Category Archives: Friendships

Emotional Chords and How We Play Them

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We all have emotions.  Happy, sad, angry, miffed, excited…all emotions.  We feel emotions in different situations, around different people and in different ways.  Sometimes it purely depends on the situation as to how you will react emotion wise, other times it depends on the day.  Example:  That movie or commercial that always pulls at your heart-strings–sometimes when you watch it you feel that emotional connection and respond by really thinking about the theme and acknowledging it, other times you see it and end up bawling for 15 minutes (and no, not the cute cry…the ugly cry, snot and all).  How we chose to process those emotions is where things sometimes get a little tricky.

The following is an emotion wheel that I thought would be fun to use pictures of our dog Doc showing some of the different emotions.  Pets are always great at helping people regulate their own emotions and studies have shown that pets are also great therapy.

 

Doc emotions through pictures.

When something happens in your life that does strike an emotional chord, learning how to react can be a real challenge, we have to learn how to play those emotional chords.  Yesterday a friend of mines young son was at school and injured himself during gym by running into the corner of a wall.  Joe’s injury required that he get 5 stitches in his temple area.  Joe did not cry, nor did his mother, yet when she contacted me about his injury she explained how hard it was for her to stay strong and not to cry so that Joe would be able to stay brave.  It is hard seeing someone you love hurt or in pain and in some situations the best thing that you can do is play your own emotional chords very softly so that the other person’s emotions do not escalate.  My friend did a perfect job keeping her own emotions in-check because they helped her son stay calm.  Later in the evening when Joe’s father arrived at home Joe showed that he had a great sense of humor about the injury by jokingly telling his dad that “he took on the whole class” and that the cut was all he got out of it 🙂

Part of our way of dealing with our own emotions depends on how we chose to look at life.  If you look at life and think that the world is out to get you and that life in general sucks, you emotions will also portray that.  If you try to stay upbeat and positive, even when life hands you the occasional lemon, your emotions will portray that.

Our emotions and moods also rub off on those around us…or other people’s emotions can rub off on us, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad.  I have one friend that stands out as always being happy (well, 98% of the time at least).  He has a great sense of humor and loves to make other people laugh and have fun.  If you are in a funk of a mood that day, within just a few minutes around him your entire day will brighten and your emotions will be uplifted.  A smile and a laugh really help in keeping emotions in-check.  On the other hand I have a friend who is always a “Debbie-Downer” she is either mad, angry, ticked-off or irritated all of the time…gosh, imagine how much stress that puts on your body to be feeling those emotions all of the time.!?  Even when something super positive happens in her life, rather than being happy and excited that it will happen, she choses to look at it and say “well, it wont last.”  Your life and emotions all come down to your own choices.  Chose to be happy, chose to be sad…it is all up to you.  Yes, sometimes people are actually not able to control their own emotions which can lead to depression and other health issues, but counseling & some medications (depending on each individual situation) can really help balance out the different emotions.

Years ago I had a friend that would call me in tears at least three times a week and tell me the horrible things her then boyfriend (now husband) would say to her when they were fighting or arguing.  After a few months of this I finally stopped her in the middle of one of her venting sessions and told her that the next time she called me she needed to tell me at least 3 positive things that he said or done for her before she started telling me about all of the negative things.  This made her stop and actually look at all of the positive things that he said and did, which helped her not focus on the negative things as much.  A few months later their arguing and fighting had lessened and their communication had opened.  After one of their arguments where he had said something horrible to her she finally asked him why he says such mean things to her when they fight and his answer was “you hurt my feelings so I just wanted to say the meanest thing I could think of so your feelings would hurt too.”  This made her realize that there were two sets of emotions in the relationship, and when she only focused on hers and he only focused on his their relationship sucked, but when they took the little time to focus on each others emotions their relationship became much stronger.

This leads me to think of a variety of questions, that hopefully also make you think:

Have you ever said something to just purposely hurt someone elses feelings?

How often do you stop to think about how your emotions affect the people around you?

Do you let other people’s emotions rub off on you?

How do you stay positive in a negative situation?

How do you stay strong when your emotions are tested?

How often do you just stop to think about other people’s emotions?

On days when you are sad have you found anything that helps make you feel emotionally better?  An emotional outlet that works for you?  Reading, baking, exercise, pet therapy?

How do you choose to play your emotions songs?

Do you find that little things often times “get” to you?  If so, how do you deal with them?

If you could choose three negative emotions to work on how you react to them, what would they be?

If you could choose three positive emotions to use more and make stronger in your daily life, what would they be?

Have you ever been so emotional that you have said or done something you later regret?

Have you ever transferred your emotions about a situation or about yourself onto someone else?  Example:  You are mad because you got in a car accident and you yell at the other driver, a few days later you realize that it was your own actions that caused the accident, so really the person you were mad at was yourself, yet you took it out on the other driver.

Have you ever let your own emotions hold you back in life?

Do you help others when they are on an emotional low?

Are their people in your life that you can look at and say “Susie is always happy” or “Jake is just a downer”?  How do you let their examples mold the emotions in your life?

As you have aged have you become better at controlling your own emotions?

Do you think that television is affecting the emotions of generations of young people?  Does seeing people get angry, scream, swear and turn a table over teach young people negative emotions or negative ways of dealing with their emotions?

Who are the three people in your life that you admire the most for their emotions and emotional support?

 

 

 

 

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A Variety of Friendships

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I read somewhere a while back that “The secret to friendship is being a good listener” which got me to wondering, how many of us know when to just listen and when to give advice?

Often times I find that all I want is to have my friend(s) listen without giving their two cents.  Yes, your two cents are important to me, BUT I do not need advice about every-single-little-thing.  Please tell me that someone else has a friend or friends that do the same thing.  Does your friend(s) advice to you ever feel like it is their way of judging you or just being argumentative?  Seriously, just be happy for me…be supportive…be understanding…be my friend.  I did a little brainstorming and thought of a few different kinds of friends that I either have or have had in the past and thought I would share.

There is a variety of friendships:

1. BEST FRIEND:  That person that you have known for years (and if not for years it sure does feel like it).  You can say anything to, do anything with, and be your true self around and know that they are going to reciprocate and not be judgemental of you.  Yes, they may pick on you some, but that is part of your friendship…you know each others limits and you respect those.  You can tell when that person needs to vent, just visit or be goofy beyond belief.   This is the friend that you never need to feel embarrassed around as they have probably lived through the majority of your most embarrassing situations with you.  You are comfortable being vulnerable around eachother…be it tears or expressing insecurities.  They know your deepest darkest secrets…and if they don’t know all of them right now, eventually they will.  This friend knows when they need to just listen and when they need to add their advice.  You may not see or speak to them as often as you would like, but you know they are always there for you no matter what.  They have made your life and world a happier place just by being part of it.

2. A FRIEND WHEN IN NEED:   We all have that person (some of us more than one) that as soon as you see their name on your caller id or that you’ve received an email from them the first thought that goes through your mind is always “What do they want/need now?”  This is the person who you don’t hear a peep from for months on end and then out of the blue they contact you and the conversation always starts the same:  “Hey Sam!  How have you been?  I haven’t talked to you in ages.  I missed you.”  Then not to long into the conversation, usually within the first 5 minutes the person will finally get to the point:  “Well Sam, I called to catch up and see if you could possibly lend me $350 for new tires on my car?  I promise I will pay you back as soon as I get the money.  I really need the new tires or else I will not be able to make it to work and will lose my job.”  The question, the promise and the guilt-trip all rolled in to one…the friend when in need is an expert at these.  The hard part is being a strong enough person to say NO.  True friends don’t just want to be your friend when they need something.

3. LIVE-FOR-YOU-I-AM-ALWAYS-RIGHT FRIEND:  This is a friend whom you respect, enjoy spending time with, enjoy chatting on-line & through texts and wish nothing but the best for, yet somehow always find them giving you advice about how to live or how they would live every little aspect of your life.  Example:  SAM:  Hey Susie, I am going for a walk to the antique shop later.  SUSIE:  That is great.  If I were you I would watch the weather ahead of time to make sure you don’t get rained on and then I would take Grand Avenue to the antique shop.  SAM:  Oh, I was planning on taking Main Street because it is closer to my house and takes me right to the shop.  SUSIE:  I wouldn’t take Main Street, Grand is better.  Seriously Susie, why can you not just be happy that Sam is making a healthy life choice and walking to the antique shop?  Why must you always make Sam feel like he isn’t making the right choices (according to you)?  You are both adults and having your own thoughts and opinions are healthy and normal…let Sam have his own thoughts and opinions without making him feel like they are wrong.  Everyone  was raised differently, so they approach situations in life differently, so what works for one person does not always work for the other person.  Respect each others differences and don’t try to change the other person.  Nobody is ALWAYS RIGHT!!!  What works for you, your family and your life does not always work for others…accept that, respect that, live with that.  Also, remembering that it is YOUR LIFE and you need to make your own choices, and in some cases, mistakes…even if that friend has already lived through it and made the mistake they should respect you enough to let you experience it for yourself (and yes, in some cases they can say “I told you so” at a later date, but that is life).

4.  TEXT FRIEND:  This is the friend who you LOVE to text.  400 texts messages back and forth in one day is not out of the norm and it actually becomes one of your favorite daily routines.  Biggest problem with text friends is that often times when it comes to actually talking to each other or spending time with each other you realize that you really don’t like each other as much in person as you do through technology.  Having a good text friend or two is always a good thing, especially if you just want to chat real quick and not feel obligated to spend time with each other.

5.  FRIEND EVERYWHERE BUT IN THE CAR:  Many years ago I was friends with a girl that I had met through a work situation.  We texted, talked on the phone, emailed, went out to movies & meals together…it was a BLAST until I got us concert tickets to a concert that was 200 miles away.  It was our first and needless to say our last road trip together.  Within 15 minutes of getting into my car she said “Jake asked me if I was planning on bringing some pot down for the concert, but I wasn’t sure what you would think so I just left it at home.”  The look on my face was probably pure shock as I knew her as a police officer, not a pot head…and I was just dumbfounded as to what to say.  I did decide to thank her for chosing not to bring illegal drugs into my car and jokingly (yet was 100% serious in my head) said “If you had brought it I would have had to drop you off along side the road and go to the concert by myself.”  Mind you this was the first 15 minutes of a 200 mile trip (one way), so the next few hours seemed to take much longer than they should have.  During the concert she complained the entire time due to the people in front of us standing and her not being able to see over them.  By the time  the concert was over and we got in the car she continued to complain because she didn’t know any of the songs, yet, when I had asked her weeks earlier if she liked the band she stated that she “loved them” all I can say is that I am very VERY thankful that she slept the majority of the way home.  A week later two other friends and I drove down to the same venue for a different concert and it was a fantastic, fun, and hilarious trip that I will never forget—they were excellent road trip friends 🙂  When I was growing up my mom would always say “If you want to see if you will work as a couple go on a 500 mile long road trip together in the summer.  If you haven’t fought the entire trip or killed each other along the way you have a good relationship” I think that this is also true for friendships.

6.  THE LIAR FRIEND:  No true friend will lie to you, yes they may sugar coat a few things, but they are doing that to help protect your feelings.  I had a friend (please note HAD) a few years back to was the most OCD person I have ever met.  She had 3 different address books, all of which had the same exact addresses, phone numbers, etc. in them.  She kept each address book in a different location and when I asked her about this she said “If I have them all in different places I will never lose anyones contact information because there is always a back-up” and this made sense.  I witnessed her put my email addresses, street address, home phone number and cell phone number into all three address books PLUS into her cell phone.  I called and left her a message one day and she never returned my call, about two months later I received an email from her requesting my phone number because she had “lost it”…okay, I gave it to her, we talked and everything was great.  Not too long after that the same thing happened again, she “lost” all of my information….this happened 4 separate times and at that point the big RED FLAGS went up in my mind and told me that she isn’t being completely honest with me.  She must have forgotten showing me her 3 separate address books and that I witnessed her putting my info into all of them, I don’t know.  It just got to the point where I had to question the friendship itself and ask myself “Is this friendship worth me getting my feelings hurt because she keeps lying to me?” and the answer was NO.  So, the next time she emailed me and said that she had “lost all of [my] information again” I sent her an email back that nicely explained that I didn’t think our friendship was working and for both of our sakes we should probably bring it to an end…she never responded back, but also never contacted me again saying that she “lost” my info 🙂

Some friendships are healthy, some friendships are toxic…figuring out which is which and separating yourself from the toxic friendships is the only way to be happy in your friendships.  It is hard to close a door on a friendship, but sometimes you have to ask yourself if it is a mutually respectful friendship or if one of the parties is benefiting more from the friendship.

How do you make friends?

Are your friendships equal?

Do you have friends that take advantage of you?  If so, are they truly your friends?

What cues, verbal and non-verbal, do your friends give you when they just want you to listen and when they want you to give them advice?

Do you have a “best” friend and what makes them a “best” friend?

Does your spouse count as a “best” friend?

Are animals friends?

How important are friendships in your life?

Is it ever appropriate for a friend to lie to you?  If so, when?

What is the hardest part about maintaining a healthy friendship?

Have you ever had to break-up with a friend?

How much value do you put on your friendships?

What is the best way that you have found to end a toxic friendship?

What is the best advice you’ve ever received about friendships?

 

5 THINGS: The Appreciation Experiment.

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5 Things: The Appreciation Experiment. Find at: https://www.facebook.com/Appreciate5#!/Appreciate5

In 2010 a friend of mine started posting 5 Things that she appreciated that day on her facebook page and the feedback she got from her friends was amazing.  This prompted her to start the 5 Things facebook page where anyone and everyone can post the 5 things that they appreciate, big, small and everything in-between, they are also able to read what other people are appreciating.  5 Things founder Sarah M:  “My days are often brighter when I take some time in the morning to reflect upon what makes me happy.  It is all too easy to get caught up in deadlines and “have-tos” and “just-gottas” and yes…even the sneaky “yeah-buts.”  Sarah realized that taking those few minutes a day to reflect can really help people slow down and take notice of what is truly important to them.

Far too often in todays rush-rush-technology-driven-work-harder-do-more-make-more society we overlook all of the little things in our lives that are so important.  We literally take the majority of our lives for granted.  How many of us take the time to be thankful for electricity when we are watching our favorite movie, writing a blog, hitting the snooze button in the morning?  Not many, because that is just one of the things that we have all gotten so accustom to having that we barely notice it is there anymore…but we sure do notice when it is gone.  Many of us are in overall good physical health, but how many of us acknowledge how thankful for that health we are?  We take advantage of being able to see, hear, smell, speak, taste, feel, touch, walk, dance…until something happens, something unexpected…an accident, an illness, a fall…whatever factor that takes a portion of your health away, and typically it is not until that factor happens that we finally start to realize how much we appreciate(d) that part of our health…and if we are lucky we will heal and regain that part of our health back and be able to hopefully appreciate its importance of it for the rest of our lives.

Thinking about appreciation, gratitude and thankfulness brings to mind a whirlwind of questions.  Each question will have a different answer for each person.  Each question may have one answer today and then a year from now a completely different answer.  Life changes, the things that we love and care for change, the things we find important change, yet we should always be able to come up with a list of things that we appreciate in life.  The following are just some of the questions that I came up with that I think everyone should stop, think about and take notice of:

How many of the daily things that you take for granted would you notice and miss if they were gone?

What in your life do you put the most value on?  Family?  Friends?  Pets?  Material items?  Money?  God?

What makes us happy?

If you only had 5 minutes to take the “important” things out of your house what would they be?

Can money every truly buy happiness?

Do you appreciate the things in your life that you waste?  Food?

What would you do if you lost everything?

What would you miss most if you lost everything?

Who would you thank if you knew today would be your last?

How many of the people in your life actually know how much you appreciate them?  How do you show them?

Does your spouse/significant other feel your love and appreciation for them?  Do you thank them?  Compliment them?  Remind them?

5 Things:  The Appreciation Experiment encourages you to stop and take just a few minutes out of your day and share the 5 things you appreciate.  They may be little things that you are appreciating at that moment like your morning cup of coffee or big things that you appreciate every day of your life like your spouse and children.  You may be looking out your window at the time and be glad to see the sun shining and hear bird chirping.  Whatever it is at that moment that you appreciate…SHARE.  Being able to read the things that others appreciate can also shed light on some of the things you’ve been accidentally overlooking.

TAKE TIME OUT OF YOUR DAY TO APPRECIATE!            https://www.facebook.com/Appreciate5#!/Appreciate5

 

 

 

 

20 Lessons from Reality…TV.

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1.  Drink, drink more, drink even more.

2.  Strangers and “friends” are both used for one night stands (typically after #1).

3.  Fake.  Fake boobs.  Fake tans.  Fake lips.  Fake hair.  Fake hair color.  Fake eyelashes.  Fake teeth.  Fake butts.  Fake bellies.  Fake nails.  FAKE PERSONALITIES!

4.  Being disrespectful is normal and acceptable.

5.  There are no consequences for your actions.  Go ahead, punch his lights out and pull her hair extensions!

6.  Money grows on trees, so make sure to use that credit card for EVERYTHING!  $1,500 shoes, hells yeah!

7.  Morals?  WTF!

8.  The best way to deal with your issues is to scream and swear loudly while overturning tables and trying to attack someone.

9.  Clothing is optional in any circumstance.

10.  When clothing is worn it needs to be tight and tiny.  Seriously, bending over and showing the world your snatch is 100% normal, just make sure that you are going commando.

11.  BLING!!!

12.  Be a glutton and then get liposuction.

13.  You can disrespect your family, but if anyone else does kick their ass.

14.  Good sportsmanship is when you show everyone how much better you are than them.

15.  Marriage is just a contract that can be broken at any time….even 72 days later.  Marriage is also a fantastic tool to assist with self-promotion.

16.  Dogs and small children make great accessories.

17.  Brand names help make you who you are, they must be worn at all times.

18.  Drugs are a speed dial away and you’re only “hot” if you do them.

19.  Men and women will do anything for true love, as long as it is being video taped.

20.  Laws are made to be broken because no matter what you do if you’re famous a slap on the wrist is all you’ll get.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM REALITY TV?

Sad when you think about it and realize that most reality tv is targeting people between 13-25.

Appropriate Boundaries

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We all have different boundaries and react differently when those boundaries are crossed.

Some people lack a verbal filter, others lack the physical one.  As my friends all know I prefer not to be touched.  Have never been a hand shaker (unless I absolutely have too) and not very big on hugging either (which in itself has a specific set of rules)

Hugging Rules (according to me)

1.  Hugging direct family members such as spouses, children, grandparents and some Aunts & Uncles is perfectly acceptable.

2.  Hugging family that you have not seen in a long amount of time as a greeting is acceptable.

3.  Hugging family that you will not see in a long amount of time as a goodbye is acceptable.

4. Friends are the family we chose for ourselves, in certain circumstances and depending on the friendship itself it is acceptable to hug. 

5.  If you can clearly see that one of your family members or friends is in need of a hug and if you asked prior to hugging (I always say “looks like you need a hug, is it okay?”…that way I am warning them and preparing myself) it is acceptable.

6.  In some circumstances if you make a new friend, the person is from a different country or you feel like you have developed a bond of some sort with the individual a hug may be warranted.

Okay…this blog is about boundaries, not just my rules on hugging 🙂

It seems that many people now days have completely lost all sense of boundaries, especially on social networks such as facebook, twitter, etc. 

 I recently had one of my friends send me a message in regards to another one of my friends that they did not know.  I will refer to the male as Jack and the female as Jill.  Jack commented to me about liking Jill’s picture and asked if she was single.  I was very blunt in telling Jack that Jill is very happily married, plus I pointed out how many years Jill has been married.  Unfortunately Jack chose not to pay any attention to my response and sent Jill a very inappropriate message letting her know that he knows that she is married, but that he “gets lost in her picture” and wants to get to know her and be her friend (Jack sent this message during the night).  I received a panicked call from Jill letting me know about the situation the following morning.  My reaction was to apologize to Jill for Jack’s actions and send Jack a very abrupt message letting him know that his interaction with her was not appropriate.   I am hoping that my doing so will bring a halt to the situation, but I did inform Jack that if it does not he will be reported to the social networking site, plus will lose my online friendship.  I have known Jack for almost 20 years as a family friend, but also know that sometimes people just don’t get it, so I had to go BIG in my letting Jack know he crossed a line.  Of course in real life I would continue to have Jack as a friend, but in the virtual world (if he continues to contact Jill) we would have to end the friendship.

What would you do in this situation?  Do you think that Jack went too far contacting Jill and making statements that scared her and made her uncomfortable?  How do you tactfully let a friend know that they are in the wrong and how do your friends tactfully let you know when you are in the wrong?  Has social media desensitized people to basic boundaries?