The Sins of the Parents

When I was researching the phrase “The sins of the father are the sins of the sons” for this blog, I found two possible origins: the Bible, or William Shakespeare (depending on whether or not you believe in either).  Regardless of where it stemmed from, I’ve never liked the phrase.  When I first heard it, I interpreted it to mean that whatever “wrongs” a parent does, the child will have to pay for.  And later in life, I found that it could also mean the habits and idiosyncrasies of a parent will likely pass down to the child.  Neither interpretation is happy: with the former, the offspring would have to “pay” for their parents’ choices . . . and with the latter the offspring doesn’t have the free will to be his/her own person.

But some things have come up in my life recently that tell me the second meaning is probably more true than I wanted to believe . . .

In doing the research on Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), I learned that quite often children from parents with NPD can develop NPD traits as well.  This happens because those children grow up feeling neglected and insecure and those two things often transform into narcissism.  It’s a vicious cycle that began with some ancestor several generations back and keeps moving forward until someone breaks the cycle.

Ever since this discovery, I’ve been on the lookout for narcissistic behavior in myself and have been trying to change my reactions to people or circumstances accordingly.  But I’ve recently discovered that I exhibit one of my mother’s behaviors more than I was aware of . . . jumping to the wrong (often bad) conclusions.  This happens especially in conjunction with trying to be in contact with certain people, namely my brother and Athena (my step-daughter).  Both of them tend to be not as responsive as I would like.  If I text or call one of them, I might not hear back from them for hours or even a day or two.  This then feeds into an insecurity that maybe I’ve done or said something recently that upset them and they’re “punishing” me for it.

This sort of a reaction is bad on a couple of counts.  First, it implies that these people have nothing better to do than wait around for a call or text from me.  Second, it’s my ego inserting itself saying that I’m somehow important enough to said person that they would take time out of their day to be so bothered by some random thing I might say or do that they would deliberately ignore me.

My own life is incredibly busy right now and I don’t have time to speak with my own friends as often as I would like to.  So, I’m probably not as communicative as they might like right now either.  But hopefully they don’t jump to a conclusion that I’m upset with them.  And I need to remind myself of the same thing with regards to other people who don’t get back to me right away.

Another trait from my mother that I apparently (unfortunately) picked up is correcting people’s thoughts or words.  This one bothers me the most right now, because I used to HATE when she did it to me when I was younger . . .

Often, when I would say a word that my mother didn’t like, she would “correct” the word when she responded to me.  For instance, if I talked about how “weird” it was that someone didn’t like mushrooms, she would correct me and say “It’s certainly ‘different.'”  She did this because she thought the word “weird” meant “bad.”  To me, it was simply another way to say “different,” but because it made her uncomfortable, she wouldn’t say the word.  She has lots of euphemisms that she did this with, and each time she did it, I felt like I was getting a subtle message that the words I used were “wrong,” or “bad,” or that there was something wrong with me for using them.

Well unfortunately I’ve apparently started that myself (grrr).  In trying to better my life, I follow things like The Secret that talk about how your outlook on things will change your perception.  It’s like the proverbial glass . . . some people see it as half-full, while others see it as half-empty.  And the thought is that those who see the positive in a situation will continue to see positive things in their lives.

Anyway, Craig will sometimes say things that sound more like a negative spin than a positive one, and I’ve apparently started correcting him to put a positive spin on it.  He recently brought it to my attention and–knowing how badly it made me feel when my mom did it to me–I apologized profusely to him.  Analyzing myself, I understand that I was doing so because I want to make sure I continue to see things in a positive light, but it doesn’t excuse my behavior.  He’s not wrong for phrasing things the way he does, and I need to stop doing things that make him feel like he is wrong (inadvertent though they might be).

I suppose seeing these things in myself can help me to understand my own mother’s behavior a little better, and not be so mad about it, but right now I’m still in the “I can’t believe I’m turning into my mother” phase of acceptance.

Thanksgiving 2015

It’s been a couple of years since I wrote up a blog outlining what I’m thankful for, but I think it’s high time I do it again.

I’m thankful for all the successes I’ve had this year:

Exhibiting at AOC again
Selling some of my photography pieces through an art fair
Booking my first audio book gig as a narrator

This year has seen me make strides in my chosen careers, and I plan to have those trends continue into 2016 and beyond.

I’m also thankful for all the struggles that happened this year:

Craig’s broken collar-bone
Me learning I have Hashimoto’s Disease
Work-related stress-induced health issues
Craig’s second motorcycle accident
Various other stressors

True, it would’ve been nice if they hadn’t ALL  happened in one year, but I made it through each and every one of them, and have come out the other side a stronger person.  Plus, I can’t help but feel like all of these have been gearing me up for some exciting stuff to come.

I’m grateful that I have a very good-paying job, located just 5 miles from home, so I have an easy commute and can afford to have a very nice lifestyle, including travel to new and exciting places.

Purrbot - 022I’m grateful for our newest kitty, Bot (short for Purrbot).  We got her in February, and she’s adorable and very sweet.

I’m incredibly grateful for my husband, Craig, who has helped me grow over the years, and allows me the space to continue to grow.  His support, love, and companionship are wonderful assets that I cherish every single day.

I’m thankful for this year’s birthday trip to Alaska.  The gorgeous scenery will stay with me for quite a while . . . and with you, if we ever get around to editing all the photos we took.

I’m grateful for my step-daughter, Athena.  It’s wonderful to see her growing into a fine, young woman, and I’m glad we get to enjoy her as much as we do.

I’m thankful for my friends and family.  It’s nice to know there are people who will always be there for you, even if you don’t talk with them all the time.

I’m sure there are other things that I’m missing right now, but believe me, I do show my appreciation for them when they pop up in my life.  That’s one thing I truly believe about The Secret: the more gratitude you show for the good things in your life, the more good things you’ll see in your life.  You draw it to you like a magnet, because that’s what you’re thinking about.

I’d like to wish all of you out there (and your families) a very Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope your celebrations produce wonderful memories, and warm fuzzies.

A Shift in Focus

It’s funny what a shift in focus can do to your outlook.

Craig and I have been dealing with quite a lot of stress lately.  I’m not going to go into detail about them, because 1)  I don’t want to depress you; and 2)  I don’t want to depress myself again.

What I will tell you is that these stresses–when taken individually–would be nothing more than a minor annoyance to be dealt with.  However, when you have ten or more of them piling on, and you feel like you don’t have enough breathing space to deal with even one of them . . . well, let’s say “annoyed” is no longer a strong enough word to describe how we’ve been feeling of late.

As a result of all this stress, I came in to work this week, grumpy, sullen and exhausted.  But, because I’m a believer in The Secret, and that we’re all powerful enough to shape our destiny, I knew that I’d have to do some changing to my attitude if things were going to start looking up.  However, I wasn’t sure how to do that, because–as I’m sure you all know–it’s not easy to change your attitude when you’re stuck in the quagmire of exhaustion and grumpiness.  All you want to do is wallow in the nasty feelings, and throw a pity party.  And there is a time and place for wallowing and pity parties, but I personally had gotten sick of the one I was throwing myself.

So I went to the website of the philosophy that I’ve come to truly appreciate, hoping to find some inspiration from The Secret.  We have the video at home, but as I said, I was already at work.  Thankfully I was able to find something there that spoke to me.

Right on the front page was a link, titled “The Secret: Daily Teachings.”  And clicking on it brought up a virtual book of 365 things I can do (one each day) to help me get on track and stay on track with what I know will help me live in harmony with the Universe and what I truly want in life.  The first thing that the book suggested was to write out a list of 100 things that I’m grateful for, every day.

I’ll be honest, my first reaction was “100!  You gotta be kidding!” because–as was already established–I wasn’t in the best of moods.  But I knew I wanted to change my thought processes, so I decided to give it a go.  The first few things I wrote were simple, like “I’m grateful that everyone at work is traveling this week, so I can sit here and be a grumpy bear,” but after a few minutes, I started seeing more and more things to be grateful for.  And, I kid you not, within an hour, my attitude changed.  I was still tired, but I wasn’t grumpy anymore, and I kept adding to that list all day.

Things that would seem innocuous, like “I’m grateful that I’m healthy,” or “I’m grateful that my hair is so soft,” truly helped me see just how many wonderful things I have going on in my life.  Will the softness of my hair eliminate all the recent stress from my life?  Maybe not directly, but by focusing on the great (or even “just” good) things I’ve got going on, all the things that were bumming me out earlier seemed to go down a few notches on the annoyance scale.

I set a reminder for myself at work each day and have put things on the list each day.  There are definitely repeating gratitudes, but I also often thought of new things to add daily, so I wasn’t just reciting the same things over and over; not that that’s a bad thing, mind you.  If all you can think to say is “I’m grateful that I’m alive,” hey, that’s an awesome thing to be grateful for.

It really is funny how a simple shift in what you focus on can alter how you see your world.  That’s not to say that all the stressors leave right away just because you focus on the good things in your life, because they probably won’t.  But they can appear to be smaller annoyances if you choose to focus on the good things instead of the bad ones.

And besides, isn’t it a happier experience to remember all the great stuff in your life?

If you want to see some more wonderful proof of how gratitude can help you have a happier outlook on life, check out this video from Upworthy.com:

Upworthy

Follow Me on Blog Catalog

Philosophy Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory