Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Living through the bad to get to the good

According to my friend, if you go to a swing dance and ask all the women to dance, half the time it's awful because the woman says yes to be polite, but she clearly does not enjoy dancing with you, and the other half the time, she enjoys herself, and you have a babe in your arms.

If you never asked anyone to dance, you could avoid the awful, but you'd never have a babe in your arms.  If you don't reach out and accept the bad things that come as a consequence, you'll never have the good things that come as a consequence.

Sometimes when I try to talk to people about the things I'm struggling with, they say things that make me feel worse. So, I just stopped talking to people about what I'm going through.  But in so doing, I cut myself off from support.

I find it supportive is when people say, "Yes, that's a difficult situation."   I find it un-supportive is when people say, "You should not worry about that.  It's not that bad."  Another supportive thing is when people say that I've worked hard already.  Conversely, it's un-supportive when they tell me that I haven't done enough, when they give me lots of suggestions for things I should do.

I talked to one person about my job.  She said that we can't all have fulfilling jobs, that a job is just earning a living, and we can get our fulfillment outside our jobs.  She said I shouldn't expect so much from my job.  I talked to her about efforts I've made so far to explore other areas.  She said she was impressed with how much I have done.  So I got the more-harm-than-good response on the first half, but the support I wanted on the second half.

I talked to another person about my job.  He said I'm clearly not happy with my job, and I shouldn't have to be so miserable.  But when I said how hopeless I feel about getting another job, he said I have no right to feel hopeless, because I have not yet done enough work on jobhunting to warrant it.  So, in that case, I got the support I wanted on the first half, but the more-harm-than-good response on the second half.

So, between the two of them, I got the support I wanted on both halves.  So it works.  If you put yourself out there and live with the negative responses you get, then you can get the positive thing you are looking for.

But it's not always the case that you get equal amounts positive and negative.  In some situations, you get mostly negative, while in others, you get mostly positive.  Every negative bit you get saps your soul.  Every positive bit you get fuels your soul.  If you are at a strong point in your life, the sapping of the soul may have little impact, but if you are already worn thin, you can't tolerate much sapping.

It's up to you to choose.  How much sapping and how much fueling is this situation giving you? How badly is the sapping affecting you? How much benefit will you get from the fueling?  If it's worth it, go for it.  If you can't take the sapping, it's okay to sit this out.  I have this attitude from my culture saying you just have to work hard and you can achieve anything.  But you know, sometimes it's okay to choose not to work hard at something, if working hard at it will suck your soul.

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