Bae and I have gotten into some pretty heated arguments. And like most couples, when the shit storm is raging, words start flying around that can bounce between the walls of our minds for longer than we’d like to remember. This can happen in any relationship, whether with our parents, siblings, friends, or lovers. What’s important about these moments is that after we’ve cooled down and said our apologies, we reflect on the situation to better understand ourselves.
Reflection is probably the best tool I was ever taught. Most of us do this naturally, but it comes in the form of anxiety about what we could’ve done or said differently, how we were perceived by others, or wondering if how we acted was good enough in some way. This pattern of thought can become dangerous if it consumes too much of your mind.
Reflection should lead to some revelation of self discovery. Instead of replaying what went wrong over and over, focus on why it went down the way it did by concentrating on your reactions. Ain’t no one in charge of you but your self, and it’s foolish to think otherwise. Tracing feelings back to the root of their cause reveals a lot about ourselves, what makes us tick, and the types of personalities we should avoid.
Sometimes this is going to suck. Sometimes it’ll be you that’s the asshole and needs to change. No one is perfect; we’re all flawsome. Apologizing when we’re wrong is a sign of maturity. Changing the problematic behavior is even better, and is a sign of successful adulting. It won’t happen overnight, but becoming aware of an issue through reflection is the first step to rehabbing your salty ass self!
Seriously though. If you’re serious about growing, becoming a better person, and getting what you want out of life, reflection is a necessity. Soon after you’ll realize all of your relationships will have become much stronger, and most importantly, the relationship with yourself will grow exponentially.
Here are some reflection tips to try:
First, go somewhere and do something that feels safe and calming. Go jogging, sit under tree, take a walk around town; take a bath or treat yourself to the spa! Distraction should be minimal so avoid TV and cell phones.
Allow yourself to FEEL. Pay attention to what you’re feeling, where it stems from, and how you handle negative feelings (hence the safe space). Sometimes this is some scary shit. Proceed with caution— this can lead to some major self discovery if explored honestly.
Analyze your strengths and weaknesses. What is working and why? Sometimes the answer to our problems are things we already do. Maybe there’s a whole lot not working and you see the same problems popping up time after time. If this is you, explore why. If something you’re doing isn’t working then figure out what that is and take ownership of it. Then change that shit. You’re smart. There’s no reason to chase your tail when you already know it can’t be caught.
Be honest with yourself. Explore the depths of your childhood. It’s a psychological fact our parents are the #1 reason we’re fucked up. As grown adults, we have the power to change our behavior. If delving into childhood trauma is too painful, consulting a licensed therapist is the best way to overcome it.
You are in control of yourself now. Don’t let you down.
If you’re living on earth and are a fairly social person, chances are you have dealt with a flakey- ass friend. I call it the “California Flake,” but these people are everywhere. They are the people who make plans with you, probably instigated the whole event, then drop off the face of the earth when the day comes to meet up. It’s annoying, it’s rude, it’s disrespectful. In California, this behavior is not only tolerated, it’s considered normal. Imagine my culture shock moving out here from New Jersey at a young, spritely 20 years of age…
So how do we handle these people? Well, first and foremost, do not count on them to be there for you when you need them. These people are all about you when they need something, but when the tables are turned they are nowhere to be found. Real talk. Do yourself a favor and do not go out of your way for these people. Put yourself first, don’t break plans with others if this person comes crying, and have clear boundaries about what you will not tolerate. They don’t like it? Too bad. I don’t like having my time wasted.
Some flakey-ass friends will be straight up with you about their utter disregard for your time, like: “[enter name here] decided not to come so I’m going to stay home.” Ok? Thanks for at least telling me, but damn.
Then we have the flakey ass friends who are too chicken shit to even inform you that they are flaking! Think about it: Why would people make plans and then not answer your texts, calls, DMs? They found something better to do, plain and simple. These are by far the worst kind. Seriously ladies, gents, and all in between, if this is you, grow up. This kind of flaking is such disrespectful behavior that I’m surprised you even have friends to flake on. What this says to those who follow through is “I do not value your time or you as a person.” Is that the message you want to send? If not, pick up the damn phone and send a courtesy text. Sure, the person you made plans with might be annoyed, but hey, at least you made your intentions clear.
The silver lining is that there is hope for those of us with good intentions. Successful adulting means managing our relationships, not abandoning them. A flakey-ass friend can be trained; a follow-through friend can learn how to deal with flakes. A flakey person needs to know their behavior isn’t ok with you. It’s as simple as telling them, “I could’ve made other plans. Think you can call next time?” Or you can be more passive aggressive and start doing the same to them, but I don’t advise it if you want to remain friends. If these people are true friends, they’ll respect your feelings and text or call next time. They won’t miraculously stop breaking plans, but they will keep you in the loop.
The follow- through friend has to be on guard of the flakey-ass friend. You know your friends. If this person breaks plans more often than not, then don’t expect this to change— prepare for it. Send a follow- up text to confirm plans. If you don’t hear back, make other plans. If your friend wants to come through last minute— oh well. How many times has this person left you on read? Don’t feel bad, you put in the effort and it was this person’s choice to not reciprocate. Your time is valuable as well. If your friends care, they’ll adapt. Just like you’ve been putting up with being dressed with nowhere to go.
So if you’re annoyed at your friend right now, ask yourself: “How many other times has _______ flaked on me?” If it’s more than a couple, it’s not an unhappy accident. A happy balance is 50/50 in all relationships. Match the person’s efforts; don’t give too much or even expect too much. And if your friend calls to make plans but flaked on you last time, accept the invite. Then don’t show.
What I’m about to say isn’t common for a millennial. It’s not very common for Baby Boomers either since the “me” movement began with them. But, what’s happening to love? Love is an innate human characteristic we’ll never get rid of, and suddenly self care has become selfishness that we’re taking to a whole new level. With the amount of people willing to jump ship the minute times get rough it seems like love is becoming rarer and rarer to find. People push out kids then split up right after, start cheating instead of try to work it out with a licensed therapist, give up the minute it gets too hard. News flash: marriages 2, 3, and 4 won’t work unless you work on your issues.
Once I realized that almost everyone’s solution to problems, whether big or small, was to leave, I stopped talking about my relationship, especially when the people giving me this great advice weren’t in a place I wanted to be. You’ll find someone else, someone better. And I thought, is that why you’re still single? Over the slightest inconvenience most are ready to bounce out of a marriage, out of a family, out of any type of relationship. So why even bother committing?
I was raised by my grandparents so maybe that’s why my view on this is very different. I was raised by two people who stood by one another through thick and thin and I was around at the end after the dust settled and old wounds healed. They were still in love. My grandma said it wasn’t easy. Not at all. But people then didn’t just leave when times were hard, or when a loved one was going through a period of suffering.
That’s not to say there aren’t good reasons to leave someone. No one should deal with abusive partners whether physically or mentally. If you find yourself staying in an abusive relationship, it’s beneficial to look into why you stay. People will treat us how we allow them. Plain and simple. We all have different thresholds of what we’re willing to deal with, but it seems no one is willing to deal with anything anymore.
What you get when you’ll deal with nothing is exactly that— nothing. No one walking this earth is perfect, so how can you expect your partner to be? And with the increase of anxiety and depression year after year, most likely the person you fall in love with will be suffering at one point or another. People ebb and flow just like love.
There was a time I went through a period of severe depression. Through a combination of unresolved issues and seven years of estrogen pumping into my body, I didn’t have the strength to repress it anymore and I finally snapped. My boyfriend never left me even though I pushed… hard. In my mind I felt I didn’t deserve him, that I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t deserve love. Most people would’ve agreed with me and left. All the positive qualities of myself were buried under an avalanche of negativity. Instead of drowning in it, I went to therapy before I lost myself completely.
When you love someone, the relationship is supposed to be a support system, not a “oh this isn’t fun anymore gotta go!” Circumstances differ, but if your partner is making the effort then these are the places where love is built. Sure it’s great when it’s all sunshine and rainbows, but that’s not reality. Life is hard. Love is easy, it’s just not easy to maintain.
Anyone in a long-term relationship or marriage has had thoughts of leaving. But the next time you do, ask yourself, “Can I still see myself growing old with this person?” If the answer is yes, then maybe the solution isn’t someone else. Maybe the answer is doing what’s necessary to strengthen the relationship. Or just bounce from person to person looking for perfection that doesn’t exist. The choice is yours.
Albert Einstein’s fear has come true: Technology has surpassed our human interaction. Everywhere we go there are more people with their eyes on a screen than living in the moment. Even kids I see gangin it with a dozen people still have someone else they need to talk to other than the group of people they are with.
As a world-class loner & introvert, this astonishes me. It’s rare that I hang out with anyone, let alone 10-12 people. A dinner group of 6? That’s an incredibly high number to me. But I can see how it’s easy with so many heads to duck away and check your phone without being noticed or missed. Still, I think not giving others our attention while they are in our presence is taking them for granted.
When it’s one-on-one, sitting on your phone really makes the you look uninterested. Call me crazy, but I like to give people my full attention when they’re speaking. Isn’t that how conversations are supposed to work? I mean, we all know of those who love to hear themselves talk. The conversation is always one sided and it’s clear they’re not listening to anything you say. Staring into your phone while someone is talking to you has the same effect.
Having a conversation with someone whose attentions are elsewhere is frustrating. “Oh sorry, what? I was just …” Right. You were just … not paying attention. It gives people the impression there’s somewhere else you’d rather be, that they are not interesting enough for you, and that just feels downright shitty.
Studies by psychologist Jean Twenge and others have proven emotional cues are not learned by kids who have unrestricted access to cell phones. Without understanding emotional cues, one can’t determine how another person is feeling by his/her demeanor or facial expressions. Researchers claim this is voiding out empathy or compassion, one of man’s finer characteristics, from the human psyche. This is really bad when you think of the characteristics of a sociopath, psychopath, etc. But don’t trip, because other studies show that empathy is so engrained in us that it can be rekindled pretty naturally. Like so natural, you’re in nature.
Just as with kids, in adult relationships, if someone is deaf to your emotional cues it becomes hard to connect to that person. Sometimes you have to endure this person’s behavior because it’s your boss or family, but it doesn’t stop the annoyance. Relationship experts report that excessive cell phone usage is poking holes in people’s marital bliss. Phones have created distance between people, making it easier to escape rather than deal, cheat rather than work through it, and avoid rather than tackle problems head on.
It seems like everyone is itching to be elsewhere, discontented with the company they keep. I thought we were supposed to cherish these close relationships?
In friendships it’s similar. As you get older, relationships with friends become harder and harder to maintain. It’s true that phones and social media help two people at a distance talk, but it’s not helping anyone when you both meet up and one person is distracted, not listening, and off in his/her own world. I have to laugh when I see a group of people out together all staring into their phones. I mean, what is the point? Ya’ll are rude. Maybe this is why I have very few friends. Rudeness has overtaken the population.
My homebody ass would rather be on the couch, in my cozy pants, half paying attention to you while I watch TV. Then at least we’ll have an equal share in the relationship and I can save my gas and time for someone who actually enjoys my company!
No, but seriously, what’s the point? If there’s somewhere else you’d rather be, go! If there’s someone else you’d rather be with, go get em. Life is short; don’t waste your time surrounding yourself with people you can’t bother paying attention to. And if this isn’t the case, then put your phone down and stop taking people for granted. They came out for you. The person on the other end of your screen did not.
That should say enough.
How do you feel when you hang out with someone who is constantly on his/her phone?
Listen ladies and gents, we’ve all heard the stories. Somewhere along the line a woman has come along and shattered your hopes and dreams of a happily ever after. At some point she gave up trying to satisfy her needs at home so she took to the universe to send her another more aware of the attention she was craving. It happens to the best of us.
First and foremost, pay attention to her. I know this sounds so easy and many men are probably thinking, “I do!” But do you really? The last time she was talking did you look away from the TV or phone to devote your full attention to her or did you “uh huh” her to death until she realized (or didn’t) that you weren’t really paying attention? This minuscule yet important difference means the world to your significant other (SO). Making eye contact and giving someone our full attention makes the person feel validated and important. Looking at something else makes us feel like there’s somewhere else you’d rather be. Try these other tips to give her your full attention:
Look into her eyes, not the phone or TV;
Pause at a commercial to talk, not flip to another channel to fill in commercial space;
Just hold her. This is much different than sitting next to her and touching.
That leads us to our next motivator. Touch her. Not just when you’re fired up, but everyday in small ways. While you’re walking by her in the hallway, for instance, touch her hand, hip, anywhere really. If your wife is like most women, she’s been cleaning up the house, taking care of kids, pets, going to work, trying to get laundry done, or get dinner on the table. A simple acknowledgement by you would remind her why she chose to spend her time with you. You never know where that could lead to. So,
Touch her as you’re passing in the hallway;
Graze her hand or hip;
Last but certainly not least, show your gratitude for all she does. If she likes tea or coffee, bring her a cup while you get yourself a snack. Or better yet, go out of your way to show your appreciation. Is she a student or professional who works a lot from home? Nothing feels better than having uninterrupted time and, POOF! Tea is made and ready to drink without having to break her train of thought. Is she relaxing after a long day? Even better. Just don’t make her do it— that’s the goal.
Thank her for what she does. If she pays half the rent or mortgage, tell her how much you appreciate it. Not all women pay for their roof. Show your gratitude for her efforts and love her for being your partner. Some simple ways of acknowledging her contribution are:
Thank her for doing the dishes and/or for cooking;
Do little things for her that she appreciates like bring her tea or coffee;
Clean up after yourself. Load the dishwasher or simply bring your dish to the sink. Something is better than nothing;
If she loves gifts, make a habit of getting her something small every week. This can be flowers, a snickers, a Dollar Tree yoyo— get creative;
Consider reading The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. That kind of effort will leave her giddy for hours.
All in all your woman just wants to feel loved. She wants to feel like she’s an essential part of your life. Lots of people assume that their wives will always be there. They take her presence for granted not intentionally (I hope), but because life happens and if you’re a rockstar partner, you’ve been on your grind trying to build a better future for your family. What’s important to remember, however, is that the future is built on the foundation of the present. So hold your girl at night— idgaf if your arm hurts. Find another position. Don’t forget to take what little time you have to ensure your relationship stays strong and your love is happy.
When you think about the holiday season, what comes to mind? For me and many others it’s loneliness. I know, how depressing. But the unfortunate truth is that too many people suffer during the holidays and now with social media, we’re privy to watching everyone else give and receive love while we sulk around wishing for the family we never had.
This tradition is foreign for many people. Everyone just assumes their friends have a loving home to escape to for the holidays, or that the person is excited to go home. Lots of people flew the coop and moved far, far away for a reason. Not every mother is loving, not every father is around. Sometimes staying with family causes unnecessary anxiety that a person must shut down to maintain some semblance of sanity. In some families, it’s you or them. And since we have no control of other people, I choose me.
If year after year you find yourself burned by the same behaviors of your family, then why go back for more? Break the pattern. Find a new tradition for the holiday. You’d be surprised how many of your friends’ families will invite you to dinner when they find out you’ll be alone—gasp! Or maybe you have a s/o and you two can celebrate together. I’ve heard so much of my framily complain about “only having five” people over to celebrate. I’m like, smh. Ya’ll just don’t even know.
The point is, your crappy family is never going to change. Whatever the issue is, no matter how they treat you, it’s engrained in their brains. That’s not to say it’s not worth trying. There are varying degrees of family dysfunction. Some people would welcome Frank Gallagher to their Thanksgiving dinner, and others would only accept St. Francis of the South Side. Your time is your own to use as you please.
Science says we’ll never get people back once they die. Nor will we get the time back that we could’ve been happy but allowed someone else to make us feel like driving our cars off a bridge. Now there’s the holiday spirit, don’t ya think?
Just like you are in charge of you, your family and friends are responsible for themselves as well. Especially in the way they treat others, including you. Unfortunately most people only self reflect when the person they are hurting no longer allows it anymore. Notice how jerks always act so remorseful in a family feud or breakup? You’re responsible for creating your own boundaries and communicating what is an acceptable way to treat you. If you find yourself crying on Christmas, maybe it’s time to reevaluate what those are.
For those of us who’ve learned the hard way and have made the decision to enjoy the holiday season, I hope you continue to spend your time being happy. I hope your relationships grow and mend. Not all will.
To everyone reading I hope you had a great holiday weekend. Continue spending time with people who make you feel good. They say blood is thicker than water, but water is the source of life and is 60% of our bodies. Think about it.