Hello again from Home!
I had this big camping blog planned, and I still plan to post it with bonus photos of baby bears but lately my head’s been awsirl, (not technically a word, by the way), with thoughts about the nature of patterns.
I’m not talking about the crazy imprint on your face you get when you wake up after a long, deep sleep either.
What I’m talking about is patterns of behaviour. Those things we do over and over, whether we want to or not. Think about someone you know, think about things they do that happen repeatedly.
Maybe it’s the friend that vows to lose weight, spends a ton of money on a gym membership, buys the latest fad diet book, goes gung-ho for a few months until one day you notice they don’t say no to dessert. Next thing you know, the book’s on the shelf, the gym bag’s in the closet, and pizza pockets are back on the menu. A few months later, the whole cycle starts over again.
Maybe it’s the friend who moves from one doomed relationship to the next. You watch the whole sad spectacle unfold like a bad movie, knowing the moment the ‘glow’ wears off and the minute she realizes her chosen partner is not a white knight but actually a guy who pees in the shower and thinks “Everybody Loves Raymond” is funny, it’s the beginning of the end.
Maybe it’s the co-worker who is always late and always has an excuse.
Maybe it’s your Mom who constantly bitches about her neighbour whose dog poops on her lawn but who you know will never actually DO anything about it.
Maybe it’s you.
I know it’s me. I’ve got my patterns. Probably my worst is that I genuinely want to believe people are good, despite much evidence to the contrary. What this has meant in the past is that I’ve let people take advantage of me. Combine that with a natural instinct to avoid conflict, and you get a walking doormat. Now, as soon as I clued in to this pattern, I started to take steps to avoid it.
Step one: Be skeptical.
Step one has worked pretty well. I’ve probably filtered out 90% of the run-of-the-mill types who are just looking for some pushover to use by simply saying, in my head, “Really? I don’t believe that.” If you start with ‘I don’t believe that’, it becomes more difficult to get to “Cool, I’ll join your pyramid scheme!”
Step two: Say no/speak up
Step two is more difficult, depending on the person and the situation. Surprisingly, I find it easy to say no to myself, “No, I won’t eat that chocolate, it’s not even noon!” Saying it to others is a bit of a minefield though. Same with speaking up. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, it occasionally blows up in a very ugly way. It helps that I spend all day either banging nails or cloistered in my cave, chained to my laptop.
Step three: Choose wisely
Step three is a learned skill for me, when it comes to people I decide to let enter my ‘inner circle’. I’ve come to rely a lot on Prez’s eerily accurate instincts, as he seems to be able to read people like one of those freaky, sideshow, mind-reader guys: “Your birthday is April 10th, you envy your brother, and you would make a terrible friend.” For many years, my friend selection process went something like this: “Ooo! You’re fun! You make me laugh! Let’s be friends!”
I don’t think I need to tell you how most of those worked out.
So, in a nutshell, here’s my pattern:
1.Someone in my inner circle behaves in a way that hurts me. I don’t say anything because a) that would be conflict and b) I believe they genuinely don’t mean to hurt me, so that’s OK right?
2. The hurtful behaviour gets to a point where I snap and I finally speak up.
3.The hurtful person is shocked, has no idea that I was hurt, (because I never said anything), they either a) apologize and promise not to do the hurtful behaviour anymore or b) get really angry because, hey, I should have said something. Regardless of the response, the next move in the cycle is…
4. We make up and I am filled with the warm fuzzies again…at least until the hurtful behaviour starts again, which it does at least 50% of the time.
And the cycle repeats.
Now, before you start thinking, ‘Was it me? Was I the hurtful person that prompted this blog?!’ No, it wasn’t you. Well, not that I would tell you if it was, but…no. Lately, I’ve just been observing – when I step out of the house and/or off the jobsite, that is – and noticing how many people have predictable patterns.
And I started to wonder, ‘Can we break these patterns or is keeping them to a minimum the best we can hope for?’ Am I doomed to spend the rest of my life using Prez as a kind of human metal detector for less-than-ideal friend qualities? Must I maintain my constant vigilance against my own gullibility and ‘niceness’?
Will I ever finish the revisions to this manuscript so my agent can sell it???!!!
(Sorry, been a little stressed lately, if you haven’t noticed by my extended absence).
Hm, maybe I should have gone with the camping blog. Next time: Bears! Promise.
Until then, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!