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Posts Tagged ‘change’

The world without us

Recently I heard someone express their feeling about death as something like horror at no longer existing. I find that really strange. There are many things I worry about, but that is not one of them. The idea of a world without me doesn’t worry me very much at all! As a counter idea to the person concerned about not existing, I heard someone else say that their idea of death was that everything would go on as before, except without them. That notion makes much more sense to me.

Everyday life contains plenty of microcosms of the scenario of the story continuing even when our part is written out of it. We leave jobs, we leave people, we leave places … and life goes on where we once were, except without us. It may seem bleak if we interpret that as meaning we are unimportant and insignificant, but that is not the only way of seeing it. The fact that we are part of several bigger “wholes”, some of which were there before we came, and some which maybe weren’t, or not in the same form, is an idea I find comforting. For me it is an extension of energy not being destructible, only changeable into something else. We are impermanent beings, as is everything in its present form. Everything comes and goes. The one thing that is constant is change – our perception of the speed of change is the only real variant.

How we look at the idea of change is fundamental. If we accept it, and go with it, there are fewer mental struggles. We still need to be able to navigate through our lives, but the journey is revealed as the point, rather than arrival. Another way of putting it is to focus on living rather than on death.

My hope is that there won’t be a huge amount of pain on the way to my not existing, as that is something I really don’t like to think about. But as for the idea of not existing itself – I can live with that …

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Criticism

Criticism is a difficult area. Most of us can’t resist giving it, at least occasionally – some habitually – and equally most of us find it hard to take. It can be argued that it is sometimes necessary to point things out – for instance, to children – when behaviour needs to be corrected. Educating children in life is not my strongest suit so I am not going to go into that. My theory here is that criticism of adults does not work, or does not usually tend to achieve the desired result, so it is not a particularly worthwhile exercise.

Someone has upset you with their attitude to you, their behaviour, something they’ve said or done or something they’ve failed to say or do. If you tell them that they are selfish, annoying and thoughtless, the only thing that is pretty certain is that they won’t like hearing it. If they don’t like hearing it, they may either ignore what you say or decide to avoid you because they don’t want to hear any more of your criticism. What is doubtful is that they’ll go from being people you consider selfish, annoying and thoughtless to being people who are altruistic, pleasant, caring and thoughtful because you gave them your opinion of their character or behaviour. ‘Constructive criticism’ sounds better, but doesn’t necessarily achieve a much better result either.

I think feedback is a more useful concept than criticism, though even then it needs to be given with care. It will not always get the result you hope for or consider obvious. It is my belief that you can’t change other people. The only area you can change is yourself. So, coming back to the person you feel is selfish, annoying and thoughtless, maybe you need to work out how that makes you feel and consider telling them that. Then you are giving them feedback about their behaviour, you are imparting information as to the effect it has on you. They have a choice as to whether to make any adjustments and if you put your message across in a way that is not actually critical, you might stand a chance of achieving a change in behaviour in the other person, if they care enough. Another option would be to change your attitude so that their behaviour doesn’t have that effect on you any longer. Yet another possibility might be for you to consider whether you want to have them as a significant part of your life at all. I think any of these three courses of action has a better chance of achieving a change in the behaviour or demeanour of another person, and/or of making you feel better in the long run (which may be more to the point), than criticising the person who has upset you in this way.

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