sometimes it is the little things that push you over the edge
We sometimes endure the big frustrations, the large disappointments, the less frequent major losses and setbacks better than we deal with the small nagging, ongoing, every day irritations. At least, that has been true for me over the years. Life throws so much at us each and every day that there can be a constant undercurrent of frustration in our lives.
It is the seemingly never ending, nagging little things that can serve to wear a person down, and make him/her frustrated or irritable or, for some, despondent and depressed. One morning too often you wake up with a headache (we are not referring to being “hung over” from a night of drinking), for the umpteenth time you are late for work because of public transit delays, you are stuck in very bad traffic at a time when the roads are not usually slow going, your boss bullies you for the hundredth time, your teenage child gives vent to his or her rebellious adolescent nature and tells you off over a minor issue, your spouse disrespects you in the same irksome way that he/she has done so for years, etc.
The strange thing about the so-called little things – and in the grand scheme of things these often are petty nuisances – is that they can have a cumulative effect on you, even if/when you are not fully conscious of this effect. This may be why some people “blow up” over seemingly or relatively minor inconveniences. It can be the case of the “last straw” that breaks the camel’s back. (After one too many minor auto accidents because of snow and ice on the roads, many folks have said “to hell with it”, and moved to regions with less severe winters.) As well, these ongoing minor pains remind us that we do not, actually cannot, have complete control over our lives and over what happens to us. This is rather humbling.
Perhaps one approach to the annoying minor pains is to each day make the conscious effort to let go of them. Positive affirmations may help here. One could say to one’s self: “This is not worth getting upset over. Who cares?” or something like: “I choose not to let this miserable wretch get under my skin. He (or she) is the one with the problem.” Of course, at first, you may not notice much effect from these affirmations, but just the fact that you are consciously stepping out of an annoying situation and seeing it for what it is gives you the option of choosing not to let it upset you. To be sure, this is easier said than done! But, it may help.
Previously, we wrote an essay on bullying. But we need to mention bullying and badgering of others here. This type of behavior is very prevalent, sorry to say. Who has not known or had a boss, one or more co-workers, or a spouse, a family member, an in-law, etc. that engaged in bullying and badgering type behavior? Perhaps this behavior was directed at you, or someone you knew. The bullying is done to make you feel bad about yourself or to punish you. The badgering is done to weaken your resistance so that you can be manipulated more easily, or to provoke you so that the bully has a “justification” for abusing you even more. Over the years, I have become weary (at a very deep level) of being on the receiving end of this behavior. Bullying and badgering are indicative of a psychologically and emotionally disturbed person. Have you heard the term “psychic vampire”? Such a parasite sucks/drains your energy away from you to feed his or her twisted hunger. (A parasitic relationship is always a zero sum game, or a lose-win, if you prefer.)
We cannot, in good conscience, advise you to ignore such abusive and needless behavior. If you are capable of ignoring it, you still do not have to put up with such abuse. One thing to consider is that most bullies are cowards. They enjoy victimizing the easy targets, those they think of as weak and vulnerable, as easy prey. Just giving them a reality check early on can help to reduce this abusive behavior. Let them know that you know they are bullying and badgering you. Yes, use those very words. If you have an employer, supervisor (aka boss) that does this to you (or has been showing a nasty disposition), you can try another approach. Speak to them in their office with the door closed to keep the conversation private. Politely ask them if they are going through a tough time. Alternatively, ask them what is bothering them. If they respond in turn with the question “Why do you ask?” (or “What makes you say that?”) – that is your opening. You can tailor your reply as appropriate to your individual boss. But, you could say “I ask this because for the past few days (or weeks) you have been coming across to me and others as a bully in how you interact with us in this department. This is not helping the team players here to work more effectively.” Something like that. Expect he or she to get defensive and try to turn things around on you. However, you have let him or her know that you are on to him/her, you see their abusive, degrading behavior for what it is. He/she may think twice before victimizing you again. You do not have to endure a hostile work environment because of one maladjusted individual. And, companies are more aware of this and more concerned than in decades past. The obnoxious boss will be replaced if it is clear that the work group is unhappy and people are leaving the company. Bosses, some of them at least, can be real pains.
more thoughts on suffering
In addition to death and taxes, everyone has some suffering dealt to them during their lives. (As well, we sometimes inflict suffering on ourselves by engaging in self-destructive patterns of behavior.) Suffering is part of the human condition. Every child knows this after her/his first tummy ache or tooth ache or ear infection. Infants cry frequently from various discomforts. The body that can enjoy the sight of a sunset, and the taste of delicious meals, and experiences the fragrance of spring time flowers, that delights in the harmonic sounds of good music, and as an adult, can thrill to the pleasant sense stimulation during intense sex, can also experience many pains and aches (recurrent head aches, chronic digestive disorders, allergies, etc.). The more highly attenuated and sensitive sense receptors of our bodies make for a 2 edged sword, so to speak. (Alan Watts (1915 – 1973) observed this in one of his many books.) It is difficult for the spirit soul – which is of a transcendental nature – to be encased, really imprisoned, in the nagging flesh.
But, not all suffering is physical! There is much emotional, mental, and psychological anguish and pain in life. At each phase or stage of life, there are frustrations and disappointments. The problems and challenges are different at the various stages, yes, but the one constant is that there are obstacles, and painful experiences to be dealt with and lived through. In the modern world, we may have reduced or alleviated to a degree some of the physical pain that has plagued mankind since the beginning, but we now have more mental stress and more mental and psychological pressures to face and endure and live with. Truly, the constraints of the human condition are onerous. One, upon reaching old age, might wonder just how he/she got through life after so many years of struggles.
What can a person do? You know you will not be free from painful, stressful incidents as you go through life. You are not free to avoid all suffering. It simply is not possible. But, you are free in how you choose to react to the pressures and the many, diverse stressors in life.
Here, I must be careful, dear readers. I may have been somewhat helpful in my advice for others. However, it seems that I rarely take my own advice. I suggest to people not to use excessive force, nor try too hard. Then, I later on fall victim to tiring of not getting successful results and become frustrated which then leads to anger, and bam! I use excessive force causing injury (usually to myself) and/or damage (and not always physical injury/damage, as you can do serious injury or damage to a personal relationship when you act from anger and frustration).
Do not expect nor demand a perfect life. That is not realistic. Try to maintain a broader and more mature perspective towards the painful experiences along the way. With time, these will be behind you and there will be better times in the future. Others have endured even worse suffering! Actually, suffering can open your mind to being more sympathetic and empathetic towards the suffering of others. Count your blessings. Emphasize the positive. Work at relieving the stresses. Meditate, express yourself through art, take a walk, share some special moments with someone you love (And be loving! Loving people are healthier people, both physically and emotionally healthy.), laugh more(!), enjoy the little things as you can (if the evening bus is stuck in traffic, look out the window, you may just be treated to glimpses of a nice sunset). Exercise. Listen to soothing music. You get the idea. Please do not turn to drugs and/or excessive use (or abuse) of alcohol in an attempt to anesthetize yourself to the pain.
For me, one proof of God’s mercy is that we do not have to live in this fallen, hellish world for more than several decades. (We touched on this issue of lifespan in an earlier essay some months back.) If the human lifespan were several centuries rather than several decades long, it would be terribly depressing. So, do not despair. You will not have to endure the pains of the human condition for centuries, but merely for decades.
Best wishes to all in your ongoing life’s struggles. Do not despair. Try to live constructively.
The below photo is of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge and was taken while driving west into San Francisco. The eastbound traffic is on the lower deck underneath this westbound section. The more famous Golden Gate Bridge can be seen (in the distance) from here if one were to look to the far right through the side window, provided their car is not too low to the roadway.
We will be dispatching our blog’s photographer to east Asia late in May for a fortnight. Hopefully, she will take many good pics for photo essays in June. In the meantime, we will blog on as/when the mood takes us.
Copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com.