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Know Your Blind Spots
If I ask you what your pet peeves are, I bet you will describe troubling, obnoxious or aggravating behaviors that you observe in others. Consider the following examples:
“I cannot stand people who are stingy.”
“It is really annoying to have someone tell me to relax when I am anxious!”
“I hate getting stung by people who lash out at me.”
“It is very hard hanging out with an impatient person.”
Peevish behaviors, right? But consider the first example (stinginess) and ask yourself the following question: Have I ever been reluctant to expend valuable time, resources or money, even if for a good reason or cause? If the answer is a definite yes, or even a maybe, you might have discovered a blind spot. Even if you feel the stingy person you complain about has a much bigger problem than you do, if you can see your own, you might better understand that person’s behavior. It may be hard to admit, too, that sometimes a more conservative approach to spending tangibles or intangibles is the most sensible thing to do.
Moving on to the second example, telling someone to relax when they are swimming in a river of anxiety is almost as ridiculous as telling a depressed person to cheer up. Right? But have you ever said the equivalent of “snap out of it” to someone else? How useful was that? We do not like it when we hear “snap out of it” if we are in the throes of an upset, do we? And even if you answer yes, I would still like to know how useful it is. Consider whether and why you do to others what you really do not want them to do to you. Perhaps if we identify this blind spot we will have more tolerance when we are on the receiving end.
As for the third example, who wants someone lashing out at them? Are you sure you have never ever done that? Are you 100 percent certain that your assertiveness or setting of a boundary was not experienced by the recipient as aggressive or worse? This is territory where it is the “how” of what gets said that can be so offensive. If we think of a time when we were the one who lashed out, maybe we will gain some insight or understanding for others who have done the same to us.
Moving on to impatience. Shall we just ask ourselves, am I 100% patient with everyone and every situation? Enough said.
In each of these examples, our pet peeves express judgments toward others who behave in ways that are displeasing to us. It behooves us to explore whether there is a blind spot in the mix. If we judge another for a trait that is also evident in ourselves, then we are also judging ourselves. That is where joy gets subtracted out of the equation. If we know our blind spots, there is more potential for us to have increased empathy and compassion for the person whose behavior offended us, but also for ourselves. And that adds joy back into the equation. You do the math!
If your pet peeve is lack of brevity, this box of the newsletter will be your salvation! After writing all of the above, I was tempted to be Roseanne Roseannadanna and say “never mind” because I realized that all those words boil down to two well-known proverbs:
People who live in glass houses
shouldn't throw stones.
The pot calling the kettle black.
The Equation, Simplified
+ ID of Blind Spot
+ Compassion (for self + others)
= J O Y
Your March 2015 Prompts for Joy
Click here for some guaranteed laughs at “panda-monium.”
Click here if you are eager for baseball season to begin and appreciate a batter’s unique approach to the plate.
All previous Prompts for Joy (PFJs) can be found at my website, unless the video url is no longer functional.
Joy-Gram for March 2015
In the spirit of one of my favorite bumper stickers (Wag More, Bark Less), I offer this: Empathize More, Peeve Less.
Taken from the parking lot at Sandy Neck Beach, West Barnstable, MA. This is for my friends and family who are sick of snow: a reminder that Spring will soon arrive.
By no means
do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume
that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for
myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this
pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience
of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!
Martha Clark Scala, MFT · 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 ·