Monthly Archives: January 2010

When Others Are Hurting, Can You Still Have A Good Day?

A number of people have expressed to me that they feel somewhat guilty that their lives are so blessed and/or peaceful right now while people are being blown up in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places – and by their own countrymen!  Or that people are suffering and dying by the tens of thousands in Haiti in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake.

“How [they ask] can I dare to have a good day when all of this is happening?”

I think that’s a good question asked by decent people. 

The answer is simple:  what choice do you have?

Shall you undermine yourself and those who count on you by crumbling under the awareness of this cruelty of people and nature?  Does that add to the miserly of the world?  YES.  Does that minimize the misery of the world?  NO.

Your job is to do and be your best and to bring light into darkness in your own mind and home, and among family, friends, and community.  Where you have the wherewithal and the expertise to extend that to deserving people and places, do so because all humanity benefits by your action of caring – if not aided directly, then at the very least inspired by your example.

Where you can’t extend yourself to some place around the world, be cognizant that compassion and love in a circle around you has a ripple effect to help perfect the world for whatever moments of bliss might exist.  They add up. 

Whether close at hand or off to a distant land, when you extend mercy, you do an act which magnificently defines humanity.

Quote of the Week

Monday, January 18 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
               – Martin Luther King, Jr.
                  American Baptist Minister and
                  Civil Rights Leader
                  1929 – 1968

Conversation vs. Confrontation

Let’s talk about having conversations.  You read that right – I didn’t goof and actually mean confrontation, which typically is what I hear most about on my radio program.  It is not a good plan to think of trying to communicate something delicate or important to someone by approaching them through the lenses of battle, which is what confrontation implies.

There are ways to deal with another person on difficult issues that don’t necessarily feel like the throwing down of a gauntlet (an attack against which they have to be defensive).  The moment you get someone’s defenses up, the quicker the whole situation degenerates into a “lose/lose” predicament, usually making things even worse than they were.

If the information is to a loved one, start out with a “Sweetie” or “Honey” or something that sets the tone as one of friendship, love or caring.  Continue with the explanation that it is to improve the situation that you’re coming to them (because you don’t want the relationship hurt by misunderstandings or errors in judgment or word choice).   Then they know that you are not attacking them, but you are trying to preserve the relationship and they will be more open to hearing your point of view.

It’s also important to start out with some verbal “gift,” i.e., that you compliment them with sincerity by suggesting that you understand what their position might be, but that you’re confused, hurt, upset or worried that ________ [fill in the blank].  Remind them what you’ve meant to each other and how you want that to continue, and that this is a glitch which can be remedied with mutual consideration and understanding.

If you’re up against a reasonable, caring individual, things will go well. 

If you’re up against an unreasonable, self-centered human being, things will go well if you walk away.

Rule number “PRE-one:”  Don’t wait for emotions to fester.  Handle things as they happen before you work yourself up to the point that you can’t be reasonable.

Forgiving the Thoughtlessness of Others

The other day, someone made an honest comment to me about a gift I gave them – a rude comment, but an honest one.

This is the sort of circumstance I hear about a lot on my radio program.  Callers get very upset about some small moment of discomfort, stupidity, rudeness, thoughtlessness – you get my drift.  It sends them into a tizzy, because I guess they yearn for this perfect world where everyone else’s behavior conforms to what it is that makes them happy.

People are largely busy with their own lives, and they don’t always monitor their mouths or body language.  Sometimes, they’re prone to say things without consideration of how it might be received.

So, back to my story – I just laughed.  Look, my feelings can get hurt just like yours.  But since I am “Dr. Laura,” and because I have the experience of over six decades on the planet, I have learned to choose what will annoy me.  When you have friends and acquaintances, you have to  1) cut everyone some “stupidity slack” once in a while (as you would have them forgive you);  2) look at the totality of that person and realize that, percentage-wise, they’re “fine,” and 3) decide whether or not their action was intentionally meant to do you harm or was just a quirk of their personality.

When someone is downright evil, please avoid them.

When someone is simply a bit thoughtless of others, then put them in their place…in your mind, that is.  Know that they have this “quirky-ness” and in the future, don’t have expectations for them that are out-of-proportion.

You can still be friendly, and even be friends, once you accept their limitations.

So, if you don’t have a “goat” to get, they can’t get your goat!

Listen to that Small Voice Inside

I notice that there are way too many people who want to believe that “not wanting to know something is true” will magically make it “not true.”  If it worked, I’d bottle and sell it.

I’d like a dollar for each caller to my radio program who complains about some extraordinary behavior or circumstance that is making them miserable in their relationship, whether they’re dating, already married, or married and three kids later!  I ask the dreaded question:  “Did you see/know about this before you…?”  At first, frankly, most people lie and say “No.”  Sensing they’re being defensive, I push.  Finally, they admit it by modulating it:  “Well, it wasn’t that bad.”  Meaning, of course, that they knew it and didn’t want to know it.

Why does this happen?

1. We don’t want our dreams and desires squished.
2. We are so far along with our feelings and actions (sex, engagement, long dating) that we simply don’t want to lose what we have, or we don’t want to lose face.

So, the next step is “magical thinking:”  “Well, LOVE should fix this,” or “It’s really not that bad,” or we simply just try to ignore it.  When parents or friends bring it to our attention, we find ways to extinguish reality by claiming that they are just exaggerating or wanting to hurt you or take away your happiness or are too bossy or too critical.

Every now and then I get a caller, as I did recently, who was only dating a few weeks and was seeing what some would call a “red flag.”  She wanted to check it with me to see if she was being unnecessarily cautious or critical.  After listening to her, I complimented her on listening to that small voice inside which was telling her “NO…not this one!”

So what I wish for all of you this new year is to listen to that small voice of good sense, and put aside emotion and magical thinking.  The road to hell is not built with good sense.

Keep that in mind.

Quote of the Week

If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees
               – Kahlil Gibran
                  Lebanese-American artist, poet and writer
                  1883-1931

Trees blowing in the wind