Category Archives: Psychology

“Sandy” As Cheap Entertainment

I think most people from time to time wish they could lock themselves in the house and never have to deal with other people again. I’d like to think that would make me feel better and lower my stress level considerably. We all know that is not very realistic. We still have to make money to buy the necessities in life and to pay for that roof and four walls we’ve surrounded ourselves with. Besides, I don’t think it would take very long before those walls started to close in on me and cabin fever would set in. My stress level would probably double at that point and totally defeat the purpose.

Normally, I tend to think this way when someone or just general circumstances in life become hard to deal with. I have recently found myself feeling just the opposite. Lately, I have had a “difficult person” in my life but instead of wanting to just stay away, I find myself wanting to be around more and more. It has become a form of entertainment for me.

This person, we’ll call them…oh, I don’t know…. “Sandy”….like the squirrel from the Sponge Bob Squarepants cartoon, because that is what happens to be on my son’s television at the moment.

Like the cartoon Sandy, this one is actually very intelligent and capable of doing what needs to be done and figuring out how to deal with more than your average day to day problems. The thing is, this Sandy loves to manipulate people, lie when it isn’t necessary and keep drama rolling at all times. All Sandy’s energy and brain power is devoted to these things rather than just simply taking care of the everyday tasks and solving normal daily problems. I’m sure it’s all very exhausting.

I’ve learned that there are very simple rules in dealing with people like Sandy. First you have to keep your nose clean and make sure you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. Cross all your  T’s and dot all your I’s and by all means, re-check yourself often. Second, watch your back every second of the day. Never just assume that everything will be okay because people like Sandy can strike when you least expect it. Finally, the third rule is to be sure to give them plenty of rope with which to hang themselves. Then sit back and watch the show. All this checking and re-checking and watching your own back, does take a little extra energy, but it is necessary and the payoff is usually worth it all.

The Sandy’s of the world are a very interesting breed to observe. They seem completely oblivious to the tangled mess they make of their own lives in the process of deliberately trying to hurt someone else. They usually believe that they are winning the “game” until the very second before their whole charade is finally exposed.

If you happen to be the target of their deceit, take it as a compliment because they only attack people that they see as a threat in some way. Maybe they think you are smarter or more capable of something that they want for themselves. Maybe they envy you in some way. Sometimes they just want to get rid of anyone intelligent enough to see through their lies.

So, instead of Sandy making me want to turn into a complete hermit, she has accomplished just the opposite. I am beginning to very much enjoy the show. Who doesn’t like seeing justice served?


Mommy Memories

This is the second time in my life that I’ve had the pleasure of contending with a two year old on a day to day basis. I love it but it’s tough sometimes. Every now and then I’m given a hard situation that, on hindsight, will be one of the funny memories I’ll keep close to me forever. My super awesome two year old, Gavin,  handed me one of those moments last weekend and I find myself thinking of it now with a chuckle.

Here’s a little history in the situation:

Gavin’s Dad is pretty open minded when it comes to letting him play with things that bump the borders of the gender line. He has a pink Minnie Mouse blanket just because he likes Minnie and a friend gave him a tiny baby doll that he carries around like “his baby.” Lately, it seems he’s been gravitating more toward the “girlie” things and I think it’s beginning to wear on Dad a little. So, when we changed daytime caregivers and all the toys came home from “Grandy’s” house this weekend, Dad was a little taken aback by the little dark haired barbie doll in the princess dress he found in Gavin’s bedroom. I explained that he had found it in some of Grandy’s things and started calling it “Princess P” after one of his favorite characters, “Princess Presto” from a PBS television show. It wasn’t a “doll” to him. It was a television personality.

So, Saturday morning, I went into Gavin’s room to get his day started to find him sitting in the middle of his bed. “Princess P., Mama!” flew out of his mouth and he pointed to the barbie laying naked with no arms in the middle of his bedroom floor. “Arms gone, Arms gone! What to do? What to do?” became the chant and I soon realized it would be chanted over and over again until Princess P was reunited with her arms…and her dress.

For the nearly twenty minutes that followed, this chant when on. I thought my ears would bleed. I searched absolutely everywhere for her severed arms. I asked him where they were and he just kept chanting.

“Arms gone, Arms gone! What to do? What to do?”

I looked through books and stuffed animals and toy boxes. I searched under the bed and behind the dresser.

“Arms gone, Arms gone! What to do? What to do?”

Finally I found, the left arm in the corner between the bookcase and the wall. It was obvious to me that he had ripped them off and thrown them.

“Arms gone, Arms gone! What to do? What to do?”

I moved the bookcase to look behind it, but still no right arm. I searched his room inch by inch and finally in the opposite corner of the room, under Chuck the Dump Truck, I found the right arm!

“Arms gone, Arms gone! What to do? What to do?”

I feverishly began cramming arms into tiny little sockets and tried not to pop them back off in the process of shoving her back into her princess dress.

“Arms gone, Arms gone! What to do? What to do?”

The moment the Velcro reattached on the back of her dress and just short of my skin falling off my bones, the chanting stopped. All was once again well with the world.

I took a deep breath and sat in the floor with him to have a talk about respecting our “friends” and how we shouldn’t rip their limbs off to throw to the far corners. That’s just not what friendship is all about. I can only hope the lesson he took from that day was something  more than: “Chanting the same thing over and over, makes Mommy move really fast and get things done!”


Why Can’t I Be Just A Voter?

A long stretch of my voting adulthood was spent without being registered to vote. Just after my 18th birthday, I registered for the first time and was so proud that I was among citizens who could make a difference. I proudly went to the polls and cast my vote responsibly…knowing who all the candidates were and what they stood for. I took responsibility for my civic duty and felt very good about it…and then something happened. I can’t remember exactly what it was but I know it was something. I stopped voting.

Eventually I moved to another state and refused to register. Just under 20 years passed without a single vote from me. I gave no excuses. I just didn’t vote. Over time, I forgot why I stopped.

This year I registered again. I found a candidate that I believed in and decided to go full throttle in his direction. I got one vote in for him and he dropped out of the race. So, here I am, all registered and ready to vote in the presidential election and looking for a candidate to back. I’ve started reading up on what’s left of the candidates…what they’ve done, what they’ve promised…and I’ve discovered something. I’m expected to pick a box to crawl into and a tag to stamp on my forehead.

The “women’s vote”, the “black vote”, the “Hispanic vote”, Democrat, Republican, upper class, middle class, lower class…….What the hell is going on here?

First of all, I thought my vote was supposed to be secret! I have to choose to be either Democrat or Republican when I’m given a ballot but I’m neither. If I choose Democrat, everyone knows I’ll vote for Obama. Just give me a ballot with everybody on it and let me decide in the booth! I don’t care how long the ballot is or how long it takes me to sift through the names. Just give me the ability to vote for whoever I want!

Am I so shallow that I am automatically going to vote like every other working white female? Is there no room for me to care about the plight of a Hispanic male? I’m not gay or lesbian but their right to marry is important to me and could influence my vote. Am I grouped by that as well? If so, I’m on the opposite side of that issue from most of the people who surround my little plot inside the good ol’ Bible belt. How do they account for rogue voters like me? Am I just a “wild card?” There’s another label!

I guess the thing that gets to me most is the electoral votes. I understand the original reasoning behind this but get with the times people. There is so much corruption in this whole process that there is absolutely no way in hell that all those votes go where they are meant to go. Most of the popular votes don’t go where they should!

So, as I sit with my signature on my little voter registration card, I have a tough decision to make. Do I tear it up and refuse to talk about it or do I waste my time at the polls? I just want to be a voter! Just a plain old voter!


Old People Don’t Suck!

When I was younger, I use to wonder why “old people” were so rude and selfish. I just bounced around with my happy-go-lucky attitude and snarled back at them with a smirk when they’d get rude over something that I deemed silly. I can remember passing it off as jealousy of my youth. In my mind, old people sucked! As I thought all these things, and voiced a little of it too, I never considered their side of it. I never considered the reasons that they did the things they did or acted the way they acted.

Well, I’m not exactly “old” yet but I’m getting there. I’ll be 41 this year and that puts me about 20 years ahead of my original “Old Folks are Rude” discovery. I’m sure my opinion of this will evolve even more but as of now, I am beginning to understand. I kind of understand now that I was being selfish and rude. It was me that sucked! It was my heavy gas pedal foot and my energy level. It was me being inconsiderate of other people wanting to be safe on the road rather than just getting where they were going in the quickest possible manner. It was me being in too big of a hurry to wait for someone to read a label on something in the grocery store and brushing past them like they had no right to be there. It was me, that bounced attitude off these people and they were just reflecting it back. It was me all along!

And now that I’m getting older, I understand that sometimes “old timers” have just had enough! We (I say that loosely..) just don’t give a shit! Why should we? I’m gonna stand there and read that label because, dang it, carbs matter these days! I’m going to drive near the speed limit (for now anyway) because not only do I have someone in the car with me most of the time, but I understand that I also hold the lives of other drivers in my hands. I’m going to walk as slow as I need too because by cracky, my feet and legs hurt bad enough when I get out of bed in the morning and I’m not going to make it worse! Why should I hurt myself for these heathen whipper snappers?!??!

So be warned, children! (…and by children, I men anyone under 30-ish these days) I’m rude, selfish and inconsiderate and I don’t apologize for it!*

 

*This is what I want to say so badly it hurts, but the truth is, I’m a doormat. I suck! I want so badly to be rude, selfish and inconsiderate but I always fall short. I really, really want to not give a shit! …but I do. I just can’t help it. So feel free to crash into me with your cart in the grocery store and cut me off in traffic. I’ll smile and wave at you…then go home and cry in the shower…


Styles of Thinking

Eastern Washington University has an article on their website called, “15 Styles of Distorted Thinking” and unfortunately I fit into most of those 15 categories. Who among us can say that their actions at some point haven’t fit into most of these styles. This article is a part of their section on stress management and according to the site, recognizing these patterns of thinking can help you to understand the things that cause stress. These are simply ways of thinking to avoid.

I would assume, in a perfect world, a person might recognize after reading this article that they must be “Catastrophizing” a situation and if they just stop doing that, their stress level will dramatically decrease. What if there is an impending catastrophe? (Yes, I realize the very wording of the previous sentence is Catastrophizing) If so, a person would be denying their inborn sense of fight or flight in an attempt to ward off stress. Essentially a person would then sit and wait for the catastrophe to happen. Like falling and not stretching out your arms to catch your fall.

Since I was a small child, I was told to put myself in the other person’s shoes and think about how they must be feeling or thinking. In a sense, that is the idea conveyed by “Mind Reading” in this article. I’d like to believe that the article refers to an extreme version of this, where the mind reader doesn’t leave room for the chance that the observed person could possibly be thinking or feeling differently than they would. In my opinion that would actually be classed as something a little more severe than a stress point.

Most of these styles could easily fit into a diagnosis much larger than a simple stress point. That statement reminds me of another article that I recently read concerning an experiment with sane people willingly being admitted as patients in psychiatric hospitals. It was called the Rosenhan Experiment. These people pretended to hear voices and such and were diagnosed with psychiatric illnesses and admitted to several hospitals in various states in the US. After being admitted, they suddenly stopped hearing the sounds and voices and reverted back to “themselves.” Several of these people were kept in the hospitals for months and all were forced to admit that they had one mental illness or another and agree to take medications before they could be released. After these patients were released, doctors and nurses were asked to find fake patients in their hospitals. These healthcare workers were unaware that none of these patients were still in their care. The caregivers then proceeded to find a large number of patients in their care that seemed to have faked their conditions.

Thank goodness the days of lobotomies are gone. I don’t think any of us would be safe and I wonder how many of us would be classed as sane at the end of the day.


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