Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sometimes I Feel Like a Monster: Five Ways to Be(come) a Nice Person

Last weekend, I waved at someone I thought I knew in the car next to me. Continuing my love of a good stranger interaction, I do not regret waving, even though it wasn't the person I thought it was. What I do regret is the extreme anger I felt afterward when my supposed friend did not wave back. I haven't seen this childhood friend in a few years; I dyed my hair, had another kid, and moved around a little since our last meeting. I can see how he wouldn't recognize me. But, dude! And like I said, I came to find out later that it wasn't my friend. Wasted energy and all that.

After that total diss (which turned out to not be a diss), I could not stop thinking evil thoughts. I was so angry! I came up with grand plans akin to Yzma's in The Emporer's New Groove and wanted to dress in all black to sneak around in the shadows with my dastardly ideas. My mind was hellbent on revenge. And that's when I realized: I'd become a monster.

I hope I am not the only one who gets like this sometimes. I'm sure that I do it more than most others, but these are the exercises I put myself through to realize those negative vibes and get back to some semblance of nicety. I believe that even the most evil of all people would benefit from using these methods--even my long-lost friend who is TOTALLY IGNORING ME AND WHY DIDN'T HE WAVE AT ME THAT'S RIGHT IT WASN'T EVEN HIM OH GOSSSSSSH.

1. Think of the worst thing someone could say back to you in an argument, then let the mean words go: I am the queen of the below-the-belt verbal jab. I have made several enemies over the years because I knew exactly what to say to make them cringe and run away. To keep myself from saying something I'll regret later, I often let the conversation play out in my head; I make the other person say the things that would hurt my feelings the most. For example, if I'm mad at my husband, I will silently think:

Holly: You are such a jerk. If you don't take the trash out one more time, I will start nagging you until your head explodes, which you'll deserve because you didn't do what I asked.
Caleb: Are you kidding? I know that you left that clean laundry unfolded for a WEEK. And you're not doing very well on your diet. Plus, you aren't teaching our children Latin or linear algebra or foreign diplomacy because you don't have a college degree!

I am very fragile when it comes to my housekeeping, my body image, and my lack of education. If someone said that to me in real life, I would bawl like a baby. Imagining someone saying these things keeps me from pointing out the flaws of others; I'm sure most people know where their weaknesses are, so why should I remind them? Golden rule, baby.

2. Apologize for something you've done and see if you feel closer to that person: Bad feelings usually don't crop up because of a singular situation. If you are mad about something that someone did, maybe that person is upset because of something you did. I find that when I am ticked off with someone I am really close to, it helps to review our relationship and choose an incident that was totally my fault and apologize for it. I know I mess up a lot. If my younger sister does something uncouth that bugs me, I will try to wipe away my negative feelings by apologizing for running out into the field during first grade recess and yelling out the name of the boy she liked. Sincerity is key here. I am truly sorry that I embarrassed her way back then. Maybe someday she will return the favor and apologize for her current behavior. Until then, at least I know that I am trying to be a better person.

3. Get some perspective: Easily irritated with your first-world problems? Today, I am mad that the shake I ordered wasn't a sip-through-a-straw shake. I almost used Twitter to bash that restaurant by name, I was that upset! But guys, here is a list of media that keep me grounded and help me realize that I will be fine in thirty seconds.
4. Send a PostSecret: I have saved myself a lot of grief by expressing my feelings through art and words. Secret blogs, written journals, and angst-ridden songs have backfired on me, so I now use PostSecret to make something beautiful and then send it away into the world. I feel like I told someone, but it didn't have to be the someone at whom I was mad. And the thrill of seeing one of your postcards on the site is unmatched! (Side note: I just sent in two postcards yesterday!)

5. Take care of yourself: Only you know what that means for you. So, do it.


  1. I love this post! My favorite part of the incident with you-know-who was the RAAWR in your text. :) I am glad it wasn't you-know-who, but I love these tips even more!

  2. Once again, I'm floored by how well you express yourself and how brave you are to put this out there. You're awesome! The only thing I don't understand is...what on earth your picture is!