Gossiping Is Annoying and Immature

English: Gossiping Taken from the churchyard. ...

English: Gossiping Taken from the churchyard. This group of riders chatted for a good ten minutes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whenever we find out that something has gone wrong in someone’s life or someone made a big mistake, we all would like to know all the details about this.  Also, some of us strive to find out everything we can about coworkers, family members, or friends by becoming extremely observant, or nosy, should I say.  I like to refer to these people as “fault sniffers”, commonly coined as gossipers.

My Foster Mother Was a Gossiper

I was raised in a foster home of 8 children.  Our mother was very critical about every one of us and our flaws.  It was like, if one of us developed a problem, even at 4 years of age, we would more likely have that problem for the rest of our lives.  If there was something we were not so good at or if we made some kind of silly mistake, she would blab about it to the rest of the family and to even her relatives.  Even if you were just a young kid, say under 10 years old, every little stupid thing you’ve done was treated as if it were a traffic violation or crime that went down on your record.  Mom was evil, critical, and would deliberately do things to cause friction and humiliation within the family.

Even as we reached adulthood, our mother would never stop gossiping.  She felt that since she raised us, she indefinitely owned us.  After we had all left home, she would come and visit us frequently.  Whenever she was over, she would ask us lots of questions and poke around through every room in our homes just to see what she could find.

Surely enough, each one of us has made some kind of decision that she disagreed with.  For me, I had purchased my first home in 1988 and decided to have a young couple move in with me as tenants.  Because they were not so wealthy I allowed them to live there for $150 per month, especially since they agreed to do most of the work around the house.  Mother felt that I was being taken advantage of and told me I should charge them $300 per month, which was more than they could afford.   She told me how I should handle all my affairs including groceries and utilities.  I stood firm on doing what I thought was right.  So what did she do?  She circulated this news among the entire family.

She was the ultimate news source.  I would hear all kinds of interesting news from her as she criticized decisions others had made.  For example, if someone purchased a large ticket item she thought was lucrative (like a TV, etc), she would tell everyone about it.  One of my sisters sold every piece of furniture they had so her husband could fly down to Texas.  She had to tell everybody about that.

Finally, with everyone my mother had met including our spouses and friends, she had to find out as much about them as possible.  As for my biological sister’s boyfriend, she would ask me numerous questions about him, where he was from, his lifestyle, etc.  It’s like she had to know everything about everyone who crossed her path.  She was hoping to discover something extremely unusual or wrong with them.  I saw this as a sign of insecurity or inadequacy on her part. By finding fault in others, this may have made her feel better about herself.

Why People Gossip

Why do people gossip?  It surely doesn’t take a PhD in psychology to answer this question.  Not only must we satisfy our yearning to find about others’ mishaps, but to also justify for our inner feelings of inadequacy.  The more we can find out about our everyday atmosphere and the people in it, the greater the sense of power we feel we have.  Once we gather a great wealth of information, we can’t wait to share it with everyone in our social circles.

Through gossiping, some people acquire a false sense of self-esteem.  By finding out as much as they can about what others are doing and what’s happening in their neighborhoods, communities, and workplaces, some feel they have an edge on everyone else.  Once they pass on the pertinent info they discovered, they get a great feeling inside as they believe they won the approval of others.  To them, it is an assurance they’ll strengthen their casual relationships and be recognized as a knowledgeable person.

Our Natural Curiosities

We like to find out as much as we can about our neighbors.  So we do things like listen for noises going on outside our homes, observe how people keep up their yards, gaze in the windows of homes after dark, or scope out other peoples’ possessions as cars, boats, etc.  Once we gather some info, we chat about it with others to see how they feel and hopefully, find out even more.

Like we observe our neighbors, we love to find out what goes on in our community.  It all begins with watching other drivers on the road.  Some of us love to gaze in the windows of moving vehicles to see what other drivers are doing (like talking on a cell phone) or who is driving.  If we see a motorist whom was pulled over by the police, we would like to know the details of what exactly happened.  Traffic accidents raise our level of curiosity even more.  We have the tendency to slow down and inspect the scene to see what vehicles were involved and what damage has been done.  Oh how we wish we could have seen the accident when it happened.

Not only do we observe drivers, but we look for enviromental changes too.  Construction sparks our curiosity as well.  For example, if we see a building going up, we’d like to know what it will be.  As for road construction, we’d like to know why they’re tearing up the road.

No matter where we are or who we’re with, we have a strong desire to find out unusual things about somebody.  Now, I mean some extremely weird things!  The more unusual these things are, the greater it sparks our curiosity.  It may begin with witnessing a street fight, seeing someone knock over a shelf of things in a grocery store, or sighting someone who just got pulled over the by police.

This natural curiosity dates back to our grade school days.  If someone has an usual mental of physical disability, we would like to know as much about it as we can.  If one or more of our peers failed miserably in school or even flunked a grade, this sparks a great amount of curiosity as well.

It continues on throughout high school and into our working years.  Most everyone has a natural curiosity towards their coworkers, the amount they earn, and their lifestyles.  Most of all, workers poke their noses towards their managers and everyone else above them.  They’re curious to know as much about the upper management levels of their employer and how their company is doing.  These workers will poke their noses everywhere they can and find out as much as they can through observation.

We would like to know how well others’ perform their jobs, their work habits, and their lifestyles.  So what do we do?  We observe the behavior of others and listen hard to the things they say.  Also, there are some people that attract our attention more than others.  Maybe it’s because we really like (or dislike) their appearance, we hear things from or about them that excite us, or maybe it’s just a sense of personal chemistry.  If there’s someone that you’re extremely curious about, chances are you’ll find out things about them without poking your nose at them.

Although they would like to be on one of the top rungs of the ladder, getting there often requires a lot more skill and expertise than they believe they have.  Since this is true, instead of envying those above them, these coworkers look for ways to cut their superiors down, just to make themselves feel better.  This is why employees group together and go out to lunch or congregate after work, someplace off the employer’s premises.  Many will hit a bar after work just to have a few drinks as they are more inclined to share what is on their minds.

It all boils down to one thing: coworkers wish they could have as much authority and earn as much money as their superiors.  For those coworkers who feel they’re stuck in a hopeless rut, they’ll find any way possible to demean those above them.  Through gossiping, workers seek social approval from their friends.

Covering Up for Our Inadequacies

Everyone has an inadequacy of some kind.  Whether we want to admit it or not, there have been some things we have done or some things that happened to us that we are not too proud of.

Such examples are having a troubled childhood, getting a DWI, being fired, becoming a victim or rape or robbery, finding out our significant other is cheating on us, losing money on a scam, and the list goes on and on.  Maybe it was a big mistake we made resulting in a large loss or great damage, such as making a bad investment.  Negligent acts that were our fault or embarrassing mishaps betray us as well.

Likewise, it may be a personal weakness, a fault or flaw, or physical defect we have that causes us to feel insecurity.  It may be an attention deficit, behavioral disorder, depression, unmanageable anger, recklessness, or habitual negligence.  Possibly, one is unhappy about their appearance making them insecure.  One may feel inadequate become she doesn’t have many friends or has nothing to say during a social gathering.  Maybe, there was a situation where one was treated unfavorably because of a flaw he has.

How do we cope with our imperfections or misfortunes?  We like to find out about others who have experienced the same things or possess the same flaws we have.  Hearing about mistakes others have made makes us feel better.  This is because we realize we’re not the only one who has had this happen to.

A great number of people are humble.  Whatever happened to them, whether it was their fault or not, they are willing to share their stories.  Even if it is a quirk they have or something stupid they did, or an incorrect conclusion about something, they’ll openly talk about it.  For them, it is a great way to get what is bothering them off their chest.  Expressing these things also arouses the interest of those they speak to.

However, there are times when we never find out what others have experienced.  This is where gossiping comes in.  Gossipers have the natural tendency to phish for information by asking people questions or eavesdropping in on them.  In some instances, people discover flaws of others without even trying.  For instance, one may witness a celebrity or an authority figure doing something really stupid.  Once they capture some sensitive facts, they can’t wait to share them with their friends.  Not only is this a feeling of gainfulness, it is a search for approval from them.  Hence, gossiping serves as a way to gain a social boost.

Spreading Rumors

What is a rumor?  As defined in the Webster dictionary, rumor has more than one meaning:

  1. Talk or opinion that is disseminated to others with no discernible source.
  2. A statement or report made without a known authority to verify its truth.

Why do people start rumors?  I have read many stories about classmates or coworkers spreading rumors throughout the school or workplace about someone, especially untrue stories.  All these stories boil down to one thing: jealousy.

The main reason rumors are started is to raise some kind of excitement.  Maybe it’s because they can’t find something else better to do.  Most of them would like to see something in particular happen, usually something bad or negatively arousing (such as a business going under or somebody getting fired, etc) and they’ll try to get others stirred up at the same time.  They will in turn make up some type of story stating that it’s really happening.  At the same time, they love to observe peoples’ reactions to their story.

Let’s pick two fictitious characters: Jill and Sue.   Jill, who is struggling in algebra, realizes that Sue is a math whiz.  Jill then becomes envious of Sue and seeks out a way to cut Sue down.  As a result, Jill might make up a story about how Sue cheats on a math test in order to get a passing grade.  By spreading a rumor about Sue, Jill hopes she will boost herself image and raise herself into the social spotlight.

Rumors might be used to sabotage the goals of others.  Once someone finds out that another is attempting to make a positive change, like seeking a promotion or marrying a certain person, this person may pass a rumor against the goal seeker(s).  More likely, the one who starts the rumor wishes he could do the same thing, but has no prospects.  Out of jealousy, he may attempt to derail the other person’s goals.

 

Positive Thinking – Part 4: Fine Tune Your System

English: Jack Dorsey and Barack Obama at Twitt...

English: Jack Dorsey and Barack Obama at Twitter Town Hall in July 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Warning:  This is a very long post, but well sectioned off.  If you have limited time, just read the sections that interest you.

I’ll say it again; it’s hard to think positively when you have problems in your life.  Carrying on day after day can become hectic, especially when working, going to school, and raising a family can tire you out.  Life seems so hopeless because whatever you try to do, you never can seem to get ahead.  Each day, you’re struck with more bad news and the more you hear, the less likely you are to be happy.  Trying to save enough money to pay your bills and save for what you really enjoy seems virtually impossible, especially when things keep breaking down.

It is likely you feel hopeless and trapped in a stagnant world, however, I don’t blame you for feeling that way.  Is the atmosphere out there polluted or are you looking through a dirty window?  While you can’t clean the outside air, you can wash the window that you peer at the world through.

Instead of feeling hopelessly strapped down, you can do a little “spring cleaning” in your life.  Here is where you get creative.  Figure out some new strategies to make your life run more efficiently.  Try something new.  Find contemporaries you can associate with that are having the same problems as you.  Change the way you handle your daily routines.

Learn Something New

Learning something new is great, even if the newfound skill or info doesn’t improve your everyday life.  We all lack skills or knowledge in one area or another.  As we become aware of this lack or deficit, we may not feel good about ourselves.  Rather than allowing this black hole to handicap us, we can find a way around it.

For me, such a subject was breeds of dogs and cats.  I could look at numerous cats and dogs, but I can’t identify their breed.  Although this was a subject that never interested me whatsoever, I thought it would be great to know more about them.  I would just feel stupid if I came across such an animal and couldn’t tell you what it was.

As a means of becoming acquainted with the various breeds, I purchased a dog book and wrote a blog on several types of dogs.  I even posted poems about each breed on my Publish N Prosper blog, hoping this would attract more readers and educate myself as well.  It’s only been a year now and before then, I never heard of half of these breeds as the Basenji or the Whippet.

The point is, my knowledge about cats and dogs was below average.  Just by studying these breeds, I am now familiar with an area I knew next to nothing about.  So, if there’s a skill you lack or a certain subject you’re totally in the dark about, you need not feel self-conscious about it.  All you need to do is find a book or search the internet on that subject.  Take at least 15 minutes a day to review this topic. Talking to those who are knowledgeable about it can help greatly.

Becoming bright in a once-dark subject will make you feel better about yourself.  You’ll be able to function well in related activities.  This in turn promotes positive thinking.

Polish a Finer Skill

Now focus one of your stronger areas.  We all have a particular skill or knowledge base in one area or another.  So, your gifted asset has helped you launch a successful career or has made an admired member of a social network of others who share that same interest.  No matter how skilled we are in a specific area, there is always room for improvement.  Either it can be an aspect of that trade you never really cared about or changes in trends affecting your trade.  Find ways you can polish your strong suits even more.

My greatest skill is writing.  Although I feel I do it well, I can always do better.  Not only must I write well, but I must make my articles interesting.  Hence, I must find subjects that are sure to inspire my audience.  This means staying current with the news and reading articles others have published.  Keeping in touch with the outside world and changing trends of writing will ensure better quality articles on my behalf. By seeing how others write, I can improve my method of blogging as well.

Not only must I find great subjects, but keep my writing style sharp.  Learning and using new vocabulary words may convince my readers that I am quite intelligent.  Embedding up-to-date concepts into my articles shows my readers that I am up with the times.  For example, this may be “tweets” as in Twitter, “likes” as in Facebook, “dashboard” as in WordPress or other copycat applications, etc.  Polishing up on grammar and punctuation will sharpen my posts as well.

Whatever you do, don’t let your finest skill go to your head.  So, up to now, you’ve seemingly attained undefeated success.  That doesn’t mean you’re a god in your trade.  No matter what area you excel in, there are always going to be new trends or methods of doing things.  It is up to you to stay current with the changes.  What was considered a superb job in the 1970s and 80s is most likely worthless today.

My father worked as a carpenter in the 1960s and 70s.  If he was still alive and in good health, I’m sure he would continue to remodel homes.  The only thing: he would use the same building techniques now that he learned back then.  Why?  He felt that his methods were the best since they always worked fine.  For example, drywall and boards that were once fastened by nails are now fastened with screws and/or glue.  He would laboriously hammer nails rather than use a power driver.  It was like he thought, “I am so great at carpentry, I have the world on a string”.  You couldn’t tell him differently.

No matter how well you do something, be open to constructive criticism.  Never think that your shit doesn’t stink.  Don’t adhere to the ways you learned to do things.  Be open to changes and you’ll do even better.  Network with others that share your same interest.  They can teach you great things.

Polishing a fine skill will impress others and keep you competitive in your hobby or trade.  Being sharp and on top will help you land a good job and/or win people over.  This in turn promotes positive thinking.

Keep Your Living/Working Environment Clean and In Order

More than likely you’ve been in peoples’ homes or workplaces and found things strewn about and unorganized.  Some people just hate cleaning.  They figure that since they know where everything is, why tidying up the area?

Having a cluttered and disorganized living space only makes things worse.  If you allow things to pile up into a system only you can figure out, sooner or later, you’ll pay some kind of price for your sloppiness.  One day you’ll need a particular tool or a specific document and wind up spending hours tearing the place apart looking for it.  So you thought you knew where that “whatchamacallit” was?  Guess again!

Those who live in chaotic, messy homes often have low self-esteem.  They abhor getting up in the morning and facing their messy house.  Worse yet, they despise the thought of taking the time and effort to clean up the place.  To them, it’s just a chore and they hate to work.  Others may fear that cleaning up a messy place will only uncover other problems as dealing with unwanted paperwork, fixing broken doors, etc.  Overall, they become tired of looking at their mess and might feel hopelessly trapped within it.

Office workers with messy cubicles may set themselves up for problems on the job later.  They may dread coming into the office in the morning and looking at a huge pile of paperwork.  From their point of view, it’s just going to be another hectic day.  As a result, they’ll lug themselves through the day the best they can and hope that time will fly by quickly.  Not to mention frustration on the job and a negative image they’ll develop.

Disorganization will cost you time and money.  It can seriously handicap your work efficiency.  It will also give others a negative impression of you.  Also, it will make you less happy and not so proud.   There are no two ways about it.

I’m not saying I’m a neat freak, but I try to be.  Sometimes I let papers accumulate in piles, but I don’t let these piles grow too big.  Other times, I’m searching for a tool because my system of tool organization is not totally consistent.  Worse yet, I allow things to pile up in drawers and cabinets.  As a result, I might buy something I already have, because I forgot I still have it, such as a bottle of aspirin.

Once I had to fix a clogged drain in the kitchen.  This of course meant removing all of the contents from the cabinet below.  I pile so many things under there (including shopping bags I intend to reuse) to a point where the cabinet space is packed.  Upon cleaning out the cabinet, I discovered there were four boxes of detergent for the dishwasher, all unopened.  Needless to say, I was spending money on things I already had.

Cleaning up your living and work space will make you feel better about yourself.  Waking up to a clean house will make you feel good.  You will be convinced that all your chores will be done and today will be another fulfilling day.   Reporting to work with a clean office will boost your confidence and make you feel prepared to handle any problem that comes your way.  You may dread the thought of cleaning the place at first, but you’ll enjoy it once you have begun.  The time out and effort required will definitely pay off.

Best of all, having a clean living and work space might even give you the feeling of living in a brand new home or working in a new office building.  This in turn promotes positive thinking.

Fix Something That Is Broken

Finally, fix anything that is broken.  This may be a poorly working faucet, a door coming off the hinges, an appliance that makes strange sounds when it’s running, etc.  A lot of people dread the thought of doing repairs on something they know little or nothing about.  Some fear they’ll only make the situation worse so why bother?  Others may worry about what it may cost to have a professional fix it.

Living with nearly inoperable devices only causes aggravation and inconvenience.  Knowing something doesn’t work right only makes one feel worthless. Likewise, it gives others a poor impression of you.

Owning a house, I have dealt with a number of repairs.  I have fixed clogged drains, leaky faucets, minor electrical problems, and a conglomeration of other things.  Although I wasn’t always successful, I learned a lot from my attempts.  A great amount of what I learned came from hardware owners or clerks from building supplies stores.

There is a bright side to this.  Even if one fails in his attempts to repair something, he will always learn something about the broken down…whatever it is.  While attempting repairs, one thing leads to another and sought out advice is easily found.  Even novices learn valuable things from trying to repair things, even if they do not succeed.  Eventually, one will find a way around his problems after seeking out the expertise of others.  Once a breakdown is repaired, the owner will feel good about his success.  This will give him confidence in fixing things in the future.

After a broken device is fixed, in the end you will feel great about it.  You no longer have to live with the drudgery of putting up with the inconvenience from it.  Most of all, you won’t feel worthless because this “thingy” is not working right.

That in turn promotes positive thinking.

Positive Thinking – Part 3: What to Know Before Purchasing a Self-Help Course

money back guarantee

money back guarantee (Photo credit: lonely radio)

This article is NOT an advertisement for a positive thinking course.  I will not post a link that will bring you to a website selling you such a program.  I am not out to sell anything: just give you good advice and save you money and dismay as well.

Forms of Self-Help Programs

As you know, there are lots of self-help systems and books out there that promise a great transformation in your life by adopting positive thinking techniques.  Such courses promise success in your career, business, wealth, marriage, and overall happiness.

You’ll see them advertised in infomercials and hear testimonies of how people improved their lives by this course.  These infomercials are typically long and created to draw and retain you attention while playing on your conscience that by not trying their program, you’re throwing away a great opportunity.  Either you purchase their course or just go on living the fruitless life you’re living now.  Such courses are advertised indirectly through luring web advertisements that promise overnight changes for little or no money.

Hence, all you need to do is complete “our” course and BAM, you’re a brand-new person.  Right?  I would not make such an assumption!

On the flip side, I’m not saying they’re full of bogus information.  Every course touches down on good points such as making affirmations and adapting positive “self talk.”  However, before you can actually benefit from one of them, you must be willing to dedicate time for listening and put forth great effort on your behalf.

Meditation, Yoga, and Religion

There are other commercially sold techniques to promote positive thinking.  Some are based on meditation, yoga, or other exercise programs.  People will push religious materials at you as they promise overnight changes in your life.  They will ask you to read the Bible on a daily basis, attend weekly church services or studies, and preach the word to everyone you know, converting them to “born again Christians.”  I am not bashing religion, but it comes with no guarantees.  In fact, most of us naturally shun religion and its practices because while growing up we were conditioned to do so.  I suggest one reads the book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner.  It is widely available wherever books are available to the public.

These Courses Are Financial Traps

Frankly, they’re all just a waste of time and money, even the cheap ones.  Take it from me, I tried some when I was young and naïve and my life hasn’t changed.

Most of them come in the form of audio books with numerous tapes or CDs plus workbooks and DVDs.  Seeing their complete self-help kits on TV or on the web will make you think, if that amount of media is necessary to teach positive thinking, then this program has to be highly effective.

Some advertisements will display the price of their course on the TV screen.  If they don’t, this should raise a red flag that a bull can spot from a mile away.  Others will disclose a flat rate of say $99.  Then they’ll follow up with a prompt like: “Call in the next 10 minutes (or respond online by a certain date) and we’ll slash the price by 50%.  Next, they’ll offer to add in free supplements as additional books, CDs or DVDs “Absolutely Free!”

Don’t forget the “100% satisfaction money-back guarantee.”  This leaves most gullible consumers with the conclusion: “What have I got to lose?  I can always get my money back if I don’t like it!  I’ll try it.”

The trouble with money-back guarantees is they are for a limited time only and require a seemingly great amount of effort to act on them.  Not only is there the repackaging and sending the content back, some fear that their return will be rejected.  Still, some say they’ll try the course thoroughly but don’t or forget how long the trial period is good for.  With all the potential problems, many just keep the course and rarely, if ever use it.

So you call to order the $99 course mentioned above, thinking you’ll get it for $49 (plus taxes).  Right?  Wrong!   Once they got you on the line, they’ll make you feel like you’re doing a mighty great deed by trying their program and your life from this moment on is on the up and up.

Next thing you know, they’re making additional recommendations to supplement your course as in subscriptions to magazines, newsletters, listings of seminars to attend, etc.  Without them, the course won’t be fully effective.  If you’re not hard-nose enough to say “no” a hundred times or hang up, your cost of $49 turns into say $249.  Ouch!  You hang up the phone and ask yourself resentfully, “What the hell did I just do?”

Their sales team reps pray on people who don’t realize that all this information is already available at their local library.

Others are free local seminars or perhaps, webinars.  Though they are seemingly free, just wait until you get your foot into their door.  You’ll sit through a 3-hour talk session just to find out it ended with a recommendation to buy their program.  If you don’t buy it, you’ve invested 3 hours of sitting and listening-all for nothing.  Next thing you find out, the price of the program is astronomically high.  What do you do, whip out a “piece of plastic” (credit card) or just walk out.  I recommend the latter.

Why Positive-Thinking Courses Don’t Work

I’m not saying you can’t succeed at one of these programs.  They do offer great pieces of advice that you may never think of yourself.  Still, you must devote a lot of time and effort on your behalf to make their info work for you.  If you don’t do the work, you don’t reap the results.

However few people ever succeed for the following reasons:

  • We expect instant results: If we don’t see positive changes, right away we become impatient and abandon the program.   Although the advertisements profusely promised overnight changes, for few if any individuals, such changes come about.  What we don’t realize is that these changes happen over time.
  • The time commitment:  This may mean lying in bed for a few hours a day or meditating in a quiet place at home for 15 or 30 minute sessions where you won’t to be disturbed by the ringing of the phone, crying babies, the doorbell, etc.  You must lie down, close your eyes, breathe deeply, follow along with their sessions, and hope your daughter doesn’t suddenly barge in on you.  For most of us, our busy lives are much too busy to take on new activities.
  • Awkward activities:  For example, you may have to do therapeutic talk sessions with others.  This may require interacting with family, friends, co-workers, relatives, etc, that’s if you know very many people to begin with.  Those you do know are always busy, unwilling to change, or don’t believe in self-help programs period.  Most likely, you’ve had unpleasant experiences with family members and relatives which caused you guilt or remorse.  Thus, these people are hard to approach and likely to refuse to participate.  Friends and casual acquaintances are not willing to participate in such activities unless maybe you can sweet talk them into doing so.  Some may resent you for asking and think of you as another solicitor.  This just might damage a few relationships.
  • Self-consciousness:  Many of us naturally shun infomercials and the products they sell.  Others are strongly convinced that they are overpriced garbage.  Therefore, the individual who purchases the course must establish a mutual agreement with their significant other and others they respect.  They must agree that purchasing the course is financially feasible and well worth it and doing the activities will not interfere with others in the household.  Finally, the course will suggest its trainees to post notes and pictures around the house as reminders of keeping certain things in mind throughout the day.  These notes say things like “I am just as worthy as anyone else” or “Nothing in my past can affect me today”, etc.  For some, posting notes is not their style, especially for immaculate people.  Others may worry about what household members or visitors would think if they saw them.  For the self-conscious, such a practice may not be an option.
  • Unresolved emotional issues:  People who turn to these programs for help sometimes have unaddressed and unwanted emotions.  Some have pent up feelings of guilt or inadequacy that stems from rejection, failures, or mistakes, etc.  Feelings of anxiety, guilt, or worry have a nasty way of hanging on for years and cannot be dismissed at one’s free will.  Others suffer from depression, mood disorders, or adverse behavioral conditions that may stem from a natural chemical imbalance.  Self-improvement courses only make positive suggestions, but do not offer psychiatric advice.  Therefore, those with emotional problems must successfully undergo professional counseling before attempting to complete the course.  Nobody can sell you a solution to your emotional problems.  If you fail to seek treatment, your feelings will only hamper your progress in the course.
  • Change in attitude:  Attitude is essential in success, even if you’re not affected by any of the previous conditions.  Some may just get sick of the course after awhile or form opposing beliefs towards its content.  Such people are likely to make excuses as why it’s not feasible to complete the course or that they’re not the type of person it was intended for.  They will just abandon it and continue to live as they always have.

If you are absolutely serious about developing positive thinking habits, by all means go for it.  Rather than purchasing an online or TV course, resort to resources that offer free or low cost books or audio books on the subject.  This may be your local library or online.  If you feel you need professional help, don’t refrain from getting it.  Worst of all, don’t deny it.  If you have negative emotions pent up inside or lack of confidence, seek advice on how to deal with or remove them.  Research forums or other venues of information on those who have the same problems you have.  You may be surprised at what you find out.

Remember, money can’t buy you happiness.  Self-improvement courses are often overpriced and sold for profit only.  Not only are you paying for the materials, but you’re paying the overhead in producing and selling them.  That includes the costs of renting rooms in convention centers, traveling expenses incurred by the reps, TV advertising time, professional speakers, and all other affiliated prices.

All the publishers really care about is turning a profit-not how much (or little) their program benefits you. Pitching in for these expenses will never improve your outlook on life.  Why not check out a book on positive thinking at the library where you can read it for free?

Please feel free to comment on this blog.  If I said anything incorrectly or left something out, please let me know.  Genuine comments only please.

Legally Blind – Part 2: Four Eyes

The expression "four eyes" may have come from the thick black-framed glasses.

The expression “four eyes” may have come from the thick black-framed glasses.

This is continuation of my post: Legally Blind – Part 1: How It Affects Me  If you haven’t read it yet, please do, before reading this post.

Hey There “Four Eyes

As long as grade schools existed, there would always be one kid out of so many that had to wear thick-framed glasses all of the time. As you all know, these were the “four eyes.”  Many of them got picked on because they wore stupid looking, heavy framed glasses.  Yes indeed, I was one of them.  Up to 7th grade, I wore plastic rimmed glasses all the time.  I can still picture the black-rimmed glasses that some wore back in the 1960s.

Every elementary and high school has 3 types of kids: 1) the “different” kids – those with some mental or physical defect, 2) the bullies, and 3) the more fortunate, innocent, normal kids.  As you may have guessed, I fell into the first category.  My constantly moving eyes and my near-sightedness not only limited my vision, but caused me to develop weird mannerisms that made me seem inferior to others.  Such mannerisms were in the way I walked, the way I had to hold reading materials close to my face, and the way I had to get extremely close to objects (such as electronics) to read them.  Also, I need to turn small printed materials sideways to decipher the tiny printed alphanumeric characters.

I was teased a lot and thought of as being mentally retarded.  Kids would ask me things like “How many fingers am I holding up?”  I could always tell them outright.  Some outright avoided me because I was different and others were sarcastic and mean.  Just by seeing me walk, kids who didn’t know me were sarcastic and told me to watch where I was going.

While in high school, anonymous people would call up my mother and tell her that I definitely needed a seeing-eye dog.  This astounded her.  She could never understand how people could exaggerate my visual condition.  The SSDBVI constantly called us and sent me mail.  She felt they were “making a mountain out of a molehill”, but on the flip side, between all 8 schools in our district, there were only very few of us “blind” students, so this agency had to do keep busy with us to continue operating.

During my high-school years, I was one of those kids that stood out from the rest in my own ways.  People would razz or question me about my eyesight.  They were not so cruel, but became casual acquaintances.  I wonder if my visual impairment in an odd way attracted their attention towards me.  Some would call me Cylon after the Battlestar Galactica TV series while others called me “stigmite.”  I took no offense to these names.  In fact I got a charge out of them.

Because of my vision, sometimes I fell into the “disabled” group.  Com-on, I’m not disabled, I can walk and get around like everyone else.  The word “disabled” was degrading and by no means wanted to be a part of that group.  I wouldn’t need special services if only I was granted with a little luck and a secure job.

How My Visual Impairment Became My Biggest Asset

Even though I got teased and hassled a lot, couldn’t do certain things others could, and had a hard time finding a decent job, my visual impairment which was once a liability, turned into a great asset.

In the past decade, I had trouble finding and holding jobs.  Still, I have one tool at my aid: a document that states I was declared legally blind in November of 1968.  Whoa, I was only six years old then.  Whenever I apply for various services, I just send them a copy of it and surely be accepted.

Currently, I live on Social Security Disability because of my (legal) blindness.  I would rather be able to work than to live off federal income.  But due to the bad economy and the recessions we’ve been through, it is best that I receive this.

Still there are certain restrictions with my benefits.  Although I am allowed to work to supplement my income, I cannot make more than $1700 a month.  If I did, my benefits may be reduced or terminated.  Also, in today’s job market, jobs are hard to find and employers are more apt to let workers go with little or no warning, even for the pettiest reasons.  Hence, job security is as poor as it’s ever been.  I just don’t dare to live without my SSI benefits.  Now, jobs around my community are few and far in between, or in neighboring towns 30 miles away.

I feel sorry for unemployed individuals and couples without a disability.  Their only options are to collect unemployment (if they’re eligible) or other public assistance (if they can).  Many of them have been forced out of their homes and some are homeless.  Without my benefits, I would be homeless too.

Still, the greatest benefit of being visually impaired is when people comment that I’ve done a lot for someone that can’t see well.  I’ve had a number of people tell me that.  For one thing, I owned and maintained a home in Minneapolis for 18 years, doing a countless number of repairs myself.  I did electrical wiring, plumbing repairs, painting, etc.  I strive to be as independent as possible and rarely ask for the help of others.  Being recognized for my accomplishments makes me feel good.

Today, I’m a 50-year old bachelor who co-owns a home with my brother.  Because of my home repair experience, he relies on me to do the repairs.  I am confident that our house will be well-maintained and suit us well into the next decade.

Legally Blind – Part 1: How It Affects Me

English: Reading glasses. ‪中文(繁體)‬: 老花眼鏡

English: Reading glasses. ‪中文(繁體)‬: 老花眼鏡 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Legally, I am classified as being blind, though I really am not. I can see everything around me clearly, but when it comes to small print or details, I use a heavy magnifying pair of reading glasses. However, there are times when I attempt to read without using my glasses, because I’m too lazy to put them on. Still, I don’t use a cane, read Braille and I sure don’t need a seeing-eye dog.

Because this story is so long, I broke it up into two posts.

My Visual Condition

Yes, I’ve been born with my visual condition and it has adversely affected me throughout my life. Not only was I born with astigmatism, but nystagmus (constant, involuntary back and forth movement of the eyeballs) too.

Contact lenses are totally out of the question. After several eye exams, they are unable to provide me with regular glasses to correct my vision. Therefore, I have reading glasses only and should not wear them unless I’m reading. For regular site, they make everything look blurry.

My legal blindness prohibits me from getting a driver’s license. You need to be able to read any sign going at 55 miles per hours, which I could never do.
Over the last three decades I considered laser eye surgery. The thought of having the cornea reshaped in my eyes so my vision can be corrected has sounded really good to me. I was excited about the possibility to drive and land a better job. About 3 or 4 times I’ve seen different specialists, each about 5 years apart, but they all told me the same thing: Your eyes cannot be corrected due to nystagmus. If we did, you would have tunnel vision, that’s if we can get your eyes to stay still.

How It Affects My Life

Most every type of task is tougher for me than for the average person. Operating electronics or machinery (until I’m familiar with them) is difficult and takes me a long time to master. Quite often, I would need to put household or office items together that came in kits (for example, chairs, desks, and shelves). Not only was it hard to read the directions, but to sort out all of the parts in different categories so I would know which parts connected with what pieces. Hence, assembling things took me longer than it might take others.

Sometimes reading is difficult. Reading the classified ads in the newspaper is hard, especially deciphering addresses or phone numbers. The Yellow Pages were just as bad. Thanks to the internet, I rarely have to read these things anymore, and if I do, I use heavy magnifying glasses.

Counting money can be difficult for me. I always had difficulties trying to tell nickels and quarters apart. Later I found out that other people had that problem too. Now I can do that without any problem. Sometimes, I have to hold ten, twenty, fifty, or one-hundred dollar bills up close to make sure I’m giving cashiers the correct amount of money.

I grew up in a foster family who liked to fish. Every weekend we would go up to the cabin and spend time out on the lake or down at the canal fishing off shore. I used to hate fishing with a passion. Not only did I rarely catch anything, but I would have a difficult time putting the bait on the hook. Putting on sinkers and bobbers was very hard for me. Stringing a leader onto the end of the line was almost impossible. Often, my fishing line would become tangled and straightening out the mess was extremely impossible. I would get so frustrated that I would scream and curse to the top of my lungs.

To this day, I still hate fishing, unless there are others along willing to help me and we are at a lake that actually has fish in it.

Indeed, I did look quite awkward when handling my fishing pole. I would hold the objects an inch away from my eyes and squint as I tried to put them together. Usually, I would succeed, but only after several minutes or struggling. No doubt, I must have looked pretty foolish.

While in senior high, I received materials from the State Services for the Disabled and Blind and Visually Impaired (SSDBVI) in Minnesota. I didn’t have to apply for them, I just received them automatically. This included a cassette player with audio books, called talking books. They would send me a large print catalog and I would check some of them out. It was just like a standard library including books containing adult language. They also tried to push Braille materials my way, but I didn’t need Braille, nor had sensitive fingers to read it anyway.

All of my adult life I have been unable to drive. I’ve had to depend on others to drive me places, unless there was public transportation handy. Still, I can ride a bike without any problem, especially when I know the area well. Thus, I aim to be as independent as possible and hate having to bother people for rides.

Riding in a car with someone can be extremely difficult. This is true when we both are going somewhere we never been before. For me, seeing most street signs is impossible. Even though I bring a pair of binoculars along, they’re not powerful enough for me to see the street signs. As we approach them, I would struggle to focus in on them and by the time I was close enough, we had already whipped past them.

I would feel so helpless when trying to help the driver find his/her way to our destination. Fortunately, those I ride with are understanding. Still, I can read road maps with the aid of a heavy magnifying glass plus the help of my reading glasses. It just takes me half a minute to put on my glasses, grab the map, and fetch the magnifying glass.

For more, see next post.