Sunday, 29 July 2018

Sticks and stones .....

So how do you handle personal insults?  Head in the sand?  Buckets of tears?  Anger?  Resentment? ..... do you take on the people head on?  Do you try and justify why they said it? Do you let it eat away at you?  Do you allow them to get away with it?  Do you fall for the overused excuse that they are allowed to have an opinion?  What is your way?

3 weeks ago I met someone I never knew before.  It was providence.  We discovered a mutual and burning dislike of adult bullies.  He is a person in a position of authority, and within 5 sentences to each other we discovered our common interest in this.  So we have spoken again about it after that, and we intend to work together on something to do with this very phenomenon.  

The American Psychological Association defines this kind of bullying as “a form of behaviour in which someone intentionally and regularly causes another person discomfort, insult or pain”

I want to highlight 1 of the 5 types of bullying discussed on 2 sites - 

Social bullying - “Covert bullying is harder to recognise as it is usually carried on continuously behind the bullied person’s back.  It very often manifests itself in what may seem like simple sharing between two or more people, but when it escalates to a level which starts affecting the bullied individual, it becomes unacceptable, unkind and morally wrong.  This form of bullying includes discussing a person continuously with one or more others in a negative way,  referring to someone in a demeaning way in conversation with others and/or being judgemental about personality traits in another.  When this happens on a continuous basis, it goes beyond simple discussion or light commenting and crosses the line to adult bullying”.  

What interested me even more (as it is something I have started to discover in conversation with others), is that these bullies are not perfect people.  Not emotionally, not intellectually, not morally, not in any way.  They are ordinary people, with good days and bad days, good habits and bad habits, good traits and bad traits.  Yes, they are just like everyone else.  Yip, hard to believe hey. 

Recently someone told me that I can be quite nasty.  Accepted.  I do not walk around with a halo attached to my head.  And in this case nastiness is a defense mechanism to protect myself.  However there is a massive difference between nasty and the kind of continual judgement that people that I chatted to, were referring to, These dear folk break down others over and over and over again, demean them, judge them and discuss them - over and over again.  Once is a once-off, ten times is concerning, continually......that is a pattern. 

Talking to your family about another person, or talking to a counsellor or a close friend, this is normal life.  However when that discussion is to only find fault - GET. A. LIFE.  Or better still, make sure that your own life is beyond reproach.  An interesting point is that once a person thinks you are accusing them of adult bullying, they get quite vicious in their reaction.  It says more about them than you.  Their arrogance and ego would never allow them to believe that anyone would stand up to them.  Do not let them confuse you into believing that “having an opinion” and “insulting you” are the same.  Talking to someone about a person for their opinion or  sympathy with your plight, is normal.  Using that on a regular basis to be mean .... makes one wonder if they are not justifying their own behavioural issues by focusing on another person.

So stand up.  And if you find yourself unable to, contact me.  And I will find you some help.  Some guidance.  Some coping mechanisms.  

So this is dedicated to all those people.  And to my new friend.  May the two of us have great success in our plan to write together and address this. 

C’est la vie dear readers. 

Till soon. 

Monday, 9 July 2018

Writing the wrongs and rights

So I have just returned to work after a wonderful ten day break.  Most of it in a nature reserve.  In a chalet, 20 mins drive on a dirt road from the main entrance. It was heaven.  Quiet, in the bushveld, no calls, no emails, and the bonus of warthogs and impala on the stoep every day. My hubby and daughter joined for one night, my son and his friend for 5 nights. Perfect. 

I took the advice of a professional I consulted, and I used the time as I often do, to journal, but specifically letters this time, as she suggested.  I have always journaled, and filled the books not only with writing thoughts and gratitude and memories, but also to work through challenges.  I have dozens upon dozens of full journals, and I happily spend money on beautiful A5 journals with great paper and memorable covers. This and beautiful pens make me an easy person to buy a gift for!

I came home having handwritten 71 A5 pages in coloured pens. All in one journal. It was quite a process. But in the quiet, on the stoep, mostly alone, I wrote. Early mornings, sunset, late at night. Whenever I felt like it was time. These notes and letters were to be to specific people, to say specific things.  Now I know the whole "splinter in your own eye" blah blah blah, but sometimes when we have things to say, and do not get to do so because we get stonewalled, we start doubting ourselves, we start believing not only the good labels, but also the not so good ones.  Now let's be honest - we all deserve some of our labels, and we sometimes have to listen and say "wow, damn, I am actually losing my way a little", but other times we need to say "no, that is not ok to say that".  So I diligently took her advice, and wrote.  A bit like "Dear John", except these letters were not at all to do with romance. 

I pretended that I was speaking to the people, without interruption, and I recalled good memories, bad memories, fun times, even more fun times and then the less great times. I got to say what was on my mind.  A one-sided conversation yes, but one in which I could say everything and there were no people to say that I was wrong.  Because in these cases I was not.  Labels can be so destructive. 

The 2nd part of the advice was to send these letters to the relevant people (yes I took pics and whatsapp'd them).  This was the more difficult part.  I got 4 different reactions.  I sent 2 letters, I used 2 as a reference point in interactions.  1 of each of those verbally spoke with me then.  It was a wonderful long phone opportunity to share things with them. Even mixed with a bit of arguing.  Because I had spent so much time listening to my apparent long list of "challenging personality issues" compared to other's seemingly very short own lists, I never got to speak up. One person is meeting with me next week and to the last person it was obviously just reading matter.

She had told me that some would say they were sorry for hurt caused, some would be on the fence, some would rather be right than be sorry and some would rather just spend all their time looking for the splinter in MY eye.  She is clever.  I would hope so. 

So has it been liberating?  Yes,  
So has it been successful?  Mostly.  
So has it made a difference?  Quite a bit. 

But I have spoken.  I have not kneejerked, lashed out, looked for excuses, felt sorry for myself, been a victim. I have said it is not okay.  

My kids will verify vociferously that I have taught them - when you make a mistake or when you hurt someone, say sorry. 

Perhaps I should add more strongly - and when it is done to you, expect an apology. 

However I think the former statement is worth more.  Because it says something about your character. 

So here I am. 

I don't always get it right
I write to people when I am hurting (some people ignore, some people lash out, some people are icy - we ALL have our way)
I suffer from anxiety and depression when I feel threatened. 
I overthink
I overreact (like everyone else - drama queens galore)
I sometimes speak without thinking
I am authentic
I apologise
I make right
I care 
I love
I live
I laugh

If you don't do any of the above at all, are you sure you are alive?

So yes - I have done the writing of the wrongs and rights. 

And I look only forward. 

Till soon
c'est la vie 

Okay so lets move to another province

“The company feels that there are great growth opportunities for it in the Cape” says hubby whilst we are sitting on the stoep of our chalet...