MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “human nature”

The red lines we cross

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We all have them. But it’s only when we cross them that we perceive their significance.

Red lines are like raising the alarm; that something is wrong.

We all seemingly know at what point something becomes unacceptable to us. But you never really believe you’ll reach that point, or surpass your limits in an often dangerous manner.

We dream of life to be perfect, with as few problems as possible, with disagreements being restricted to a minimum with our colleagues, partner, friends, or even strangers. Hoping whatever row we have may be trivial five minutes later, when we eventually cross those red lines of ours and tensions rise and voice levels increase, we are stunned ourselves. Because this point of no return was never our intention. And it usually becomes so obvious in how it leaves you drained, emotionally exhausted, and psychologically unable to think straight.

We exceed our limits when we accumulate emotions and thoughts for too long without expressing them; when we’re fighting a battle on our own and trying to conceal it from everyone else; when we’re pressing ourselves too hard to appear that everything is fine when it’s really not; when we want someone to stand by but are too proud to ask.

When our mind is too clouded to be able to think clearly, we can only see problems rather than solutions to them. That is when we need a support circle the most. To help us restore reason in that chaos-creating head of ours. It’s not easy. Nothing of value ever is. It would be too boring otherwise. We sometimes need to transcend our own limits – and our comfort zone – to awaken to everything else that can happen if we rattle ourselves up a bit.

For the record and as an interesting fact: The origin of the phrase ‘red line’ in English traces back to the “Red Line Agreement” in 1928 between largest oil companies of Britain, the USA and France at the time of the end of the Ottoman Empire. At the time of signature, the borders of the former empire were not clear, and to remedy the problem an Armenian businessman named Calouste Gulbenkian, took a red pencil to draw in an arbitrary manner the borders of the divided empire. The expression remained significant to global diplomacy and was reused during the UN’s founding after the WWII, especially in the English-speaking world.

Morning signs

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It was like a morning ritual: breakfast, coffee and the daily reading of her horoscope. She didn’t necessarily believe everything she read, but somehow she felt it offered a glimpse of what her day would be like.

Cecilia was a busy woman. Entrepreneur, with her own business since a young age, with diplomas and degrees, she delivered seminars and was a powerful figure in an industry dominated by the opposite sex. Yet, she was great with interpersonal relations, managed to network fast and easily with others, made friends or acquaintances easily, and was greatly popular in the romantic aspect of life too. But she placed the bar too high for the people too close to her. She held high expectations for who she became intimate with, who she shared her dreams, plans and sentiments with, and most of all, to whom she devoted her time and energy.

People often asked her why such a dynamic person as herself believed so much in horoscopes and zodiac signs.

There was no real answer to this. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your social status is. We all need some form of clarity about the uncertainty that dominates our lives.

Indeed, like many articles on the matter note, “astrology may not give definite answers, but providing meaningful explanations of ambiguous or confusing situations can increase an individual’s sense of control over them… It can also provide reassurance about the future, bringing people great comfort and reducing their feelings of distress”.

We all seek something to help us alleviate the stress we feel on a daily basis. Something to explain why things turn out the way they do – a Mercury in retrospect; the planets misaligned; an ascending Jupiter.

Astrology tends to help people deal with negative events in their lives, precisely because it seemingly offers a prediction or reasoning for life’s events. “A number of studies have demonstrated that people are more likely to turn to astrology when they are experiencing personal crises or facing stresses in life, attesting to its benefits in minimizing tension and worry during difficult situations”.

But there is also something more: “Studies show that astrology can greatly influence and even validate a person’s self-concept, as well as increase their certainty about their personal attributes. In short, the ruminative nature of astrology encourages self-reflection, enabling individuals to understand themselves and their environment more clearly”. If we need zodiac signs to gain a greater sense of who we are, believe in ourselves more and become more confident about our own characteristics, then perhaps we should all be aware of what our horoscopes say. We just need to remember that, regardless, we are the ones who forge our path in life.

Seeking advice

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We seek advice from others because it is often deafening to quarrel with the sound of your own voice inside your head. We feel the need for an exterior perspective, in case we’re missing something given that we’re so deep in the situation we’re experiencing.

Perhaps it is true that “advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t” (Erica Jong) or maybe it’s just that we look to others to help us find a solution we’re too blind to see.

Talking to others – to the right others – most times helps us clarify things that are fogging our own judgement. It makes us see a clearer picture by getting out of the circle of our own bias and viewing a more spherical perspective.

But there is a catch in turning to friends – or professionals – for help: they’re not you. And whatever they tell you, they’re not the ones who will have to live with the decisions you make.

Not all friends want what’s best for you, neither does everyone understand how you feel, how you react, your idiosyncrasies, needs or desires. But most importantly, no one really knows what you should do in any given situation; opinions are not facts; they’re merely a perspective of reality. And each person behaves differently, leading to a diverse outcome each time. There is no ‘one-shoe-fits-all’ solution to all of our problems. Plus not all ‘friends’ want what is best for you; jealousy is a vicious characteristic.

Remember this: “You are the expert on you and even if you don’t know something, nobody can know what’s best for you better than you. So start trusting your gut instincts more and listen to other so-called experts less”.

“The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm” (Joshua Miller)

Communicate it

In all we want to say but never do, in the things we say but don’t even mean, in the words lost for the emotions we don’t express, there is so much communication that fades between us.

Not everyone has the same way of externalising what they feel, think or even want to say.

But surely there must be a way of sending your message out to others.

Be it by humour – no matter how cold or inappropriate; body language, drawings, lyrics, or any other way, being able to express yourself is an integral necessity of our human nature, and ultimately our survival.

Because if we cannot even understand each other, how can we help each other become the better versions we are capable of?

Support in actions

If you observe the signs around you, you’ll see a lot more than what you’re asking for in a verbal communication. That is, there are some things words cannot express.

Not everyone can – or will – communicate in the way you expect or want them to. Each person has their own way of demonstrating affection. You just have to be open enough to see it.

Sometimes, showing that you care is simply by keeping the house warm for your partner, cooking dinner when their too busy, or simply calling to check in.

There are many ways to be there, even if you’re not physically present.

And at the end of the long, hard days we often have, all we really need is to feel loved and thought of.

Masked control

She sneezed and suddenly the entire bus felt tense. It was as if everyone was holding their breath and counting the seconds until the next stop so most could get off. The pandemic has made us too touchy, always on edge, afraid of almost everything. We fear intimacy because we’ve been deprived of it for so long.

Mask constantly on, she got off at the next stop – that was the plan anyway.

She was observing people as she walked by. Their eyes had become their most descriptive characteristic at the moment; when you conceal everything else, what remains becomes more noticeable and gains greater power. You could sense their exasperation with the current situation: some had already given up wearing masks altogether, others were wearing two; most were slumping as if literally bearing their troubles on their back; and more often than not, they were all irritated by something.

So that’s where we’re at: being constantly agitated and not being able to explain why. We’re tired in all ways it is possible and we lack the motivation to do the basics, let alone go the extra mile. We’re carrying all this stress that is often inexplicable and unjustifiable and we seem unable to shake it off.

It’s easier to complain than to react. Perhaps that’s what we’ve forgotten. And we’ve allowed ourselves to tolerate it all passively for so long that we’re now dwelling in the comfort of inaction, seeing no reason to change anything.

No one will push you forward or get you going unless you do. You are your own motivation, alarm clock, red alert etc. If you don’t find a reason to move, no one else will inspire you too either.

We’ve become so reliant on others, on having things ready, at our feet – perhaps this is the downside of so much automation and technology in our lives. The fact that we tend to disregard that we are in fact in control.  So much, that we can even regulate the volume of our own sneeze.

You’ll know

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There is a sensation that overwhelms you the first time you lock eyes and you share a conversation. You know. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds – minutes top – but the feeling arrives. Or it doesn’t. You know.

With every person you meet, you can tell from the start if the continuation will be good, or at least worth pursuing. Be it out of simple curiosity, you might give it a chance. But the intuition is real and often it is much more aware of the situation you’re in than you yourself. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Be it with friends you’ve grown out of sync with, or with potential flirts that have nothing more to offer than a few interesting initial conversations, your psychosomatic signs will make you understand when it’s time to move on and find others who might be more of an intellectual stimulation as well as a pleasant company.

As we mature, as we make our way through life, we acknowledge that there’s always much more to living than simply scraping the surface. You quickly tire of people who cannot hold an intriguing or interesting conversation with depth that has nothing to do with gossip or daily routines, but rather something genuinely attention-grabbing: things you read, or simply thoughts you catch as they fleet instantaneously from your mind and may be interesting to share. From the slightest silliness to the most bizarre thing you heard, anything out of the ordinary can actually be a measure of how much there is to discuss with anyone after all has been said and done.

We tend to seek more out of the people around us. Because if we ourselves are active and in constant search of a higher level in everything we do, we want to surround ourselves with like-minded, goal-oriented, perceptive people. We help each other grow, evolve, be better. That’s how (healthy) relationships work.

We encounter so many people in our lives. Some for a while, others come and go, and few remain. But each time, if you think back to that first happenstance, you feel it. You sort of know how important or not they’ll be.

There are people whom you keep forever and hope to hold on to. Because that feeling is mutual.

But there is an even stronger emotional bond to those who entered your life, disappeared for a while, but searched their way back in. It’s as if there is an invisible thread uniting your lives and drawing you back together wherever you’ve been. It’s those people you feel most comfortable with. It’s people like that we need but rarely find. Who ignite that special feeling. And you just know.

Quirk of Character

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Introverts have a higher threshold than average for letting people in. Be it in their reading lists, their diaries, their lives, their homes, their minds, their hearts. If an introvert starts babbling away to you, you should know that they trust you and feel safe enough to confide in you. It’s not an easy feat for most to achieve.

Call it trust issues if you may, but introverts believe that the people around you need to compliment your happiness, your self-appreciation, and your confidence. Well, it’s what we should all really expect of others anyway. For if someone doesn’t add value to your life, why keep them there if they’ll only make you feel worse?

The truth is, there are certain instances in life that make you reconsider your friendships; who you consider your friends to be; who really are. Because it’s the ones who stick there through the rough times; when you have nothing to say or don’t even want to; at the times it feels like the whole world is against you and you’re raging against ‘the system’. It’s those who seek you as much as you search for them. It’s those who are willing to stay around when you fall face down and will help pick you up; those who see you at your worse are also the ones who deserve to see you at your best. Because as this excellent article says, “friendships do not have to be transactional, but they should absolutely be reciprocal”. It’s not all about having fun. It’s about being there for each other in every situation.

Each person reacts to life’s problems differently. We are not all the same. We have varying idiosyncrasies, mentalities, responses. Some seek assistance anywhere they can; others prefer to close up in their own shells and wait out the storm alone. It has to do with a person’s character and that’s not easy to affect. Introverts need to be left alone. They’ll come to you for help when they’re ready. But they want to know that you’re still there until they do.

In the end it all comes down to the fact that we virtually befriend hundreds of people on social media, but choose to have only a handful around; the best ones – those who remain no matter how far you unwillingly push them out.

“Beware of those who seek constant crowds; they are nothing alone”. – Charles Bukowski

“I restore myself when I’m alone”. – Marilyn Monroe

Winter Wandering

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She woke up with the rejuvenating sensation that all is well in the world, simply because outside it was snowing since the previous night.

For some reason, snow always makes everything seem better.

She was genuinely happy after a long time.

He spooned her into a warm hug though which her optimism diffused into him. And that’s how great ideas – at the spark of a moment – are born; how adventures are concocted.

Let’s go!” he called as he threw the blanket off them, forcing her to get up and get dressed.

Promise it’s worth it!” he added.

She thought it was difficult – almost impossible – to find herself in a relationship where there was mutual understanding, shared craziness, and above all, truthfulness. But as they grew and evolved together, they both realised that a person who feels appreciated will always do more than is expected. And most importantly, they would actually act on the words they say. Perhaps that was the most difficult of all these days. Because it’s so easy to say a lot, and fill each other with expectation and dreams; but how often do we take the step to realise them all?

The drive to the wooden cabin up the mountain was majestic. The snowy white blanket acted as a tranquiliser, and they soon forgot about every trouble they had at that moment. For now, all that was important was to enjoy the very moment, away from everything and everyone. It was just them, there, happy. In snow.

The answers in silence

©MCD_Athens

How many hours do we spend worrying about things we can’t control, suffering more in imagination than in reality, drawing conclusions out of the slightest of things?

The truth is, we cause our own anxiety by the thoughts that race in our head. What if we could pace those contemplations? What if we could in some way halt them and focus our energy on something mentally healthier and more productive?

Humans are created for greatness – to do things, not be stagnant. We hold ourselves back by the constant anguish that things will go wrong.

And when the chaos becomes too much to handle we seek to escape in nature, in trails that lead to silence.

Simply to acknowledge that silence is some form of answer. Sometimes not getting what you expect is also a way of realising what you deserve, what you’re truly after, what you profoundly want. There is always a way. And there is always time. As long as there is the deep desire to find both.

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