A year and a half ago, a friend shared this blog post: “20 Things to Stop Doing to Others.”
The list resonated with me, and I proactively engaged and focused on four of the top 20. I recently revisited the list and my engagements with those first four, realizing I could use a little reminder. So, here goes…
No. 1 on the list: Stop Holding Grudges. The key on this one is being honest with myself. Unless I recognize the grudge, I can’t let it go.
Inevitably, we all feel we have been wronged in some way by someone. We harbor feelings of resentment. Holding a grudge and clinging to that feeling of being wronged gets in the way of present happiness.
Holding the grudge does not change anything; it doesn’t undo the past, so why we do let it keep us from happiness now? Letting go liberates us. Holding the negativity means the negativity owns us and so the person or situation that wrongs us gets the upper hand. Letting go allows us to embrace the happiness and joy of today of now.
So, I’m reminding myself: This week, stop holding grudges.
No. 2: Stop Complaining. One of the most important elements of this one, for me, lies in the reality of who we often complain or “vent” to – our loved ones. We spend our valuable time with those we care the most about complaining? In light of two friends who have lost a parent recently, I am reminded that this is not how I want to spend my time with my loved ones. Not at all.
I know it is not always easy to just stop doing it, especially when things are hard. When we hit harder times in life – and the little ones are both sick and you aren’t sleeping through the night – venting seems essential, necessary and inevitable. I am trying to learn it is not. I am hoping to retrain myself. After Stop Complaining, on their blog, Marc and Angel say, “Instead, spend your time and energy to do something about it.”
Feeling lost makes it harder to stop the complaining because you might not yet know what the “do something” is. However, complaining will not help with the process of figuring out what that “do something” is, so again – back to No. 2: Stop Complaining.
No. 3: Stop Meaning What You Don’t Say. As the blog post states so eloquently: “People can’t read minds. Communicate regularly and effectively.”
I often think this pertains the most to our spouses. We expect them to read our minds and might get upset with them for not meeting a need, even though we haven’t actually made that need clear.
It is unfair to our loved ones to hold them accountable for something that has not been communicated to them clearly.
Understanding is only possible when we communicate effectively with one another. We must practice deep listening, attentiveness and observation – with ourselves, so we can communicate effectively, and with those we love, so we can truly hear their needs.
No. 4: Stop Making It All About You. This can be a tough one when you become a parent, especially when you have little ones who really, really need the world to revolve around them (in some ways), which can make Mommy want the world to revolve around the unit: Mommy and kids.
It can be easy to become self-obsessed or consumed by our own messy lives, especially when you have children whose needs seem constant and demanding.
Remembering that the world does not revolve around me, or us, provides perspective: The toddler meltdown-defiant child overwhelming me right now is actually not the end of the world; the giant load of laundry really can wait. The world really doesn’t revolve around me – and that’s a good thing. It reminds me to stop focusing so much on me and look out and see the world.
If I see the world with eyes full of love (and without grudges), with my energy focused on positive change (rather than negative complaints), with a commitment to speaking clearly, openly and honestly and seek to engage with this world as a collective world that we all inhabit together, I just might get something right. I just might contribute to making the world a better place. It’s worth a try.
I enjoyed this so much, I think I’ll go back and work on the rest of that list. Four down, 16 to go.
Jennifer Fischer is co-founder of the SCV Film Festival, a mom of two, an independent filmmaker and owner of Think Ten Media Group, whose Generation Arts division offers programs for SCV youth. She writes about her parenting journey on her blog, The Good Long Road. Her commentary is published Saturdays on SCVNews.com.