Brené Brown: How To Be Less Critical (Huffington Post, 28 March 2014)
First, the bad news: If you have a fondness for snarky jabs — and believe me, most of us take pleasure in the occasional barb — this column might ruin your fun. The good news is that understanding how and why we judge others, and trading that judgment for a little empathy and self-compassion, can bring more joy to our lives, families and relationships.
Most of us don’t realize how often we judge: We gossip about our boss’s new boyfriend, we look down on our neighbors’ parenting — the list goes on. One way to become more aware of how we judge is to understand why: We’re often motivated by a need to compare ourselves favorably with the people around us. We tend to judge others in areas where we feel most vulnerable or not good enough. If I’m constantly worried about being a great mother, I might be quicker to look down on another mom who misses the school play. When a colleague recently rescheduled a meeting for the second time, I found myself rolling my eyes; I had no compassion to extend, because I was still beating myself up for flaking on a work event the week before. In these moments, we take unconscious refuge in the thought, “At least I’m better than someone.”
You might be wondering whether a little judginess is always a bad thing. After all, sometimes it’s really satisfying to point out that others are screwing up! But judgment kills empathy. And empathy is what fuels trust and intimacy. How can we walk in others’ shoes when we’re busy judging those shoes?
It starts with showing compassion for ourselves. Only when we feel comfortable with our own choices — and embrace our own imperfections — will we stop feeling the driving need to criticize others.
Be mindful. Be awake to what you’re thinking, feeling, and saying — and why. It might seem awkward at first, but the next time you feel judgmental, stop and ask yourself, “What’s really going on here?”
Change your inner monologue. When I canceled that work event, I told myself, “You’re a slacker. You’re not dependable.” Had I said, “Life happens, Brené,” I might have been more empathic when my colleague moved our meeting.
Make a pact with a friend or a family member. Declare a judgment-free week — or, if you’re feeling brave, a month. There will be long periods of silence; it’s a shocker when you realize how much “connecting” we do by talking about others. But asking someone you trust to join you will help keep you accountable — and help you change the subject.
– submitted by Leilani
Having been depressed before, I believe I will feel normal again, but in the meantime, it’s bloody rough going
I had last week off because I’m ill. I was going to say mentally ill, but I prefer just ill. It doesn’t sound like I could just think my way out of it.
This is my life now. I get up in the morning and the first thing I do is take my pills. They don’t work yet. It may take a couple of weeks, the doctor says. I hope it’s soon. I’ve torn my fingernails to painful shreds so it even hurts to type this. When did I even do that?
Life has been a bit of a blur, what with the lack of eating and sleeping. I have a thigh gap, for the first time in my life, but it’s not like I care. I no longer wear eye makeup, because well, it is only going to come off, even though I can only have secret cries because I don’t want to upset the children.
The car is good for a cry when I’m driving on my own and I quite like leaning on walls when I am at home alone.
Spotty the dog is dying of cancer, though – I give him his pills before mine, wrapped in a slice of Chesdale cheese – so I tell her that is why I’m sad. And sorry, I’m aware this will be an annoying column to all those readers who think newspapers should only be full of politics, crime and austere facts. You people can look away now, or go and clean your car with a toothbrush. Because although everyone says that there is no longer a stigma about talking about mental illness these days, there is. I feel a bit trepidatious writing this, and you know how much I overshare. But I figure there might be some other people out there, like me, who are also just waiting for the pills to work – thousands of them, actually. And like me, they might be putting on a show of being okay most of the time.
The other thing is that last week, after Robin Williams died, there was a debate online about what depression is. And it seems you have to have depression in the “right” way (can’t get out of bed, totally incapacitated, feeling nothing rather than the second order emotion of feeling sad). If you are managing to still do the online grocery shopping you can’t be depressed; it’s just middle-class brattism or executive sulking.
When someone says people grieve in their own way, it means someone is grieving like a dick. Actually depression comes in different guises. My psychiatrist says I have major depression with a mixed affective state. I have put up what’s called a manic defence, which means instead of lying in bed all day, I am agitated and with hypomania, reduced need for food and sleep; this is a futile attempt not to feel the desolation. If I stop, the darkness closes in.
“Action is the antidote to despair,” Joan Baez said, although she might not have been talking about folding washing. I have given up all the work stuff I used to do – university, being on the school board, all that – but I will keep writing this column with my ragged fingernails, as long as the editor will let me.
I’ve been depressed before and come out of it, so I’m holding on to my belief that I will feel normal again one of these days and won’t wake up every night crying. But the discussion around the death of Robin Williams was framed as if he had “lost his battle” with depression, as if depression was a fight you could win if you just tried hard enough. I sometimes think the opposite is true.
When I’ve been depressed before, I’ve come out of it only after I have stopped trying to fight it; stopped trying to numb myself with negronis; stopped fighting the aching truth of my circumstances, stopped intellectually trying to understand it. Look into the abyss. Lean in to the pain, welcome the hurt, loss is just change. You cannot make someone love you, cause others to change, expect the world to be fair or control what others say and do. Man, it’s just so bloody painful, though.
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• CASPER Suicide Prevention
• If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
Excellent helpful blog Therese Borchard
– by Deborah Cone Hill. Source (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/health/news/article.cfm?c_id=204&objectid=11310184) NZ Herald 18 August 2014.
Kiwis are one of the highest givers of their time through volunteering and helping others in the OECD. But we also have one of the highest incidences of suicide in the western world, and 20% of us experience a mental health issue at some time in our lives, according to the Mental Health Foundation.
Unfortunately, in this country, there is still quite a lot of negative stigma attached to those suffering a mental health condition, like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, panic attacks, phobias, post-traumatic stress, eating disorders and more. The push is on to banish the “shame”, shine a light on it, talk about it, and all help each other.
Kids can participate in by entering the official Mental Health Awareness Week colouring competition, closing 19 October, with the opportunity to win one of three $50 prezzy cards. Download at http://www.mhaw.nz
Have you got a habit you wish you didn’t have? Like too much gaming, internet, television, alcohol, exercise, sugar, chocolate, gossiping, being messy, texting during meetings, nail biting, talking, binge eating – the list is endless really, isn’t it. No one is perfect after all.
Let’s all support those participating in Stoptober (30 days to quit smoking) and try to give up our own addictions this Spring as well.
One of our most highly recommended books is “Stop smoking with CBT : the most powerful way to beat your addiction / Dr Max Pemberton” by a doctor who cured himself with a new method. There are other books about ceasing smoking or substance abuse or breaking habits . Good luck with your efforts, and remember…
It’s the thing you crave
When it’s all too much
Different for everyone
Their sweet release
Could be a person, place, or thing
Makes it all go away
The stress of the day
Weeks, months, years
You never know what’s going on
In people’s hidden lives
They deal in different ways
Who are we to judge? To have a say?
As the finale to Bee Aware Month, all are welcome to free talks by bee keepers in Dannevirke Library or Eketahuna Library!
Thursday 1 October at 2pm.
A familiar brand now with yellow and green trucks often seen despatching from home base in Takapau,
Dudley Ward established Kintail Honey in Dannevirke in 1947, and it has flourished as a family business ever since.
“Wayfaring Stranger” (2014) by James Lee Burke centres on Weldon Avery Holland and is a welcome addition to Burke’s stable of books, as it fills in some of the family history of his grandchildren, cousins Billy Bob and Hackberry Holland, who each have three and four books in their series respectively – one of whom lives in the same family home.
This is a lively and fascinating look at a different time and place in history, where oil fortunes were made and lost in southern USA. The story begins with a very young Weldon falling in love with Bonnie (of Bonnie and Clyde fame), when they trespass on his grandfather’s farm in an attempt to hide out from the law.
Commissioned as a second lieutenant in World War II, Weldon rescues concentration camp survivor Rosita from beneath a pile of bodies. Invalided home, Weldon is reunited with Sergeant Herschel Pine, who can smell oil in the ground – and who was so impressed with the quality of Nazi welding he saw in the war, he secures funding from oilmen to buy these machines for the pair to start their own oil company. But the sea of money is full of oil sharks, hell-bent on the destruction of little fish such as Weldon and Herschel.
Has Weldon’s grandfather raised him well enough so that his moral fortitude can withstand the onslaught, including the destruction of the woman he loves? It’s a great book, full of Burke’s wonderful poetry of the soul and the action fast-paced to keep you reading long into the wee small hours of the night. 4.5/5 (only because I get lost in the flowery prose sometimes)
Now for some interesting facts about James Lee Burke. Burke had his first book ‘The Neon Rain’ published in 1987, after much trial and error. Perseverance paid off as he won the Mystery Writers of the Year society’s ‘Edgar Allan Poe’ award for Best Novel of the Year in 1990 for ‘Black Cherry Blues’.
However, and continuing in the vein of Belinda Diepenheim encouraging other poets to get published, take heart when you learn that Burke, the best-selling author of 36 books, took five years to get his first novel, ‘Half of Paradise’, published. Then his second novel, unnamed, remains unpublished! Burke’s second published novel, ‘To the Bright and Shining Sun’ was first rejected by 14 publishing houses. But that’s not all: His fourth novel, and one I particularly enjoyed, ‘The Lost Get-Back Boogie’ was rejected 111 times and took nine years to be published.
Interested to know more about James Lee Burke? Link to an interview by John Connolly, also a best-selling novelist. http://www.johnconnollybooks.com/int_burke.php
And the final publication for the 2015 poetry competition, a poem by one of our two winners, Karen Rees, whose entry ‘Icy Cold Homes’ won.
PS: this poem received the most hits on our blog, from all the poems published this year!
Curled in timeless fluff of sodden stink the woman, too old for comfort,
Lies like a lemon, bitter and yellow, with sweet flesh rotting.
Smiles. ‘The flowers are nice, put them there’ –
No more for me stinks the old woman bitter in her dreams.
‘I want a bottle’ she whines whimpering in her age.
The son sits shining red, his face a mortal glow.
The lemon lady lies again ‘Do you know – what it’s like –
This stark sanitary box of white washer women and fever?’
Alarums. Rushing rivers of stink. The son sinks lower
In his redness. A bottle to fill, a mouth to scratch,
A tear to cool the red; a lemon to bitter her soul.
© Karen Rees (2015)
‘As the autumn leaves begin to fall I recall the summer of our innocence.
We laughed a little you & I; drinking up the superfluity of our youth.
I’d catch your eye & you’d smile at me.
We’d walk and talk as the sun went down.
Yet now with winter soon approaching; I find myself wondering where you are.
Near or far you remain close to this heart.
I guess we’ll meet again… in the summertime.’
© Michael J Maasch (2015)
Row on row, lines of men and verses
Standing up straight
Stiff and solemn
Intoning and reflecting.
Solemnity stealing away the present
And putting us all back in the past
Communing with the ghosts
Of past battles and the pain of strangers.
Aeternam habeas requiem
May you have eternal rest.
A day for prayer and God
Even for non-believers
For this day is not for soldiers
But for us and our own judgement day.
© Paula McCool (2015)
‘When the last vestiges of life
have all but disappeared… what then?
When the last tree
has shed the last of its leaves… what then?
The last tree? I am that tree.
Under a cold dawn sky I cry.
The last to witness the sun rise.
Yet who is there left to hear me?
Now that we’ve parted ways you & I.
Who is there left to lament these words?
Now that I remain… the last of my kind.’
copyright Mike Maasch
I broke your
I wore it to
You couldn’t go
It looked so
against my skin.
© Kerry August
Wash me in sunset colours
Of gold and burnt orange
Lilace blues and grandeur hues.
A twirl inside my mind
And the promise of you
Lie down with me
Amongst nature’s pillow
And breathe in the intoxication
Of yellow and purple petals
That surround my hair
Like garlands to excite
The aroma of you.
I’m in heaven.
© Oriana Walker
Life is such a mystery
In frustration one tries to find the key
to unlock the mystery
I throw a stone at the fruit tree
It throws back fruit to me.
I axe the trunk of the great Sandalwood
I did it harm not good.
I tread on the Camomile
It doesn’t complain or talk
Crushed and bruised it too
gives soothing perfume
To calm my stressful walk.
What lesson do I learn from this?
That life is not all bliss but love and love alone
Will cover a multitude of wrongful deeds
Ah! surely that must be the key.
© Nancy Bryne (2015)