Posts Tagged With: criticism

when wit turns mean

I have love, compassion, and kindness in my heart, but biting sarcasm coming out of my mouth.

What does it look like when wit turns mean?
Can one be of dry wit with the perfect bit of snark without crossing over to critical, hurtful, sarcasm?
Being playful, is that little bit of snarky humor without being unkind?

These are the questions I’m asking myself today.

Now, you may be aware of this quote.

I mean, come on, we have to admit Oscar Wilde was witty.
What interests me about this particular quote is I’m actually inclined to agree. Sarcasm, not super witty. But those who wield sarcasm are quite possibly using their intelligence, and instincts to point out what they observe about the world around them.
The more ‘intelligent’ (intuitive, instinctive, aware) you are the more you observe. The more you observe the more you understand. The more you understand the more you remark upon. The more you remark upon the more critical you can become.
That makes a kind of sense to me.

YBW and I were having a conversation with our therapist about helping each other feel safe. This kind of morphed into a discussion about him being butthurt (he used this word, I’m not being intentionally hurtful) when I’m “being myself” and saying whatever thing I’m thinking or feeling. Actually, it isn’t as much my words as it is my facial expressions.
Apparently when I think I’m making a “You sure about that?” face, what actually appears is a disapproving look.

This ‘face situation’ happens with positive emotions too. If I’m happy, y’all will know it!
(and that’s why I don’t play poker)
Most of what shows on my face and comes out of my mouth does not reflect what’s actually happening in my brain. Meaning, oftentimes what I’m actually thinking is much more kind than what my face shows.

According to Clifford N Lazarus Ph.D., sarcasm is really just hostility disguised as humor.

Am I hostile?!?
Do I attempt to mock or show contempt?!?
Do I honestly think I’m better than other people?
(Let’s be real, I am better than some people. I mean, for the most part I am a helpful, productive member of society. That said, am I walking the walk that matches the talk I’m talking?)
Here’s my truth.
I honestly have love and kindness and compassion in my heart.
When I say my intention is to do everything in love. It’s not bullshit. I’m as serious and I can possibly be.
I believe in the power of kindness. The power of compassion. The power of love.
They’re our super powers!

So why is that not reflected in what my mouth spews?
Why is it I can express my love, my kindness, my devotion a thousand million times, but the three times I express something like, “Don’t be stupid.” that’s what becomes internalized? When I say, “Don’t be stupid.” It’s not that I actually think the subject, or person, or whatever is stupid, I’m jut saying something off the cuff, something that to me means more like, “That’s a silly thing.” And mostly I mean it in a playful way.
Which leads us to intention.
For the most part, my intention is to just be “stupid” myself, by saying or doing something off the cuff. Off the cuff means I’m not putting any thought into it.
Not. Putting. Any. Thought. Into. It.
Whoa!
I’m not being mindful. I’m just saying whatever comes into my mind as fast as it comes.

I’m not hostile! (well, sometimes I am) I’m simply not paying attention. I’m not being mindful.
Words can and do hurt.
Dry wit is funny.
Snark can be funny.
Sarcasm is hurtful.

I don’t understand why I’m just now realizing that.
I learned that meanness as a small child. I learned that was how you communicate. My mother was more sarcastic than I could ever dream of being! But she was hostile. And she was chock-full of contempt.
I didn’t know. I didn’t know then what I know about her now.
I didn’t know that being mean was not the way I should treat people.
Only, I didn’t know it was mean. I thought that was how people who loved each other functioned.

Oh, I’m not making excuses, I understand that sometimes sarcasm sounds unkind.
What I’m really understanding for the first time is that my intentions and my actions are at odds.
I have much work to do.
I want my intentions and actions to become much more cohesive.
I’m journaling my ass off getting ready for my appointment with my own therapist next week.

I’ve been fighting to reach perfection my entire life!
Perfection is the big lie!
Being critical of others might make one feel perfect…but perfection isn’t truly achievable.
Being the best possible you is the only thing you can really strive for.

Damn.
It’s true what they say about learning something new each day. Kinda wish I’d known all this a bit sooner though.
I’m not entire finished with this thought process. There’s more to it. I’m going to give it a good think and get back to you.

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Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

inner Momma voice

I’ve written before about inner speech. I even took the time to kind of explain it for those of you that don’t really know much about brain development.
Inner speech is pretty much the most important thing any of us have. But, the importance comes down to the type of inner speech one has.
If you read the linked posts, you know I have critical inner speech. I had a mother who loved me but that didn’t always come across in the way she spoke to me. And those moments when I hear her in my brain, I am immediately a little girl again. Only I’ve spent a good bit of time actively learning new ways to use my inner voice. It’s a minefield up in that brain of mine…which probably isn’t good considering the pinball thoughts that tend to roll and crash around in there…but, with concentrated effort, I’m learning to hear kinder, much less critical thoughts.

Thing 2 was in crisis mode on Saturday. We texted a great deal and had a long conversation.
She sent this text after we talked.

My joy knew no bounds! Here inner speech was positive. It was kind. It was self-loving. And she knew it came from me!
In that moment I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that I had not ruined her!!
What a relief!

Now that’s not to say that when her inner speech is about chilling and breathing she doesn’t also hear things like, “Jesus Christ, Magdeline!” in a frustrated voice. I mean, I know I’m critical. I don’t honestly think I stood a chance not being…consider my own inner speech.
And while I’m sure my second daughter has some critical or even negative inner speech, it truly warms my heart that she has soothing and positive inner speech. That she can hear her Momma’s voice in her head and it’s kind and loving. That she can choose to use those words to take the best possible care of herself.

I’m going to call this a win for Thing 2.
You know, I also think I’m going to call this a parenting win!

Categories: love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

on the advice of Nick’s father

Whenever I begin to compare my life to that of someone else, I’m reminded of Nick Carraway’s line at the beginning of Gatsby: In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages you’ve had.”

I’m using the concept rather loosely, less in the way Fitzgerald intended and more along the lines of considering each of us comes from a different place. It has nothing really to do with having, or the lack of “advantages”, and everything to do with point of view.
Each of us is raised with a certain set of values based on our environment and the life experiences of the people who raised us. We take those values and adapt them as we gain our own life experiences. We raise our own children based on these values we were taught and modified for them to continue the process.

I sometimes fail to remember, or perhaps simply take into account this very important advice. I think about the people I know and, I think rather naturally, compare myself to what I see of them. Of course this is futile as we seldom see the reality of an individual, but what they choose to share with the world.

We each behave based on that initial set of values we learned as children, even though we’ve changed them here and there to fit our new world view.

I am accused of being extremely judgmental.
I am a little…to deny this would be a bold face lie. But I’m nowhere near as judgmental as get accused of being.

I question everything.
This can be misconstrued because I ask questions in a way that may not always reflect my desire to understand. I question everything partly because I was brought up in an environment in which questions were ignored or left unanswered and I have a life-long compulsion to have answers. Partly because I’m curious and want to know and understand. I especially want to understand motivations for behavior.
This creates a goodly bit of friction between YBW and me. I ask to know and he hears my question as criticism. Occasionally I ask to criticize, again this goes back to what I experienced as a child, which is no excuse. It is however, the truth. I ask to understand the motivation, the thought process behind it…whatever the “it” is.

When I look at other people and see the differences I have nothing to base my opinion on other than the “advantages” of my upbringing. So I don’t understand why they do or don’t do things. I don’t understand what motivates them. I can only compare it to what I know and understand, what motivates me. I don’t think that’s judgmental.
The stubborn part of me doesn’t feel I should have to rephrase my curiosity so as not offend. Perhaps it’s not stubborn, perhaps it’s that bit of me that was stunted in my childhood. Perhaps because I couldn’t ask questions and get answers, I’m much more inclined to question everything? (The question mark at the end of that sentence is not lost on me.)

I am, have always been, interested in human behavior. The whys and wherefores of the way we behave, make choices, socialize, raise our children. I’m still learning everyday what motivates my behavior, some aspects I accept, some I realize need improvement. But I’m still asking questions. I’ll most likely go to my grave asking questions.

I must remember that I was brought up very differently than some of the people I know. That we will function in completely different ways.
I must remember that though I’m curious to their whys and wherefores I have to be mindful in the way I ask questions.
I must remember that I did have “advantages” that some people didn’t have.
I must remember that I am capable of many things and needn’t compare myself to anyone else.

Will I remember these things? Will I always act upon them?
Most likely not, but if I simply pay attention…I’ll make progress.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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