I was afraid that my friend Clare wasn’t interested in our friendship anymore cuz she would give me vague responses in our conversations. I told her what I observed and asked if she was happy with our friendship. She said that it’s taking time for her to get used to being back in contact, since I was still a minor when we were last in touch, and to gauge how to relate to me now that I’m older. Her responses have been vague cuz she prefers to talk about books that she has read, and I’ve talked a lot about books that I’ve read. I offered to read books that she has read so that we can discuss them in a way that’s more comfortable for her. She sent me the link to her Good Reads account so that I can follow what she’s reading. I’m glad that I tried to find out what she was thinking instead of giving up out of discouragement. I understand now that she needs some time to process, and I’m glad that we figured out a way to discuss books that works for both of us.
My friend Clare has been saying things like “I guess,” or “I don’t know” in conversations, which makes me worried that she’s not engaged in the friendship. I also don’t feel like I’ve gotten to know her much from our conversations, even though she keeps agreeing to schedule instant messaging sessions with me every month (she lives in another city). I just messaged her to let her know what I observed and ask if she’s happy with our friendship/communication. I’m really nervous cuz I’m making myself vulnerable. Every time I’ve done that before with anyone besides my parents, the person hasn’t cared enough to talk things out with me. They always drop me when I do this. I’ve been criticized for using a direct and sincere style of communication. People have told me that our friendship isn’t a priority for them. Exes have brought up how mean they’ve been to me and told me that they’d rather break up than treat me better. I don’t understand why I get a cold reception from people when I’m warm and transparent with them. I feel alone and wonder if I’ll ever have good relationships in my life besides my parents, kitty, and therapist.
At my last session with my therapist, I mentioned that I had read about personality in the book Psychology for Dummies. She had me take an online personality test to build on that. One thing that my results said was that I’m altruistic. She said, “If things in your life were different, you’d be out there saving the world right now.”
What she said makes me wonder if I’m not doing enough to help others. I thought that blogging was a good way to help others, but maybe it doesn’t have enough of an impact. I’ve wanted to do more even since before she said what she did. Some ideas that I’ve had include joining the care team at my church, doing volunteer work, or running a support group. Also, when I’m ready, I’d like to go back to school to become a therapist.
I talked to my mommy about what my therapist said. My mommy said that there’s no way to know if that’s true. She said that even if my life had gone better, I might still have had to take a break from school/working cuz of a genetic predisposition to mental illness. Her theory makes sense to me.
However, I also think that I might’ve been able to do more by now if things had gone differently, like my therapist said. For example, if my daddy had treated me better, I would’ve had a lot less stress in my life. His constant, heatedly expressed anger was one of the contributing factors that lead to my mental breakdown towards the end of my first attempt at college.
I’m sad for myself and the other people that I would’ve helped by now that I haven’t done more.
One thing that just came to mind, though, is that, bit by bit, I’m laying a foundation for helping others in the future. Even if nobody finds Oasis Charm helpful, this blog has been good for my mental health by giving me a place to process my thoughts, feelings, and the lessons I’ve been learning, which will put me in a better position to help others. I’ve been doing a lot of research about mental health, and psychology in general, which I can apply to my career when I become a therapist. I’m not doing much now, but I think the time will come when there will be more depth to my contributions. A good analogy would me a Pokemon like Bulbasaur doing a Solar Beam attack, first gathering energy from the sun before unleashing a powerful blast. I’ve had major setbacks, such as not being able to start understanding basic social skills till recently (a few years into adulthood), but I’ve decided to have compassion for myself instead of beating myself up about it.
Now I’m trying to use my empathy skill. I have a long history with my therapist of her supporting me. I don’t think that intended for me to feel bad about myself when she made that comment. She may actually have been trying to reassure me that it’s not my fault that I haven’t done more to help others. Yes, I prefer the positive interpretation. It’s kinder both to her and to myself.
Writing this article has helped me process how I feel about her comment and how I’ll incorporate into how I see myself. I feel better now.
In the past, when I didn’t like how someone was treating me, I often responded by lashing out, such as by calling the person an asshole. In this post, I talk about what I learned about dealing with conflict recently from a book I read.
From now on, I’ll be kind to people regardless of whether they’re kind or unkind to me. I used to have a spiteful side, but now, I think differently.
If someone is unkind to me, and I’m unkind back, they’ll retaliate to my retaliation and it’ll keep going in an endless cycle. If someone is unkind to me, and I’m kind to them, my actions can likely deescalate the conflict. Also, the person may be inspired to be more kind in the future.
Here are some of the goals I’ve set for being kinder when I’m angry:
- Don’t call the person a name.
- Keep the tone and volume of my voice calm.
- If the person is acting out cuz of an unmet need, and if I feel up to it, I can try to negotiate with them to meet their need.
- If I don’t feel up to engaging, I can remove myself from the situation.
I feel happier and healthier now that I’ve changed the way I react to conflicts. I hope to contribute to making a world a more peaceful place with my new mindset and actions.
The book Nonviolent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg, has already made an enormous impact on my life, even though I only read it a few days ago. The techniques I’ve learned have made it easier for me to get along with my daddy, who I currently live with. I no longer live in dread of having another messy conflict with him.
At the core of the book is a four step process:
- Observe the person’s behavior and whether it has a positive or negative affect on you (Rosenberg 6).
- Identify how you feel about the behavior (Rosenberg 6).
- Identify the need under your feeling (Rosenberg 6).
- Share your observation, feeling, and need with the person, and request an action that will meet your need (Rosenberg 6).
It’s also important to be willing to receive the same information from another person (Rosenberg 6). The book is full of stories that show how the process works. I think that the examples are somewhat unrealistically formal, but you can get the basic idea from them. I recommend this book to anyone who needs help dealing with conflicts or getting their needs met.
Rosenberg, Marshall B. Nonviolent Communication. PuddleDancer Press, 2015. Print.