Psychological Warfare

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Watching the news, reading social media feeds, and internet headlines, realizing some of my family and friends have drastically different views on politics, religion and many other values, morals, and beliefs is enough to make a person just want to crawl in a hole and cover it with a rock.  As I navigate my day as the office manager of a busy private practice counseling center while completing my master degree in mental health counseling and working weekends as a bartender at a busy restaurant and doing my best to be a good single mom to a teenage daughter, I can tell you one thing….I have learned how important it is to know where you stand.  I am a researcher, a naturally curious person and pretty open minded when it comes to new thoughts, ideas and theories in the beginning and will allow myself time to learn more before coming to my own conclusion.  In that time I will process the views of others and take it all into consideration as I continue my research.  I like to believe that most people approach new information this way, but I am realistic enough and have seen and heard enough in the practice of counseling to know its not true in all cases.

The fact is we all will see, read and encounter thoughts and ideas that challenge us to our core.  I believe that in every situation there is a choice, the choice is really simple, to look at it from a positive opportunity for growth or to allow it to turn negative.  When I say growth, I don’t mean accept and learn from the actual information in front of you necessarily, because the fact is sometimes we just know the information will never align with our belief systems and research would be an absolute waste of time.  What I mean by an opportunity for growth, even in those obvious situations where you know you will not change your mind, is how you choose to proceed in the situation, how you mentally choose to process and deal with it?  Everything we consume through our senses in daily life effects our body on a deeper level, not just the food and drink, not just the physical activity, but what we read, watch, listen to and write out.  So ask yourself, how good are you being to your mind, body and soul when you take all of that into consideration?

We often hear about parents protecting their children from bad influences of social media, too much screen time, keeping them away from bad influences of other kids and encouraging them to eat right, exercise and don’t do drugs or smoke or drink.  Don’t you find it a bit ironic how many of those things we decide to bring in to our own lives after preaching the opposite to our kids.  The truth is, all of those things do not just stop being bad for you once you become an adult.  We learn we can’t punch Tommy in the face and call him a stupid liar on the playground at school just because he said there is no Santa Claus.  Yet, too many times I see adults calling each other names on social media or the news.  What kind of examples are we setting for our kids?  I understand it is impossible to protect our children from everything and honestly I have no desire to protect my child from it all, how else will she learn?  I want to help guide her and learn what it all means and how to process it in a logical and healthy way.

Shit happens….we lose games, we make bad grades, you get a speeding ticket, or someone you like doesn’t like you back, a friend may talk about you behind your back, families break-up, you didn’t get the part in the play, you may not get accepted into the college of your dreams, you may not have enough money to have, do and see all the things you wish you could in life….you know what this is called?  Life and we are all in it together.  Life is full of choices, maybe you are not responsible for exactly where you are right now, but maybe your parents are, or your grandparents.  The truth is we are all the result of life before us and the big world keeps on turning and producing the next generation.  The point is, there will be a point when you do get to decide for yourself.  How we choose to see the world around us is so important but even more important is how you see yourself in the world around you.  If you had to describe yourself in ten words what words would you choose?  Are they positive and strong or angry and negative.  Do you look at the life dealt to you and fully embrace it and look for the opportunities to be and do better or do you wallow in it and make excuses and blame others?  The mental part of life is the toughest part of life, it will make you or break you.

Negativity is like a cancer, and recent studies show it is actually linked to diseases within the body.  When you are feeling ill you need to consider not only changing what you eat and drink or how often you exercise, but also what you are choosing to read and watch and listen to and how you respond to the world around you.  Create a psychological health habit just like you would habits for diet and exercise.  Don’t allow yourself to consume junk mentally and when it does cross your path, make a choice to process it from a healthier perspective.  It is a proven fact that stress is one of the leading causes of disease in the body and most stress is caused by how we respond to the world around us.  It is time for a little psychological warfare on the negative vibes being put out into the world.  You can give to the needy, work at a soup kitchen, volunteer for great causes, but if you really want to give back to the greater good teach yourself and your children how to accept life as a gift, tackle it with excitement and be thankful every day for the little things in life and most of all learn to respond with love and kindness.  If you are about to respond ask yourself three important questions…. Is it true?  Is it necessary?  Is it kind?

With love, health, happiness and positive mental health,

Stacy

Negativity

Negativity is a dirty word.  It is also sneaky and can jump into your world without warning.  It can come in many forms as well, people, places, situations, experiences, thoughts and words.  I like to think that most of the time I avoid it pretty easily.  I have managed to create a life that surrounds me with positive people, places, and things that I love.  So yesterday when I went for a drink after work with a girlfriend I never would have imagined how negativity would find its way in to my world by the end of the night.

A guy friend of hers joined us and what started out as nice conversation and a few drinks took a turn very quickly leaving me shocked at the words being said.  When a random person who you don’t even know makes an ugly comment and resorts to name calling it can leave even the most positive person feeling dirty.  I drove home and felt like I needed a shower and a good nights sleep to forget about the negativity that crossed my path.  My friend warned me that his behavior was not unusual and I know that his words really had nothing to do with me but it still left me feeling tainted.  What is worse is I didn’t sleep well, I felt such a bad vibe surround me and it has followed me into the next work day.  I woke tired and feeling ill and realize, maybe I have surrounded myself with such good vibes that when a truly negative person infiltrates my zone it affects me on a much bigger level than it used to.

When I have a weak moment and allow a person to get under my skin it is frustrating to me because I work so hard at trying to maintain a happy, healthy life in every aspect.  We should not let the behavior of others destroy our inner peace.  So today I am working through the negativity that seems to have hit me harder than it should have.  I am going to nurture myself with beautiful music, making a list of things I am grateful for, eating very healthy and drinking plenty of water and tonight I will meditate and pray before I go to bed in hopes that tomorrow my positive vibe will be restored.

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With love and positive vibes sent your way…

Stacy

Pick Your Battles

There are some lines that can be crossed when it comes to friendships and relationships with your significant other.  Sometimes in our close relationships we may say see someone make a mistake and want to correct them, but should we?  Is it our job to help them see a better way?  I would say yes and no, it completely depends on the situation.  Learning to know how to pick your battles with a person you love can really make or break a relationship.

I have recently been on both ends of this spectrum.  I have pointed out something to a friend that annoyed me and I found rude.  I was seeing happen over and over in our friendship and when I finally decided to say something about it the reaction was a defensive one.  A couple of months later I was told about something that I had said and done that was wrong in a single moment.  In each of these instances I took a long look at the situation and found that there is an art to picking your battles.  The time and place of talking to someone about an issue really is key.  Usually, right in the moment when the offense is made or shortly after is best, but if you feel a lot of emotion in the immediate moment then it is probably better to wait and think about how you want to approach the subject before doing so.

We all have said things we regret and putting negative out in the world or towards those you love cannot be taken back.  I have just recently went through a career change and I had a lot of stress and fear related to making a job change after working at the same job for 15 years.  In the process I  was told a lot of information that seemed like gossip and in turn I vented about my negative first impression on a night out with my SO and some old friends, and new friends.  It was not until about 3 weeks later that I was told my negative words were in really bad taste.  So how does one react to being told you handled a situation badly?  Of course when someone lays this information on you out of the blue you feel hurt and defensive.  I had to ask myself what is the intention here in this moment?  Are you really asking me to take a moment to look at myself and work on something that is an ongoing issue?

So here is the real deal, I was confronted about this after a long day at work and then a  fun night out with friends.  It was late and we both had a few drinks.  He was choosing to have this conversation on the way home and three weeks after the incident had occurred.  The timing was confusing and frustrating for me and basically put a sour note on what had been a really nice night.  In reflection, I realize that most of my defensive reaction came from how the information was being said to me and the timing, not what was being said.  I agree that speaking any negativity is wrong and that  if we do not have anything nice to say, well, we should not say anything at all.  I completely owned my wrong doing and have since come to love my new job and I am building wonderful relationships with those I work with.  My worries about what kind of environment I had transitioned in to were valid, but since then, I have reminded myself that every situation is what we make it and there is never an excuse for negativity.

So after the confrontation on the way home I chose to take a look at how I had approached my friend about her negative moment in comparison to how I had been approached.  The difference is, I gave my friend a chance to correct it on her own and only after hearing her say it multiple times, in separate conversations, did I finally say something; and I chose to say something right in the moment that it occurred.  In comparison, I felt the way I was confronted was extremely bad timing and later I found a bible verse had even been emailed to me about the situation in the same night.  My reaction to finding this email a couple of days later was not good either, but I chose to control my emotions and come from a place of understanding.  I think in that moment I saw a perfect example of a very self-righteous act.  Can we go too far in how we choose to offer advice to another person?  Is there a point where it goes from a kind and gentle correction, to a place of judgment and belittling?  When giving someone advice about a bad situation it should not be about putting someone in their place and making them feel that place is lower than the one we are advising from.  We have to ask ourselves what intention we have and make sure it is coming from a completely loving place.

In my situation I already knew I had done a bad thing by speaking negative.  A part of me became defensive in the moment and wanted to explain to him how he had done the very same, but deflection is not the right way to respond to correction.  I think in a completely clear moment of conversation, and not on a late night after drinking, I would have reacted completely different.  The point can be completely lost if you choose a bad time and place to make the point.  Choosing our battles and how to approach them with others is an important part of communication.  We are all human and we are all guilty of gossip, negative words about others or a situation, venting our frustrations about how life isn’t fair in different ways.  We all need to remember that when we do this it says more about us than those we speak of.  I probably did make an ass out of myself that night, I am sure the intent three weeks later was to help me see the err of my ways.  I just think choosing the time and place to have a discussion and how you approach the discussion is just as important as which battles you choose.  It can help you avoid needless hurt and misunderstandings.  Correcting someone and letting them know they have been an ass is pointless if you do it in a manner that makes you come off like an ass yourself.

To practicing more positive, love, and acceptance (and not being an ass),

Stacy

Projection

Sometimes we come across a person in our lives and we see potential for greatness in them.  In my case this individual is much younger than me, but we still connected and a friendship grew.  This girl is young, pretty, smart and had a bit of chip on her shoulder about life; but as I learned about her background I fully understood and even came to love that ever presiding chip on her shoulder.  We would talk about life and the people we had to deal with at work and come to laugh about it later.  I felt that even though there was a big age difference, she was mature beyond her years.  I felt, because of her hardships in life, she had been one of those young people who overcame it and was better and stronger than the average person her age.  As time went by I realized my first impression of her was a little off and I had missed some key issues within her personality that would come to affect me and our friendship later.

When we are attracted to a person, either in a romantic relationship or in a friendship, usually we are attracted to a couple of things in their personality.  The first set of qualities are those that remind us of ourselves.  The second set of qualities are those we may admire about the individual and want more for ourselves.  However, this attraction can become twisted, because often what we want to see in others is really more of a reflection of ourselves and not always who the other person really is, and this is called projection.  I realized I had painted this nice picture of a young woman who was like a younger version of myself, with a bit more edginess from her troubled past.  I thought she had something that I value in others when I see it….grit.  Now, I have come to realize the tough girl image I first encountered is just a facade and she is really one of the most sensitive people I have ever met.  This is where things get complicated for me.

I do not do well with overly sensitive people and it is even worse when people do not realize they are being overly sensitive.  I am very focused, honest and straight forward about my thoughts and feelings.  I do not water things down to make it easier for people to swallow.  When I catch inconsistency within a person I can only stay quiet for so long before I finally just tell it like it is.  In a working environment I am very methodical and focused.  As I have gotten older I realize that I may come off very matter-of-fact when in my “work mode” but most people understand I am there to get a job done and don’t take it personal.  Individuals who really take the time to know me also know I never set out to hurt anyone and usually once the job is complete and the work day is over I am back to my fun-loving self.  That is why this particular friendship baffles me.

In all my 40 years on this planet I have never had a person tell me I am hateful, bitchy, or mean.  I have never had someone point out a laundry list of times I have hurt their feelings.  So when this particular friend explained her feelings about me I admit I was a bit taken back.  Of course my first reaction was to explain some of the situations and why I may have reacted the way I did, but defensive and apologetic came off more like I was agreeing with her assessment of who I am, and I did not agree with her.  I had to process her viewpoint fully and realized that not only had I projected some things on her in the beginning, but maybe she was also projecting on me.  However, my projection was one of more positive and hers was very negative.

I know I am not a negative person and I know that I do not say or do things to intentionally cause another person to feel bad, that is not my heart.  My entire education and goals in life is to help others be the best they can be.  I have real conversations that only a super sensitive person looking to be the victim would twist into something ugly or hateful.  If I feel like I am walking on eggshells around an individual with every conversation or meeting, then I really don’t want to be around them anymore.  Furthermore why would someone want to continue to be friends with a person who they feel is hateful and bitchy to them?  It made no sense to me why she would continue to reach out and want to get together, but at the same time continue to twist everything I say into something negative.  The simplest question-answer text conversations could turn into comments from her being dismissive, rude, and….well….hateful and bitchy…and that is when I realized it.  Okay, how she feels about me is really saying more about her than it does about me.  I chose to project things on to her that were positive and strong qualities because that was my first impression of her, and even though I was very spot on in some aspects, I see now that she is still very immature and sensitive in other ways.

Sometimes, we have to love people from a distance and create boundaries for our own sake.  I cannot afford to have such negativity in my life right now and even though I do care for her, I do not think I can continue to be around her on a regular basis.  Pay attention to how other people will label you because it can teach you about who they really are.  People have a choice in their words and how they choose to perceive the world around them.  Are you consistently choosing the worst?  Do you find yourself judging others harshly?  When a person addresses a problem in the relationship do you make excuses, get defensive and retaliate with a laundry list of things they have done in return?  Do not let yourself get sucked in to the negativity, do not be the person who always chooses the negative and remember…

I am not what you think I am.  YOU are what you think I am.

The world around us is a reflection of who we are.  If you don’t like the world you are in then the real change starts with you.

With peace, love and honesty,

Stacy