The Blame Game

Photo by Bethan, on FlickrI have a very vivid recent memory of my sister falling up the staircase at our parent’s home because she had tripped over my youngest sister’s books. She had been texting while walking, in all honesty, and wasn’t looking where she was going, but she immediately turned to yell at my littlest sister for leaving her books on the stairs.

Although it seems like a simple enough situation, the immediate reaction of the sister who fell provides me with an example of a very common behavior that people tend to let go by unnoticed in their daily lives: playing the blame game. I’ve been guilty of doing it plenty of times, and I’m sure that if you think hard enough, you’ll be able to admit to doing so, too. When we are faced with a mistake, it’s scary to look ourselves in the eyes and say “Hey, you. You messed up.” When we struggle to face reality or when we get angry or upset, it’s very easy to project our frustration onto someone or something else.

Being constantly defensive and refusing to accept our own faults may cause us to suffer by feeling like we always have to prevent others from criticizing us. By trying to avoid feelings of inadequacy, we may be creating a paranoia of ever being wrong. In the long run, this hinders our potential for growth as human beings. How can we ever change if we never accept that a possibility for change even exists?

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10 Tips for Avoiding Anger

17/52 by M I S C H E L L E, on Flickr

Frustration and anger are something we all experience every so often. I put anger and frustration together in the same category mostly because, usually, anger comes rooted in a sense of intense frustration. Feeling anger is natural, but being in a constantly angry state, or letting yourself reach a high level of frustration several times a week can be unhealthy and damaging to you and others around you.

For a lot of people, anger is an immediate response to an unwanted trigger. We are only human, and we cannot easily change how we immediately desire to react to a situation. We can, however, with a little bit of effort, change how we do react and with what actions and words we respond.

This list is not only for those raging day in and day out. This list is for anyone who does not want to be angry or upset as often as they are now. Take a look at your very recent life. Are you happy with how you handle situations? Do you let yourself get very upset, but hold in all your frustration? You don’t have to act like an angry person to be an angry person. Many people are easily worked up, but do not express their emotions. If you can relate to the previous statement, then yes, this list is for you, too.

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The Benefits of Breathing

I cry out love keep your arms around me by Jack Batchelor, on FlickrBreathing is movement within our lungs. Breathing is flowing, life-sustaining, and fuel to the rhythm of our hearts. Yet, we often overlook it in our daily lives. True, breathing is not optional. Obviously, it’s an involuntary action that our bodies regulate themselves, so why on earth should we have to pay attention to it at all?

Let me answer that with a request: right now, put your hands on your lap, sit back, close your eyes, and breathe deeply and slowly, in and out. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Back? Okay, now how did that feel? For most people, breathing in a controlled, calm manner does wonders for their mood, stress levels, and outlook. When we get caught up in hectic situations or destructive moods, we often cause blockage in the natural flow of our breath.

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Apologizing with Love

Love Never Fails by Shattered Infinity, on Flickr

Apologies are tricky things.

Apologies are always to be meant, never to be falsified, and sometimes done more out of love or respect than a willingness to admit wrongs. Sustaining relationships, whether romantic, platonic, or familial, means often humbling yourself to the basic nature of love itself. Love is kind. Love is patient. Love is not easily angered and quick to forgive. Love is caring and protecting.

Think back to the last time you hurt someone. What do you remember? Were you right or were you wrong? Don’t be surprised if you can’t quite recall — you are not alone. But let me ask you this: did you hurt feelings? Exchange words you didn’t mean? Did you cause someone pain unnecessarily? Much easier to remember, right?

Apologizing after making a mistake is easy once we realize that we’ve wronged someone. Usually we feel genuinely sorry and want to repent for our errors. Apologizing after an argument, though, now that’s hard. We as humans tend to get caught up in our egos and desire to be right. It’s only natural. Wanting to be right, instinctively, can’t be helped. But, we can change the way we view the situation or argument as a whole, and how we handle it afterwards.

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Practice Progress, Not Perfection

{Sixty-Five - Three Hundred to Go} by Shattered Infinity, on Flickr

I am a perfectionist. A very lazy, procrastinating perfectionist, but a perfectionist nonetheless.

Perfection is something that, unfortunately, many of us do seek. We are always told how we can be better, try harder, make more money — the endless demands of others’ can often snowball together into a desire to meet every single one of the standards we hear around us. But these are not our standards. It is not our job to be what others want us to be. Our “job” is to be the best that we can be, and that does not equal perfection.

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Giving With No Strings Attached

I'll Give You All I Can... by Brandon Christopher Warren, on Flickr Tonight I witnessed something particularly ordinary, but interesting nonetheless. A man in the theater parking lot where I was walking got out of his car and immediately crossed over to the other side to open the door for his wife. She walked out without even so much as a thank you and just moved past him. He stood smiling the whole time.

Some may think, “Why does he put up with that? He shouldn’t do that if she’s not going to appreciate it!” She offered him no thanks, no gratitude, and nothing in return. And yet, he was still happy to do it. Although it may seem difficult to believe at first, this small, simple act showed me so much unconditional love. His actions did not come tagged with a condition or an expectation. He simply loved his wife and wanted to do something nice for her. No strings attached.

Often times I find people struggling to give without expecting anything in return.

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