Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Food for Thought... The Force of Habit

So, like I wrote of in my last post, my sister and I have some crazy conversations. Last Sunday's conversation involved crazy baby names and my deep need of getting my toenails painted. 

And as usual, we catch up on any emotional issues we're dealing with. I find that we can discuss things openly and honestly without judgment. And that is especially good for me because I rarely talk about whatever goes on in my head and heart. And she always affords an interesting perspective, and vice versa.  

So she was telling me about this teacher who is extremely negative. Absolutely no one wants to deal or interact with her. And from what I understand, it is difficult to even have teacher meetings because this woman's negativity gets in the way (to the point of storming out the room). Sigh.   

My sister is the poker face champ. She's the family diplomat and can deal with anything. But I told her, once she turns 30 or abouts, uh... that's going to start changing. And a few weeks ago, she said concerning some family situations... "Lisa, I'm learning that I have choices now. I choose what I deal with or not."

Doggone skippy you do, honey. That's been my mantra for the last 10 years. I ain't dealing with you unless I'm being helpful or being helped. I am more interested in being helpful. That's my barometer with people these days. 

She is great at dealing with difficult people. Me? Not so much. But the prospect of dealing with this teacher...  I could tell it was something that just upset her something horrible. 

I myself had been praying about this, this learning to deal with difficult people. Normally it means changing one's own ways in order to accommodate or compensate for the person's personality. I was having a little trouble with this at work. I'm alright for a moment, but not years and years. But I gotta work with folks.  My passive aggressiveness usually garners me much room to breathe. I rarely toss it up with people. I find it easier to allow you to think I am angry with you... or that I'm just a little bit "touched". Just enough so that you will not come mess with me. And that is fine with me. 

I find that folks tend to prey on the nice people. I like to make certain folks think that I may or may not be nice. 

But I don't really care to be like that. That's not who I am inside. I wanna be the nice person that I am. And I don't want to have to watch people. I don't want to watch what I say around people. THAT exasperates me. I know plenty of people who are extremely likable and  everyone likes them.... but at the same time, they are the most exasperated and mentally worn out people I know.  I don't want that for my life.

Back to my sister... I told her, "You know, I had been praying about this, and I got the most interesting answer. And for some reason, it lifted the heaviness of it off my mind.I'm thinking about it and peeling it like an onion. I'll probably be thinking about it for a long time."

"Really? What's that?" she said.  Our ears perk up when we discuss our prayer lives and answers.  

"People are good people.  The problem is that people are under the forces of habit."


I don't know where I was when I got that answer. No, I ain't one of them "on my knees" praying type of folks.  I get on my knees to get stuff out from under the bed. That's about it. I pray while crocheting, while driving, while folding clothes, while washing dishes... stuff like that. I do remember thinking, "What does that mean?"... and then writing it down somewhere. It is a simple statement. I wrote it down because I may come across it while reading some strange less talked about book of the Bible. (Yeah, I 've come across answers that were actual scripture before... months or years later). 

I did look up the word habit. Two definitions peaked my interest:

habit: a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality; an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has almost become involuntary. 

"People are under the forces of habit, Kentucky," I said. "I have come to the conclusion that that means that people have some seriously negative habits.  And those habits become such incredibly strong forces, so strong to the point where they negatively and grossly impact anyone and everything they come in contact with."

"Okay," she said. 

"And on the flip side of that, people have some wonderfully good habits. Habits that become such strong forces in that they are not only good for themselves, but they are good and are a blessing to everyone around them."

I had been thinking on that for a few weeks.  And it causes me to see people a little different. Especially those with noticeably bad habits.  

Why? Because I have begun to realize that people's idiosyncrasies have nothing to do with ME.  

Just like mine have nothing to do with them. Their personality quirks and habits are theirs, and mine are mine.


People are good people.

That in itself caused me to lighten up on taking things personally. I have a bad problem with that, this taking things personally. Sorry, but 9 times out of 10, no one is out to get me. They just got some deep rooted mess going on, and they are lashing out at everyone. 

Most of the people we deal with are "good people". They're not out robbing stores, taring up stuff, not killing folks or stealing your stuff.  You know, they're not doing things that we consider "bad" per se.

They just got janky habits. Habits that are personality deep. So my sister's coworker teacher has a habit of being negative. This didn't just start just yesterday.  The woman has probably been that way for years. That negativity probably started in childhood somewhere, as much emotional baggage does. And that habit she has has become a stronghold in her personality, and it has turned into a force... an emotional hurricane of sorts. It has breath and depth and strength. It's intense, violent and powerful. And it has become such an incredible force that it knocks over the emotions of anyone they come in contact with. 

And then we get over into some far out issues. People who get delusional and actually think something is wrong with everyone else because they aren't like them. They even tend to start getting with people who have the same mindset and habits they have (read: cliques), and then you have a whole nother animal on your hands. Then we get over into control issues.

(Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: "People who can't control their emotions will  make an all out attempt to control the emotions of those around them.") 


"Yeah, that's true," Kentucky said. 

"When someone acts out like that, you are seeing the tip of the iceberg.  There is something more going on down beneath the surface than what you are seeing. All that stuff got some roots to it. But you have to remember that the person is a good person. They just have problems."

Now, with myself and my sister, our problem is that we have an extremely negative mother. Me? I don't fool with Mother unless I absolutely have to (Man, I don't even fool with people who remind me of my mother. I don't do deal with toxicity voluntarily). My sister deals with her, but she's exasperated. I do my best to try to help her navigate that relationship because I know she really wants it to work. If she needs to talk about it with me, we talk. I'm objective, with the goal of remaining positive. I support whatever Kentucky needs to do emotionally. But she has to understand that with that getting along with Mother comes a certain amount of exasperation. And she has to deal with it.

But don't forget to remember that Mother is a good person. That is key. I too have to remember that.

And it's the first thing I think when dealing with folk that rub me the wrong way: that's a good person, first and foremost. And for whatever strange reason, that gives me some peace and solace. And it has under girded my compassion and patience. And that's a good thing. 

I'm glad my sister's first thought was to pray about it. She has the most interesting prayer life and record of things turning around super fast in her favor. It is really amazing. And she doesn't have to co-teach with this teacher. She found that out the next morning. She was relieved. I was too. And I'm sure it strengthened her faith when it comes to going to God and trusting Him with her issues. 

"This is why I tell you to work on yourself. Get brutally honest with yourself. If you know you have a problem, and admit it to yourself, that in itself is a good start to winning over it. Many don't even know they have problems, and their problems are affecting others. And you want to affect others in a positive way... not be a bad oozing infection on someones life."

She seems to have taken that to heart. She works on herself. I too work on myself. 

We are good people. We ourselves have to remember that also.

My late grandfather told me one time that it was okay to have bad habits and addictions and such. As long as you aren't affecting the lives of others in the process. 

That's impossible. 

He told me that when I was in my 20s. I think of that often. I don't want to affect anyone in a bad way. I have kept that in mind over the years. Whether it be substance abuse or something as intangible as negativity, I don't want that thing to become a force where it is hurtful to others. 

So I hope you were able to grab a little something from this food-for-thought. It has layers and layers to it. I think of my life in 3 to 6 month intervals. I would love to write up some other interesting answers I've gotten to prayers that have really freed my mental up a bit, but I think it's a bit too deep, and probably just for me. Some things are just difficult to explain without writing a dissertation on it. 

But I hope that was useful. My sister found it useful, an interesting perspective. 

I hope you did too.

(Don't forget to comment for a chance to win the $77 gift card and other fabulous cash and prizes. See 7th Bloggaversery post for details).  


  1. Honey, you were dabbling all up in my life with this one!
    I was able to get rid of road rage because, I simply stopped taking it so personal. They weren't out to cut ME off. They aren't driving a certain way to get at ME. Once I came to that realization the rage stopped.
    I'm like you, I don't like to deal with toxic folks...negative people. I have one brother that I had to stop communicating with because every single thing was negative and destructive to the family. Sometimes, you just gotta love folks from a distance.
    I try to work on myself daily. Some days are better than others but, at least I'm in the game.
    Great post.

  2. This wasn't a dissertation? Just kidding. With your prolific self.

    This was a great food for thought and it has given me ideas for a post of my own. When we are able to begin with the thought: People are good ... then everything else should be relatively easy.

  3. @chele... Babes, this post could've stretched out to about FOUR times the current length. Trust, this is VERY abbreviated. Seems to unfold a little bit more with each passing day.

    I think what you said is key: When we are able to begin with a THOUGHT. The thought is that people are good.

    My thoughts have usually begun with "Aww hell! Here comes this @$^#$%^%* here! UGH!"

    LOL. NOT a good look. I am much better now.

    @ali... Someone said something about toxicity of people in a comment to one of my post several years ago. I took it to heart, and it has not steered me wrong. Stay away from toxic people. And most importantly, don't be toxic your ownself. And it has made a WORLD of difference. At least there is more room in my life for nontoxic folks!

    I try to work on myself too, hon. Imagine, after days, weeks, months and years of trying to work on yourself, progress is made. Whether we can tell or not. We are inching forward towards our internal goals.

  4. I loved this post bc it is the TRUTH !! You can only really control yourself and who you allow to have active part in your life. Positive peeps in and neg peeps out!!

  5. "Lisa, I'm learning that I have choices now. I choose what I deal with or not."

    Man, Kentucky said a mouth fill right here. I learned this years ago and but don't get it when I have a choice to do or deal with something. My sister and I bump heads about this often.

    Another thing that grab my attention...when you said you aren't the "on my knees" praying type. I'm not either. I rarely get on my knees when I pray. I pray while I'm just sitting, driving, doing housework, etc.

  6. "Lisa, I'm learning that I have choices now. I choose what I deal with or not."

    Man, Kentucky said a mouth fill right here. I learned this years ago and but people don't get it when I say I have a choice to do or deal with something. My sister and I bump heads about this often.

    Another thing that grab my attention...when you said you aren't the "on my knees" praying type. I'm not either. I rarely get on my knees when I pray. I pray while I'm just sitting, driving, doing housework, etc.

  7. Ahh I like this. And the answer to Kentucky's prayer amazing.

    Thanks again for such a thought provoking post.

  8. You know what?!?!?!?
    That is ALL!

  9. People are good people. The problem is that people are under the forces of habit."

    "Lisa, I'm learning that I have choices now. I choose what I deal with or not."

    These two things stuck out the most to me .. Nothing but the truth !!

  10. "This is why I tell you to work on yourself. Get brutally honest with yourself."

    This is something Im starting to do.I know there are a lot of issues I need to work on... :/



Slap the *crickets* out the way, kindly step up to the mike, and SAY something!!