Proverbial Thursday – Global Words of Wisdom

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Valuable life lessons.  Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

So, with that in mind, each Thursday, I post a Proverb or Saying, and a Quote from different cultures and parts of the world, that I have found thought-provoking. I hope you think so too. I invite you to comment on your thoughts behind the meaning of these, often enigmatic, words.

You are very welcome to join in the discussion!

You can find previous Proverbial Thursday Quotes here – some of the discussions are fascinating.

city hall stockholm

In calm water, every ship has a good captain ~

Swedish Proverb

VAsa Museum

Although the proverb’s words did not help the ship:’Vasa’ on its maiden voyage, from Stockholm, in 1628! Read more about visiting Stockholm and what happened to the King’s ship here.

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The quote I have chosen this week, does not necessarily apply only to school students, but also to workers, and all who interact with others, or reside in a community. The student’s  words struck me as profound, especially for someone with much of her life ahead of her.

“It wasn’t the friendship, fights and drifts that broke us; it was if we allowed that to fester into deep grudges and acts of revenge.  It wasn’t completing the assessment pieces that made us; it was feeling stressed or so over them after Term 1 and yet repeating that process in Term 2, then Term 3, then Term 4.  And it wasn’t the embarrassment or judgment from people that broke us; it was whether we allowed that to shatter our confidence and self-belief.”

J Tinn – School Student 2016

The student’s words made me think it is not the misfortune or good news in itself, that affects our mood, it is how we perceive the words relative to our own sphere, how we individually interpret, accept or reject the words; how much we let the words get under our skin, or soak them up; how much we react to the words and what that reaction looks like. We can choose whether the words help or hinder us.

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Is this true? We always have a personal, inner choice on how we react, even when there seems no other option? I believe so.  For whilst we cannot control what others might or might not do, we can always control how we act and – react. Do you agree?

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And do you think the Swedish proverb has any relevance in today’s world or is it applicable only, to times gone by?

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Something to Ponder About

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Do You Fit In? Anxiety, Emotions and Friends

Do you sometimes feel misunderstood, or like you just don’t fit in? Is socializing painful or something you avoid? Is mixing at a party or large group a torturous experience?

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If so, you could be suffering from social anxiety? People suffering with this are often introverted by nature and feel that they are constantly being judged negatively by everyone around them. As such, they find it difficult to make new friends or maintain relationships.

These people are often drawn to online friendships, as the cyber world can be anonymous and much less threatening. Without the need for eye contact or body language, contact with others  over the net, can be much less overwhelming on the senses. The written word on its own, can be tolerated by someone with social anxiety, as it can give them the time they need to choose their words carefully and to be sure to express themselves in a way that would not be perceived critically. For this is what someone with social anxiety feels every minute of every day: that they are being negatively judged or critically perceived by others. For some, it destroys everyday life and  they are confined to the only place where there is no anxiety, the sanctuary of a solitary existence at home.

Although there appears to be  a genetic basis to social anxiety and its evil partner depression, there are a number of behaviours that can be un-learnt  just as easily as they  are learnt as a coping mechanism for anxiety.

As a result of these thoughts and anxieties, people with social anxiety have few friends and find making new friendships very difficult and not just because of trust issues. Their fears and negative thinking can render them vulnerable to friendship with toxic people, who in turn, erode their self-esteem and self-concept, even more and it feeds into a vicious circle.

Relationship gurus, such as Marc and Angel, list some common toxic behaviors to social interactions which is useful information for those who have social anxiety and who may wish to improve their social interactions:

1.  Taking everything too personally. – People are toxic to be around when they believe that everything happening around them is a direct assault on them or is in some way all about them.  The truth is that what people say and do to you is much more about them, than you.  People’s reactions to you are about their filters, and their perspectives, wounds and experiences.  Whether people think you’re amazing, or believe you’re the worst, again, it’s more about them.  I’m not saying we should be narcissists and ignore all feedback.  I am saying that so much hurt, disappointment and sadness in our lives comes from our taking things personally when it’s far more productive and healthy to let go of others’ good or bad opinion of you, and to operate with your own heart, intuition and wisdom as your guide.

2.  Acting like you’re always a victim. – Another toxic behavior is persistent complaining that fuels your sense of victimization.  Believing you’re a victim, that you have no power to exert and no power over the direction of your life, is a toxic stance that keeps you stuck.  Working as a life coach with people who’ve suffered terrible trauma in their lives but found the courage to turn it all around, I know that we have access to far more power, authority, and influence over our lives than we initially believe.  When you stop complaining, and refuse to see yourself as a hapless victim, you’ll find that you are more powerful than you realized, but only if you choose to accept this reality.

3.  Obsessive negative thinking – It’s very hard to be around people who speak incessantly about the terrible things that could happen and have happened, the slights they’ve suffered, and the unfairness of life.  These people stubbornly refuse to see the positive side of life and the positive lessons from what’s happening.  Pessimism is one thing – but remaining perpetually locked in negative thoughts is another.  Only seeing the negative, and operating from a view that everything is negative and against you, is a skewed way of thinking and living, and you can change that. Seek out positive people and look out the way they perceive obstacles and problems in their life.

4.  Lack of emotional self-control. – An inability to manage your emotions is toxic to everyone around you.  We all know these people – those who explode in anger and tears over the smallest hiccup or problem.  Yelling at the grocery store clerk for the long line, screaming at an employee for a small error she made, or losing it with your daughter for spilling juice on the floor.  If you find that you’re overly emotional, losing it at every turn, you need some outside assistance to help you gain control over your emotions and understand what’s at the root of your emotionality.  There’s more to it than what appears on the surface.  An outside perspective – and a new kind of support – can work wonders.

5.  Cruelty (or lacking empathy and compassion). – One of the most toxic behaviors – cruelty – stems from a total lack of empathy, concern or compassion for others. We see it every day online and in the media – people being devastatingly unkind and hurtful to others just because they can.  They tear people down online in a cowardly way, using their anonymity as a shield.  Cruelty, backstabbing, and hurting others for any reason is toxic, and it hurts you as well.

6.  Needing constant validation. – Last but not least, people who constantly strive for validation by others are exhausting to be around.  Those men and women who get caught up in the need to prove their worth over and over and over, and constantly want to “win” over everyone around them, are unintentionally toxic and draining.  Know this.  Overly-attaching to how things have to look to others can wear you out and bring everyone else around you down.  There is a bigger picture to your life, and it’s not about what you achieve in the eyes of the masses.  It’s about the journey, the process, the path – what you’re learning, how you’re helping others learn too, and the growing process you allow yourself to participate in.

What can you do to help someone/be a friend to someone you suspect has Social Anxiety? 

  • Be alert to when they attempt to join into conversations and listen to them with consideration, and without judgement.
  • Be aware that although they might appear rude and abrupt, they would never intend to come across in this way, and it is often their lack of social experiences that make them withdraw, or be incapable of responding appropriately.
  • Accept them the way they are, and always remain positive whilst empathizing.
  • Invite them to social outing without pressure, such as small groups situations or in a situation that they would not find threatening, such as stopping by their desk each day for a quick chat.

Something to Ponder About

How to Stop Worrying about What People Think – social anxiety and bullying

Socialising does not come easily for everyone. As hard as they try….No matter how ridiculous other's think may look, be yourself and don't care what people are thinking.

For some people, social anxiety and harassment comes hand in hand and bullying can take place at school, home and in the workplace. How they cope or don’t cope with it, can have a huge impact on their lives. My son is still working through some of these issues. Prevention of harassment and bullying or treating self-esteem issues or negative thinking/anxiety is not just about protecting the victims, or eliminating instances from occuring, through education, (although this is still important), but also should be about supporting a proactive approach rather than a re-active one. In every instance, it can be helpful to arm the victim with the right “cognitive tools” to cope with social anxiety and or harassment. Here is a few ideas about worrying about what others think of you. I found whilst browsing the web. They are not my original ideas, I have added to their insight from my experience.

Get comfortable with not knowing what other people think.

How much energy do you  waste worrying about this?  I’ve gradually learned to relax with simply not knowing what others think about me or my work. Sometimes I slip back and that part of my mind dwells on the negatives, but I now understand that the way we think determines our world, so I do everything I can to stop thinking that way.

Some problems in life, such as not knowing what others think of you, are not really meant to be resolved.  How people perceive you may have more to do with them than you anyway.  They may even like or dislike you simply because you’ve triggered an association in their minds by reminding them of someone they liked or disliked from their past, which has absolutely nothing to do with you.

So here’s a new mantra for you – say it, and then say it again: “This is my life, my choices, my mistakes and my lessons.  As long as I’m not hurting people, I need not worry what they think of me.”

Know that most people are NOT thinking about you anyway.

Ethel Barrett once said, “We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.

Forget what everyone else thinks of you; chances are, they aren’t thinking about you anyway.  If you feel like they always are, understand that this perception of them watching you and critiquing your every move is a complete figment of your imagination.  It’s your own inner fears and insecurities that are creating this illusion.  It’s you judging yourself that’s the problem.

My experience: A lot of people are so self-absorbed that they have more important things in their life than to be thinking about you all the time.

Accept that someone else’s opinion is NOT your problem.

How many times have you looked at a person and initially misjudged their brilliance?  Appearances are deceptive.  How you seem to someone and how you actually are, is rarely congruent.  Even if they get the basic gist of who you are, they’re still missing a big piece of the puzzle.  What someone thinks of you will rarely contain the whole truth, which is fine.

If someone forms an opinion of you based on superficialities, then it’s up to them, not you, to reform those opinions based on a more objective and rational viewpoint.  Leave it to them to worry about – that is, if they even have an opinion at all.

People will think what they want to think.  No matter how carefully you choose your words and mannerisms, there’s always a good chance they’ll be misinterpreted and twisted upside down by someone.  Does this really matter in the grand scheme of things?  No, it doesn’t.

How others see you is not important.  How you see yourself, means the world.  When you’re making big decisions, remember, what you think of yourself and your life is more important than what people think of you.  Stay true to YOU.  Never be ashamed of doing what feels right.  Decide what you think is right and stick to it.

Be fully present and aware of how you DO want to feel.

It’s OK to know how you do not want to feel, but that’s not all you should be thinking about.  Imagine someone trying to learn to read by spending all their time focusing on how they do not want to not be able to read.  It doesn’t really make any sense, does it?

Enough is enough!  Forget what you do not want to feel for a moment.  Work out how you DO want to feel right now in the present moment.  Train yourself to live right here, right now without regretting how others once made you feel, or fearing the possibility of future judgment.

Speak and live your truth.

Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.  Be cordial and reasonable, of course, but don’t tread carefully on every word you say.  Push your concerns of what others might think aside.  Let the consequences of doing so unravel naturally.  What you’ll find is that most of the time no one will be offended or irritated at all.  And if they do get upset, it’s likely only because you’ve started behaving in a way that makes them feel they have less power over you.

Think about it.  Why be fake?

In the end, the truth usually comes out one way or the other, and when that happens, you’re standing alone if you’ve been living a lie.  So live your whole truth starting now.  If someone gives you a hard time and says, “You’ve changed,” it’s not a bad thing.  It just means you stopped living your life their way.  Don’t apologize for it.  Instead, be open and sincere, explain how you feel, and keep doing what you know in your heart is right.

You cannot make someone respect you; all you can do is be someone who can be respected.  The rest is up to them.  No matter how much you care some people just won’t care back.  It’s not the end of the world.  At some point you have to realize the truth – that they no longer care or never did, and that maybe you’re wasting your time and missing out on someone else who does. (MarcandAngel.com)

A life spent ceaselessly trying to please people who, perhaps, are incapable of ever being pleased, or trying too hard to always be seen as doing “the right thing,” is a sure road to a regretful existence.

Do more than just exist.  We all exist.  The question is:  Do you live?

I eventually realized existing without ever truly living was not what I wanted for myself.  So I made changes If you are in the same place I once was, seeking approval from everyone for every little thing you do, please take this post to heart and start making changes today.  Life is too short not to.

A Will Smith quote, “Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings, and emotions”

If you keep worrying about how the people in or out of your life don’t like you, you’ll miss those who are already in your life or who want to come into your life, the ones who, perhaps, can help you to the next level.

Once you stop caring about what others say about you, your life changes forever.

When people tease and or bait you the next time, look at them with a puzzled, sympathetic look and say, “Hmm, you must be so unhappy.” and walk away. They might be so surprised and embarrassed, they say nothing further. But if they pursue you, or try to argue with you, let them rant on while you have a bored expression on your face, and then say, “I see,” in a bored voice, and walk away. They’ll quit bothering you because you’re not reacting and staying cool and calm and – it makes them look foolish.

Some important life skills for all of us to ponder about.

Meeting New People

Meeting new people is a difficult thing for shy, introverted people, or those with Social Anxiety, but neither is it always the easiest thing for extroverts who are out of  their comfort zone.

When meeting new people, after names and introductions, many people fall back on an old standard opening question such as ” What do you do?”

Often the person asking the question uses this as a standard opening question, wanting to initiate conversation and find out more about you. However, are we interested enough in what we can learn from each other, to stop asking “What do you do?” and start asking “Who are you?  What is your story?”

Would it not be better to ask questions such as this, (in a timely fashion), as the conversation progresses, like:

  • What brings you here?
  • Where were you born?
  • Where do you live now?
  • What makes you smile?DSC_0163
  • What is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far?
  • What is your deepest fear?
  • What is your greatest dream for your life?

What questions do you ask? Are some more effective than others? What else could you add to this list?

Something to Ponder About.

Negative Social Habits that Impede Communication

Marc and Angel talk about:

Cutting out negative habits. This can  make it simpler to foster good relationships by getting to the heart of productive communication, so why not start today?Singapore

1. Focusing on your inner monologue instead of the dialogue in front of you.

When someone is talking to you, you might be thinking:  “What can I say that will sound smart and clever?  I really hope they think I’m intelligent.  I could make a reference to post-modernism.  Wait – what did they just ask me?”  Stay focused on the other person’s words and points.  People rarely mind when you say, “Hmm. Let me think about that for a second.”  Quite the opposite, since it shows that you’re taking the conversation seriously.  If you compose your answers while someone else is speaking, you’re really only having half a conversation. 

2.  Multi-tasking while you chat.

Even if you are a professional multi-tasker, if you’re talking to someone, talk to them, and that’s it.  Don’t browse online, don’t watch TV, don’t update your to-do list, and please, don’t eat while you’re on the phone.  Whether they say so or not, it really annoys the person you’re talking to.  If you really don’t have the time to talk, be honest and find another time, or cut it short. I know I get irritated if someone checks their phone in middle of my conversation with them. It devalues my conversational worth!

3.  Not paying attention to the people you care about most.

Pretending to listen while your mind wanders to your work day, etc.  Do you really think your loved ones can’t tell?  They can.  And even more importantly, they need you to listen sincerely and thoughtfully.  There is no greater gift of love and no greater expression of caring that you can offer the special people in your life, than your undivided time and attention.  You need to remember that ‘love’ is listening, and everyone wants to be heard.  

4.  fishing for compliments or feeling self-conscious

“Oh, I look terrible today.” – after someone compliments you.  “I just threw it together at the last minute.” – when you obviously dressed up.  “I’m really not good at things like this.” – when the people you’re with know you are.  Please.  Stop.  It is ok to accept a compliment, and you don’t need to put yourself down because you are feeling self-conscious.  Just follow the next step.

5.  De-emphasizing compliments with self-effacing remarks.

It’s okay to say “thank you” when you’re complimented.  By making a self-effacing comment, you nearly force the other person to repeat their compliment, which is not a gracious thing to do.  Acknowledging a compliment isn’t snobby – like you’re admitting that you think you’re just grand – it’s a simple courtesy.  Besides, you earned it.

6.  Cutting people off mid-sentence.

The only time this is okay is when you’re in an intense brainstorming session.  Or you’ve got an urgent situation to attend to.  Or you haven’t seen your best friend in months.  Okay, so this habit is kind of elastic, but you get the gist.  Most of the time, interrupting just means that you’re missing the best parts of the conversation.  Plus, you’re showing your chat partner that you value your own thoughts over theirs.

7.  An unsupportive attitude.

The greatest compliment you can give to someone is to believe in them and let them know you care.  When you see something true, good and beautiful in someone, don’t hesitate to tell them that you appreciate it.

8.  Trying to please everyone.

This one is about keeping your sanity.  No matter how loud their opinions are, others cannot choose who you are.  The question should not be, “Why don’t they like me when I’m being me?” it should be, “Why am I wasting all my time and energy worrying what they think of me?”  If you are not hurting anyone with your actions, keep moving forward with your life.  Be happy.  Be yourself.  If others don’t like it, let them be.  Life isn’t about pleasing everybody. 

This ideas are sometimes hard to remember as we often slip into well-oiled bad habits again, so to keep them fresh in your mind, print them out and have them in your diary, spaced apart in weekly or thrice dailyintervals. This is what helps me.

I will ponder over whether Marc and Angel’s ideas will be helpful for  you.