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Don’t Let Other People Get You Down

rp_Crookedfingersdignity.jpgAre you observant? sensitive? and/or vulnerable to other people’s problems?  Do the people around you often wind up raining on your parade?  Fear? frustration? anger? Almost all negative feelings can be catching.  Should you stay in such a situation because you feel that you have obligated yourself to stay?  That has often been my situation in the past….

I have walked out on one movie in my life.  I usually feel that I have to stay because I paid for it or because somebody else told me it was good.  I didn’t trust my own judgment!  However, there was one movie that mesmerized me and it was three hours long.  I didn’t move for three hours and suffered the consequences when I could hardly get up at the end!

rp_344686278_150_150.jpgI have learned to dodge people especially strangers when I see them coming towards me with a storm cloud surrounding them.  I know that I am not a part of their problem and I don’t want to become a part of their problem.  Sometimes I have seen people come for an evaluation and I just positively know that they want to and probably will make a complaint about me to the agency that referred them.

Sometimes it’s a parent or a relative of the person referred.  To them, I am a “professional” target.  They want to prove me wrong and possibly to get me in trouble.  I have played “turtle” with these people and kept my head in my shell to avoid conflict and did not confront them about their attitudes because that is what they seemed to want.

rp_333788350_150_150.jpgThere are also “poor me’s” who want to share and share their problems with you in order to ultimately prove they are unsolvable.  As both of you become more and more depressed in the process, no progress is made and perhaps the process has gone backward.

Don’t be a mirror and reflect other peoples’ problems.  Don’t soak up “bad” feelings and experience a downer.

On the other hand, be careful and don’t get sold on something another person is extremely positive about and make decisions you can’t back out of later.  Say let me take a minute, let me think about that, I’ll get back to you.  Even better say it is a decision you can’t make until you consult with another person you are involved with whether it is a financial planner,  spouse, or boss.

Genuine feelings can be shared and it can be a great experience whether it is happiness or grief.  I once cried with one of my daughters over a lost relationship.  I never regretted that.  Sharing feelings can be relationship building.  You also don’t want to be a cold fish that never seems to care about anything.  Sometimes food can’t be enjoyed because the person eating it can’t taste it.

Exhilaration can be catching.  Have you ever laughed so hard that you couldn’t catch your breath?  One of the most solemn persons I know grew up in an orphanage.  He or she did not do without the necessities of life or responsible caregivers, but there was something lacking in his childhood and it was the mutual sharing of feelings.


gunny sack

gunny sack (Photo credit: chuck_heston)

In case you don’t know what a gunnysack is, it is an old fashioned name for a rough woven burlap bag used to hold  things like large amounts of potatoes.  Gunnysacking is a term for what people do when they feel they have unthinkingly been hurt by someone and they collect these slights in their imaginary gunnysack until they are ready to dump them on the person who they think is responsible for the making these slights.

An important part of this activity is that the person who gets dumped on generally is not aware of what they have done so they can also be labeled as insensitive by the gunnysacker.  Also it is important to note that the person keeping track of these unacknowledged hurts does not initially speak up about them.  What is behind this is that he or she feels that the person involved knows that they are taking advantage of them and continues to accept their help selfishly instead of being considerate and letting them off the hook.

Having had a particular gunnysack dumped on me one time made a very strong impression on me.  As a result, I became very cautious about having someone do something for me no matter how nicely they offered.  I felt that I would rather do something by myself than have someone think that I took advantage of them and not find out until later.  In a sense, I, like the person who held these things  against me in the past, was not being  totally honest when I said I didn’t need help.

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Supersonic Feelings

Feelings (David Byrne album)

Feelings can appear with supersonic speed.  Why?  It originally happened probably because for safety reasons people had to react quickly, without hesitation,  in certain situations.  When someone is in immediate danger there literally may not be time to think it through before reacting without dying as a result.  Also feelings automatically in these cases arouse the person and release  energy so that the person can flee the danger or fight the enemy.  A person might say that because of this he or she can’t change his or her behavior; but it can be done.

It is easy  to say then  that a person couldn’t help his or herself from feeling and then reacting without thinking  in the above situations.   A person  can change the way he or she reacts by noticing when he or she does this.  At first the recognition is after the fact.   Saying to him or herself  “”There I did it again,” after an  incident of road rage is over, for example; is such a recognition.  The next step is for the person to catch his or her self in the act of reacting.  For example, ”There I go again flying off the handle and getting myself in trouble.”   Then a person reaches the last step where he or she is aware before they do something that they are getting into a situation where they have gotten upset and reacted impetuously in the past and stop themselves.

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