Cursed With a Conscience

marvels and musings of a normal girl in a wacky world.

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Picking the right battles

Let’s face it: if we stressed about, fussed over, or attempted to combat every inconvenience, offense, speedbump or roadblock that life threw our way, we would be miserable people- and tremendously unsuccessful.

The fact is, shit happens, and it happens often enough that we need to become skillful at finding solutions or routes to reconciliation, or just learn to scream into a pillow and get over it. That’s where picking the right battles comes into play. The following are poor (but commonly chosen) battles that humans wage with themselves or others every single day- yet occasions in which surrender, calling a truce, or pulling out are truly more effective strategies:

Battle # 1. Becoming upset when people you don’t care about or don’t know well judge you unfairly: If people are speaking ill of you undeservedly, they don’t know you and probably don’t care to take the time to get to know you. If they did, they would see what all the people that adore you see. If somebody doesn’t care to assess you fairly, or jumps to conclusions about your character prematurely, the best recourse is to be yourself and hope you can change their opinion. Fact is, we all have bad days. Some days we are more charming than others, and those who are worth your time will look past the immediate moment and judge you holistically- on your disposition, not the situation. Plus, you know yourself. If you behave respectably, you deserve respect. If people aren’t giving it, they aren’t the type of people you should care to impress. Let ’em judge- meanwhile, charm and bedazzle the rest of the worthy populace who want to impact your life positively. With that said, don’t return the bad vibes you might receive. If people talk negatively about you or sling hostility your way, retaliate with a smile. Kill ’em with kindness. Either they will change their opinion, or feel stupid and conflicted for maintaining their unfounded judgment. And the best part? You don’t lose your smile either way.

Battle # 2. Keeping tension with people within your same group of friends: Let’s be honest. In every group of friends, there tends to be at least a bit of longstanding tension. A blemish of bad history between two individuals. A shared crush or ex- boyfriend, a competitive edge that slices positive ties. Whatever the case may be, there will usually be at least one person in a group of friends whom you are less fond of than the others, and tension seems to follow the two of you everywhere. My advice? Squash it. Don’t vent about it to your other friends, they might begin to think less of you for being controversial and dramatic. Also, don’t return the bad vibes. Try to make the other person feel comfortable. Make subtle peace offerings: Laugh at their joke, offer them a drink if they wind up at a girls night that you’re hosting. Sometimes all it takes is one person to diffuse the awkwardness, and the other will follow suit. Once the air is cleared, you will look at that person through a new lens and might just like what you see. Plus, it’s much easier to get along than argue, and way more important to keep group cohesion than continued dedication to a stubborn vendetta.

Battle # 3. Perpetuating grudges: Admit it- they suck. They only hurt you. While it gives us a sick satisfaction to show our anger, resentment or hostility towards somebody who we feel has wronged us, and make them “pay” for their mistake, grudges really only make our life harder. They force us to glower when we really want to smile, just to send a message of indignation. They make mutual friends uncomfortable who are aware of the tension, and could cause alienation within a group when allegiances are forced into declaration. Also, grudges are almost always instances of small or outdated issues that have snowballed into something much larger and more profound, only because of a personal refusal to let it go, not because the issue still has any relevance. Let time diffuse your anger. Don’t hold on to resentment on principle if the impetus loses importance. We are all entitled to feel upset when situations arise that rub us the wrong way, but some things are just not worth holding on to. Keeping a silly grudge usually isn’t worth what you lose to hold on it.

Battle # 4. Crying over pilled milk: little annoyances happen every day, to every single person. Parking tickets, stubbed toes, spilling on your new top, an impossible series of red lights. This shit happens not because the world is conspiring to defeat you, but because of this nuisance called “coincidence.” That’s right, eeny meeny miny MO. Duck duck GOOSE. Sometimes you just get the shit end of the stick for no other reason than sheer chance. Therefore, don’t fuss over things you can’t control, and don’t beat yourself up over small mistakes- learn from them. Give yourself a hall pass to avoid guilt and shame in this instance, and scold yourself if it happens again. One way to look at situations in which frustrating or “unfair” setbacks occur is this: think about how many times you’ve gotten lucky, or gotten away with things you shouldn’t have. It all balances out. Maybe you got nailed for going 82 on the freeway this time, but think of all the times you were going 90 and never got caught. Don’t sweat the small things, and the inevitable speedbumps. It’s healthier to laugh and move on than to convince yourself that the world hates you. Plus, think of all the saps out there you point and laugh at when they’re on the side of the road with sirens behind them- yesterday it was their turn, today it might be yours. Or, think of the trillions of people out there who have it much, much worse than you; those who can’t afford a glass of milk to spill, new shoes to scuff, or a car to get ticketed. Count your blessings, and realize you’re fortunate to only be “sweatin the small stuff.” Friends, pick your battles wisely:)