Category Archives: Maturity

There’s No Growth Without Some Pain

Guilt and longing are two very human emotions that often blend into a desperate glue that keeps people stuck in situations they ought not to be in.  Whether it is with family, friends or a prospective spouse, trust that small, smart voice inside of you which repeats the mantra you try to ignore:  “This is destructive or dangerous.  Let it go or get out.”

Decent people feel guilty about pulling away from a relationship because “it will hurt the other person’s feelings,” and decent people just cringe at the idea of causing another emotional pain.  That’s nice, but guilt is a cue that what you’re doing is wrong, not that what you’re doing is something somebody else just doesn’t want or like.  There is no intent to hurt in this situation.  There is only the intent to preserve one’s own emotional and physical safety and/or well-being.

Longing is a natural condition – i.e., wanting something to be right and good because you’ve invested in it, and because it is a good thing to want:  a great, happy, healthy, mutually fulfilling relationship is always a blessing.  However, when that is clearly not the case, then withdrawing is the healthiest and, therefore, right thing to do.  It is difficult for people to give up their dreams, but you have to remember that the dream is not the problem.  The current object of that dream is the problem.  Take your dream and plant it where it can actually grow well.

Remember, there is no growth without discomfort or outright pain.  Consider growing pains of the emotional sort just a natural course of events as you mature, and make wise decisions. 

Choose wisely; treat kindly.  Treating kindly won’t work if you haven’t chosen wisely.

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.

Lessons Learned from Shooting Pool

I thought I’d continue with the theme of new beginnings during the first week of the new year by telling you a “biggie” for me – something I had to learn at a deeper level than just on an intellectual level.  I took up the game of pool about a year ago.  And like everything I do, I jumped into it “full bore” and with ferocity unmatched by any other living creature.  I practiced hours every day in this mad-like rush to conquer this goal as soon as I possibly could.

In general, my enthusiasm and full commitment pay off in learning and conquering new goals, but there are some that actually require a dispassionate approach.  That was tough for me.  I got thoroughly emotional whenever I missed even one shot!  I quit several times out of utter frustration. 

Fortunately, I have a great coach/teacher who keeps trying to get me to be quite robotic.  He has me do what amounts to a ritual routine with each shot:  look at the shot and imagine it happening as I put chalk on the cue tip.  Then, put the chalk down and I pretend I’m doing the shot once or twice in the air, then get way down on the table and do practice motions up to the cue ball and then fire.

Once I am down, no more thinking, moving, judging…just faith that my mind and body have this covered. 

This took the better part of a year to learn.  But it works.

The too easy frustration with myself comes from a most critical father’s constant berating of me, and taking up pool has helped a tremendous amount with getting rid of that knee-jerk response. 

I was setting up my weaving loom the other day, and everything was going wrong.  The set-up looked seriously trashy.  But instead of getting down on myself (like I would have done before), I just smiled, leaned over, cut it all off the loom and threw it away.  I walked away feeling quite accomplished!  Why?  I just accepted that sometimes it doesn’t work – thrown away yarn is not the end of the world – and having the calm to make that decision to come back and loom another day is a big victory!

I hope this story helps you.

Five Ways to Be Happier

At the beginning of the new year, people tend to make lists or resolutions.  I have five tips for you to help you be happier in the coming months.

1. You may have to recognize that you inherited some propensities which are counter to a happy attitude:  less emotional stability, less social activity, less physical activity than others.  However, you may have also grown up with people who “bounce” or “squish,” and you’ve learned to deal with life through parental example – good and bad.  So, some things you’ve learned might have to be “un-learned” or consciously worked against in order for you to be happy. 

2. After performing good deeds, people are happier.  That’s a fact.  And when many of you feel “mulchy,” you tend to withdraw from people or just get downright nasty.  That’s counter-productive at best.  Coming out of that dark place you’re in to bring light to someone else shines back on you.

3. Winston Churchill said that a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, but an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.  Attitude is everything.  I’ve taken people from “yuck” to giggles during three minute calls on my radio program just by using humor and getting them to “remember” a blessing or chuckle in their lives.  You can simmer on “negative” or try to replace that with something “wonderful.”  It’s your choice.

4. Physical activity diminishes cortisol (the adrenal gland hormone secreted by angry or scared people which also increases blood pressure) and increases endorphins (which are natural, free and legal mood elevators, and give you a natural “high”).

5. Maturity works in your favor.  As you spend more time on the face of the earth, you learn to endure and filter out the negatives, while focusing on what you truly enjoy.

Happiness takes some time and some work…and it is worth it.

Moral Nearsightedness

Earlier this month, I took a call that I thought was a perfect example of how “moral nearsightedness” is overcoming American society.

This twenty-something young woman was pregnant out-of-wedlock, “shacking up” with her alleged fiance (they are living with his father), and the fiance doesn’t have enough income to support a wife and child.

But that’s not why she called!!

In fact, when I pointed out the irresponsibility and immaturity of conceiving out of wedlock with a guy incapable of supporting a family, I got back:  “Well, that’s not my question!” (And, by the way, she didn’t want to have a wedding until after the baby was born and she got her figure back in order to wear a white gown).

Her question actually related to her mother.  Apparently, her mommy came to visit and “got it on” with the fiance’s dad….all night.  There were other children (of other family members) in the home when this was happening.

That’s as far as she got when I said: “It’s genetic.”
She responded with:  “What?”
I repeated and expanded: “It’s genetic…having no moral foundation for decisions.  Like mother, like daughter.”

Now that may sound harsh to you, but truth often is, and there was nothing I could do to change anything about this situation.  She was already “shacking up” and pregnant; her mother already had humped the maybe future father-in-law.  Her question was going to be about confronting her mom about this outrageous behavior.  I couldn’t bear to hear her even go there, considering she was the pot and the kettle all by herself.

It’s a shame both of our eyes point only outwards.  It would be a far, far better thing if one of them turned inwards.

How to Choose A Mate

Recently, a male listener, with a very undeveloped maturity bone, called to complain about his new wife.  It seemed that she was no longer the party girl he dated for two months prior to the well-thought out marriage, and he was upset that she was starting to “nest.”  How utterly disappointing and boring.

I told him he had to dump her and find a drug addicted, alcoholic, promiscuous hussy to marry to keep the party going.   And then I went onto the next caller.  It was that kind of day.

It is important, though, to know what you want when you date; it saves time and emotion.  CNN.com recently posted a blog by Wendy Atterberry entitled, “Seven Traits to Investigate on a First Date.”  The seven were:

1.  Pet situation,
2.  Employment status
3.  Dream vacation
4.  Perfect Saturday night,
5.  Perfect Sunday afternoon
6.  Romantic aspirations … dating for fun or marriage?
7.  Kissing style.
    
My take is that #6 should determine whether or not to even have a date in the first place.  I have told many women on my program that they should inquire as to the long-term intentions of the man before or at the beginning of the first date. “I’m dating to look for someone to share my life with and help raise my 84 children in a forever marriage…and why are you dating?” would be a good start as far as I’m concerned.   If you both want to party, or only one is serious…it’s important to know.

Numbers 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, are interesting and have importance down the line for the sake of mutual interest and compatibility of lifestyle, although a lot of that can change when one is in love.

Number 2, employment status, is another one of those significant facts to know before you agree to a date.  Folks who are flaky, unstable, unmotivated or unprepared for adult lives shouldn’t date.

I was seriously stunned that the most important issues – for example, religion –  were left out.  It is an important bonding agent to have mutual spiritual identities.  Relationship with parents is also important, as it tells you a lot about the health of the extended family.  The desire to have children and about how many is an important issue, as is the determination to raise and love children or pay hired help to “raise” them and watch them grow from a busy distance.  Finances, debts, and philosophy of saving versus spending would be good to know in advance too. 

Hobbies and other activities which can both build interest and mutual experiences, or interfere with the relationship and leave someone lonely are important as well.  Politics and life philosophy discussions would reveal similarities and differences (not always bad) in expectations, preferences, and attitudes    

Am I kidding?  Do I really think you folks should talk this seriously on the first date?  Shouldn’t you just marinate in each other’s furtive, sensual glances?

No, I am not kidding.  Yes…even before the first date if you’re spending some “get to know you” phone time.  And yes…romantic glances are wonderful.