People often seem to think they are unhappy because of things they can't do or don't have. Lately I have realized that probably about 99% of the time people are unhappy because of things they ARE doing; things they can change. They religiously visit their ex's facebook profile or cyberstalk people who drive them crazy. They listen to music that makes them depressed. They eat horribly and hurt their bodies (which actually has a MUCH bigger effect on your mood than you might guess). I think people would find themselves a lot happier if they would STOP doing certain things.
Recently I realized that I spent a lot of time stressing about the future. My husband and I have just signed a fifteen month lease on our one bedroom apartment. We have completed one month of that lease. We are not going anywhere for awhile, and we are definitely not looking to buy a house, at least not any that are on the market right now. Yet I have been driving myself crazy on realtor.com looking at houses, calculating mortgage payments, worrying about how we will pay the bills when we have a house, etc, etc. I have also been worrying about how we will support a child. I am not pregnant, and we are not trying to have a baby. We do not plan to have a baby for at least another year. ASIDE from the fact that I am not pregnant, not trying to get pregnant, and will not be for some time, with Jacob's income we would be perfectly capable of supporting one even if I were. And yet here I sit, stressing myself out about how we will support a family in however many years.
That is something I had to stop doing. When I realized that I was stressing myself out over things that I can not control (and are completely irrelevant) right now, I tried to isolate the behaviors that were encouraging this stress. These were behaviors like going to realtor.com and researching houses. And...online shopping in general. When I go online shopping, I am usually not looking to buy anything anyway. I just want to make a mental list of things that I want. I didn't realize that this was making me feel extremely discontent until I decided to stop doing it so much. Since I have stopped doing these things, my mood has been immensely improved. I don't think there's anything wrong with visualizing the future...in fact I still do that ALL the time. But when I visualize I don't get into specifics. I don't worry about the details. I don't think about things like paying bills and buying diapers. I imagine the happy things in my future.
Friday, January 25, 2013
Recently I've been watching "Parks and Recreation," which is a hilarious, "The Office" style show that is centered around a small town called Pawnee in Indiana and its parks and recreation branch of local government. The main character on the show is a deputy director named Leslie Knope. She is a very loveable, funny woman who also happens to be a feminist whose dream is to one day be the first female president of the United States. When many of you hear the word "feminist," it's likely that you get an image of an angry (possibly hairy) woman in the streets waving a sign with some snarky line about equality, but that's radical feminism, not feminism. Feminism is simply the belief that men and women should be treated equally...equal opportunity, equal respect, etc. Men can be feminists just as easily as women. The character Leslie Knope, as I said before is a gentle, kind-hearted woman who genuinely cares about the people around her.
In the show, Leslie is described again and again as a "powerful woman." Lately it's had me wondering what exactly a "powerful woman" is, and whether or not I am a powerful woman. While analyzing the character of Leslie Knope and some of the other examples of powerful women in my life, I began to realize that they all have one thing in common: they serve people constantly. And not only do they serve people, but they put others first. In an argument, they consider the other person's feelings. To a powerful woman, it is not always about being right, but about what is right for that relationship. When I established this criteria, I asked myself if I am a powerful woman. Sadly, my conclusion is that I am not. For a long time I have mistaken assertiveness and self-defensiveness for power. This belief has made me whiny, self-indulgent, and rude. My poor husband has gotten the short end of the stick because of it, being the self-sacrificial, wonderful (powerful) person he is. Don't get me wrong, I am not always just blatantly selfish. I think of my husband and his feelings a lot. But when I don't get what I want, I can be very childish about it, even if it was my decision to let it go. I defend what I believe to be my rights aggressively, and hate anything that I perceive to be a challenge to them. I am not a powerful woman.
Thankfully, the first step to change is knowing there's a problem, and it is a new year, and a new day. This year I plan to learn to serve others (particularly my wonderful husband) in any way possible; to learn not to perceive everything as a threat, and to sometimes put my feelings on the back-burner in order to care for the feelings of someone else. This year, I want to become a powerful woman.
Just my thoughts for the day=)