The excuses we use to hold on to things

The excuses we use to hold on to things:

“I keep it ‘just in case'”

“It’s for emergencies”

“It was a gift”

“It’s an heirloom”

“These are memories”

“I’ll get to it”

 

I’d like to explore these one at a time.

 

“just in case” – In case what? how often do we realistically expect this rare circumstance to happen? Isn’t it rare enough such that in the event it happens, it is worth acquiring it at that time of the occurrence rather that retaining now and having it take up space in our home.

 

“It’s for emergencies” – Do we mean “life or death” emergency? If not, see the paragraph above, but if it is a matter of survival it has substantial value in the home. Just be sure it’s not more of a hazard than an asset (I’m thinking of course of keeping a weapon in the home).

 

“It was a gift” – How long have we kept this gift? Don’t we believe there is a limit to how long an item retains value in our lives? What is that time? Hasn’t this item lived out its value? Don’t we think the giver of the gift can respect that?

 

“It is an heirloom” – Is it truly an heirloom, or are we just calling it that because it’s old and our elders owned it? If our family is truly tied to it, I can see the value. If on the other hand it is just a tie to our memories, see the next paragraph.

 

“These are memories” – How many things do we have that tie us to the same set of memories? If we downsize this collection, can we not still stay tied to those memories, that history? It is also important to remember that our memories are in US, not in things. While it is important to maintain some link to our past, too much of this acts as an anchor holding us down; keeping us from growth, from our future. The mind purges old memories for a good reason. Retaining too many old “heirlooms” keeps too many of those memories fresh, denying the mind it’s natural inclination to purge. Out with the old to make room for the new.

 

“I’ll get to it” – Oh YEAH, when? If we don’t have the drive enough to set a time, then our commitment is weak. A commitment THAT weak should be discarded to make room for stronger ones. If we feel we ARE committed and just haven’t found the time due to obligations (the argument about unnecessary obligations is another essay, another time), then lets try this:

Discard the item ANYWAY. In the event we ARE committed to it, we will acquire it again. Consider the act of acquiring again as proof to ourselves of our commitment. It will also answer the very important question “Do I have it because I am committed to it, or am I committed to it because I have it?”. Also, we are more likely to honor such a commitment if we just dumped a lot of money into it. There is always the real possibility that once we discard the old item, we will feel relief, as we are no longer bound by a commitment we were tied to because of a thing we were holding on to.

 

Personal Offense

So many people these days take deep personal offense to potentially hurtful words spoken that are not directed at them personally. They are easily offended, and unable to let go of that feeling. As a result, these people carry a significant amount of mental clutter unnecessarily. This weighs them down emotionally, robbing them of joy.

I am not sure how this came about, I only have theories. Parenting and socialization play a role of course. Perhaps the newer generations lack a strong sense of personal identity. Perhaps they have not developed a thicker skin due to a lack of hardship in their lifetime. This may be the backlash effect of the fact that now is the safest and time to be alive. After all, hard times make tougher people …. and therefore easy times make weaker people, by definition.

The way I see it, there is only two reasons why someone’s words would offend us so bad that we internalize them:

  1. We believe deep inside that the words they speak may be true, and we are unwilling to face the possibility that they are.
  2. We don’t recognize that the words of another person are only that; the opinion of another person.

The first reason has the solution right in the reason itself. That is, consider and explore the possibility that these offensive words may be true. Either we learn something new about ourselves, and make some personal changes as we see fit, or we learn that those hurtful words don’t apply to us. Either way, the next time we hear those hurtful words they will have no effect on us. It’s just that simple.

The second reason is really the one I wish to explore.

Let me start by saying that opinions aren’t real. They don’t change the reality we live in at all. It is not until we listen and internalize them that they have value. They loose all power once they are ignored or internally compartmentalized. Ignoring and compartmentalizing does require a strong personal identity on our part. We must be confident in who we are, and that we are good people.

If the person speaking their opinion is someone we have no value for, and no reason to interact with in the future, their opinion is easy enough to ignore. Since they will play no part in our lives, there would be the reason to apply any value to what they think or believe.

If on the other hand, there is a possibility we will have future dealings with this person, that they carry a certain amount of value in our lives, then we can learn to compartmentalize. That is, create mental boxes in which to place their opinions, words, and gestures that define the source of their hurtful comments. Doing this frees us from the mental stress of carrying those words by dismissing them as a result of a character flaw they have. It does not completely devalue the words as we are still retaining them for informational purposes, but it does rob them of negative emotional value. Some of these mental boxes are:

  • Ignorance – Their hurtful words and beliefs are a result of being uninformed or misinformed. They either will not educate themselves, or are in a situation (a bubble) where that information is not easily available.
  • Pain – Their beliefs stem from a deep mental wound, and holding on to these beliefs fills the void created by a tragedy in their life. These beliefs are held purely by anger/sadness, and are not based on logical reasoning and rationality.
  • Insecurity – By believing the hurtful things they say, they permit themselves to live with the parts of themselves they believe are weaknesses.

I am sure there are other boxes, but I do believe these are the most common.

Side Note: I think of the movie “Dr Sleep” and how Danny used mental boxes to trap the spirits haunting him. It may help to think of it that way.

Mental compartmentalizing serves to identify these words for what they are, and relieves us of the burdens of carrying the emotional loads of others.

If we are compelled to help those with these burdens (these false beliefs), compartmentalizing can serve as a starting point to help them. The type of box we are putting their words into determines the area we should address with them. If they are ignorant, educate them. If they are in pain, provide care. If they are insecure, start by making them feel better about themselves. Address the source of their words and beliefs, and the changing of their beliefs will happen naturally.

Toxic People: Bottom Feeders

It is during desperate times like these that selfish people really expose themselves; expose their true character, that is. With COVID-19 going on and racial tension at its peak, people are reverting to their most basic emotional reactions. It is truly amazing (and by that, I mean disappointing) how quickly humanity abandons any sense of humanity when the chips are down. The truth is, the chips are not really that down; statistically now is still the safest time in history to be alive. But one very real benefit during times like these, is that the selfish really take off their masks and expose themselves for all to see. This makes it easier to spot them.

To be more specific, I speak of the people that are unwilling to look outside the scope of the life they live. They are concerned only with events and policies that affect them and their loved ones, unconcerned with the welfare of strangers or folks outside their circle. These people are what I call “Bottom Feeders” as they contribute nothing in their normal day-to-day activity in their community, to humanity. Instead, they mooch from it, suck the life right out of it with their negativity and/or self-serving interests.

We all know people like this, and we would be well advised to either eliminate them from our lives or keep them are arm’s length distance from us; don’t let them into our inner circle.

Over the course of time I have noticed these people have “tells” or “red flags” that give away their character. I have noticed more of these very recently (during this desperate time). Keep in mind that these red flags are NOT the “be all and end all” of spotting these bottom feeders, just a guide. These red flags are:

  • They do not return the shopping cart to the corral when they are done using it (after grocery shopping). – According to them, once they are done using it, it is not their problem anymore; that is somebody else’s job. A blatant lack of common courtesy.
  • 12 Items or less express lane in the grocery store. – They don’t care, and you don’t even need to count their items to tell that it is obvious that they have well more than 12 items. But none of that matters because their time is more important than yours.
  • Lack of turn signal use while driving. – When it comes down to it, the use of the turn signal does little to nothing to help the one doing the signaling. It’s meant for everyone else; so, others can be prepared for a change on the road during their driving. The driver making the turn already knows they are going to make a turn, so why do they feel they should bother. Again, it’s a common courtesy.
  • Traffic light rushers – They know that the light will turn red by the time they pass under it, and they do not care. Their time is more important than yours.
  • Lack of kindness toward service staff. – When out on a date, pay special attention to how the dates attitude toward the waiting staff is. More so than how they are to you. Of course, they will be pleasant to you, the whole idea of the date is to make a good impression (it’s self-serving).
  • Pay special attention to common self-serving phrases like “It’s a free country” or “My body, my choice”. These phrases are often spoken when in reference to an action that will hurt a third party. Guaranteed, when somebody says “It’s a free country” it’s because they just did, or are about to do a real dick move.
  • Not wearing a mask in public during COVID-19 pandemic. – These people may be confident they will not catch the disease or are sure they will manage it if they do, and that is fine. They also realize that by not wearing one they present a small risk to the people around them (this is common knowledge by now), ……. but they simply do not care. It is just that simple. They be damned if they are minorly inconvenienced to help serve the greater good.
  • Rioters, and any protesters who use violence to convey displeasure with events and/or systems and policies. Unlike the above fed flags, this one has no grey area, it is a dead giveaway of a toxic bottom feeder.

 

These people lack a strong moral compass, and the only reason their acts have not escalated to deeply depraved and heinous acts is the fact that we have consequences for such acts. If we lived in a consequence free environment …… the sky is the limit for them.

In the end, a good judge of character is to spot if a person does the right thing even if there is no reward, or they think no one is watching. Will they do the right thing even if there is no negative consequence for them NOT doing the right thing.

Now is a good time to do some inner circle purging. Mind these red flags. I’d also be interesting in hearing about some of yours. Please comment.