Thursday Thoughts: The Humanity of Emotions

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I’m Afraid of Change

Change is an inevitable part of life.

It happens every single day and I’m used to the little changes – how some days I feel energized and happy and other days I feel sluggish and restless – but the big changes make me run in fear.

Since being an adult, I’ve already experienced a lot of big life changes, but there’s one coming up that feels bigger than any other to date.

I’m graduating with my Master’s Degree.

I don’t intend to go back to school so for the first time in . . . my entire life, school is off the table. I wont’ be in it and I won’t be planning to go back to it.

I’ll be forging a completely new path for my life.

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Logically, I know that this is good because change is healthy. Emotionally, I feel resistant and uninspired.

Logically, I know that there are myriad options available to me. Emotionally, I feel that I’m going to log in to job boards and find absolutely nothing available for my skill set.

Logically, I already know what I want to do and that there will be plenty of places where I can apply. Emotionally, I feel like I’m just lying to myself so that it will seem like I have a plan.

Change means making decisions.

And I’m not great at trusting my intuition or believing that I’m capable of making good choices. 

I’m not going to be able to get through this upcoming change if I talk to myself like that, though.

Reframing how I speak to myself is going to be a big part of barreling through this next year. I’ve gotten really proficient at being kind to myself in regards to my personality, but I still need to work on being kinder to myself when it comes to my abilities and dreams.

Facing change requires being kind to yourself.

Instead of saying “I’m afraid of change” I can start telling myself:

“I’m capable of making smart choices and facing this change with confidence.”

Even better I can say:

“I make smart choices and face change with confidence.”

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Change is an inevitable part of life, but it doesn’t have to be scary. It can be exciting and it is a great opportunity for personal growth and development.

Is there a big change coming up in your life? What’s a positive mantra you can repeat to yourself to help you get through it?

My Compulsion Toward Sensibility

My first pair of Converse All Star sneakers was an orange plaid pair.

I thought Converse All Stars were such great sneakers because they were both stylish and sensible. They were the shoes that everyone in my school was supposed to have, but they were also great shoes to wear all day and everywhere. I didn’t have to change them for gym. I could wear them with skirts. I could wear them with pants.

I’ve always loved being sensible.

I still have those orange plaid sneakers. I also have the other pair of All Stars I owned as a teenager: the black pinstripe pair. Even the kinds of All Stars I had were sensible; I had one colorful pair and one black pair to go with everything.

I only recently bought new sneakers because I needed a pair for working out. The orange plaid All Stars have been relegated to being my outdoor adventure/exercise shoes because they stink. Ever sensible, my new sneakers are black and pair well with anything.

I’ve been noticing this compulsion toward being sensible and have been wondering what it means about me and my daily habits. I’ve been wondering what it means for me in the grand scheme of my life – my relationships and my career – because my compulsion toward sensibility extends beyond my choices in shoes. It pervades pretty much every corner of my life.  On the surface, sensibility is a helpful quality, but what if it’s holding me back?

What if being sensible is keeping me from realizing my dreams?

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– Ryunosuke Satoro

At their core, dreams are insensible.

They don’t make a lot of sense to the standard of life a person has become accustomed to and they require a lot more effort than falling in line with the status quo.

Sensibility is a problem because if I ever want to realize my dream of becoming a published author, then I’m going to have to be a little insensible. I’m going to have to believe I can buck the odds. I’m going to have to put in more effort than I will get tangibly rewarded for. The sensibility in me cringes at that and shrinks away from it. The sensibility in me tells me to have plans B, C, and D just in case. The sensibility in me says it would be nice if I became a published author, but it shouldn’t be my dream. I probably shouldn’t even waste my time working toward it because it’s not sensible to invest in something that’s not a sure bet.

Being sensible has served me well in a lot of areas of my life. It has helped me to be generally wise with my money. It has helped me to stay healthy. It’s helped me to grow and become a better person, so I won’t be abandoning sensibility altogether, but I do see how I let it take hold a little too tight sometimes. I do see how it can be damaging and limiting and how it’s keeping me from going after all that I want. Dreams, after all, are not about being sensible.

Dreams are a bit foolish, but it seems to me that fools are pretty damn happy.

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Do you cling to the sensible choices in life, or do you take big risks in the pursuit of your dreams? If you’re compulsively sensible like me, what’s a risk you can take today, or this week?

An Over-abundance of Advice, Tips and Hacks

 

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– Matthew McConaughey

There is too much advice online.

I find it confusing and frustrating and belittling, at times, but I have a confession to make.

I have a weakness for hack videos on YouTube.

If there is a video that promises to offer me advice to fix a problem, big or small, I am irresistibly curious if it’s going to be worthwhile. Even if the thumbnail assures me that the video will have nothing novel to present me, I still want to know if the creator has some secret tips to cure everyday stress or bad hair days or dirty bathrooms. (Note: I’ll be using the words advice, tips and hacks interchangeably. They all basically mean the same thing, anyway).

The thing is, I know hack videos are unlikely to teach me anything. I’ve watched a lot of lifestyle videos and have taken away very little because advice is rarely helpful.

Of all these videos I’ve watched, the most important tip I can remember is that I’ve been using bobby pins wrong my whole life (the curvy side goes down to better hold the hair), but  actually, that tip wasn’t even from a hack video, it was part of a parody tutorial!

Beyond my mindless consumption of hack videos, I don’t tend to seek out advice, but I’m not a total advice curmudgeon. It can be helpful and I’ve gotten some good advice in the past. For example, my sister encouraged me to set aside spending money for myself every month because I have terrible buyer’s remorse, and that was incredibly helpful advice that I utilize to this day. My mom encouraged me to spend more time writing and thinking about what I want from my future because I get too caught up in thinking about what I should be doing with my life, and that was a very thoughtful tip that helped me get out of a negative circle of thoughts.

I know not everyone has loving sisters or mothers to turn to for advice, and there are communities that can be formed online in lieu of familial support, but I’m not talking about advice from an Internet friend, I’m talking about the sludge of advice that pops up when you Google anything with the words “how” or “why.” That’s the kind of advice that gets under my skin.

tips-advice-hacksThese articles and videos always have misleading titles that lure viewers in with the promise of an easy solution. Even though there are so many of these articles and videos to choose from, they often say a variation of the same thing. Unless we want to look at Wiki How to learn how to best slice an onion or fix a household appliance, these “how tos” will yield very little positive results. If you’re anything like me, these  how to articles and videos in the self-improvement genre just increase any existing anxiety because there are too many “solutions.”

 

I want to further examine the varying tentacles of advice, so I’ve broken it down into four categories (or tentacles, if you will).

 

1.Should yourself

You should delete your Facebook account.

You should feed your children Organic produce.

You should wear a sleep mask to bed.

 

The inverse of each of these leads to a subcategory:

Contradictions

You shouldn’t delete your Facebook account.

You shouldn’t worry about feeding your children Organic produce.

You should never wear a sleep mask to bed.

 

What’s so confounding about this category of advice is that for every should, there’s a shouldn’t.

 

2.How it is

This category is similar to Should Yourself, except it relies on old adages that many of us have grown up being taught as undeniable truths.

“Early bird gets the worm” translates to:

You should go to bed early and wake up early.

 

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” translates to:

You should always eat breakfast.

 

This category of advice will vary depending on your family or what you heard growing up. Perhaps you grew up around people who questioned these “undeniable truths,” but I definitely grew up believing that breakfast-eating-morning-people have it figured out. Then I got married to a night owl who gets nauseous when he eats too early in the morning and I realized that not everyone fits into this category.

 

3.Wanna-Be Expert

This advice usually comes from well-meaning people. I’ll deny my cynicism here and say that even people who post this category of advice on the Internet probably mean well. They’re passionate about the solutions they’ve found in their own life and they think that because they’ve found something that works for them, that it will work for everyone else.

Have you tried . . .

What about . . .

I’ve been doing X for years and it works wonders. You should try it.

 

4.Dismissive

The category title makes this advice sound bad, but I actually think it can be the most helpful because it encourages us to figure it out for ourselves. Or, to find a counselor who can further encourage us to figure it out for ourselves.

Consult a professional.

Keep searching.

borderI have personally found the most success whenever I’ve trusted myself to know what’s best rather than collect advice from others and contemplate which tips make the most sense. I’m also a lot happier when I don’t click on those “hack” videos because they’re honestly 6-10 minutes of my life wasted – Every. Single. Time.

Have you ever found a truly life-saving hack from an Internet video? What’s some advice you resent getting? What has been the most helpful advice you’ve ever received, and who gave it to you? (I’m going to wildly venture that you didn’t receive the most helpful advice of your life by Googling it or from watching a hack video).