Monday, July 28, 2008

Breaking bad habits; acquiring new ones

I am a communicator. It's what I do. Some days, it seems that I have verbal diarrhea. I just can't stop talking. Complaining. Processing. Emoting. I feel like if I hold it all in, I'll explode. For some reason, I think people care about my opinions, my feelings, my ideas. And maybe they do. Sometimes. But probably, more often than not, they don't care. And it is probably unreasonable for me to expect most people to be interested. Especially when I'm complaining. Even if it's complaining through sarcasm. Or with a grin spread across my face.

And I do feel that I complain. A lot. It's not that I want to be negative all the time. Truly, I don't. And most of the time my complaints come from a good intention. Something that I think needs to be changed or improved upon. It's just that I'm not so good at framing my thoughts. Instead of pointing out the way it could be fixed, I point out what's wrong. Instead of acknowledging the mostly good things that are happening in my life, I fixate on the bad.

I realize that this habit makes my life a lot unhappier than it has to be. And I realize, also, that it's not necessarily a bad thing to criticize or point out something wrong. So why do I feel guilty when I do it? And how can I break the habit of dwelling on the least awesome things in my life as opposed to the most? And how can I continue to get my ideas across, but be more positive about it?

There a few people in my life now who are a few years older than me. A few people who do a really good job making enemies at work. Or who are no fun to work with because everything is always wrong. A few people who are very set in their ways. Their very very negative ways. I might even go so far as to call them bitter. I hate working with them. And other people do, too. I see a bit of myself in them and worry... Is that my future? Is that the kind of person I'm going to be if I continue to be so... critical. And negative. And expressive.

I realize that I have all these faults. And that they don't make me the most fun person to be around, especially in a work environment. But apparently self awareness isn't enough. I need to move on to changing my thinking in a pretty fundamental way... How does one go about that?


No Grass Growin' Under Here said...

Apparently you've already taken your first step. You're questioning your selfawareness. Now make a conscience effort to be aware of your awareness. Does that make any sense. You should mail me, I miss talking with you.

louese said...

i had a similar problem, only mine was with anger and rational vs irrational thought. sounds a bit phycho, but it involved not only health issues, but being suspicious of peoples motives toward me. to recognize is the first step. NGG is correct, you need to be aware of your awareness. but, that's the journey.
miss you

Julie said...

Practice, practice, practice. I didn't really have the negative issue, but I do have the problem of just communicating constantly. I'm an extrovert. I process everything externally. When I'm with other extroverts that's fine, but when I'm surrounded by a group of introverts it is torture for them.

One of my bosses, a great mentor and a wonderful friend, said to me one day, "Julie, God has given you two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionally." It was an interesting thing to ponder.

I've had to learn in my life that not everyone wants to hear everything that I'm thinking at any given moment. So, I began to practice just not saying anything. I practiced it a lot. When I got better at not saying everything I was thinking, then I started practicing just saying some of the things - sort of a mental triage, 'is this worth contributing to the conversation?'. Some days I'm better at it than others, but you are at the first step, recognizing that there is something about you that you'd like to change.

Good luck.