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Contradictions

Today I had an aha moment about one of the contradictions in my life.  By contradictions, I’m referring to the opposing ideas we sometimes hold. Or when there is a difference in what we say we want vs what we do.

The intent is not to turn this blog post into a diary entry, but I also want to be authentic in sharing what my contradiction aha moment was in the hopes it might help you become more aware of potential contradictions in your own life.  I think the value of becoming aware of and naming contradictions is that this can help decide what we might want to change to reduce the tension (and possible anxiety) we experience as a result of them.

Here is my aha moment from today about a contradiction in my life: I often think, and have even said to others, that I’d love to have a small close group of friends that I spend lots of time with. In reality, I have many many people who are my friends, who I enjoy spending time with and who I appreciate the unique gifts they bring to my life. In reality, I have trouble only inviting over 2-3 people, as I don’t want others to feel left out.  In reality, I am a bit introverted and enjoy doing things on my own, which means I only want to spend so much time with others and which means I don’t see all my friends as frequently as I wish in an effort to see all of them a little bit.  If you only have so much time to spend with friends, you can either see a lot of people a little or a few people a lot. Hence the contradiction, if I’m not willing to stop seeing some people, I can’t have a small group of people I see frequently. 

Some other contractions I’m observed or people have spoken about are:

– Saying family is the most important thing in life, while at the same time always giving our families the leftovers of our time, energy, and best self.

– Wanting to have a fantastic career or a thriving side-hustle, but not putting in the hours and effort that will require.

– Wanting to be healthier, but exercise never getting to the top of the priority list.

– Acknowledging you are happier when the pace of life is slower, while continuing to say yes to events, activities, committees, etc.

I could have phrased each of the examples above with the second part of the sentence described first and in a positive light.  Because in the contractions above their isn’t a right or wrong, there isn’t a good or bad.  Both approaches and options are valid.  They just are not possible at the same time.

Identifying contradictions can reminder us that we have the power to make choices. That we own our reality and hence can change our reality. That sometimes the anxiety and tension we feel is of our own making. That if we really want something, often we an make it happen.  And that if we aren’t making it happen, maybe it’s not really so important to us or maybe we don’t really want it after all.

Better today than yesterday

I hope that I am a little bit better person today than I was yesterday.

That something from yesterday, a conversation, an experience, a thought, caused me to learn and grow and change in some way, even if it’s just a very small step towards being better.

And some days I make mistakes.  Some days I’m just learning something and not very good at it.  Some days I have moments where I am not at my best.

Hopefully as a result of these things, I learn and grow and today I am a little bit better than I was yesterday.

I want to live in a world where how we treat and talk about other people is rooted in the idea that tomorrow they too will be a bit better than they were today.

 

Randomly on a Wednesday

We can get pretty attached to what kind of things we do on various days of the week.

Sometimes is the result of commitments such as work schedules or structures such as the swimming lesson happens on a specific day of the week.

And yet some of the best things in life happen on a Random Wednesday (or Tuesday or Thursday or Sunday).  The unexpected visit because you were dropping off something, a sunny afternoon porch drink, the afternoon spent with friends because it’s a vacation day from work, a wedding, a the weeknight campfire because we don’t have to get up for school.

Perhaps one of the reasons these things stand out as so special and great is exactly because they are different from the norm and they reflect the pause in our normal routines.

Good things happen when we are willing break free from the rules in our heads and the routines in our lives. It’s not about making Wednesday’s different. It’s about being open to randomly doing something on a day when we might not normally do whatever it was.

change we initiate

There has been a lot of change happening in our lives and routines over the past few months. For the most part, the changes are not things that we initiated. In most cases, the changes have required us to adapt.  In some cases, it’s been challenging to adapt to the changes. And overall it’s been a reminder that in most cases, adapting (both in our minds and in our behaviours) isn’t enjoyable – for the most part we don’t like change.

However, personal growth is change. Trying something new is change. Walking a new route, learning a new skill, buying a shirt, chatting with a new person – all of this is change. The key difference is these are changes we initiate ourselves.  They are changes we choose and control.  And we don’t seem to feel as negatively (in fact in most cases we feel positively about them) about the changes we initiate.

Change is going to happen. Some we initiate and some we don’t. In these days where so much of the change we are adapting to is beyond our control, perhaps we can mitigate the negative feelings, but intentionally initiating changes that we choose and that we control.

What change could you initiate that would help mitigate the impact of the changes you can’t control?

Name a need

It feels great to be able to address someone’s need or request. When we are able to help a friend or family member we feel more connected to them. When we help someone else it lifts our spirits. It not only feels good to help others, it is good to help others. And this is true about helping in even the smallest of ways.

When was the last time you named a need you had? When was the last time you asked someone to help you? Why is it so hard for us to name a need? We don’t need to be self sufficient. Let others feel connected to you.  Let other’s spirits be lifted.  Let others feel good because they helped you.

It can be something big or something small – whatever it is, today I encourage you to name a need and let someone else help you.

no such thing as normal

There is a lot of talk these days about “getting back to normal” and “the new normal”.

But the thing is, I really believe there is no such thing as normal. Not in people. Not in societies. Not in daily routines. Not in life.

Life is full of diversity – there is no such thing as normal. Routines and societies are ever changing and evolving – there is no such thing as normal. Environments and people adapt – there is no such thing as normal.

When we can let go of the idea that there is such a thing as normal, I think we can more fully embrace whatever the future holds. When we can let of go the idea of that there is such a thing as normal, I think we can more readily accept ourselves. When we can let of of the idea of that there is such a thing as normal, I think we can more easily show love and grace to others.

 

another – but it’s better when we do

It’s easy to say “I’ll do it tomorrow or next week”.

For introverts like me, this is particularly easy to say to myself when it comes to connecting with people.  It’s been particularly easy during this time of staying home and social distancing to not reach out to connect with people.

But a promised, this is another “but it’s better when we do” post.

Because for me it’s easier to say “tomorrow” or “next week” or “another day”.  It’s better when I do it today.  It’s better to reach out to people. It’s better to stay connected. It’s better to send the text, or pick up the phone, or do the driveway social distancing visit.

It’s okay to enjoy being by yourself. It’s okay to not be connecting with people all the time.  But when you think of someone, you should reach out.  It’s better when we stay connected.

Building Capacity

Building Capacity. It sounds like a very complex and academic term. It doesn’t have to be. Building capacity is really anything we do to grow as individuals, families, communities, and societies. Building capacity means that a a result of a choice we made, we are different (and I’m going to hope, better) today than we were yesterday.

Sounds like a great idea to me.

How do we do it?

It can be a simple or elaborate as you want It comes down to trying new things, having different experiences, connecting with new people, talking about different things, learning about something. It ranges from siting in a different spot in your living room, to taking a class, to stopping in a new park, to learning about something on youtube.

What might you do to build capacity in yourself, your family, or your neighbourhood?

 

on a break

Over the past few months, we have been “on a break” from many things in our lives. For some we are on a break from work or school. We might be on a break from shopping. We have been on a break from face-to-face social events and family celebrations.

In many of these situations, the break was externally imposed. Some of these breaks we have appreciated, some of these breaks we have found challenging. But everyone I talk to has learned through these experiences. People speak about learning more about themselves, about the difference between wants and needs in their life, about what those closest to them want and need. Most people I have talked to can identify good things that have come from the externally imposed breaks.

As I connect with youth and see posts on social media, there is a lot of talk about young adults taking a gap year – which really means taking some sort of break from post secondary education to do something else and have other experiences. Current circumstances appear to be making more people consider this as an option. I guessing many of us would say this is good thing to be exploring.

So we know that lots of growth and learning and personal development comes from being on a break from something. How come we aren’t better at initiating breaks in our lives? Why don’t more young adults take a gap year? Why as adults don’t we find ways to take a gap year from something in our life (or gap 6 months)? We don’t have to wait for the break to be externally imposed. We can be on a break whenever we want? What do you want to be on a break from? Why not do it?

attitudes, knowledge, behaviour – we are all different

We tend to believe that the people around us, particularly our friends and family, have similar attitudes, knowledge and behaviours we do – they are our friends and family after all. In many cases, this is true.  In many many many cases this is not true.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve become very aware of how my attitudes, knowledge and behaviour differ from the people around me. That I think differently about certain things, that I have more or less knowledge about various topics, that I make different choices and act in ways that are different than those around me. And this is true for all of us. We are each shaped by our upbringing, our experiences, our genetics, the people we have interacted with and encountered, and so much more.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve also become very aware of how I respond to people who have different attitudes, knowledge and behaviours. I’m learning that listing facts, modeling different behaviours, and/or avoiding it all together are sometimes necessary. And that withholding judgements, listening, speaking with kindness as I offer my perspective is better.

We are all different. We have different attitudes, knowledge, and behaviours. I also know that it’s possible for people’s attitudes, knowledge and behaviour to change. That speaking up with kindness and sharing our personal stories and experiences is better than avoiding and judging. That one of the most powerful things that can happen is for someone to have a moment where they realize “I’ve never thought of it that way before” (even if they don’t say it out loud to us).