WISE REFLECTION? – Marilyn Armstrong

With two prompts, wise and reflection, I thought about me and wisdom. And reflection. And came up with the general feeling that I am not particularly reflective or wise. I probably never was.

Just getting by would probably describe my current package, along with the realistic understanding that I can’t handle this house on my own. There’s too much to be done and too little of me to handle it. Which would normally require a lot of reflection. I can’t think about that. I can’t even let my mind drift off in that direction. I will get depressed and then I will not only make myself miserable, I will make everyone who comes in contact with me miserable too.

If I have learned anything at all in my years on earth, it’s when you are gloomy and thinking dark thoughts, have the decency to shut up about it. Especially because it will pass and then, if you’ve been passing your misery around, it will all come back and bite you. Just when you are cheering up, everyone else is in a really bad mood and it actually is your fault.

I have some innate capacity to make the people around me feel like me. I had it when I was very young and was warned about it by various teachers. I was such an unpopular kid, it never occurred to me that anything I said or did had any effect on anyone, but apparently, I was completely wrong about that. Whatever was bothering me, give me a day or two and all my friends and colleagues will feel the same way.

It was the first time it occurred to me that I had any kind of effect on the world around me.

It was a shock. It took me years to learn to learn to control myself. Learn to shut up about stuff that’s bugging me, especially when it isn’t really important. Mostly, it took me a long time to figure out what was or wasn’t important. Almost everything just goes away. I get upset, but I work my way through it and come out the other side feeling okay.

This does not necessarily work for all the other people I’ve upset.

So, unless it’s important and I need help dealing with it, working through it on my own is my best bet.

To this day, I have to be careful. I affect others without realizing it, though to this day I have no idea why anyone bothers to listen to me. This was a huge shock when I was 12. By now, at least I’m used to it and a lot more careful.

I am not reflective.

I am not wise.

But — at least I have learned that it’s usually better to not haul in the brass band and a few dozen monkeys and open a personal circus. Making every little thing into a big deal is not a healthy choice.

FOWC with Fandango — Wise

RDP # 54: Reflection

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!

32 thoughts on “WISE REFLECTION? – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. I’m glad for you that you had teachers to warn you about your innate ability. I have it, was warned by someone I worked with, and never listened. Today I do. Some lessons are best learned, you know.

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  2. And I have discovered that I need a purpose in life. I was taking it too easy over the last years and now realise that I have to get back in the saddle again and cope with life’s daily matters. I was taking it too easy, and since recovering from a broken leg and moving in a wheelchair I realised I can count myself lucky to be able to deal with daily problems all the same. It doesn’t need wisdom, I say just do not give up. By the way there were some really funny jokes on that one. I love them dark and black.

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    1. I like that kind of humor too. Yes, I like being involved in running the household. I wish Garry would get more involved. But he was never very “housey.” He was always busy with work and until we built a home together, he never had one. I think it’s still — for him — someone else’s problem. Usually mine 🙂

      But I’m glad of it. It keeps me from getting dull. It keeps my brain from going soft.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The phenomenon you describe might be termed (new agey philosophy) the law of attraction. I have the strong opinion that we attract what our circumstances are…and although we cannot control what others do or say; or what happens to them – it’s how we personally handle that which makes the difference. Having a big traumatic (for both of you IMHO) event like surgery isn’t anything you can control..and it’s a good thing big picture wise and everything; BUT. There’s lot of chaos, pain, and things beyond your control in it happening. I think you ARE wise. You KNOW what to do and how to handle it…thus attracting some sense of order out of chaos, and a return to a more stable way of being. A calmer outlook for both of you. Just my two cents. I know this time isn’t easy and I’m glad to see you taking a couple of moments to write. That helps too, IMHO. Take it easy sweetie.

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    1. I have learned a few things over the years and one of them is that I have some weird native ability to cause other people to feel like me. Except after a while, I pull away from it and feel better … but often, they don’t. So I try NOT to do that. I never did it intentionally anyway. It’s just something that happens.

      It made me a very good boss, the few times I wound up being a boss — which wasn’t often because I don’t like being a manager. I like writing. Bossing writers is all the frustration of writing without any of the joy of succeeding. But I WAS a very good boss. I think some of this stuff is sort of DNA. We don’t “learn” it. We just ARE it.

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  4. This is the best line, because it summarises the point of the post:
    if you’ve been passing your misery around, it will all come back and bite you. 
    Karma is a bitch! What goes round comes round, and yet I understand and share the need to share negative feelings when you’re down, and friends should be there to cheer you up and draw you out of the negativity, and resist being drawn in. Not easy…

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    1. I always thought that too, but for reasons I don’t fully understand, I appear to drag others down with me. Maybe it’s because I’m really good at explaining how bad things really are. I manage to convince people of the awfulness. Then I work my way free of it, but they are left standing in the mud I made.

      I’m not sure why it happens, but it does and I’ve learned that no one needs to be dragged down. There’s enough negative energy floating around. Besides, when I spread the misery I don’t get cheered up. I just un-cheer the rest of my world which does no one any good at all.

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      1. Recently my 89-year-old mother, who has no major illness, but has multiple aches and pains, was cheering up an elderly neighbour who complained she was so I’ll after hip surgery that she wanted to die. I was really proud of my mum for her kindness and enthusiasm, but the next day she woke up really depressed and said she wanted to die too. I couldn’t believe it. ‘But you cheered your friend up yesterday, when she was depressed’ I said and my mother answered, ‘I’ve thought about what she said and I think she’s right.’
        I was devastated.
        It’s hard to console someone and not be affected.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. And some of us are just more effective at making other people feel better or worse than others. I don’t think it’s something we learn. I think it’s part of us, like our nose or ears. It’s why some people are such effective speakers and others aren’t. Your mother’s friend was probably one of those who has that ability and likely didn’t know it.

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          1. I’m more an empath and feel what others feel, but have also discovered that if I ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy–the listeners somehow get an extra dose of my misery, which is not what I hoped for either. There is controversial language that speculates that some people are ‘psychic vampires’ or ‘psi vamps’ and that they can sort of ‘take’ good energy from others; along with this concept is that sometimes it can benefit those with too much energy to start with, or that one can get positive energy from being in a city, say, or other places that have a lot of not-really-personal energy that can cheer folks up. Michelle Belanger writes about the subject of psychic vampires, which she believes is her situation, and makes some good sense. Maybe it isn’t as specific as that for me or you, but is the emotional contagion theory. It does sound like you would really benefit from a good therapist, or talking to a hotline and feeling free to just express your concerns. I would think the hospital would have some options to offer, although they do sound a bit overwhelmed and confused themselves. Best wishes with it–

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            1. I suspect many of us are a bit of both. We are empathic and “expathic.” We can take and give, though I think I’m more comfortable giving than taking. Unfortunately, most of us are also totally untrained to make use of these abilities. We discover them late and no one seems to be able to teach us how to properly use them.

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              1. Some of the more alternative groups and traditions have been working with this kind of energy for a very long time–pagans, psychics, Tibetan Buddhism, all kinds of traditions. In Tibetan Buddhism, for example, there is a basic exercise called tonglen, where you view the negative qualities of another (or ‘poisons’ of greed, hatred, and ignorance) as black or grey smoke that you draw into yourself on an inhale, where it gets burned up and changed into divine healing energy or loving kindness, and then on the exhale you send divine healing energy or loving kindness out to that person. It’s an effort to clean up the energies that we use and encounter. I have enjoyed doing it. I also found singing mantras of great use, since when my mind is singing a nice mantra to me, or even a nice affirmation in English like “this is great and I’m having fun” or whatever you make up, then it seems to give access to more spaciousness in the mind and also keeps me from thinking specific bad things, like “that guy was such a jerk” or “that person looks so bad” or ‘holycrap what am I going to do about money and health and whatever else???!!” blahblah. Might be worth a try–

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    1. I do have a rather dark sense of humor. But I’ve had a kind of dark life and my humor reflects it. But also, they ARE funny. I love the “don’t despair” one from The New Yorker. Actually, The New Yorker is probably worth buying JUST for the cartoons.

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  5. Excellent cartoons. Its challenging to learn to be with others in a painful place and not take on their pain. And as you recognize, pain is easily shared. My professional work, physician followed by trauma therapist keeps refining my skills. Be with, empathize, and then release the energy of others experiences and emotions. Not easy, and important to get the hang of. Some docs cope by hardening themselves and losing empathy, and most of us have had the experience of being with them, and its one we don’t wish to repeat.

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    1. I have a friend who is an absorber of pain. If she doesn’t work at letting it go, it makes her crazy. We NEVER talk about our problems. We both know what they are anyway, so why bother? Instead, we laugh. A lot. Laughing is a huge help. Hence the cartoons 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I get that. It is and was fascinating to me to find that other’s took what I said seriously. Didn’t think I had that kind of pull. Surprised me then, surprises me now. An interesting phenomenon to me. Never thought of myself as that noteworthy. Just my take on what is tbh.

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    1. I think it’s just something that some of us have. I wasn’t important. I’m still NOT important, but I have a random power to make people believe me. I probably would have made a pretty good teacher or speaker and I wasn’t a half-bad actor when I bothered. I think it’s natural for some people.

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      1. I used to stand in Hallmark Cards looking them over. I’d find a bunch that had me roaring, and soon enough, everyone was buying the cards I liked. Same in the grocery store. If I mentioned this was better and why, everyone lined up to buy that item. My kids used to get annoyed cause shopping took forever , smirk smirk. One of the chains changed its packaging because I (dang it big mouth) mentioned you could tell which was the better bacon to buy cause you could see the amount of fat if you looked through the open window. Result? Changed packaging because a manager was standing there and heard me.

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  7. I never thought about it like you described the matter. I normally (eternally) am the one who makes everybody feel better, I am the cheer-up(per), the eternal optimist, the one who’s smiling through life’s miseries because if she didn’t, she wouldn’t stop crying….. Just made the truth of your lies feel about my trip back from Switzerland to France. On a 4-1/2h journey by TGV (high speed train) we encountered so many problems, footwork instead of a zero-stop trip, AND a two hour+ delay that I had ample time to prepare a Whatsapp message with tons of little men/signs/not-smileys which I sent out at 11pm when I FINALLY arrived – apart from ONE person who wrote a short mail to commiserate, I had ZERO REACTIONS….. My bad; NOBODY expects me to complain, to be weak and whine. Lesson learnt. But I believe it is true; negative feelings fester too, same as good ones do.
    LOVED the cartoons, would have ‘liked’ the post just for them. You are right, the New Yorker ones are brilliant. For a while (have forgotten why) I could see their cartoons, but I no longer get them.

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