Exclusion: Defense mechanisms

I’ve talked about exclusion of the “different” people.  Perhaps there’s a flip side. Maybe you’ve experienced it when you tried to reach out to someone.  You try to be nice, but they act as if they want nothing to do with you, or may even be hostile, or rude. Maybe they’re just a little guarded or aloof. These are, of course, defense mechanisms.

When a person is used to being excluded, or teased or rejected, they are suspicious of everyone and end up pushing others away, because they’re convinced they’ll just end up being hurt.  While no one can blame you if you let it drop at that point, it could be fruitful to give it another shot.  If you’re sincere, they’ll see that.

It shouldn’t be purely out of pity.  Nobody wants to feel pitied. It also shouldn’t be done out of a sense of obligation or an overactive conscience.  If it’s not your forte to be an ambassador to those left out, the “socially challenged”, that’s okay. But if it is your thing, give them a couple chances.

If you’re one of the people who is feeling left out, be ready for opportunity.  Be yourself and don’t assume everyone is judging you or that they think they’re better than you. You must also give them a chance.

We’re all in this together.

 

 

Bust that box, cont’d

To recap the first part, I’m talking about people who achieve some sort of personal growth or life change. The problem is that it can take time for that change to filter through all areas of your life. You wind up being put in a box, by yourself or by others, which stunts your continued growth, if you let it.

I’m still working on it myself, so I can’t give you a fool-proof, step-by-step plan to bust out of your box, but I can share what I’ve learned.

If you’ve ever wanted to pick up and take off for some place new and exciting to start over, be very careful. You might just end up in the same old box, just with different surroundings. In other words, if you’re still reserved and inhibited on the inside, then you’ll have the same old trouble with making friends, or building a life.

I’m not saying that a big dramatic step in a new direction can’t ever be the way to break out. It’s just that life often is more gradual, and most often, slower than we’d like.

If your box is being the shy, quiet one, then keep doing what you’ve been doing. You’ve beaten the shyness, now keep building.  Step further out of your comfort zone. Don’t let yourself fall back into the old passive spectator in groups.  As with anything, the more you practice, the easier it gets.

If your box is being the fifth wheel, always tagging along with couples for social outings, then you know what you have to do. Put yourself out there. I may be showing my age, but I think if you’re going online for opportunity, make it a site with actual profiles, as opposed to an app, where all your hopes and anxieties and internal conflicts are swiped away ruthlessly. Again, just my opinion.

Maybe the box you find yourself in is a little different.  Were you the bully in school, but you genuinely changed? Something may have happened in your own life that gave you a change of heart somewhere along the way and you apologized. I’ve had that happen. I was happy to forgive the person. Far be it from me to board up the windows on someone else’s box.

Whatever box you’re busting up, be tenacious. It may feel like no one around is noticing your progress, but they will.

 

 

Background image created by Kstudio – Freepik.com

A weight in my pocket

Those of you old enough to remember the pre-cellphone days are probably like me, wishing you didn’t have such an important thing to worry about. You also knew the phone numbers of family members and close friends. But then, you didn’t have PIN’s, passwords and other stuff to fill your head up.

For some, there’s another aspect to the anxiety associated with that pesky (cherished) communication device. It cuts both ways. Either it gives you no rest, or it taunts you with its prolonged silence.

Those who have lots of friends and talk on them all the time, or much worse, use it for work or business, may get tired of it ringing or chiming or whatever infernal noise it makes, notifying you that someone Liked your comment on their repost of a Tweet about something you saw on (fill in the blank social media.) Of course, some extreme, incomprehensible extroverts thrive on this, and drive everyone around them crazy. If you’re one of them, this post is not about you. Go away.

Just kidding.  There’s a flip side though to the busy folks dealing with “social noise”. (Did I just coin a phrase? Well, if you share it I might.) Anyway, the other side is those who never get calls or Likes, or new invites to join others’ electronic circles of influence. And more importantly, don’t get invites to actual events either. It’s the popularity contest gone viral, and seemingly at all ages. I like to think I’ve come a long way since my very unpopular existence in school. I still have room to grow, but I’m happy with my level of progress. So, it’s not about me, you see….

But I think of these things because I’ve been there, in the real world, not electronically, but nowadays, the two are melded together, and perhaps makes the loneliness even more profound.

Say hi to a shy or quiet coworker this week. They just might turn out to be quite interesting.  They could also be a real jerk and they’re quiet because they’re stuck up, but that’s not likely. If that does turn out to be the case, don’t blame me. It must have been something you said.  😉

Go connect! We’re all in this together.

Things I learned from my cats

What matters most is how you see yourself. That’s the lesson in a nutshell.  I touched on this a little in my post titled, “A Better Day”.

I’m coming at the topic from a different angle, observing my cats.  My five year old cat, Smokey doesn’t know how big he is.  He’s a bit skittish and shy. He climbs up on my chest to cuddle.  (A lap isn’t good enough.) When he does that, I have to put down my laptop, or else he walks on the keyboard and, invariably, messes things up.  (For example, he once deactivated the keyboard. It took till the next day to figure out that you could still hit shift + enter to get it back, though it seemed like nothing on the keyboard was working. Another time, he turned the screen display 90°.  I didn’t even know you could do that.  I was able to go into the display menu and turn it back from portrait to landscape, though it remains a mystery how he did it with just the keyboard.)  Also, I can barely see the TV over him when he’s sitting on me.

Enter Rex the much smaller, younger little guy my brother and I adopted about a year ago.  Rex is a sweetheart and after about ten days, Smokey accepted him and they get along nicely now.  However, Rex is a little troublemaker at times, picking on the gentle giant, Smokey.  It’s only in play, but he gets a little carried away and makes his house mate squeal sometimes.  Then we have to separate them and scold Rex, sometimes even close him in a room for a while.  The thing is, Smokey could easily kick Rex’s ass.  He has learned to assert himself, and the problem has slowly gotten better.  So, I guess Smokey gets to a point where he’s had enough.

I share these feline antics as a way of relating my own experiences.  I was shy and timid in school, and socially awkward.  Add to that my rather small stature, and you’ve got an easy target for teasing.

Like Smokey, I didn’t realize how big I was.  Not physically, but intellectually, emotionally, and personality speaking. I was blessed with a brilliant mind, a bright and generous heart, and a lovable, witty, fun spirit.  None of this came out until young adulthood.  I started coming out of my shell somewhat the last two years of high school, but was still kind of a lost puppy.  (Awww)  It’s okay. It got better.

Today, I still come across as reserved, and social anxiety does hold me back until I get to know people better, but the shyness and the fear are gone.  Physical lack of energy is a problem at times too, with sleep apnea and Crohn’s disease, but caffeine helps.  ha ha

I don’t resent any of the teasing I took in school because it actually did help push me to change. I realized after getting my associate’s degree in my early 20’s that I had played right into the teasing, making it all to easy. (Not saying it was my own fault.  Just saying I could have changed things.) I was also very alone in my two years at community college, for all the same reasons.  I had no problems with the intellectual aspects at all, but yet was completely burned out at the end.  It made me start analyzing.  Why was it so hard? To quote John Donne, “No man is an island”. I needed a support system. How does one build something you’ve never known? Where to start….

An epiphany came one day at the mall.  Maybe some of you remember the mall store called Deck the Walls.  They sold art and photo prints and the like.  I saw a small matted picture of a kitten looking into a mirror.  The text read “What matters most is how you see yourself”.  Reflected in the mirror, is a lion.  It really struck home, so I took it home.  I mean, after I paid for it, of course. I still have it as a reminder.

It made me see more clearly than ever how one’s persona is perceived by others as a reflection of your own inner image.  Confidence, satisfaction, contentment, happiness.  All things I lacked, therefore did not project.  What I got back from others was a direct correlation to what I was carrying and exuding, or not.

I was just coming into my own in my late 20’s when I hit some health problems.  Getting to work became all-consuming and I eventually had to take a break from it.  Then, I didn’t get much social contact, but things are going much better now.  I sometimes feel like I end up being put in that old “box”, where he’s the shy, quiet guy.  Or, my anxiety makes me feel uncomfortable and pushes people away.  (Nobody likes to feel uncomfortable.) The good news is, I feel like I’m ready to Bust That Box! (I believe I found the topic of my next post.)

Til then, keep going and keep growing!