Moving Is Not Fun

Moving paralysis

Moving paralysis

But.  Parts of it are

First of all, this move has been a piece of cake compared to the last one where we were buying/selling with two preschool children at home.  That was a nightmare, and it took me more than 10 years to get over that trauma.

Second of all, this one hasn’t been easy in the same respect that every move is fraught with expense, headache, worry, stress, and just plain old hard work.

But.  There is something delightful in the exploration that is a move.

  • Cleaning out 16 years of accumulation – I started this 6 months in advance of putting the house on the market and worked on one area of the house at a time every weekend.  I sorted through the range of treasured mementos to pieces of junk.  I walked down memory lane with almost every item, and the purge was liberating.  Thousands of items donated to Goodwill (my tax write-off made it even better) and I’m sure thousands more into the trash or recycling.
  • Packing – We downsized to a house 1/3 smaller than the old one, so eliminating what wasn’t strictly necessary was important.  Here was an opportunity to prioritize and decide whether I’m keeping that old XX because I need it or for sentimental purposes when I have never used it.
  • Unpacking –Putting my old stuff into the new space requires that the context for every item is now new.  This vase used to decorate the bathroom; now it’s under a light on a bookcase in the family room.  Now my dirty laundry will have to be lugged down two flights of stairs – maybe I should put my closet in the basement?
  • New neighborhood – It’s not like we’ve moved 1000 miles away, we’re just in a different part of town.  But it’s the city.  Not the suburbs.  It has a completely different feel here.  Plus it’s by the river.  City by the river.  That rings so nicely.  Finding a grocery store with the stuff we want, good sushi and Indian food (forget the good Chinese food), a strong cup of coffee, the hardware store, all of it an adventure involving a new route, a new store/restaurant, and different clientele.    My ideation strength is singing.
  • New view – My commute is now less than 3 miles compared to 12.  I drive through the prettiest parts of the city instead of the freeway.  Each time, I deeply exhale.
  • Doggie homecoming – Being out of the house we’re showing means I get the dogs back.  They won’t be able to manage the stairs in the new house most likely due to age and logistics of the Walker hound and greyhound, respectively, so they won’t be sleeping with us for the first time.  They will have an adjustment too but the walks by the river will hopefully compensate.
  • Feeling different – We left behind a 1997 transitional home and are now in a 1940’s cottage.   Old wood floors, thick walls, wood paneling, musty basement.  It’s been too busy to really feel settled in yet, but I believe our new surroundings will make me feel like a different person.   I can’t wait to find out.

Benefits of Being Wrong

Admitting fault

Admitting fault

It just sucks to be wrong and eating crow.  You lose face.  The other gloats and you are embarrassed for being inadequate, stupid, incompetent.  And that’s just when you’re mistaken.  If I thought the play started at 8 pm but it started at 7 pm, then I’m mistaken.  This kind of mistake is fairly irrefutable and black-and-white.  We might’ve argued about it before we missed the play, but likely not after.

Then there’s the type of wrong where you did something that was hurtful, offensive, insensitive, humiliating or rude.  Classic Susanna is to assume someone else in the house misplaced something, left trash on the countertop, or left the milk out of the fridge.  Couldn’t be me.  It’s then hurtful when I accuse someone else of losing something that I didn’t put away.  But even worse  – this one hasn’t happened for a while – is to accuse someone of unloving or selfish motives only to find out I was completely wrong (“you forgot my birthday!” when an elaborate party was in the works for example).

These scenarios, though greyer than simply being mistaken about an easily proven fact, are still relatively cut-and-dry compared to the really subjective missteps we all make on occasion.   For example, I could engage in the same obnoxious behavior accusing someone of being selfish or unloving, but now based on a he said-she said scenario.  We cannot necessarily prove either of us right or wrong, one way or another.  Yet we may engage in an escalating conflict until we have World War III in the middle of Home Depot.    Given that the vast majority of conflicts take two (even the so-called victim or martyr in an argument has culpability too), the entire dynamic is simply harmful and counter-productive to the relationship.

In addition to the strong likelihood that we both have fault, being able and willing to acknowledge one’s own role in the dynamic can have surprisingly positive outcomes.   If I’m willing to acknowledge that I got upset prematurely (sensitive people can sense this even if I say nothing), used a judgmental or harsh tone, chose a wounding word, picked an argued about something inconsequential, then I am taking responsibility for my actions.  Paradoxically, when I acknowledge my role, even if it’s slight, I then develop a sense of honor from my actions, especially if I acknowledge my role to my sparring partner.

Honor is not the only benefit from finding my own culpability. I also am diminishing my hypocrisy and judgment, both tendencies of human nature.  Perhaps most importantly, I am also mitigating the damage to the relationship in which I have carefully invested in until the moment that I just lost it.  Finally, because it is also human nature to reciprocate, most people are subsequently willing to find their own fault in the argument.  Both parties can walk away feeling like they were treated fairly.

Honor.  Avoiding hypocrisy and judgment.  Restoring a relationship.  Reciprocity.  Sounds like a win-win-win-win to me.

Your Own Worst Enemy

Self-defeating behavior

Self-defeating behavior

I imagine most of us have felt, at one time or more, that we are our own worst enemy.  We engage in self-defeating behavior that may be apparent to everyone but ourselves.  Often we can actually see the same problem in someone else, and easily solve their issue but are blind as a bat when it comes to solving our own.

Though it is our human nature to be hypocrites in this respect, it is also true that these issues are often hard to fix.  First of all, we often have an awareness problem.  We have a tendency to blame someone else as being difficult, critical, or passive, rather than examine our own role.    Second, even if we are aware of the problem, we may not be conscious of our assumptions, beliefs, and core values (ABCs, I made that up) that underlie the self-defeatist behavior and which can be wrong and harmful.

The root of human hypocrisy, according to Jonathan Haidt in the Happiness Hypothesis, is justifying our opinions, rooted in emotion, by using logic.  It seems to me, then, that our sometimes unconscious ABCs cause these emotions which produce our opinions, self-image and world view.  We then back up that view by finding justifying statements, like “I really need those steel grey suede pumps since my three other pairs are just not the right shade for my designer dress.  Plus they’re on sale”… while complaining that I spend too much money.  An unconscious ABC is driving my emotional spending, then I find rationalizations to justify my hypocritical behavior.

So it makes sense that becoming aware of our unconscious ABCs and examining them might help us resolve self-defeating behavior (or maybe this is driven by my unconscious emotions. I’m stuck in a logic loop).   For example, if your BFF tells you about how his wife declares that he’s a failure, he’s not good enough, he’s a bad person, or he’s not a real man, how would you react (after jokingly telling him that she’s right)?  As a somewhat objective but loving third party, you would probably tell him some version of “that’s completely untrue.”  That’s not to say your BFF is perfect.  It just means your BFF has flaws and struggles, yet has many good qualities, otherwise you would not love him.  Yet don’t we tell ourselves, and believe without challenge, the very same things as that mean wife? (I’ve actually never said “I’m not a real man” for obvious reasons.  Ironically, it’s a true statement.)  We may accept such declarations without question because they are either unconscious or unchallenged beliefs or assumptions.

I suppose there may be some that believe that there are actually people out there who are a complete failure, not good enough, a bad person or not a real man/woman.  I don’t believe that at all.  I believe everyone one of us has love, talent, and a contribution to make to this world.  In individuals where this is not apparent, I believe that they are struggling to unlock those qualities, or just do not display them to the viewer (or the viewer cannot see them).  Really.  Does anyone believe there are really people on this earth that have no value?  Has God put some people on this planet with no apparent purpose but to be a failure and a burden?

And though you might feel like you are the most miserable and worthless human being on this planet, this attribute of having no value does not apply to you either.  Nor do any of those other horribly abusive and unfair characterizations.

We come by these unconscious ABCs usually early in life.  Back then, they were probably helpful to us in some way and thus affirmed our faith in our ABCs.  But at some point, when these ABCs remain unconscious and are the illogical, self-defeating, hypocritical drivers of our views and decisions, they just simply become dysfunctional.

So, shed some light on those ABCs.  Question them.  Challenge them.  You don’t have to give them up completely, but perhaps realize that maybe they’re not so black and white as your inner demon will have you believe.   Don’t let the unrealistic and unfair standard of perfection stand in the way of self-appreciation and self-forgiveness.    Pretend that you are your own best friend.  No.  Actually BE your own best friend.  Now, really listen to him.