nobody wants to hear what you would have done differently if you were them

years ago, i was hanging out with group of pals. one of them had just bought a car. i asked what they wound up getting, they told us, and i think i said something along the lines of, “i’ve read that the engines in those have a tendency to spin the bearings due to poor oil circulation.” one of my other pals said, “just what everyone wants to hear: you bought a lemon.”

that short exchange has stuck with me since because it really illuminated what a downer and know-it-all i can be. my friend was happy about their new car, why did i go and piss on their parade? the car was already bought so my info wasn’t useful to them. it was just irritating. what’s even worse is i know i have probably made countless similar downer comments in the past. it makes me wonder why my friends have stuck with me for so long. being negative is one thing but being a smug know-it-all is far more loathsome, in my opinion.

donald-trump-looking-smug

i did an image search for “smug” and this was at the top of the results. that look captures what i’m driving at.

i don’t want to be that kind of person so i’ve made an effort since then to be more aware of how i speak to people. now when someone is telling me about how shitty their divorce was, i try not to chime in with some stupid hot tip like, “well doug, i’ve personally found that open communication is key to a healthy relationship. maybe you should have talked with your wife more.” now, before i open my mouth, i think, “doug has had several years to mull his divorce over and he’s probably already realized the mistakes he made. i don’t need to tell him stuff he already knows. it’s probably best to just listen to him.”

of course there are times when it’s fine to offer advice, like when someone asks you for it, or if a friend is considering doing something and you want to make sure they’re aware of some risk before they do it. that’s totally different from lecturing people, beating them over the head with stuff they’ve already figured out on their own, or giving them advice after it’s too late.

here’s another anecdote to illustrate my point: i had a barn built on my property last year. jenn and i gave it lots of thought before construction and knew what we wanted. it was built, and we are very happy with it. since then, i’ve had a lot of neighbours come over and say stuff like, “looks great. is there any plumbing in it? why didn’t you make the hay loft into a suite that you could rent out? that’s what i would have done. OSB for the walls, you’re not going to drywall it? that’s what i would have done.” why would they think i care at all about what they would have done? i didn’t build it for them, i built it for me, and i like it this way. telling me what they dislike about my new barn sure doesn’t endear them to me.

if those clods had any mind at all, they would simply say, “nice garage, looks great. makes me think about building one myself.”

just like i should have said, “congrats on the new car, i’m happy for you,” many moons ago.

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“choose happiness,” said the miserable sod

my grandmother divorced from her husband when she was in her 50’s. she once told me that for years after the divorce, she harbored great bitterness and resentment towards him, that she often imagined what she would say to him if she bumped into him around town, or how she would have handled various events in their marriage if she could only go back in time. she said that eventually, though, she realized that all the negative feelings she kept revisiting never had any impact on him, but they did have a huge impact on her. she realized that she was making herself miserable by continuing to dwell on negative things that she couldn’t change or didn’t intend to follow through with.

once she had this epiphany, she simply stopped giving it any thought. after that, she felt much better.

similarly, a long time ago, my wife jenn said to me, “choose happiness.” i was super annoyed when she first said it because it sounds like something a yoga hipster woman would say, but the more i thought about it, the more i liked it. what “choose happiness” means is, when you are driving home at a respectable 10 km/h over the speed limit and you come up behind some son of a bitch who is putting along just under the speed limit, you have a choice. you can choose to fume and gripe out loud, maybe swerve slightly into the oncoming lane as if to pass the slow driver, perhaps lay on the horn, and get right worked up about this minor inconvenience — or you can realize that you actually aren’t in a big rush for any justifiable reason so you may as well take a deep breath, slow down, and relax.

for whatever reason, we give ourselves a lot of leeway when it comes to embracing anger and frustration. we allow ourselves to stew over tiny, insignificant things and make ourselves miserable. i see people do it all the time. i do it all the time myself (except i usually like to do it). but we have the ability to become more self aware, notice when we repeat negative patterns, and work to break those patterns. i actually frequently think “choose happiness” to myself now as a mantra when i want to snap myself out of yet another loop of rage. i even say it to jenn occasionally, which she absolutely fucking hates.

violent-women

“don’t you EVER use my own pretentious, mystical advice on me!”

i’m writing about this now because i was bothered by something else when i got stuck behind an insanely slow driver. i had to remind myself that the slow driver wasn’t what was actually bothering me, and letting myself get worked up about them would only make me even more unhappy. so i relaxed and slowed down and felt better for it.

it’s nice when this kind of stuff actually works. which is only maybe 50% of the time, but that’s still way better than nothing. i welcome any mitigation of my misery with open arms.

quote pics

this has been bugging me for a while

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so has this

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and this

a lot of people must believe they’re confucius, slapping some supposedly sage wisdom onto an image and thinking it’s hella deep, because there sure are a lot of corny bastards doing it these days. guess what, i hate it.

however, always one to try fun new things and see what the buzz is all about, i just searched ‘make your own quote picture.’ i found quotescover.com and went to work, and now i’ve posted some of my greatest creations below! i hope people are as inspired by my work as i am by all the great quote pics i’ve seen! click to enlarge! share with everyone who you think will be profoundly moved by my deep, contemplative musings!

asshole

yogaquote

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i don’t need any god damn advice

i’m just a goth girl at heart.

i realized a number of years ago that i don’t like getting advice from anyone. i noticed this over a few times when i was dealing with some kind of bullshit in my life, trying to figure out the best way to handle it. each time, i was aware of my different options or whatever and the various consequences, and was having a hard time deciding which would be best for me. i talked to a few of my closest friends about what was going on, and no one really had any good advice. i got a lot of “shit, that sucks,” “i don’t know what i’d do if i were you,” and “i’d do this.” and none of those things were any help to me. i was still left with the same options and consequences.

the thing is, no one can make any decisions for you. when you’re dealing with shit, you have to deal with it. that’s all there is to it. it can be hard as hell but that’s what needs to happen for you to get through it. i used to think it felt good to talk to friends about stuff i was dealing with, just as some sort of release or catharsis, but now i don’t even believe that. i consistently found that whenever i talked to friends about heavy shit, i wound up hoping they might illuminate some sort of new understanding or way of looking at my situation, and that rarely happened. so all those times, i just wound up spending 2 hrs rehashing the same shit i had been mulling over in my mind for the last week, except this time i did it out loud, which was even more annoying. and i was no further ahead by the end of it.

so now, i usually like to just keep my drama to myself. i bottle it up inside until i’m under an immense amount of pressure. then i react violently and unexpectedly to the slightest unrelated thing, like when someone bumps my ankle with a shopping cart at the store and i throw my basket down in a rage, spilling oranges all over the floor, and scream “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, DO YOU HAVE NO FUCKING AWARENESS OF ANYONE ELSE AROUND YOU, YOU SELFISH CUNT?” just kidding. i actually keep a lot of my shit to myself because i have learned to be confident in my abilities to work through my personal problems. i just need enough time and rational thought to achieve it. and i feel good about that.

i HATE it when people bump my ankles.

this isn’t to say that i don’t need friends to lean on. i absolutely do. sometimes there is some unknown aspect to a problem i’m working through, something i can’t put my finger on, and sometimes a friend can see what that thing is or lead me to figure it out myself, like dana did when i was depressed by babymetal last year.

something kind of funny related to my babymetal depression is that after dana helped me figure out why i was depressed, i told ben about the whole thing. but before i could even finish what i was saying and get to the punchline, ben said, “so you felt like you were able to remember and appreciate what that youthful joy felt like but you were no longer able to experience it firsthand anymore because you are so weighed down by adult concerns.” it was absolutely incredible. ben’s intuition and understanding of me was stunning, like that of a high paid psychotherapist. that was one case where i could have gone to a friend for advice and been fixed right up but it was a real one-off. you can’t expect that kind of magic from people, ever.

no, the only way to reliably get through the shit that life hands you is to give yourself lots of time to process it and decide how you can come to grips with it. at least that’s what works for me. you do whatever the hell you want. i don’t care.