Being Insensitive

Random spider, chilling in the woods near my house.  (Not a Black Widow) Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Random spider, chilling in the woods near my house. (Not a Black Widow)
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I’m insensitive.

No, really, I am.  Or at least, that’s what people tell me.

It’s just that I have really thick skin, most of the time.  It’s hard to insult me; you have to work at it.  As a result, I have to try to remember what others find hurtful, and I’m not always good at it.

Part of the reason I love Facebook is that it shows me what other people get upset about, and helps me to be more sensitive.

Part of the reason I hate Facebook is because it shows me what other people get upset about, and makes me wonder: WHY??

Case in point, a few months ago, people got upset because Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans made a joke during an interview for the Avengers that Black Widow (the fictional character, not to be confused with the real person, Scarlett Johansen), was a slut.  The interviewer asked them about “shipping” (potential relationships for those of you who don’t know the term) with Captain America, Hawkeye, and the Hulk.  Because we all know that if a woman is friendly with a man, she must want a relationship with him, right?  But I digress… They joked that she was a “slut” and a “whore.”

People got really upset about it, and of course, both actors apologized.

I have many thoughts about this, and no real conclusions.

First off, is “slut” and “whore” really the worst thing a woman can be called?  We turn it into this big feminist thing, and while I don’t ever condone putting women (or anyone) down for personal choices like sexuality, if we refuse to be stigmatized by those words, we remove their power.  There’s no real equivalent word for men (at least not that I can think of).  Once upon a time, “bitch” was a put down for women too, but many women have usurped it and made it a power word.  I think it’s time to just start shrugging off stupid people who judge sexuality.  She’s a slut because she makes choices about her sex life that you don’t agree with?  Whatever.

Second, it’s a fictional character.  I mean, I get that the way we talk about and portray fictional characters really does impact how we think about real people.  I’m a writer, so I get it.  But, let’s assume that these are pretty nice guys.  They were joking around about a character in a movie, and probably didn’t think it was that big of a deal.  Actors aren’t writers, and I have to wonder if they like getting asked about how their characters think and interact as if they’re real people.  I never get tired of talking about characters like real people, but I don’t act; I write.

Third, why do we care so much about potential romantic involvements in movies?  I mean, if a man and a woman in a movie seem to really care about one another, people start speculating that there’s something romantic going on.  Men and women aren’t ever allowed to “just” be friends, as if friendship isn’t an important enough relationship to “just” be that.  I know we want our fictional characters to be happy, and that means that we want them in a fulfilling romantic relationship, but the fact is that people can be friendly without romantic interest.  And what is “flirting” anyway?  These days, manners and basic courtesy seem to be mistaken for flirting.

Fourth, the fact is that guys joke about women, saying things about them that they’d never say to them.  Women do it too.  When we sit around drinking our margaritas, we say things that we’d never want our significant others to hear.  And if they did, we’d want them to know we didn’t mean it.  Actors just happen to get much of what they say captured on film, so they’re not allowed to make jokes in questionable taste.  If they do, it’s a BIG DEAL.

Fifth, and this kind of ties on to my last point… people don’t mean everything they say.  If I had a camera on me every time something stupid popped out of my mouth, I’d probably have people protesting me.  It’s not that I mean what I say all the time; it’s just that sometimes the brain-mouth filter doesn’t engage in time and something comes out of my mouth that even mystifies me.  I’m like, “Where did that come from?  I wasn’t even thinking that!”  Or in the words of Adele, “Just ’cause I said it, it doesn’t mean that I meant it…”

We all say things, and we’re all insensitive sometimes.  I think it’s time for us to stop being so damn sensitive to what everyone says and does.  People do stupid things sometimes.  They say stupid things.  Let’s take the sting out of insults, and take back our power.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

If not allowing others to make me feel inferior makes me insensitive, so be it.  I can live with that.

6 Ways to Be Happier

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

On Wellness Wednesdays, I post about a wellness topic.

Most of feeling happier is to stop caring what others think.  No, seriously.  It’s not rocket math.  Most of the things we worry about has to do with how others view us.  Okay?  Got it?  So I can end this blog post here, right?

Oh, if only it were so easy!

The fact is that people aren’t like light switches.  We can’t just turn on and off the caring thing.  And caring about what others think is a good thing, sometimes.  But there’s a difference between caring about others and caring what they think.

I care about other people.  I try to be a good person and cause no harm to others.  But if they don’t like me for some reason (my weight, the way I dress, the fact that I laugh and talk too loud, my really bad jokes), I don’t care.  I don’t care what they think.  My friends think I’m wonderful.  And honestly, there will always be people who don’t like me.

So how can you learn to be happier?

1.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  This one is really important. You’re you, and you’re beautiful and perfect in your uniqueness and flaws.  Maybe your best friend is a great cook or a great decorator.  Maybe your dad can fix anything in a MacGyver-esque way.  Maybe your neighbor’s dogs don’t bark or their kids always look clean.  Maybe everyone else is thinner-has a better car- better clothes- makes stuff that looks like it does on Pinterest.  Whatever.  Who cares?  We all have things about ourselves that we’d like to change, and things that we could be doing better.  You’re you, so only compare yourself to you.

2.  Continually strive for improvement.  “But wait… you just said that I’m great the way I am!”  Yes, you are.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve.  Now, improvement does not mean perfection.  I’m going to say it again: improvement does not mean perfection.  If you’re not naturally organized, deciding that this is the year everything is going to be and stay in perfect order probably isn’t realistic.  Don’t set yourself up for failure.  If you want to get organized, start with one thing, like the kitchen pantry or the living room.  Try to be a little better than you were yesterday.

3.  Practice acceptance and non-judgement.  One of the hardest things to learn in life is to stop judging yourself and others.  Unless you’re perfect, you don’t have the right to judge others.  And if you don’t expect others to be perfect, don’t expect it from yourself.  You can dislike a behavior without judging the person.  Please believe me that unless you have the whole story, your judgement is likely a mistake.  There are certain behaviors that are wrong, but at the time, it may have seemed like the best choice.  Accept others for who they are, mistakes and all.  This acceptance and non-judgement doesn’t mean that you allow toxic people in your life; it just means that you don’t judge them for who they are and where they are in life.  Same goes for you.  We all make mistakes, even when we know better.

4.  Try to forgive.  This may be one of the hardest things that anyone does.  Forgiving someone does not mean that what they did was okay.  The other person doesn’t even have to be part of your decision to forgive.  All forgiveness means is that you’re choosing to let go of what hurt you.  Sometimes you can forgive once, and sometimes you’ll have to forgive over and over.  You’ll let go of the pain and it will stay away for a little while, then come back.  It’s okay; you’re only human, and you’re doing the best you can.  But the act of trying to forgive is freeing, and you’re worth it.

5.  Look for the good in yourself and others.  You see what you look for.  If you’re looking for all the bad things people do, that’s what you’ll see.  Shift your focus.  It’s like that optical illusion, the old lady and the young woman. Maybe you look at the illusion and immediately see the old woman.  And if no one told you it was an optical illusion, if no one told you to look for the young woman, that’s all you’d see.  But once you look for the young lady, you find her.  Maybe you have to look for awhile.  Maybe someone tells you where to look.  But eventually, you see it.  She was always there, whether you saw her or not.  Same with the good in yourself and others; it’s there, even when it’s hard to find.

6.  Practice gratitude.  Instead of focusing on what you want or what you don’t have, focus on the things you do have that you’re grateful for.  Take time out every day and find something to be grateful for.  Write them down or share them.  When we write things down or speak them out loud, we give them power.  You’d say your complaints out loud, wouldn’t you?  Try the same thing with your gratitudes.

We’re all just works in progress, and being human means being in a perpetual state of growth and learning.  Try one of these things and work on it.  When you notice a difference, try another.  Don’t try to do it all at once, or you’ll end up feeling bad about it.  We all have days when we can’t do any of these things, when we should stay in bed with the covers pulled up.  Just be the best you that you can be today.