Archives for the month of: July, 2013

Do you ever feel like your life is a series of unintended consequences?  We always try to make the best decision possible, given the circumstances, yet it seems to be that despite our best intentions, our judgement can be flawed more often than not and what results is a series of unintended consequences which we must learn to deal with.  As time passes by, it seems that these results accumulate and we must make the best out of it.  There is no going back and reliving our lives and the only way is forward.

When we were younger–perhaps back in high school–we might have had grandiose delusions that we exercise a sizeable control over our decisions and the outcomes and perhaps this is why rebelling and being headstrong seemed to be the fallback position when we do not get our way.  We wonder at why people in their early thirties onwards seem to be boring and conventional–and yes, cautious.  We thought that caution was uncalled for and it was only for fools–and we were mistaken.

No amount of hearsay or opinion coming our way from these “adults” would dissuade us because we were convinced that we knew better and that we would not find ourselves in the same helpless situations they find themselves in.  We thought that when it came to be our turn to make decisions that we would make better ones and that we won’t become prey to cumulative series of unintended consequences–also known as reality.  And ignorance was bliss, until it wasn’t.

We wish that we knew better now that we look back but it is to no avail because what has been done cannot be undone and we still do not have sufficient knowledge of applied quantum physics to be able to travel back in time and perhaps change the series of events.  We must then live with what has come to pass and attempt to arm ourselves with enough knowledge, experience, and wisdom to be able to handle unfolding life experiences and this includes learning from other people who have been there–elders, teachers, mentors, friends, siblings, parents, and even through books because we simply do not have the time and energy nor the stupidity to experience what-not-to-do firsthand.

And perhaps–just perhaps–we might just have enough luck and wisdom to produce some positive and intended consequences of our own which would not be only towards our own selfish benefit and gain but to benefit others as well.

(c) Niconica 2013

 

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One of the realizations this book has given me is that there are many people with difficult personalities and these purported humans have turned into monsters in the own right and it would save us a world of heartache if we gave them a wide berth and do not attribute their bad behavior to anything that we might have said or done.  They could have been born that way or have gradually transformed into what they are now due to their past experience and it is not our responsibility to rehabilitate, to coddle, or to indulge them by being willing victims to their personality.

It is almost a certainty that they will move on and look for other targets or victims if we do not allow ourselves to be their prey du jour.  They will most likely not be conscientious about the damage that they have inflicted upon us and even if they are “blood relatives” it is no excuse to allow them to emotionally pummel us with their issues.  I highly recommend this book–it is insightful, witty, and helpful.  As I was reading through the different personality types, many such characters in my life have popped up into my head.

As is stated several times in the book, it would be a difficult feat to rehabilitate or to change any of them since their pattern of behavior is already deeply ingrained within the fabric of their psyche and it would be to our benefit to recognize them for who they are and learn to manoeuvre around them and get on with our lives with as little interference or interaction with them as possible.

Two thumbs-up! A highly recommended read!

(c) Niconica 2013

 

 

If we have not learned from history and mythology books, from news and current affairs, and/or from friends’ accounts or personal experience, that family relations might sometimes merely be an arbitrary and involuntary designation by virtue of birth, it might be too late.  Perhaps it is to our credit that we still hope that our relatives might turn out to be more righteous or honourable than they really are and that being part of a family clan might actual mean something more meaningful other than just having the same progenitors or the same middle name or last name.  It says that we still have at least an ounce of idealism within us and that we have not given up in our faith in humankind.  It also indicates a valid coping mechanism where we choose to believe what is convenient or comfortable rather than the painful reality which is before us.

In the previous blog post, I have suggested exercising due caution and skepticism wherever the setting might be–and that people who frequent or are part of an order of a place of worship should not be immune to our own discretion and good judgement.  I would like to extend this suggestion towards our relatives.  If people do not automatically become holy by virtue of being part of a religious or spiritual group, it also goes to say that people who are related to us by blood are not automatically trustworthy simply by virtue of being part of the same extended family.  The designation of being part of a spiritual/religious/actual family almost seems arbitrary and moot when it comes to considering whether they are worthy of respect or whether they are endowed with  kind heart.

We all have an instinctive urge for companionship and belonging and it is this primal longing for family which causes us to value blood ties perhaps even beyond what is applicable or apt, given the circumstances.  We must not place our trust, love, and respect on people on people simply because they are considered ‘family’ or simply because ‘blood is thicker than water’ because blood can also be more toxic and is more complicated than water and there must be some discernment when it comes to placing our loyalty on people.  Trust and respect must be earned and perhaps, when it comes to family, there is the tendency to presume innocence until proven guilty, which is fair enough.  However, when the ties that bind extend to continuing betrayal and doubtful intentions and behaviour, there must be some introspection and thought which must be put into the particular situation–it must be considered that beyond kinship, there must be something more substantial within  the ‘ties that bind’ which are love, trust, faith, loyalty, and integrity.

(c) Niconica 2013

 

When we visit hospitals, we are not surprised to find sick people there, in fact, we expect to find the ill there; yet, when we visit places of worship, we are often surprised when we see people who are far from holy frequenting the church/temple.  Places of worship are in a sense, “hospitals” for the spiritually/emotionally unwell because it is where one goes to seek peace of mind, clarity, answers, solace, and perhaps even redemption.  It is where we seek to be “cured” from whatever is bothering us–which caused us to seek a spiritual or religious path in the first place.

When one is well-balanced physically and mentally, everywhere can be a place of worship and every where can be a holy place where we find peace of mind, joy, calmness and love.  However, when one is troubled, we feel that we need to seek solace from the world and we often end up going to places of worships and attending prayer gatherings in the hope that our life may gradually improve and whatever has driven us there will be alleviated.  Hence, we must not be surprised when the people who surround us during religious gatherings are far from stellar.

It is precisely because they are as spiritually or emotionally troubled as we are which is why they find themselves there in their search for peace or even happiness.  When looking for well-balanced friends and companions, we must subscribe to the faulty notion that people who are religious and devout are automatically of good character and moral standing, for as the well-known quote from the Bible goes, “The devil can quote the words of the scripture.”

To elaborate further, the devil (or any sort of manipulative person) will not reveal their true nature or identity because it will be in cross-purposes with their ill intentions because if we know that someone or something is “bad”, “wrong”, or “evil” there is a higher chance that we might hesitate.  In looking for truly good people, places of worship might not necessarily be the right place to look.  Just as with any gathering, there will be an assortment of different characters–some who really are of exceptional character, others who are harmless or neutral, and others who have their own agendas for being where they are and doing what they do.

Just because we find ourselves in a religious gathering or group, we must not arbitrarily let our guards down simply due to the fact that the activity or group or location has something to do with Holy beings or prayers. We must still exercise discernment, as we would do so during any other setting because people are people and often appearances deceive.  We might also be even more vigilant, taking into consideration the higher likelihood of the motivations of being devoutly religious in the first place–what causes them to frequent such places, and what benefits they derive from it and why they feel the need to seek a spiritual path in the first place.

With all due respect, there are indeed very respectable characters in places of worship, yet it does not apply to all people who are devout followers.  I am merely prescribing due caution and scepticism.  We must give credit where credit is due, and not simply merely by virtue of the setting, situation, event, or location.

(c) Niconica 2013

It should not be a surprise, given my recent posts, that I’m not a big fan of my extended family or relatives–they have proven to be toxic as I was growing up, and at best, irritants as time went by.  I can only wonder at how it would feel to actually have extended family one can actually turn to for solid support, guidance, understanding, and love.

I’ve always been a square peg trying to fit into a round hole and it is difficult at the best of times to try to fit into whatever expectations the greater family culture sets.  Growing up here in Asia, immediate family does not exist in a vacuum, and there is always the extended family to consider.  I have read somewhere that Asian culture is more ‘collectivist‘ while Western culture is more ‘individualistic‘.

I seem to be stuck in a limbo between collectivism and individualism.  However, I digress. The topic at hand is about relatives and I can only envy and admire people who have good family culture and get along with their relatives and actually enjoy their company.  I seem to drown in their unmet expectations each time that I see them and despite the fact that I am now considered an ‘adult’ it doesn’t feel that way when I interact with them.  However, if unmet expectations and disappointments were the only problem, I would consider myself fortunate.  Many of them are poisonous characters in their own right and perhaps ought to be quarantined–if only such a quarantine exists for emotionally and psychologically toxic people.

I seem to be stuck in the past when it comes to this facet of my development–perhaps the damage to my psychological and emotional development has been so great that this part of me is unable to grow past and move on the toxins my interactions with negative people have produced within me.  In my mind, our extended family as well as our immediate family should be factors which are supportive of our improvement instead of the causes for our trauma–but we cannot turn back time and we cannot change how people are.

To this day, the difficult personalities are still as narcissistic and histrionic as they ever were and age seems to make them even worse.  The hierarchical family system here indicates that rank is conferred through seniority and by default, we must respect people who are older than us–whether or not they deserve the respect.  I know a bit better now, but as I was growing up, it was not the case–and it was to my detriment.  There is still much to learn–hence, my reading up on relevant literature.

I have stopped trying to earn their approval and I have ceased hoping that they will learn to better their ways.  This is the first step to loosening the hold they have on me.  There is still a long way to go–and Jon P. Bloch’s book The Loveless Family has categorised some of the monsters and their ways–and how to deal with them, or avoid them.

I am now reading his other book Handling Difficult People.  I shall share my thoughts about it when I finish reading it.

(c) Niconica 2013

My room is filled with stacks of books where it probably should have other more generally accepted objects such as interesting memorabilia, photos, or  pretty furniture.  I am addicted to reading and since there is a lack of a good public library system here, I resort to scouring book retailers, Amazon.com, and second-hand bookshops for good reads to fill my appetite for reading something new.  I like reading non-fiction more than fiction now than when I was younger.

It is widely said that books provide a thriftier way to travel to another local or an easy way to encounter new experiences.  Given that I am now less of an extrovert and less inclined to be seeking actual adventures via travelling, I value the insights and the knowledge which books provide.  It goes without saying that not all books provide the same intellectually potent fare as others and we must exercise discernment with what we choose to expose our minds to.

Reading new books weekly requires a certain commitment since time and resources are involved with purchasing the book and physically sitting down and focusing on the words.  It is something that I gladly do since I sometimes find that a good book is better company than many other people.  I am not interested in idle gossip or superficial talk, and having selected books which I enjoy provides me an avenue of spending my time instead of seeking other distractions.

Perhaps I could be playing video games more often but nothing catches my interest more than a book.  Movies, music, and video games are also part of the activities which I enjoy but seeing the clutter in my room being book stacks in majority, it illustrates what is important to me.  It is not beyond me to use folded receipts as bookmarks when I jump from one book to another during the course of a week.  I had prepared some bookmarks but they don’t seem to be around when I start a new book–unless they are already in the other books which I’m concurrently reading.

I’m gradually warming up to the idea of electronic books but nothing beats the smell of a new book, and nothing beats the enjoyment of physically leafing through the pages of the book.  I do believe that in the interest of saving the planet and being eco-friendly, electronic books would be the way to go and it would be this way in the future.  However, I suppose I am still old-school when it comes to books in that I like feeling the paper and seeing the words on the printed page as I read.

I cannot imagine going through a day without reading something–anything, even a little bit.  It is almost like a ‘caffeine’ fix but instead it is a book fix.  I fell in love with books ever since I first learned to read at a young age and this obsession shows no signs of abating.  I suppose there are worst things that one can be addicted to.  As my shoe rack is already filled with books, I just need to have more bookshelves or convert my wardrobe into a bookshelf.

Books, books, and more books.  I love books.  I love reading. And I love writing.

(c) Niconica 2013

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I’m seriously wondering why this book isn’t on the bestseller list.  It was published in 2011 (upon googling it and finding the information on Amazon.com) and it is one of the better books that I’ve read.  The self-help genre gets a lot of bad jokes but aside from this book being fit for the psychology section in the book shop, it would benefit many people to find it in the self-help genre because we it behooves us to help ourselves as much as we can–after all, we are in the best position to do so, even if we may not feel that way.

I don’t understand why people joke about all the self-help books, as though we are all clued up as to how to deal with life.  We are basically meandering around in confusion trying to figure things out the best that we could and there is no crime in perusing the self-help section and finding gems among the wide selection of pop-psychology books found in this section.

The term ‘dysfunctional’ applies to many families and it’s not supposed to be a flippant phrase that we toss around as though it is harmless.  Being from a dysfunctional family carries more weight than mere criticism.  It is not a joke and has serious repercussions–of equal gravity to actual physical dysfunction or disease.  It is something which affects who we are now and who we will become.  Beyond self-centeredness, we must take seriously that whether we want it or not, we affect other people and they affect others.

If the pain, hate, and trauma of being from a loveless/dysfunctional family causes part of our souls to be corrupted, it is something to address before the rot spreads to other parts of our lives–our friendships, our romantic relationships, our work relationships and our future offspring.  The damage caused in growing up with horrible relatives cannot simply by contained arbitrarily, it needs to be dissected and digested in order to be able to overcome it and claim our lives back from being devoured by our past.

It is in this light that this book is a treasure in discussing the different characters whom we encounter in our family or extended families–and we may take comfort that we were not simply imagining that certain relatives were less than stellar. This book arms us somehow and comforts us–it was not too awful of us to avoid less than pleasant interactions with relatives because it does happen that blood sometimes is muckier than water aside from the fact that it is ‘thicker than water’.

Two thumbs-up! A must-read for our own sanity and psychological health.

(c) Niconica 2013

 

 

 

 

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I’ve recently come across these very interesting books by author Jon P. Bloch.  I am impressed by his insight into human nature enough to wish to read all of this non-fiction books.  If you enjoy reading my blog, I think that his books will appeal to you.  They are well written and insightful.  I have not finished reading all of them yet but I would like to share them with you.  He is no stranger to the pain and emotional strife caused by emotional vampires and soulless emotional predators and is kind enough to share his insight with the rest of us who might have had to deal with difficult people to say the very least.

I have finished reading The Everything Health Guide to Adult Bipolar Disorder and am now reading The Loveless Family.  He is able to relay quite well the convoluted psychological dynamics which exist in dysfunctional and loveless families.  We might sometimes wonder whether we are being too needlessly suspicious or untrusting of people, but when we come across his descriptions of these dodgy characters we have grown up with, we start feeling a bit more sane.  We realize that we might not have been imagining the ill intentions after all and it might not all be in our head that certain characters we have encountered in our lives are not unique to our own experience but do exist empirically.

I am looking forward to reading Handling Difficult People and I shall share my thoughts about it too.  From what I have read so far, it is bound to be an interesting read.  Thank you Jon P Bloch, Ph.d for making us feel that we are not alone in our difficult experiences.  I look forward to reading more of your books along the same topic as the books above.

(c) Niconica 2013