If you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all. Ah… a mother’s wisdom. I’m sure most of us have been told this many, many times. But, how many of us actually follow this sage advice?
Communication is a powerful force and the effects of negative words cannot be underestimated. Words are remembered long after they are written or spoken. They have the power to destroy one’s self-esteem and self-confidence, making someone feel less than adequate and fearful. Words leave invisible bruises that can last a lifetime.
February is the month of the heart, the time when we celebrate love. We buy chocolate, flowers, jewelry, and greeting cards to profess our undying love to that special someone. But, in all the hoopla of the season, perhaps we forget to honor the affection provided by the people that sustain us and enable us to thrive – our friends.
We hear so much about marriages, committed relationships, and romantic breakups, but I believe we neglect to truly understand the dynamics of what may be the most important relationships in our life – friendships.
Recently, I was in a round table discussion in which we talked about interpersonal relationships. A repeating theme of the conversation was that people felt like they were replaceable, that there was no value given to them and/or a relationship by a friend, partner, family member, or employer.
Hearing so many people express the same feeling made me start to wonder if we have become a society of disposables. It reminded me of an expression my mother used to say: “Out with the old and in with the new.”
It seems like just about every aspect of our life today is disposable. We throw away televisions, computers, clothing, phones, food, furniture, and so much more.
By contrast, when I was growing up, we fixed everything. There was a neighborhood television repairman. We ate leftovers for dinner. We took our shoes to the local shoemaker for new heels. Baby diapers were cloth and appliances were kept until they could no longer be repaired. We drove the same car until it died on the road. And most marriages lasted “until death do us part.”
Are you a giver? I am. I’ll do anything possible for anyone, any time. I have spent most of my life taking care of others, putting myself second, and sometimes, third, fourth or fifth. After many years, I found myself feeling hurt, rejected, used, and resentful. I created an unhealthy pattern for my life, for which I have paid the price.
While it is important to take care of others, it is equally important to understand your motivation. I thought it was my way of expressing love and affection. What I have come to learn is that, while part of it was from love, another part was my need to be accepted and loved. I was trying to make others care for me, so I gave to them and worked hard to please them.
The problem with my M.O. is that I was coming from a place of insecurity and low self worth. I was trying, in essence, to buy affection.
With the right people, the approach may work out as they are giving as much as you. But, with the wrong people, you will be left feeling alone, depleted, and even more insecure.
This morning, I received a phone call from a business colleague with whom I have forged a friendship. During the call, she informed me about her recent illness and shared the challenges that she endured. After hearing about her suffering and subsequent recovery, I said, “Oh honey, I’m so happy that you’re feeling better.”
After my statement, there was a moment of silence after which she replied, “Please don’t call me honey … it’s very condescending!” With those words there was a noticeable shift in her persona.
I must admit … her response took me by surprise, which was probably evident by my silence. The voice in my head screamed, “What the heck just happened? Why were my well-intended wishes met with scorn?” I had no idea what elicited her response.
Every sappy romantic can recall that moment in the movie Love Story when, after an argument, Oliver told Jenny he was sorry and through her tears she quivered and replied, “Don’t … love means never having to say you’re sorry”.
Anyone who has ever been in a loving relationship understands the point of that statement – unconditional love doesn’t require one to apologize. But, is it really a good practice to forego an admission of wrongdoing or hurtful behavior?
I say, no way! Love means saying you’re sorry!
Last night my son’s fire pager went off and like hundreds of times before, the call for a response was made. And like hundreds of times before, knowing that he would be going into service, I listened to the call as I went about my business.
Last night’s call was different than any I had heard before, however, it required my full attention. The call was for a “suicidal woman threatening to harm herself.”
When I was a young girl, I never would have imagined that so much of my adult existence would encompass working with survivors of divorce. Heck, I never would have imagined that I would be one. But as we age, the old saying, “it is what it is” becomes more and more relevant.
One of the aspects of divorce that I cannot comprehend is that for many men, it is an invitation to relinquish their parenting responsibilities and put their needs and desires ahead of those of their children.
More and more I see women being left to assume the primary care giving responsibilities of their children while the fathers go on to lead their own lives and in many cases, start a new family, leaving behind the old.
This morning I was perusing a toy catalog, shopping for a gift for a friend’s child, when I stumbled upon an item that brought hours of enjoyment to my children. It’s a square box that has different shapes cut out into each side with accompanying matching pieces. The goal of the toy is for children to fit each piece in its corresponding hole thus learning to recognize shapes and how to fit “like” things together.