The Ying and The Yang of Adventure.

Young Ellie: [Ellie opens her Adventure Book to reveal to Carl a “Life” magazine with Charles Muntz on the cover] You know him.

[Carl gasps]

Young Ellie: Charles Muntz, explorer. When I get big, I’m going where he’s going,

[pulls away the magazine to reveal a map of… ]

Young Ellie: South America. It’s like America, but south.”

Up (2008, Pixar)

Update: In less than a day our bank returned the stolen money! Shout out to Lake Michigan Credit Union for being so helpful and expedient.

As I write this, I am waiting for the bank to open in the states. Despite our best efforts to be mindful of our credit cards, some Brazilian person, clearly in need of money, skimmed our card number and stole a significant amount of money from our account. This comes on the tail of an exhausting travel day yesterday (where I nearly got sick and passed out in the grocery store).

Not many people speak English in Rio so there have been significant challenges in terms of services. This is wholly and entirely on us as travelers. We should have spent more time practicing Portuguese. After all, it is the language of the country we are visiting.

Even with this, the adventure has been incredible. The beaches here are the most beautiful I have ever seen. And, I was able to explore the rain forest. We made friends with a number of monkeys and saw toucans. We saw one of the Seven Wonders of The Modern World: Christ the Redeemer. We spent a day with a wonderful tour guide, a local man, that loves this city very much. He took us to places we would not have been able to go on our own. He shared, with great emotion, his love for various parts of the city and its history. I loved being able to see this world through his eyes.

Today, after we sort things out with the bank, I am on the hunt for a capybara. I told a local man that I wanted to take one home as a pet (I communicated this using a Portuguese app on my phone). I’m not sure what he heard me say but he strongly encouraged me not to take a capybara as a pet, noting with his hands, that they have large and sharp teeth.

It’s challenging for me to capture in words the experience of being in a different part of the world. It forces me to stretch my perspective and see things from a different angle. I think that although the experience of stretching is exhausting (as it is growth) it is worth the gift of a different perspective. There is no choice but to learn when you are exposed to people and places that are so different from what you know and believe.

I did not expect this trip to be easy or effortless. I knew there would be challenges. These challenges are what add dimension and depth to the experience. I am extremely grateful for my in-laws (Love you Rik & Kathy!!) for always being there when we have, what seems to be, an inevitable travel emergency. I think one of the necessary requirements of travel is to always have a go-to person back home that can help you solve any problem.

But, really, we had our identity stolen not long ago back home and it could have just as easily happened when we were in New Orleans in the Fall. The difference in these situations is that it is much easier (and cheaper) to handle at home than away.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am on the hunt for the capybara!

“Russell: I found the snipe!
Carl Fredricksen: Oh, did you?
Russell: Are they tall?
Carl Fredricksen: Oh, yes. They are very tall.
Russell: Do they have a lot of colors?
Carl Fredricksen: They do, indeed.
Russell: Do they like chocolate?
Carl Fredricksen: Oh, yeah… chocolate? [stares at Kevin] Aagh! What is that thing?
Russell: It’s a snipe!”
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Well That Must Be Nice!

“As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.”

– Marianne Williamson

(Side note: I am super into Marianne Williamson right now.)

Few words frustrate me more than the phrase, “Must be nice!”  When I share something I am excited about or an adventure I am planning, and someone responds with, “Must be nice!” It really hurts my feelings.

Why does this hurt me? 

One, happiness is a choice. A choice I try to make every single day. Happiness entails concentrated efforts to identify that which makes you grateful. It is a way of life. Two, I have been through plenty of times in my life that were not easy, great, or even manageable. Three, I worked my tail off (and still do) to live a life I love. Put simply, if you think “must be nice” fits my life: you do not know me at all.

But beyond my hard work and effort, a person should not have to share with you their struggles (or lack of struggle) for you to be happy for them and with them. We cannot assume that we understand what a person went through to reach where they are now. It is true that some people have it easier and better than others. However, resenting how good someone else has it will only make you miserable. If you want to have a “must be nice” kind of life than please spend your time making that life as opposed to resenting others.

Finally, I know that I will still face struggle and hardship. And, there are struggles I am facing right now. I know that life is not fair and the bottom can drop out again. I recognize how fortunate I am to have the things I have. Countless people work harder than I work and have a lot less. Because I know these things to be true, I will delight in the good when it presents itself. I will use any excuse to be happy. I would love to share these moments with you. I love when the people I care about do the things that they love. Goodness, the world needs a lot more happy people doing what they love and a lot less resentful people trudging angrily through the daily grind. I will not dull my sparkle and I beg you to let your own light shine. Life is not a competition and when you let go of that thinking it feels a lot better.

Spoiler alert: We all die in the end.

“Every time a friend publishes a blog post. Every time an acquaintance’s story gets viral. Every time a colleague gets a better job. Every time a childhood friend posts about his travels to the end of the world. Every time.

Every single time, I need to remind myself: Their success is not your failure. Just because they are succeeding, that doesn’t mean you are failing. Just because they climb higher steps, that doesn’t mean you are walking two steps behind.”  – Marcella Purnama

Love.

 

The Smell of Adventure!

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

In a few days, my partner and I will set off on our next great adventure: Brazil! I live for adventure, experience, excitement, people, and places. I’m always dreaming of and fantasizing about where I could go, what I could do, and who we could meet.

For me, life is adventure. Each day brings with it the potential for new and exciting experiences. I let go of the idea that I had control over much of the happenings in my life long ago. This allows me to meet each day and each experience with curiosity. I try not to force my will on the events of a day which often allows me to be more flexible with the outcome.

My personality is part explorer and part recluse. I’m brimming with nervous energy as we prepare to spend time in a different part of the world. Unlike my partner, I tend to do a lot less research about where we’re going. I like to see things first hand. I want to know how it feels to see Christ the Redeemer in person and I want to feel the sand in my toes at Ipanema beach.

I am incredibly grateful that my partner has learned a lot of the language and immersed himself in the travel guides. This proves helpful in terms of the practicality of adventure. I just prefer to go out and be surprised by the world. Before, I knew him, I would adventure by myself or with friends. I never had a check list or a to do list. Now, I can appreciate the benefits of knowing a little more about where I’m going but I’m still not the person to do the planning.

There is this moment, when we reach the airport and we are waiting to board when I feel almost manic or euphoric. I have no idea what to expect. I don’t know what will happen when I get off the plane. I barely know what I’m going to see because I’ve done so little research. This not knowing is what I live for. It is equally what exhausts me about traveling.

When I return, I will retreat for several months. During this time, I like to have mini- weekend adventures (and build up vacation time and money) but I need to rest up for another long haul. We will be planning our next great adventure while we walk the streets of Rio. These great adventures are like stepping stones pulling me through the monotony of my daily grind. Again, I love structure but I need to balance it with worldly exploration.

Alas, I’m not packed, the laundry is sky high, the dogs need to get to Grammy and Beepas, the banks need to be called, and I need to stop writing and get some of these things done.

Love.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

My Cuddle Bunny

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” 
 Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

I read a research study this week and it made me think of my relationship with Mr. Beard. Researchers in the 1970’s were examining how high levels of certain toxins would affect the health of groups of bunnies.

After weeks of injecting the bunnies with various toxins they were confused as to why all but one group of bunnies were getting sick. Under close examination, they found that one researcher was cuddling, petting, and loving the bunnies. The group of bunnies that did not get sick was the group that was getting the cuddles.

I understand that animal research is a necessary evil and that the cuddly researcher probably caused challenges for the study. But, sometimes when we are looking for a certain answer we find something else, something more valuable. In this study they learned, that love can literally save lives, even in the worst circumstances.

Well, Mr. Beard is my sneaky researcher. When life hits me with its best shots he grabs me up and cuddles the toxins right out of me. When waves of depression and anxiety take over he will cuddle me on the bathroom floor until I have the strength to stand on my own. He has always just known that it is not about saying anything in those moments but all about holding me tightly.  I know that his cuddles have saved my life time and time again.

So, Mr. Beard, my sneaky cuddly researcher, I am so happy you were born. Thank you for cuddling me through the hard times. I love you more than you will ever know.

“These are my favourite chords.
I know you like them too.
When I get a new guitar, you can have this one and sing me a lullaby.
Sing me the alphabet.
Sing me a story I haven’t heard yet.” The Weakerthans, My Favourite Chords

Not Money Motivated.

“If I saw money as the ultimate goal of my teaching career, then I would have to think more about what people wanted to hear and less about what I feel it’s important to say. My energy would be tainted with efforts to get people to come back, to sell them on my lectures, to get them to bring their friends.” – Marianne Williamson

I grew up in a home where money was the most important thing. There was always intense stress related to money: how much money, where it was coming from, where it was going, and how to get more. It was maddening and terrifying. I grew to resent money. As an adult, my partner manages almost all of our finances. I ask him from time to time, “How are we doing?” and he responds “Fine” or “We need to cut back on this to save for that.” In fact, I never check our online bank account. I both trust him and I don’t care.

The,”I don’t care” comes from a period when I was transitioning into college from high school. The family I grew up with imploded and I spent May of my senior year until college started in August living out of my car and couch surfing. I had very little money and very little emotional support. It was this period in my life where I learned, to the core of my being, that having little money was not as awful as having little emotional support.

I was able to survive just fine on the little money I had from working in a coffee shop and the money that I received from my “graduation party.” I barely survived the loss I experienced in terms of family during that time. It is said that we are born through the fire and that experience burned me to ash. But, I was reborn much wiser about money.

I’m not afraid of being broke. I don’t care about money. I do care deeply about my relationships with people. I care about trust, connection, compassion, and love. I know, though experience, that love is what sustains you when you have nothing. Money will get you a sandwich and a Coke but it will not comfort you and make you feel safe.

When I reflect on this time in my life, I don’t hold resentments or anger. Instead, I am thankful that I had the experience because I know that money does not buy happiness. I know this because I experienced the loss of both money and connection. And, I would never let money interfere with connection. The role of money is to improve connection not to replace it.

In a lot of ways, money makes me anxious. When you grow up with people obsessed with money it becomes something it is not. I need money to do the things I want to do but I know that I can live without it. Or, at least very little of it. I did my best to design my life this way. This is not to say that my partner and I are not “successful” (whatever that means?). By his report, we do just fine. And, I’m proud of our professional accomplishments. However, I know that our jobs and financial security could be lost in an instant. This is why security is not found in money. My security is found in cultivating my own happiness and sustaining my relationships with the people I love.

When I’ve had this conversation, some people counter, that we don’t have children to worry about. And, yes this is true. But, as someone that was a child and someone that works with the emotional well-being with children, I can say with certainty, that a new train set or trip to the water park is a great thing for a kid. But, it means nothing when compared with feeling loved, validated, and safe.

If you have little money but a lot of love, your child will believe they are rich. I know this because I’ve heard children say this to me time and time again. And, just like kids, adults care more about love than Gucci bags and SUVs. We just think that we need to have Gucci bags and SUVs for people to love us. We don’t. Simply, we just need to show up for love and let ourselves be loved.

And, maybe take a shower (smelling bad may interfere with love).

“Some people so poor, all that they’ve got is money
Oh, and diamonds
Some people waste their life counting their thousands

I don’t care what they’re offering
How much gold they bring
They can’t afford what we’ve had
Not even the king
They can’t afford what we’ve got
Not even the king

Oh, castles
Some people so lonely, what good is a castle
Surrounded by people?
But ain’t got a friend that’s not on the payroll

Oh, and I don’t care what they bring
They can have everything
They can’t afford what we’ve got
Not even the king
They can’t afford what we’ve got
Not even the king

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Came charging to get what we got
They offered the crown and the offered the throne
I already got what I want

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
They came marching through
They offered the world just to have what we got
But I found the world in you
I found the world in you

So darling, listen
Your arms around me worth more than a kingdom
Yeah, believe that
The trust that we feel the kings never felt that

Yeah, this is the song that we sing
We don’t need anything
They can’t afford this
This is priceless

Can’t afford what we’ve got
Not even the king
Can’t afford what we’ve got
Not even the king” – Alicia Keys, Not Even The King

Amazing Grace, How Sweet The Sound

“Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day’s chalking.”
Frederick Buechner, The Alphabet of Grace

I can be like a bull in a china shop. Well, I hope it is more, I used to be like a bull in a china shop. I’ve never been described as graceful and for most of my life I thought that meant I was strong. I no longer believe this to be true. I think the real courage comes from living with grace.

The concept of grace has been heavy on my mind for a few days. Likely, because of the heightened contempt perpetrated by our political system and media outlets. The world seemed to be saturated in fear and anger. This irritation is seeping into the cracks of daily life. I’m seeing greater defensiveness, increased stress, and more contempt in my daily practice. We are not immune to the acrimony that surrounds us.

When a concept like grace comes to me, I spend a lot of time considering the idea and reading what others think about it. When it came to grace there were no concrete definitions available. I desperately wanted someone to describe to me what it meant to live with grace. With every quote and every writing it felt like the definition was just out of reach.

“You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave till it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.”
Rumi, The Essential Rumi

I understand that many faith systems use grace in their teachings but under my review and consideration the concept still lacked concrete description. What does it mean when God is gracious? How do we impart grace? There were no detailed interventions in what I could find.

I suppose grace, like love, like compassion, is a feeling that is simply meant to be felt. But, grace is also to be shared. I believe, a gracious heart is forgiving heart. And, I think we are always working on forgiving others and forgiving ourselves. Acting with grace, acknowledges that we are not perfect but that we are always trying to do the best we can and that is enough.

“Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.”
Wm. Paul Young, The Shack

I think that there was a time in my life where I felt like I needed to knock things over and attack others to get where I needed to go. I think I felt defensive and weak. I felt like if I exposed my vulnerabilities, I would be exploited or attacked. Through experience, I’ve learned that the opposite is true. It is best to approach life with a patience and softness. I don’t have to defend myself or argue my point.

Truthfully, protecting my ego from perceived attacks is an exhausting way to live life. My ego is just fine on a shelf over there somewhere. It has no place in my interactions with others or rattling off self-judgement in my own head.

The best I could do for a definition was this: Grace feels like continuous acts of forgiveness, soaked in compassion, and wrapped with love and sprinkled with patience. Grace, is a gift I can give to myself and in doing so I can share with others.

How would you define Grace?

“Gifts of grace come to all of us. But we must be ready to see and willing to receive these gifts. It will require a kind of sacrifice, the sacrifice of believing that, however painful our losses, life can still be good — good in a different way then before, but nevertheless good. I will never recover from my loss and I will never got over missing the ones I lost. But I still cherish life. . . . I will always want the ones I lost back again. I long for them with all my soul. But I still celebrate the life I have found because they are gone. I have lost, but I have also gained. I lost the world I loved, but I gained a deeper awareness of grace. That grace has enabled me to clarify my purpose in life and rediscover the wonder of the present moment.”
Gerald L. Sittser, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss

 

What Should I Do?

“You aren’t torn. You’re only just afraid” – Cheryl Strayed

As a therapist a lot of people come to me wondering what they should do about their current situation. It may be that they are in an unhappy relationship. Perhaps they are unfulfilled with their current job. Maybe they want to move away. Most of the time the people sitting in front of me know what they want to do, they are just scared to do it.

We’re scared to leave an unhappy relationship because what if we never find another person. We’re scared to leave an unfulfilling job because we need to pay the bills. We’re scared to move away because what if we don’t like the new place. What’s worse to me is: What if you live out the rest of your life unhappy and scared because you live under the illusion that it is safer this way. 

Nothing about living life is safe. That’s the real scary part about this game – you and everyone you know will die. Billionaires will die, celebrities will die, pastors, priests, nuns, good people, bad people, young people, babies, all of us are going to die. We think if we make all the right choices we’ll never die and no one will get hurt (delusional thinking). I’m not sure if we are consciously aware of why we try to make the safest choices but that’s my theory. If I just hide out here (safe and miserable) pain will leave me alone (whatever that means). 

We tend to take the good in our lives for granted. Before you make a big change you should step back and explore your options. I often recommend that people look at what other job opportunities are out there before quitting their current job. In doing that, some people gain a new appreciation for their current position (I do get compensated well, I have a lot of time off, my boss is pretty flexible). Also, before you end a relationship imagine being single. Try and imagine what would happen if your partner left you. Would you desperately beg them back? How would it feel to not have that person in your life anymore. Instead of making a big change, try first, appreciating what you have. Sometimes when you do this you realize how good you have it.

If you’ve done this and you still think (in your gut) you need to make a change. Go on! Of course, one should not impulsively quit their job and spend all their money living in Paris for a month (maybe that’s what my partner and I did and it worked out okay but I’m not recommending it) .

So, what if it doesn’t work out? You try again. If you quit your job for another job and you don’t like your new job, you look for another job. If you don’t find another partner right away, take your time enjoying the company of friends, meeting and dating people, and exploring what you like to do with your alone time. If you move away and you don’t like the new place, move back to the old place or try another place.

A person can not live a life without regrets. There just is not enough time and resources to do all the we want to do. We have to be honest with ourselves and seek out the life that best fits what we want. When I worked with people at the end of their lives, the regrets that hit the hardest were when they did not live a life true to themselves. Whether or not we want to accept the truth, we know in our guts when we are not being true to ourselves.

Bottom line: There is no safe way to do this so go out there and live life. 

“I have not always chosen the safest path. I’ve made my mistakes, plenty of them. I sometimes jump too soon and fail to appreciate the consequences. But I’ve learned something important along the way: I’ve learned to heed the call of my heart. I’ve learned that the safest path is not always the best path and I’ve learned that the voice of fear is not always to be trusted.”
Steve Goodier

Love.

 

Heaven Is A Place On Earth.

“Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.”
Aldous Huxley

“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.”
Oscar Wilde

I know this post is redundant. I can’t help it. I’ve written about this topic several times (Hang A Different Fly Strip, Yo!, What Are You So Mad About?, I Need An Attitude Adjustment, Please, Stop Telling That Tired Old Story, That Was A Hell Of A Day, and probably in others). I suppose it is cathartic for me to try and approach it from a variety of perspectives.

One of the most crushing things for me to see as a therapist is when people stay stuck in their own Living Hell. So often, I sit powerless as people go on about all the wrongs, resentments, abuses, problems, and challenges in the world. This is not to say those points aren’t valid. They are. We all struggle. We all face adversity.

And, this post is not intended to minimize the pain that life brings. In fact, the human experience is replete with adversity. Yes, some people struggle more than others. And, some people have harder lives than others. However, how we respond to adversity will determine the quality of your life.

A person always has a choice. This moment can be your Heaven or your Hell.

Some of the key words and phrases that come up when a person is Living In Hell are:

I don’t want him/her to win. Life is not you versus anyone. Life is you just doing the best you can and trying to be the best version of yourself. If you find that you feel this way about someone or something it might be best to let go of the relationship or leave the situation. It’s okay to quit something or someone that makes you miserable or makes you feel like it’s about winning or losing.

It shouldn’t be this way. Life is not fair. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Unfortunately, life is not about how it should. Life just is what it is. And sometimes it’s awful and sometimes it wonderful.

I don’t deserve to be treated this way. You do not have control over how anyone treats you. If someone is hurtful and abusive please exit the situation as soon as possible.

I’m not going to leave, they have to leave. Your health and happiness is your responsibility. You must leave the unhealthy situation.

That person should just know what I need. We are not mind readers. We must tell the people in our world what we need from them and we must be specific as possible.

My religion says this way of life is right and they are wrong. This may be true. However, approaching someone with an attacking and accusatory approach is not likely to lead to conversion or understanding. It is best to listen and understand. It is best to act consistently with your values and let your actions be what attracts people to you.

Why should I treat them any better. Because life is not a contest. Extend compassion even when the person can not do the same for you. This does not make you weak. In fact, it is much harder to hold the space and not be reactive in the face of anger than it is to be reactive.

But I’m right! You probably are but life is not a contest. Again, if you want people to listen to you it is best to first listen to them. Listening does not mean you agree it means you respect the other (even if you don’t)

It’s not fair. No, none if this fair. It is not designed that way. It will never be fair. Let the idea that it will ever be fair go and you will be much happier.

I refuse to listen to any of what they have to say. Then the conversation is over. Listening is the most important part of communication. If you refuse to listen there is no conversation.

This is bullshit. It probably is. But, again, life is not fair. I’m sorry you’re suffering but we were never promised a pain free life.

They’re out to get me. Maybe they are. The best way to counter this is to be the best version of yourself. Don’t give someone anything to get in terms of who you are. If you feel like the situation is toxic and you are living in fear the only choice you have is to leave. 

Phrases and words that people who live in Heaven often use:

I love you

I like you

Good job

I’m proud of you

Thank you

You make a difference

Please

I appreciate you

I’m sorry you feel that way

What can I do to help

What do you need

Let me get that for you

You’re beautiful

You’re awesome

You’re incredible

I hope you have a great day

Let’s have a dance party

For many people they are unable to see that their worldview is what is causing them the most pain. If you are able to accept that life is both wonderful and awful, and sometimes at the same time, you will live a much healthier life. If you are able to extend compassion and understanding to the people in your world, you will feel so much better about life.

I understand that many  people suffer through painful and abusive childhoods or relationships as an adult. If you find that you do not have the tools to move out of a Living Hell, please, see a therapist. And if you do decide to see a therapist try to have a little hope and flexibility. We know you’re suffering and we want to help but we can’t help if you don’t let us or trust that we want to help.

Love.

 

Lovingkindness Meditation

Meditation is extremely beneficial for overall physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual health. My favorite meditation is called the lovingkindness meditation. I find it particularly comforting in challenging times because of the focus on compassion and connection.

Lovingkindness Meditation

Please pause, take a few deep breaths, and consider how you are feeling at this moment. Then, please repeat the following phrases:

May I have peace

May I be kind and forgiving to myself and others

May I be happy

May I be healthy 

May I have love

Now, take a few deep breaths  and please bring to mind a person you love unconditionally.

Then, please repeat the following phrases as if you were looking directly at this person.

May you have peace

May you be kind and forgiving to yourself and others

May you be happy

May you be healthy 

May you have love

Now, take a few deep breaths and please bring to mind a neutral person. This is a person that does not bring up strong feelings. Perhaps this is a cashier or waiter.

Then, please repeat the following phrases as if you were looking directly at this person.

May you have peace

May you be kind and forgiving to yourself and others

May you be happy

May you be healthy 

May you have love

Now, take a few deep breaths and please bring to mind a person that you are struggling with. Perhaps a person where there is conflict, fear, or resentment.

Then, please repeat the following phrases as if you were looking directly at this person.

May you have peace

May you be kind and forgiving to yourself and others

May you be happy

May you be healthy 

May you have love

Now consider the entirety of the world. Take a few deep breaths and repeat the following phrases.

May we all have peace

May we all be kind and forgiving to yourself and others

May we all be happy

May we all be healthy 

May we all have love

You may want to repeat these phrases along with some deep breathing throughout your day or any day that you feel you need a little love and compassion.

Love.

Dealing With Difficult People.

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.” – Dale Carnegie

Whenever I see posts like “How to deal with these kinds of people…”, I kind of cringe. I think we can all be a certain kind of person from time to time. Many of us have rather unrealistic expectations related to what our human interactions should be like on a daily basis. Therapists have an expression: Don’t should on yourself (we’re hilarious aren’t we). We feel entitled to people agreeing with us or being kind to us. When in fact, we are not entitled to this type of treatment at all. Yes, it would be nice if every person I interacted with was having a super day and smiled me on my way. But, that is just not how the real world works. 

How do you deal with difficult people?

  1. Most of the time it isn’t about you. If someone is being difficult is is likely because there is an area of their life that is not as they think it should be (finances, kids, sleep, work, relationships, etc). This makes extending kindness to you more challenging. I suggest you let them be and send them some loving thoughts and compassion. 
  2. It might be about you. In these cases, much of this has to do with expectations. I know that because of my beliefs and values some people find me difficult. I’m fairly outspoken. I also don’t have the faith system that many think I should. The people with disparate values need to do a better job of setting boundaries in their relationships. I may never be besties with a Fundamentalist Christian (actually I am). But really, don’t try to shove a round peg in a square whole. Maybe you should get along but you don’t so stop forcing the uncomfortable relationship to be something it is not. They will always feel like they are living life the right way and you will always feel like you are living life the right way. So, it’s best to stay in your own lane and out of theirs.
  3. You might be triggering something in someone. Like, if you’re having a great day or life is overall pretty great for you, other people may feel bad about themselves around you. This can result in painful jabs towards the happy person. I’m not sure that the unhappy person always knows that they are cutting someone down to size but if you feel jabby or you are being jabbed use your boundaries. 
  4. Who does she think she is? This is another case of triggering something in someone. Some people cannot be happy for you if you are happy. It is just not possible for them. This may lead to difficult interactions. Again, let them be and ramble on.
  5. Basically, people want the outside (the world around them) to match the inside (their emotional state). This means that if someone is difficult it is likely because they are suffering. That being said, you do not deserve to be the whipping post for someone in emotional distress. Please do not jab them back. Instead, take a deep breath and send them love and compassion. And go on your way. 
  6. You are not entitled to life as it should be you are given a life as it is. This involves dealing with people who may not always be kind to you. This is okay. It doesn’t mean you deserve to be treated poorly, it just is what it is. 
  7. Don’t react or defend yourself. This only fuels the negativity. It’s best to just listen and exit the situation as soon as you can. This leaves the other party having to deal with the mess themselves. I can hear you saying “But, I don’t deserve to be talked to or treated this way” and you are correct but the best way to handle this is silence and removal. 
  8. Try to have some self-awareness around when you are being a difficult person. Maybe you are telling someone all the reasons their idea won’t work. Maybe you are making a lot of sarcastic comments. Maybe you are gossiping about “who does she think she is.” Maybe you are making fun of someone. How you behave is direct reflection of how you feel. If you are being difficult do yourself a favor (and the rest of us) and take better care of yourself. In a lot of cases, it is that critical voice in your head (I’m not good enough, I’m never going to be happy) that ends up coming out of your mouth (she’s an idiot, they’re not really happy). Start inside and work your way out.
  9. You’re human and you have permission to be difficult once in awhile. But, you are always responsible for how you treat people and if you hurt someone in the midst of being difficult you should apologize. Even better, you can give the people around you (at work and at home) a heads up and say, “I’m struggling today, I might need some space.” People are less likely to take things personally  when you give them a heads up.

That’s all for this sunny Friday afternoon.

Love.

“I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to.” – Unknown