By all means, let’s get offended (3/16/2016)

I am not the type that is easily offended.

It’s not that I have some thick skin; I don’t. I am tenderhearted and my feelings can get hurt rather easily.

However, when it comes to being offended, I normally don’t take offense that quickly.

But being offended is almost rampant these days – everyone takes great umbrage over every little statement and nuance.

Once, someone had called my family rednecks. I was horrified – sure, my grandparents were blue collar workers but rednecks?

I expected Granny to retaliate in a fiery fashion, with her own brand of fire and brimstone.

Nothing.

Not even a word.

The old gal didn’t even bat a lash.

“Why didn’t that make you angry?” I asked.

She shrugged. “Why in the heck should I get angry? I didn’t find no truth in it.”

“But they said –”

“I know what they said. And that person don’t mean nothing to me. Their words are just words and have no power in my life. If it ain’t true, it ain’t true and there ain’t no need in me getting all tore up about it.”

Instead of getting upset, Granny chose to ignore it.

Now, if they had said she was a horrible cook, her biscuits were rocks, and her turkey was dry, Granny’s response may have been much different.

But the opinion was that we were rednecks.

Granny had long declared we was a bunch of hillbillies, with roots deep in the Appalachia that may have grown deep before the hills were even here. Rednecks, we were not; hillbillies, we were proud to be.

Her response stayed with me over the years.

When someone called me an ugly word one day, it rolled off my back.

It wasn’t true so I didn’t give it any power.

As someone gave their opinion on another topic that could have resonated with me, I didn’t respond.

“I’m sorry, did I offend you?” they asked.

First of all, we all know if they are asking after the fact, they knew good and darn well what they said may have not been delivered in a gesture of loving kindness.

It was meant to be a jab, a veiled insult that was supposed to get a rise out of everyone in their listening vicinity.

I shook my head. “Not at all.”

Following Granny’s lead years before, I wasn’t giving their words any power.

Even though what they said could have caused pain, I didn’t let it. I chose to not pay it any attention.

I know the old playground nursery rhyme tells us that sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt us and that is absolutely not true. Words can and do hurt, sometimes more so than any twigs or rocks. But the sting is much less when the words hold no truth.

“What does it mean when someone is offended, Mama? Are their feelings just hurt really bad?” Cole asked, hearing me describe a situation where someone was offended.

What does it really mean – to be offended? If we are offended, it typically means we are angry or displeased with something. It doesn’t mean we are right or the other person is right. It is our reaction.

“It means something upset us and we don’t agree with it,” was my answer.

“So if someone eats pork and I don’t – because it’s Piggie – am I right in being offended?”

“You could be offended. Or, you could choose to say that is their choice. We may not agree with it but it is their personal choice just as we choose not to eat Piggie.”

A friend recently said she was offended by something a celebrity said and asked me if I was offended by it.

I think I offended her when I told her no, I hadn’t really given it much thought.

“You should. You should be outraged by what they said!”

I considered this for a moment. “By me being offended, what does that accomplish really?”

She had no reply.

“Will it change their opinion, or make them apologize? More importantly – change their hearts? No. It won’t. All it will do is create anger and strife in my life. If I am going to get all up and bajiggedy, it will be over something important. Not someone’s opinion.”

We have 100’s of opportunities to be offended every day. We also have the choice to not be.

Maybe it’s that hillbilly perseverance, but I am reserving my right to only be offended over things that really matter. Not the things that don’t.

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The Comparison Complex (1/27/2016)

Remember that time you dropped a few pounds, felt really good about yourself and then you got on Instagram to take a photo and saw a photo of one of your friends?

She had lost a little bit more than you and had on a great new outfit.

The 15 pounds you lost suddenly seemed…pitiful.

You were depressed, upset and angry that you hadn’t lost more.

“She can lose all that weight because she doesn’t have kids, so she has time to go to the gym,” you think to yourself.

“And that’s another thing – she doesn’t have children. She didn’t have stretch marks and I bet her stomach was still flat,” you think.

Before long, you’ve gone from celebrating your own success to being miserable because someone else’s success may have been a smidge better.

What your friend achieves has nothing to do with you.

It’s not going to take away from what you’ve done.

It’s not going to make you less than.

It’s not going to cause your success to be any less.

Just like what you do really doesn’t take away from someone else’s success and achievements.

For some warped, twisted reason, we seem to think if someone gets the car we want, the house we dream of, or has any type of success it’s an indicator of our failure.

We have created imaginary limitations that make us think if someone does something great, that means we have to fail.

Life shouldn’t be a competition, but somehow…that’s what it’s become.

It’s like we are in a race where only the first one across can break that finish line tape, when it really shouldn’t be that way.

I don’t even consider it a jealousy type thing. If anything, it’s more like some twisted comparison complex where we spend all day comparing ourselves to someone else and coming up short.

If it was just jealousy, it would be a heck of lot more benign.

When I am jealous, it’s because it’s something that I wish I had or could do or achieved that I hadn’t – but maybe one day would. Like I am jealous of women who know how to decorate and make the tiniest spaces look divine. I am jealous – but I am able to gush and tell them how envious I am sincerely.

When I fall into the comparison trap, I am coming up less than and trying to find a way to decrease the other person’s value in the meantime.

“She has a better job than me, and I don’t know why, she doesn’t have my education. I bet I know how she got it…”

“She’s always posting on Facebook how great her husband is…well, last I heard, he was cheating on her….”

These are some of the themes we play in our heads to justify why someone else has success or happiness. Whatever you call it – it’s just something that makes you feel like you are a total failure the size of Texas.

That’s what comparison does.

It’s like someone saying, “That’s comparing apples and oranges.”

Two totally different fruits. Some people like citrus; personally, I am not fan of either but you can dip an apple in caramel.

Does the apple worry about the orange? About the fact the orange can be easily peeled and cut into sections? Or that there are seedless varieties?

Of course not. Just as the orange does not care that the apple can be baked in a pie.

And I am not saying we are fruit, but instead of focusing on what someone else does or has, we need to focus on our own happiness.

Instead of feeling a twinge of happiness if we find an unflattering picture of them on Facebook and snickering, “I knew they PhotoShopped that photo of themselves in that bathing suit!” we can direct our attention towards the positive things in our lives.

Tearing ourselves down with a comparison complex only causes us to subsequently tear others down, just to make ourselves feel better. And it’s not working, either.

Instead, we feel worse and then guilty for being such jerks.

Next time we want to celebrate what we have accomplished, let’s just celebrate it – rejoice in what we did, how made it through something, met our goals, whatever we did.

But put the focus on that.

And let the comparison end there.

Dear Negative Self-talk, It’s not you – it’s me (11/4/15)

Dear Negative Self-Talk,

It’s not you, it’s me. Really, this time it’s me.

I’ve listened to your lies, your negative comments, thoughts, and criticisms for far too long.

I’ve let you undermine my confidence, tell me I couldn’t do things I wanted to, and made me become a wallflower in the dance of life.

Oh, I know – you were protecting me and keeping me from getting hurt. In case I got hurt, or failed.

But failure shows I am trying.

It shows I tried something new – even if it was horribly wrong and didn’t work out.

I’d rather fail trying than remain stuck in the quicksand of apathy.

But you tell me I will even fail at things I am good at, or that I am not qualified, not ready, or the kicker: someone can do it better.

I fall for that one a lot.

But the truth is, no one can do what I can do, just like I can’t do what someone else can. We all bring our own uniqueness, our own special gifts, talents, quirks, and intrinsic touches to things to no one else but us can produce.

You tell me I am not pretty enough, not thin enough, not rich enough and a host of other things that I am not ‘enough’ of.

I fall for those too, because I feel like life only deserves to be lived by those who are thin, pretty, and have a million dollars in the bank.

I know, deep down, that is a bunch of bunk, but it knocks the wind out of me when I see someone thinner and prettier doing the things I want to do. You are quick to tell me, “See, because you’re not enough is why you can’t have that.”

When I try to focus on the positives and what I do have, your whisper becomes a roar, “You aren’t enough, you aren’t good enough – give up! It won’t happen!”

And there are times, I let you rage and let those voices control my actions, running the gamut from hiding in my shell, scared to do anything because it will be wrong and I will fail.

Or hiding and being bitterly angry because I am not moving forward in any way and I am letting you manipulate me.

Angry because I am believing what you tell me, when I know it’s wrong.

It’s not something I would tell my best friend.

Heck, I wouldn’t even say these things to someone I didn’t like.

But, I wouldn’t say these things to my best friend and I sure wouldn’t let you say them to or about her, yet, I sit here and let these things play on repeat in my head every day.

And I have finally had enough.

So Negative Self Talk, we’re done.

I have grown tired of your control, your ego, and most of all, the way you make me feel day in and day out.

I am standing up for myself and finding a new truth. A new voice that encourages me, coaches me, and tells me to dream big because I can have it all.

I am no longer giving you space in my head to destroy my soul and tell me mistakes I made when I was younger are the reason I can’t succeed now. I’ve had enough of your guilt and your remorse. I think I’ve paid my penance in full, with plenty to spare.

It’s time to move on, to go our separate ways.

I am sure you will come around from time to time – trying to get your foot back in the door – but I am smarter this time. I am not going to listen to any of your convincing sweet talk to get back in.

I wish I could say it’s been fun, but the only thing I can say is I have learned a lot. About myself and how I deserve to be talked to, and how I won’t settle for anyone to talk to me like that again. The worst part is, I let you do it for so long.

So, it’s time to bid you adieu and wish you well. I hope you know it’s really not you; it’s me.

And I am believing for better for me now.