can.  Even so, there is usually something positive to be gained if we try to accept what is happening around us.  We may find an inner strength that we never realised we had.  When we finally get through something traumatic, it is almost as if nothing can ever touch us again and we know that we have the strength to get through anything.  Like the saying: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’

What if instead of waiting for the unexpected to happen to us, most likely in a way we won’t like, we took baby steps to make changes in our lives which would take us closer to our goals?  That seems to make more sense on a positive scale and is also very practical.  When we take baby steps towards our goals and keep a positive outlook, The Universe listens.  The Universe is always listening and will always give us what we ask for if we really want it.  We just need to know how to ask because we also may get what we don’t want, or it may seem that way because we may not really believe that we deserve something good.

Every bit of change in our lives is an opportunity for a New Beginning.  I am a great one for New Beginnings as I have had so many in my life.  Some have been thrust upon me and some I have taken baby steps towards.  Change is a good thing even if it may not seem to be at the time.  I may have had a door slammed in my face without warning, but another one has opened and I am happier than I could have ever imagined.  Once I stopped looking at that closed door I noticed a door that was ajar and that beckoned me to take a risk and walk on through.  I am so glad I did! 🙂