Care – But Not Too Much

Lions

Yes. I know. How can you care too much? That’s a very good question which I hope to answer.

Consider a pride of lions. Each member is concerned with the welfare of his or her family. But he or she would also walk away if the circumstances dictated. If one of the pride was to die, he or she would have no worries about eating it. Not that I’m suggestion eating our friends, of course!

One of the best ways to find peace in our lives is to give of ourselves. Look around you. How many people are smiling? What about you? Are you smiling? Life, today, can be very hectic, leading to stress, misery, and ill health. In my previous post, Be Yourself – or Change, I mentioned that one way to change for the better involves taking an interest in other people. In The Power of Two I highlighted that we can all benefit from a trusted confidante.

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Be Yourself – Or Change

Actors in the ancient Greek theatres would use masks to portray different characters. Even today, the international symbol for theatres is a pair of masks, one happy, one sad. The ancient Greek word for actor was hypokrites. It came to refer to one playing false, or putting on a pretense. It’s where we get the English word hypocrite.

The problem with trying to be something or someone else is that we are never going to be comfortable with the role. The best way to get comfortable is simply to be yourself; no pretense; no masks, no hypocrisy. Just be yourself. It is the most natural thing for us.

Of course, it’s always possible that we don’t like the person that we have become. Notice: The person that we have become. This is deliberate. We may have experienced a traumatic upbringing. Maybe our parents were always arguing. Or maybe we were surrounded by people with characteristics that we cannot respect. Maybe our learned behaviour leaves a lot to be desired.

If we learned that behaviour, we can learn new behaviour. We can change. If we have become that person, we can become someone else. But we have to be genuine in this. No masks. No pretense. No hypocrisy.

“But,” you may ask, “Where do I begin?”

A good place to start is your bed. Yes. Your bed. Before getting out of bed each morning, spend a few minutes calming your breathing. Then meditate (think deeply) about a time when you were not happy with your interaction with a close friend; it might even be your partner, parents, children, or siblings. Now. In what way could you have acted differently, or what could you have said differently, that would allow you to look back on that interaction with pleasure? How can you change to make you happier with yourself?

Notice that these changes are in the way that you behave. You cannot change other people. If there are to be changes, it’s up to you to make them.

The problem with this, of course, is that if we were raised to believe that the best way to solve issues was through confrontation, we may not even realise that we have a problem. We may feel uncomfortable in our interactions, but not know why.

If you have this feeling, have the courage to ask for help. Seek out the experience of someone else; preferably a trusted friend who has been through the process of change. Learn from their experience. If they are genuine, they will be more than happy to support you as you change.

This brings us to another way to change. It involves our interest in others. But that’s a discussion in its own right.