• 21 Things I’ve Learned the Hard Way That Made Life Easier

    couple fightWe all have people in our lives that make us crazy. Some of them are permanent fixtures, i.e. our family, and others are, thankfully, temporary; although temporary can span a really long time that seems even longer. These people often feel like speed bumps on the road to happiness.

    I’ve dealt with a lot of those speed bumps in my life and, in the past, I’ve often found myself much worse for the wear. Thankfully, I stuck it out and kept trying to find a way to at least feel like the interaction was a draw instead of a loss. This was hardest with family, and especially at family get-togethers.

    The Biggest Speed Bumps

    Many of you will be spending this holiday weekend with a bunch of people who know how to push every button you have. Some will do it on purpose (because that’s what family’s for, right?) and some manage to do it just by being their own wonderful self-absorbed, negative, complaining, martyred, passive-aggressive, bigoted, angry, or irritating self.

    Many of us deal with these family members by making sure we have lots of sweets and plenty of our preferred adult beverage on hand. I hope that’s worked out better for you than it has for me. In case your success rate with that strategy is as good as mine, here are a few things I’ve learned that help me far more than any food or beverage ever has. But these lessons aren’t limited to holidays, or family. I find them immensely useful every day of the year. I even find them useful, in retrospect, when I forget them.

    1. It’s useless to worry. Most of the things we worry about never come to pass. The rest of the things we worry about have already happened, and no amount of worry is going to change the outcome. The best we can do in those cases is to chalk it all up to being yet another learning experience.
    2. Planning is not the same thing as worrying. Planning is an activity that lets you take positive action if need be, worrying is a waste of time and energy.
    3. Nothing is personal, even if it feels like it. The things people say and do have nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.
    4. How someone treats those who can do nothing for them (i.e subordinates, lower socioeconomic status, etc.) tells you far more about someone’s character than how they treat their equals or superiors.
    5. People often project their own insecurities, issues, pathologies, etc., onto others. BUT… here’s the rub… you may never know if the person who accuses everyone of lying or stealing, for instance, is themselves a liar or thief or whether they’ve just been burned by a liar or thief really badly in the past and are hypervigilant now. Either way, their baggage is going to color their interaction with everyone they meet, and you are not immune to their accusations. If they do falsely accuse you, see number 3.
    6. Those who immediately protest their innocence with loud and righteous indignation are usually guilty. The innocent are too busy being bewildered by a false accusation to have an immediate response.
    7. There’s a reason the only response some people have is to name call. It’s not a good reason. Ever. If someone does this about another person, a group of people, or an issue just walk away. They’ll probably call you names. When they do, see number 3.
    8. Everyone has their limits. If a perpetually polite, good-natured, or humorous person goes on a rant there’s a damn good reason for it and it was probably a long time in coming. Do NOT tell them to calm down, let it go, be more compassionate, or be less judgmental. Let them vent and be the one to take your own (unspoken) advice of showing compassion or love to the person.
    9. Everyone has the RIGHT to have limits and boundaries. You may not understand their boundaries, but that doesn’t matter; they have a right to them just the same. Those who don’t have limits or boundaries are often called doormats. But even doormats have their limits. When they do finally set some limits, and you’re tempted to judge, see number 8 and praise them for setting the limits they have, no matter how meager or how late.
    10. These phrases will NEVER have the intended effect:
      1. Calm down
      2. Smile (unless you’re a photographer… just don’t)
      3. Show some compassion
      4. Open your heart
    11. We are NOT our mistakes. We all make mistakes, and the 2 biggest ones we can make are: not learning from them, and letting one of them define us.
    12. Those who refuse to listen to another’s viewpoint should not be given free-range to spout theirs.
    13. “When someone shows you who they are… believe them the first time.” ~ Maya Angelou (I couldn’t say it any better, so I didn’t try.)
    14. There is no way that everyone will understand you, no matter how hard you try. The same goes for liking you.
    15. There is no way that you will please everyone, no matter how hard you try.
    16. There are 3 sides to every story: Yours, theirs, and the truth.
    17. You are NOT entitled to know what people think about you. In fact, you’re probably better off, or at least happier, not knowing.
    18. Likewise, others are not entitled to your opinion of them, no matter how strong that opinion may be.
    19. If someone shares their unflattering opinion of you with you, thank them. They have just given you invaluable insight into their true character.
    20. You have to pick your battles. Believe me when I say that not every battle is worth fighting. Only you can decide for yourself what you’ll let slide and what’s worth fighting over. This applies to ALL the people in your life: kid, spouse, significant other, parent, sibling, coworker, or that person on the internet who stupidly thinks there’s nothing wrong with the state of pockets in women’s clothing. Yep, I fought that battle. I knew as I was doing it that it would only end in frustration and I was right. *facepalm* But that’s OK, because this lesson, like all the rest on my list, constantly needs tweaking, refining, and possibly even re-learning.
    21. Everything is more complex and more complicated than we’d like it to be. Nothing is black and white… even the items on this list.

    Do you have a lesson that you’ve learned the hard way that’s made life easier for you? If so, I’d love you to share it in the comments below.

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