Individual Honour Codes

When I say things like “oh I don’t lie” or “I don’t like being late,” very many people jump to defend doing so. “Oh sometimes you just have to lie.” “You can’t anticiate every traffic accident.” “Oh they will forgive you if you do. It’s really no big deal. Everyone does it.”

I thought it was about making me feel less burdened.

I still felt like it was a very weird situation that, under the guise of making me feel better, they are directly discrediting my values. 

Recently I was explaining what I call my honour code, and it occurred to me… what if it wasn’t about me at all? What if they lie or are perpetually late, and they were defending themselves when they felt inferior to the values I’d just described as mine? 

Millennials: they’re not “entitled.”

That’s the word I see everywhere. Millennials are “entitled.” That’s a complete misnomer. We have to admit today that our own irritation and jealousy got us to call them “entitled,” but that’s not really true. We have to own up, or there will be no improvement.

“Entitled” definitely has the sound of it being by choice. A choice where the accountability of that attitude lies with the person who’s feeling entitled. At least that’s how it feels in today’s vernacular when combined with the verb “feel.”

Let me demonstrate this difference. You’re at the airport, waiting for your luggage to come out of the chute. Someone says “You feel entitled to your luggage, don’t you?”
You’d be so dumbfounded. “Well, it’s mine, isn’t it? I don’t feel ‘entitled’ to my own luggage. It’s just… mine.” That’s the difference here. We think they feel entitled. They don’t. They don’t even know that the luggage coming out of the chute constitutes a sense of entitlement. They certainly don’t “feel” entitled. They were just sitting at the chute their entire lives, and everything, even a university diploma, came flying down at them.

Now, don’t worry, parents. We aren’t going to do any blame assigning.

My point is that, due to various social situations, the Millennials grew up without the important stimuli in self-concept formation that the previous generations took for granted. Like delayed gratification, hard work, defining their own happiness, living within the means, and even the concept of “the means.” Humans are animals without proper socialization and learning, and those qualities I listed above are definitely human qualities that need to be taught and learned.

The answer? They need to learn them.

What this means is that the adults around them and their bosses have to be kind to them, not angry at them, for not knowing the basics of the society. Like “if you don’t make the deadline, we won’t accept your application at all,” “if you spill something, no one else will clean it even if it’s moldy 20 days later,” and “you don’t get paid for the hours you don’t work.”

Their age 25 may know as much about working in the society as your age 10. But that’s not their making. Being angry at them doesn’t bring in another candidate with a completely different attitude.

Yes, it’s unfair to you and your generation. You were provided with age-appropriate stimuli and had proper life-stage life-space development at each phase. They didn’t receive it because you didn’t give it to them… wait… maybe we, baby boomers and Gen X, do live in the world of our own making. Maybe we do owe it to them to help fix it.

 

 

 

Every minute, we have to choose to be a Friend.

When did we become so insecure that protecting our ego is more important than being a good friend? 

I don’t blame people when they assume I’m exaggerating my struggles with chronic pain because I look so good. I work or go to school, play hockey, and hike. I know it’s hard to believe. 

When (mostly when asked) I tell them that I’m in pain, they immediately minimize, “oh I did that hike last year, and I couldn’t move after either,” “it’s called ageing, T,” “that’s called being a student.” Or, worst of all, launch into giving me solutions: “I know this naturopath you need to see…” “you just have to eat more protein,” “make a list of goals and focus on it,” “Think positive.”

I know it’s possibly because it’s too scary for them to admit that what I’m telling them is true – either to admit they don’t know everything or to admit, if it could affect someone as healthy as me, it could affect them. Or their desire to impress with their helpfulness blind them from seeing what help is sought. (Or they have decided I’m lying, but that’s a whole another topic) 

I no longer try to change their minds. It’s hard to decide to allocate my limited time and energy into changing their minds. I realized there is nothing for me to gain. Even if I change their mind on this one piece of fact, the underlying reason they rejected it before still exists, and it will continue making them choose their ego over being a good friend in other ways. 

My message here is this. We all have to pick one of two mutually-exclusive paths. One, to succumb to our ego, insecurity, perfectionism, or fear and start speaking. Two,  to be a good friend and listen with the intent to understand. 

If you’re done telling me things you want to tell me and ready to listen, here is a clip. The first 5 minutes of this clip describes exactly what happened to me (minus the fever). And at minute 12, you see what I struggle with every day. 

I said earlier I am not investing in changing people’s minds any more. So why did I post this clip? To help with the denial. Those of you who found yoursevles using this clip to pick up what you can tell people like me next time we talk, you are one of them. And I want you to know it’s OK. I just wanted to give you an opportunity to become aware. 

You’re Gas-lighted.

My friend asked “I don’t know what gas-lighting is.”
“You use Facebook, and they have your name, birthday, phone number, and a photo?”
“Yeah. So?”
“You know they can be used in identity theft, but it feels like what you’ll miss if you weren’t on facebook is extremely important.”
“Well!!! Some of my friends only check things on Facebook. So I *HAVE* to be on it.”
“So you do know what gas-lighting is.”
“…What is gas-lighting?”

What to say to a friend in distress

You’re here because you desperately want to know what to say, or because you have said something and didn’t receive the expected enthusiastic response, or because you’re going through a tough time and you give passionate “thank-you”s only because you know that’s what’s expected of you not because you connect with it.

I can tell you exactly what to say to that friend of yours who is going through a tough time: a devastating diagnosis, a loss, recovery, personal growth, injury…

People like to say motivational/inspirational things or memes to people in distress and hide behind the omnipotence of it being “out of good intentions.” But what is that intention for? Having a chronic pain syndrome has allowed me to see that, in most cases, it’s self-serving.

There is no way to avoid taking those comments personally when you and I are in the middle of it. So I am hoping to discuss this idea away from me and you being in that situation.

Do you know what I think when I see something like this that’s supposed to be motivational? I think “Don’t remind me that I not only gave up a day of my life but also all the possibilities that were in it.” I’m not being cranky or reactive. It’s just the reality of it. Chronic pain sufferers make trades – I want to attend a long work meeting today, and I accept that I won’t be able to get off the bed tomorrow. My today is never a new day. The selection of this meme emphasizes that you don’t know my reality but also that you don’t care to know.

But it’s not your fault at all that you don’t know my reality. We haven’t discussed it. So, what is it that you should say?

Let me ask you first. Think of the last time something like that happened, and remember what you said. Why did you choose that to say? The typical answers to this question are
“Because that’s the right thing to say.”
“Because I’ve heard other people say it.”
“Because the instructions/solutions I gave them will be helpful to them.”
“Because I want you to know I care about you.”

You know what I’d love to hear from my friends?
“I knew what to say because I asked you how you were feeling.”
“Because I sat down long and hard and thought this is what I thought you’d want me to say.”
“I talked to several people who’d been in a similar situation, and they all told me to say this.”

I think that you noticed the big thing that’s missing from the first group is the perspective from “you.” I’m sorry to break it to you so abruptly. But we are very often saying things to satisfy our own need to say something. When our attention is swept by the need to say something, we completely forget about the person we are saying it to.

How arrogant we think that anything that comes out of our brain/thoughts/experience can help our friend in distress at all.

Sit down, have a good ponder about what your friend is going through, close your eyes and get a sense of the air, the noise, the environment they are in right at this moment. You’ll know exactly what to say.

How to manage awkward moments

Awkward moments are like that round-around-the-edges uncle that you fear as a child and end up being the best friends as adults.
 
Our knee-jerk reaction with uncomfortable moments is to find the quickest way out. Make a joke, change the subject, walk the other way, or simply say “awkward~.” But so-called “awkward” moments is where all the magic happens.
 
In that uncomfortable moment of awkwardness, you’d think people’s guard goes up, right? Shockingly, I’m finding the opposite.
 
Next time we find ourselves in an awkward situation, stop, take a breath, and look the other person in the eye. Their eyes tell of a giggle, fear, despise, or desperation… it’s absolutely absolutely full of connection.
 
What would happen if we say “Tell me. I’m listening”?