Is It My Bad If I Feel Bad When My Bad Isn’t Very Bad?

balloon artist courtesy of Wobbles The Clown

balloon artistry courtesy of Wobbles The Clown

Ungrateful, angry, discontented…I’m sick of dealing with people with these lousy attitudes.  But how can I avoid myself?

My friend Deb at The Monster In Your Closet got me thinking.  She does that a lot, and I wish she’d knock it off.  This time Deb got me cogitating about gratitude and attitude.  It’s a topic I struggle with, and it’s getting worse as I get older.

I have a ton to be thankful for.  I know it.  Really and truly I do.  And I am grateful.  I have an embarrassment of riches that I have done nothing whatsoever to earn.  Although I don’t think earning enters into the equation.  We don’t deserve good things any more than we deserve bad things.  Stuff happens.  It happens to everybody.  But there’s a hell of a range on the stuff-o-meter, isn’t there?  That’s my problem.

When stuff happens to me, even little, stupid stuff, I want to kick somebody.

Life gave me snow recently, and I made snow cones out of it, blogistically speaking.   Funny, right?  But I wasn’t laughing at the time.   I was fuming.

As my hands were trying to dig my car out of a mountain of snow, my brain was compiling a list of all the lousy things that had happened to me in the previous 12 hours:  “Top 10 Examples Of How Unfair Life Is To Poor Me.”  I was consumed with righteous anger, as if getting stuck in the driveway and waiting 1/2 hour for a salad at a restaurant were tragedies worthy of a Greek chorus.

It was nothing. NOTHING!  What the hell is the matter with me?

It’s not just unreasonable anger; I get swamped with unreasonable despair, too.

Three beloved family members are battling cancer.  My sister Lib, brother Bill, cousin Moe  – all are carrying their crosses with a faith and courage that leaves me shaking my head in helpless admiration.  Yet even as I admire them, the thought of their suffering threatens to overwhelm me at times.  They are moving forward, despite their struggles, and I am getting bogged down with worry about those struggles.  Huh??

I think the best antidote for excessive self-absorption is to look outside oneself.  Since my kids have left home, I volunteer at church, am a tutor for immigrants learning English, and help out a couple of times per month with my husband at the homeless shelter.  That sounds so Braggy McBraggart it makes me cringe.  But I’m telling you so you will understand that I am trying.  And so you will understand the self-congratulation/condemnation see-saw I’m constantly riding.   Because I’m just not feeling it.

I don’t want to do any of those things.

Oh, I fulfill my obligations.  I go to the shelter and serve food, wash dishes and do other busy work.  But I’m not blazing forth as a chatty, cheery ray of human sunshine.  Part of that is distaste at the thought of coming off like condescending Lady Bountiful dispensing charity to the less fortunate.  Part of it is because that sort of thing is out of my comfort zone.  Bottom line: I don’t want to.

This is how uncharitable I am.  A 12-year old kid and his mom have been at the shelter for 5 months.   How tragic is that?   Of course I do whatever I can to help, right?   Help the lad with his homework, rap with him about Pokemon and such, right?  No.  No I don’t.  I’ve never been good with kids of that age, and this one is hyper, loud and annoying.  I serve him dinner with a fake-but-trying-to-be-genuine, pasted-on smile, and otherwise try to avoid him.

It’s tough enough to be totally honest with others, but it’s even more difficult to be totally honest with myself.   I’m not fishing for reassurance that I’m a good person – don’t go there.  I just want us to discuss a couple of things:

  • Do good works offset a lousy attitude?
  • Is increasing negativity a function of age?
  • Am I the only one who has to give herself these same gratitude/attitude pep talks over and over again, because they don’t seem to take?
  • If we are immeasurably blessed compared to others, are we unforgivably ungrateful to let anything bother us?

To whit…

             Is it my bad when my bad isn’t too bad, but it still makes me feel bad?

Guess I’ll keep plugging along, with frequent “notes to self” to count my blessings.  And if I can’t help throwing myself the occasional pity party, I’ll try to make it a small one.  Just a little cake and ice cream, no gifts, and absolutely no clowns crafting balloon wiener dogs.

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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96 Responses to Is It My Bad If I Feel Bad When My Bad Isn’t Very Bad?

  1. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    I do the “be grateful” thing all the time. Often it does work, but when something comes along that knocks me off my feet, it’s just difficult as all heck to use that to switch off the feelings of anxiety and bitterness. I think you’re expecting your volunteer and charitable activities to make you feel better and more grateful – but if you don’t like doing those things, then it’s not going to be successful from the get go. Know your limits, girl. Don’t fight your instincts because that only makes you feel worse. We all can’t be Mother Teresa. Start small. Really small. And definitely, like me, make sure it doesn’t involve children.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      It IS difficult to switch off those feelings, isn’t it? It’s interesting that you brought up Mother Teresa. I understand she revealed to a friend later in life that she didn’t feel God’s presence. Not that she didn’t believe, but that she didn’t have that warm feeling. That makes what she did even that much more spectacular to me. Very humbling.

      Like

      • Snoring Dog Studio says:

        I read that about her, too. She must have been extremely worn down from all the tragedy she saw. I imagine it would be very difficult to stay connected with God when all you see is the inhumanity of mankind.

        Like

  2. This probably isn’t the best moment for me to respond to this as I was just handed my early morning “pity party” in the mail. There will be more throughout the day. The truth of the matter is, there are people a lot worse off then I am. There are people that struggle more. We can always find someone or something that makes our lives seem just that much better.
    I agree with Snoring Dog. If you don’t enjoy doing those things you listed then don’t do it. It shouldn’t be used as a punishment because your life is OK. Find something else that is a better fit for you. If you are happier doing what ever it is you choose to help, believe me you will be a lot better at it and the people you are helping will benefit a lot more. If you don’t work well with kids then read to an adult in a home. You have skills. Perhaps you could help someone write a resume, or how to use the internet for a job search. There are all kinds of things you could do, Peg, that you would enjoy.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I’m sorry you have had multiple pity parties today. Anything you feel like sharing?

      It’s not that I don’t enjoy THOSE things…it’s that I don’t want to do ANYthing. I want to sit on my butt and read good books, drink good wine, eat good food, travel, talk to fascinating people (present company included), write, write and write. I definitely don’t have that spirit of joyful giving that I wish I had.

      Like

  3. notquiteold says:

    Oh, I so love this! It is SO me! Is that bad? That I turn your issues and make them all about me????? When your bad isn’t so bad so I don’t care about your little bads; I care about my little bads?????

    Like

  4. mistyslaws says:

    I am a born pessimist. If I can find the negative in a situation, no matter how small, I will. I always feel like I’m battling my own nature to be more appreciative and less cranky about everything. You are not alone, Peg. I think we all struggle with it at times. Some more than others. Trying is good, but trying just for the sake of trying may not be the best solution. Find something you enjoy doing that makes a difference and makes you feel good. Don’t just do to do, you know? I still blame this damn winter for the constant state of crankiness. Spring is coming. Hang in there!

    Like

  5. i think showing up counts. it’s a lot more than other people do.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I hope so. It’s not that I’m stomping around with an obviously bad attitude; I do smile and laugh and not act like a jerk. It’s just that I thought I would find some natural well-spring of saintly goodness springing forward. Nope.

      Like

  6. PinotNinja says:

    First, the fact that you are trying speaks volumes — that you want to help and recognize that you are facing inconveniences instead of tragedies in your own life is most of the battle. Second, maybe you just aren’t helping in the right way for you. There is something out there that you are going to be excited about doing, you just need to take some time to find it and be open to the fact that it might not be serving meals at the shelter. There are a million different ways to be charitable — it could be organizing fundraisers, painting/building/planting shelters or parks or schools, or just greeting people who irritate the piss out of you with a kind smile.

    Also, you can be irritated with your life, no matter how overall blessed you are, and that doesn’t make you a bad person. That is totally okay. Life IS irritating. It would be dishonest not to recognize that and point it out to everyone around you, right? And, I always heard that honesty is the best policy.

    Also also, balloon wieners are the worst.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      “Life IS irritating.” That’s a liberating statement. I feel down when I feel down because I shouldn’t feel down, and it’s a vicious cycle. It’s nice to know everybody feels that.

      Like

  7. I don’t know where to start. It’s like you’re inside my head today. I’ll begin by saying I have this inner conflict pretty much every single day of my life. I swing between feeling utterly grateful for the simple joys in my life to cursing the universe for stupid inconsequential things like the fact I got stuck in my icy driveway again this morning. I think this is totally normal.

    We all want to be better people, help others in need, stay positive even when life kicks you in the ass. That doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to feel frustrated. Or pissed off at things like cancer and suffering and despair. My feeling is this, we will all go through our own personal sh*tstorms at some point in our lives (and I’m going through a major one right now) I’m trying to learn to feel the anger, accept it and not beat myself up for feeling it. Because it’s those dark negative storms that make us truly appreciate the good sunny days. I know that is so sappy and trite but it’s TRUE. It sharpens things up and puts what really matters in life into focus. I get so stressed about every little thing lately that I reach a breaking point when my mind basically lets it all go. Letting go of fear. Because it’s the fear of the unknown, the fear of failing, the fear of letting others down, the fear of losing people we love that grips our hearts late at night. Every day I have to refocus my mind and try to shift to the positive and cling to it like my life depended on it. And it does, I guess.

    Also? I think you writing in your blog and telling us readers about these thoughts is a huge public service that helps connect people. See? You did your good deed for the day already, Pegomine.

    Like

    • You’re so right, D. Letting go of fear and the need to control everything are so important. Easier said than done, I can say from personal experience.

      Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I know just what you mean. I’m not trying to be insensitive to genuine bipolar disease, but I think I have have bipolar-lite. Is that normal? I don’t talk about this stuff…ever. I just don’t. But I feel it, and a lot more often than I want to.

      In your case, Darla, you have so many very real responsibilities it’s a wonder you can sleep at all. Husband, family, school, kids. Kids are the biggest gift/panic-inducer of all, because they make you so vulnerable and aware of all the crap that can go wrong.

      Hang in there, friend.

      Like

      • I’d just like to add a “hear, here” (I don’t know which is correct, so I’m splitting the difference) to Darla’s comment. Not only does it make me feel better that you were brave enough to say this out loud, it’s interesting to see so many good people in agreement in the comments.

        Also, Darla, I’m sorry to hear (I know that’s correct) that you’re in a . . . storm. I hope it passes soon.

        Like

  8. What you have going is a terrific self awareness. So many people drown in negativity and don’t even realize it. To me, that’s half the battle!

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  9. Dear, dear, dearest Peg, “Blogistically speaking” you do so much cheering us/ er…this reader out in our blogosphere. You write a recognized blog, visit us, serve at a homeless shelter, tutor ESOL, volunteer at church, etc., etc. and from what I gather you are not retired yet. If that isn’t enough, you have your own family members fighting the fight of their lives. Be kind to yourself. You don’t have to do this all at once. When it feels right, do it…whatever “it” may be. I have done all of the above and other things as I’m sure you have too, but you just didn’t give us the whole list. From that experience, I say take things one at a time. It’s okay not to fill your calendar. You can say “no.” There are so many ways to serve that you can say “yes” to when it feels right, you can run towards and not away from: tutoring, historic preservation, RAKs, mentoring…the choices are yours and one of those choices can even be taking time for “me, myself, and I.”
    Isn’t Deb wonderful? Something tells me she practices a lot of careful time management so she can invest herself in the things that mean most to her…family, building a caring community at her place and pursuing her talents so she can make a difference.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Deb is a wonder. I don’t know how she finds the energy to do everything she does.

      I know you have a full and active life, as a volunteer and a human being, Georgette. You seem to approach everything with a wonderful attitude, which is blessing to yourself and to others. Thanks for the kind words.

      Like

  10. Since turning 50, I am convinced that age definitely contributes to negativity. I used to be a positive person, back when I was 49. I swear, I am now the most cynical, sarcastic, negative and bitter brickhouse I know. I get angry at things more quickly, overwhelmed, lazy and indifferent. It’s like someone ripped any and all the idealism and magic I had and replaced it with bitter realism. I no longer believe. My vocabulary consists of mostly, “PSTTTs” and “TSTTTs” and “YEA, RIGHTs”. Sigh. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for as well and yada, yada, yada – but life is MUCH harder than I ever anticipated.

    Have as many pity parties as you want (can I join you?) and be positive when you want and are ready. I think humor is the key to dealing with life and you are an expert in that department. It’s what keeps me going. 🙂

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      It’s nice to know I’m not alone. Humor is that light dusting of fluffy snow that covers everything, from a cottage in the woods to the junkie passed out in his own vomit in a dirty alley, making it look fresh and pretty like a Kinkaid painting. Temporarily.

      Like

  11. lisaspiral says:

    Sometimes just doing it is the best thing you can do. We don’t always get to see the impact we make on the world.

    Like

  12. There will always be people worse off than we are, but that doesn’t make our trials and tribulations any less real. And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t complain. But being negative all the time can be bad for your health. Since I’ve been keeping my Gratitude Journal, I feel better and more positive. It didn’t change my attitude overnight, and there are still days I have a hard time coming up with 3 things to be grateful for.

    I used to be a ‘why me?’ sort of person that all sorts of bad things happened to. One day, I realized I never asked ‘why me?’ when something good happened. And that’s why I started my gratitude journal. And yes, bad things still happen, but I’m more likely to not stay negative and to ask ‘why me?’ more often when something good happens.

    We’re all different; some of us are pessimists, some are optimists, some are pragmatic, realists, however you want to apply labels. But in the end, we are all human beings struggling to make it through a world that often makes little sense. 🙂

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Your gratitude journal sounds like a wonderful idea. It also sounds like something that takes discipline, something I don’t have in abundance.

      You are so right about the spectrum of “why me”s. It does work both ways – good and bad and I think they just happen. We may never know why.

      Like

  13. Roxie says:

    I’ve always been negative, but my negativity is being noticed more by other people since I turned 35.

    Like

  14. Carrie Rubin says:

    Well, at least you’re out there doing something. Many don’t. I do think increasing negativity comes with age, but I also think it’s a personality trait, too. It can be a real challenge to kick it in the butt, and reading/listening to the grim news of this world every day doesn’t help.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      You’re so right, Carrie. It IS a personality trait, and it’s also a choice. I just wish I could find a way to make the right choices feel more natural.

      Like

  15. franhunne4u says:

    I have been a cynic since I was 15 – so I either aged way before my time or it has nothing to do with age! Just lately I try to see some good things, too – at 45 – and guess what – I do that in a cynic kind of way … haha …
    Age is not a factor in negativity. Maybe bad experience is. Reading that three of your beloved ones fight a far too often terminal illness I rest my case.
    Do not force yourself to be joyful when you do not feel like it. Show yourself a tongue in a mirror, when you hate your looks (bad hair day anyone?), no, not the Miley Cyrus way … 😛
    Even, when no little ones present, allow yourself a swearword without feeling guilty – let off steam.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I do that, too with the swearwords. Don’t tell my mom. Some people maintain their cheerfulness no matter what life hands them. Do you think it’s a deliberate choice?

      Like

      • franhunne4u says:

        I truly think it is more authentic not to be cheerful all the time! Nevertheless we should make sure that the negative feelings do not dominate our lives. That is why I turned a cynic – at least this way I get a wry smile out of it … Doesn’t work all the time. That is where the “foul language” comes in – foul language for a foul mood – that is just right. After all, wasn’t it Shakespeare who said: Fair is foul and foul is fair …

        Like

  16. I can relate to this whole post and Everytime someone tells me “when you get depressed, go volunteer. You’ll get so much from it. There’s nothing like the feeling of giving!” I think to myself “well if helping others is really all about helping myself, I don’t wanna get TOO greedy and selfish. I’ll just save some of that “Helper’s High” for the other volunteers!” Anyhow…. “Blogistically Speaking?!!” That’s genius. Better copyright that one like yesterday!

    Like

  17. dorannrule says:

    It’s the winter! It’s the snow! It’s something about the light or not enough of it. I’ll bet that in the warmer months you actually enjoy coping with the little bad stuff.. I know some of my friends have this thing about feeling down in February. Well, why not March if February keeps dealing out winter blues? It must carry over! Keep doing your good works for they must be rewarding in April or May anyway. 🙂 I join you in the twisting and turning agony of self doubt and deprecation, especially in the last throes of winter. 🙂

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      You’re right, this long winter is wearing on all of us. I’m coming to the conclusion that there really is something to that No Light/WInter Depression business.

      Like

  18. Al says:

    Darn you, Peg, for writing a blog that makes it impossible for me to be my usual smart ass self in reply. I am going to have to be serious for a moment.

    My son taught me something that I will pass on to you. Our son has Tourette’s Syndrome. It’s a cruel affliction and one that made growing up very difficult for him (he’s 42 now). In his late teens and twenties he fell into alcoholism trying to deaden the pain. He almost died from it. I was able to talk him into AA and he has been 13 years sober. At some point, as he was still struggling early on in his dry period, I foolishly tried to comfort him with a “things could be worse” scenario. I related how Chris Reeves had been paralyzed in that horse accident. His comment back to me was “Dad, pain is relative.” I was stopped in my tracks.

    Ever since that moment I have been able to forgive myself when I get into that “why me” funk every time something goes wrong. For that moment, in that situation, it is “painful” to experience the bad things. Don’t deny it, don’t beat yourself up over it, don’t dismiss it with “no one else would not feel this way.” Yes, we would and we do. It’s as natural as our next heartbeat.” Then move on from there.

    Another thought on this subject. I think the period of “mid-life” lends itself to this kind of negativity also. You’re still working, the kids are gone and therefore no longer distract you or comfort you, the parents (and in your case, beloved siblings) are experiencing illness, etc. It’s a very difficult time even for the stout of heart (if there is such a person). My experience is that once you get to retirement age, you tend to mellow out and see the ways of the world completely differently. Your life takes on a new perspective, a sort of urgency,and you start to sweat the small stuff less and less. You start to let the things you have no control over play out as they will. We could do this earlier in life but we somehow don’t.

    I hope you know I am in no way demeaning your concerns for others, that’s noble and one of your admirable traits. I agree with She’s a Maineiac, the fact that you are getting this out is great for you and for the rest of us. We Peg-o-leg groupies love you and want you to know it.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Al, you move me to tears. With the telling of your son’s struggle and his painful honesty. He’s right. We can’t gauge anyone else’s pain.

      And your comment about midlife; you nailed it right on the head. I feel like I’m in a Where Do I Go From Here, Life Trough.

      Like

  19. I get your point completely although I wish I didn’t – good luck.

    Like

  20. Kelly Grace says:

    Isn’t it great that you have this blog for ranting and raving, for whining and complaining, for sloshing around in guilt and self-examination? I love that about blogging!!!
    I’m a little OCD so here are my responses in order:
    *Attitude is important to God, but the good deeds are essential to the people in the shelter.
    *Barring a medical issue we choose our attitude. Old age is just an convenient excuse for being mean and ornery.
    *Most of us are learning impaired when it comes to character traits like gratitude and thankfulness. We seem unable to add that information to long term memory.
    *Yes. Selfishness is the default setting for humans.
    PS Have you noticed how many great blog names show up in your comments section. The Monster in Your Closet was my first discovery on your blog, now I’m checking out 3 new discoveries.
    Happy Friday

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I’m not usually big on self-examination, actually. If you want ranting, raving, whining and complaining however, you’ve definitely come to the right place.

      And you are very astute. I have the BEST readers on the blogosphere, so welcome!

      Like

  21. Pleun says:

    If I were you I wouldn’t worry about it too much! You have a job to keep, a Household to run, that’s plenty really, and to want to sit and read a book is probably what you need to keep going! If that won’t work for you, find a charity that needs something you are good at and work behind the scenes. It is what I have discovered to be the most satisfying! Right now I am setting up a website for a charity to help raise Awareness and money, so they can keep doing what they are good at, and I do what I am good at. Blog for the shelter instead of handing out food for instance, or something like that, you know what I mean 🙂

    Like

  22. Elyse says:

    Oh, Peg,me darlin’. I’m hearing a paternal voice sayin’ ” Now don’t be get tin’ so down about the mouth, me girl…” Truth is, we all have limits beyond which someone else’s struggles are just one cross too many. We’re none of us saints.

    My heart is going out to you. So is my admiration. And isn’t that a good balance?

    Now, as far as your family members is concerned I can let you know a secret. It is.easier to be the patient than the patient person holding their hand. Much, much easier. Best of luck for all of you. And a big hug too.

    Like

  23. No, it isn’t bad or wrong. Life is a roller coaster and we ride it up and we ride it down, and sometimes we just don’t enjoy any of it.

    Like

  24. Sandy Sue says:

    Oh, Peg! I love you so.
    I love you for being so vulnerable.
    I love you for saying you’re “not big on self-examination,” then going deep—really deep—and connecting with so many others by going there.
    I love your wondering about being “Bipolar-Lite,” because you know I know the pain behind that sorta-kinda-maybe question.
    I love how funny, wise, loving, experienced and concerned your readers are. You cater to a higher class, girlfriend.
    And I love that you keep trying, grumbling or not, to make yourself and the world a little bit better.
    I love you.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Sandy, dear, I thought of you when I was writing this and was reluctant to publish. I wondered how selfish it was of me to even complain about bipolar-lite when there are many, like you, who struggle so valiantly every single day with the real deal.

      Maybe depression is a continuum, rather than a yes or no proposition, eh?

      Thanks for your support and friendship – it means a lot to me.

      Like

  25. I think it’s all a matter of perspective (not so subtle attempt at self-promotion). When things are truly difficult and challenging, it puts things into the proper order of importance and we’re able to work through it. Let’s face it, the vast majority of our lives, we deal with tiny snubs and itty bitty setbacks. We can’t spend every hour of our existences fighting the real injustices of the world, it’s just too tiring. As for bothersome homeless kids, you can take comfort that they’d be just as annoying if they had a warm, happy home with a picket fence and above-ground pool.

    Like

  26. “Yet even as I admire them, the thought of their suffering threatens to overwhelm me at times. They are moving forward, despite their struggles, and I am getting bogged down with worry about those struggles. Huh??”
    I am dealing with the very same emotions, Peg. One of the comments said that it was easier to be the patient than the patient’s family/friends. There’s a lot of truth to that.
    Hard to believe it’s been 3 years since Lib started her journey…every St. Patty’s Day I’m reminded. I worry about her and Bill and Moe and Dad and … all of us.
    Looking for perspective and balance. Working on that positive attitude, even as I woke up with a sore throat, compliments of my students hacking and spreading their germs this week. Gack!
    Hope your weekend has some good Irish fun 🙂

    Like

  27. I confess that I haven’t read all the comments, so I apologize if I’m doubling (tripling, quadrupling, whatever -ing one does when one repeats something that literally 51 people have said before)… but of course you’re not the only one who has to tell herself this all the time, et al. The one thought that floated to the surface after I finished reading this post, with the buoyancy that all clichés seem to have, was this: Fake it til you make it. There is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes it’s the best you can do, and as long as you’re doing your best, you’re making progress. And eventually it translates into giving your best, and being your best. So fake it til you make it, Peg-O. In some instances, faking it is a good thing that actually does help all parties involved.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      That’s really great advice. I’m beginning to suspect that many of us are faking it until we make it, and it’s not a bad thing to present a cheerful front, even if it isn’t 100% genuine.

      Like

  28. The Cutter says:

    Nothing wrong with having the occasional pity party for yourself. The problem only comes when you let it linger.

    Like

  29. So many thoughts, most of them “yay, you,” minus the excessively perky tone. It says a lot about your character that you’re struggling with your feelings about your good works, whereas a lot of people I know wear their list of good works as a self-righteous badge of virtue.

    I love the honesty in this. And you are not alone.

    Part of the chain of reasoning that led to my quitting my job was what I saw and felt happening to myself (deleted content because maybe I should write it on my own blog).

    As you’ve probably noticed, I have a hard time always bringing light-hearted silliness to the blog world and I end up feeling bad about that. To that I say, we’re human and that’s just fine.
    Oh, and yay, you. xoxo Debbie 😉

    Like

  30. I find your honesty admirable and refreshing. I feel very similar to you. I don’t look for recognition and pats on the back for good things I do, I do them because they need to be done. No more, no less.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I don’t look for pats on the back, but I expect to feel better about myself than I do. You’re right that we need to do what needs to be done.

      Like

      • I think that feeling good when volunteering is one of those things that isn’t guaranteed. There is a sadness involved because, first of all – people have to volunteer to feed those less fortunate. In a society of just vast wealth – we still have an ungodly amount of people starving to death and walking around without shoes, clothes to keep them warm and shelter. We could all see this in a light of defeatism, but rather, it seems to me that you view the situation realistically and are not afraid to get in there and get your hands dirty because “it has to be done”. You could ride the “feel good waves” that some people do or you could wallow in hopelessness, but instead it appears that you’ve chosen to walk the middle of the road and follow what is now becoming a despised phrase, “it is what it is.” There’s nothing wrong with that.

        Like

  31. On the subject of repeated pep talks? You are definitely not alone. I have to give them to myself once or more per week. I try to perk myself up by reminding myself that it used to be hourly, but . . . isn’t there a point where it should become engrained? Feels like it.

    Also, this post was well timed. The night before, I went to sleep with a world-is-ending sensation because I discovered myson’s daycare charges $100 more per week for infants. Some part of me recognized that just means a little time finding an affordable alternative, but up to the point I read this I was still seventeen kinds of grumpy. Your post prompted me to reassess, for that moment. Thank you.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Exactly – isn’t there a point where it should become engrained?

      Changing daycare is not a little thing, so I definitely sympathize. Good luck on finding an affordable, GOOD alternative. And thanks for the prompt, Deb.

      Like

  32. I 100% agree with you. I do all those things as well and while I do get SOME satisfaction out of them – more often than not I’m just hating that I’m there in the first place. And I honk if more people were honest like this it would make our world a better place. Thanks for writing it down.

    Like

  33. amelie88 says:

    I’m so glad I’m not alone in this! I know I am grateful for many things in my life but I often have to stop and remind myself of these things. It’s hard to get out of your own head and realize others have it worse. But it rarely comforts me to know this because for everyone their problems are always worse than others. And I feel the same way about volunteering–I think I need to find a cause that appeals to me. Volunteering at a soup kitchen (or at least the one I’ve gone to) isn’t it. My mom has made us volunteer at a soup kitchen in the Bronx for the past few years on Thanksgiving (she tried to get us to go on Christmas Day but we were selfish enough to say no). I just hate going, I’ve never enjoyed it and I feel uncomfortable. It’s chaotic, so many people (homeless and volunteers) and just makes me feel more depressed to see how these poor people live than think I’m doing any good by giving them food. I feel guilty I feel this way–I should love my neighbor etc. but I just can’t love everyone. It’s too much.

    I like to do small things like donate my used prom dresses to a prom dress drive which I’m doing today–I get rid of clutter and it goes to someone who I hope will be happy to wear it. I’m more than happy to get rid of things I don’t care about and give to people who might want them. But soup kitchen scenarios give me serious social anxiety.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      There’s nothing wrong with cutting yourself some slack. If soup kitchens make you anxious, find something else to do. Your idea of donating prom dresses is great, especially because that is a very real, concrete way to help other young women.

      Good for you!

      Like

  34. Dana says:

    Peg– I do this all the time, suffering through small things and then criticizing myself for heaping on the suffering when I am so well off in comparison to many others. However, layers upon layers of self-criticism and self-judgment do favors for nobody. We all know this on an intellectual level.

    I have been working with a technique called EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques or simply “tapping”), and it’s done wonders on a subconscious level in terms of being able to accept myself and how I feel. The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that simply telling myself the truth, “Even though I judge myself so harshly for making a big deal out of small things… I accept myself and all of my feelings”, helps my whole being calm down. The more I resist my feelings and my reactions to circumstances, and the more I tell myself they “should” be different, the worse they seem to get. A good resource for tapping is http://www.thetappingsolution.com. Lots of free examples, scripts, and support. (Otherwise, cupping my hand over my heart and saying, “It’s okay, it’s okay” works energetic magic, too. Yes: I’m a hippie, granola, spirit-loving soul like that.)

    Like

  35. Blogdramedy says:

    Time flies and then you’re dead. Or something like that.

    You don’t sound happy doing what you’re doing so change to something that does. If you’re stuck on what, do nothing for a while. Even a long while. Sometimes good things happen when you do nothing…like creativity and interesting ideas. I think that saying, “you can’t love others until you love yourself” is true and maybe applies here?

    That and dark chocolate. Chocolate ALWAYS applies to something but it’s best on your tongue.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Will you still love me if I admit, on top of all these pathetic, self-flagellating revelations, that I don’t like dark chocolate? I prefer no-redeeming-heart-value milk chocolate. The shame pile just keeps growing here.

      Like

      • Blogdramedy says:

        I have a secret. I too prefer milk chocolate. But dark chocolate is supposed to be healthier and I wanted to be helpful.

        The next time I buy a milk chocolate bar, I’ll think of you.

        Like

  36. Trying to catch up on all I missed, so glad I ultimately didn’t miss this. The real answer is, no you are not the only one. So many of us have an abundance of riches, so many of us are also swept away by anger or despair by things that seem, well silly in retrospect. Still, even know this we are sometimes swept away.

    Doing good works, simply to do them? Well, sometimes this is needful because the need is great and those who can contribute are few. So we jump in. Who wants to clean up after a storm? We do it though, we might be the only ones standing. But Peg, there are so many ways to contribute (beyond cash). If you don’t love what you are doing, if you don’t find joy in the works you are doing find something that you can do / give with joy. People know when you are there against your spirit.

    There is so much need, so many ways we can help. This is especially true today where there is so much need.

    To answer your questions directly:

    No, not entirely because if you are not offering with an open and joyful heart you gain no benefit and neither do those you touch.

    No, it is a function of attitude.

    No, we all have to do this repeatedly.

    No, this is simply part of our humanity.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Thanks for your honest response, Val. I do enjoy English as a Second Language tutoring, when I get there. But I don’t really want to do that either. I’ve come to the conclusion that my loving something is NOT a requirement to do it because, frankly, I’d rather do NOTHING. I’m basically lazy. But I don’t consider that an option when I am able and others are in need.

      Interesting that you don’t see negativity as a function of age – many people do. But I think you’re right. Maybe aging intensifies our natural tendencies. Maybe I’ve always tended to be negative and masked it, even from myself. I think Al might have hit the nail on the head that part of my depression is a function of this particular life-stage. the no-man’s-land between young and old.

      Like

  37. Mary K. says:

    Dearest Peg,I cried thru your whole blog and then realized that all these friends and, of course, your family, love and care about you IMMENSELY and are there for you.Look at all the dialogue you have started and all the people that feel the same way. This is really a calling you have and the impact is huge. You are doing the Lord’s work in your own special way. Love you!

    Like

  38. Margie says:

    Thanks for your honesty, and for initiating some wonderful observations.

    As my smarty pants young grandson recently quipped, “Oh the problems of living in a First World Country!” Of course, he hasn’t really experienced all the woes that life can dish out no matter how wealthy or poor you are!

    For me, the best reality check is to ask the question, “What do I want to do? What will I be happy doing?” I’ve spent years raising kids, volunteering, looking after our extended family – in short, putting everyone and everything else first. Now, it is my turn to concentrate on me. Some might think that is selfish, but so be it.

    You said in one of your comments above: “I want to sit on my butt and read good books, drink good wine, eat good food, travel, talk to fascinating people (present company included), write, write and write.” Good on you girl – those are all great goals! What greater gift could you give the world than writing from your ‘happy place!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Thanks, Margie. I don’t know. I think the world would be much more interested in what I’m doing for IT rather than what I’m doing for myself. I need to find a balance.

      It has been a whirlwind long weekend of traveling to a fundraiser for my brother who is fighting cancer, visiting my Mom in the hospital (home and good to go now) and burying a dear friend. Life is unfathomable to me sometimes.

      Like

  39. TamrahJo says:

    Some years ago, while immersing myself in the ‘Rah-Rah Create your LIfe through Positive Thinking’ book/seminar racket, I did come across a perspective that I latched onto and have stuck with – here ya go:
    “Anytime you’re not happy, it means there is an incongruency between your inner self and your outer actions – if you give $30 to the non-profit camped out in front of your local store, but inwardly think their cause is not the best way to approach the problem, you did ‘good’ but you’ll feel bad about it. If you put a big smile on your face and try to chit-chat along like you’re in a good mood, when actually, you aren’t, people subconsciously pick up on conflicting audible/verbal signals and do not feel comfortable/safe around you”

    Given these two bits of observation, I tried my own experiment – if I felt snarky, I didn’t try to be Ms. Sunshine at work – while I didn’t go into a explanation/excuse for my snarkiness, I would, if someone persisted in trying to engage me in conversation, speak my mind and end with, “Course, you can take all this with a grain of salt – I’m in a snarky mood today so whaddo I know?” followed by a pained smile – – over the years I’ve found this approach to work much better than trying to be something I’m not (a professional that shows up everyday to the outside world and leaves any trace of not-my-best at home) – I’m sure in your own way, though you may not follow Lady Bountiful’s modus operandi, you make a huge difference – at the very least, it’s one less dish to be served/washed/put away for the person that just naturally excels at rapping about Pokemon and hates being drawn away to wash the @#$ dishes – – 🙂
    And since I’ve already written a book, anyways – here ya go:

    Do good works offset a lousy attitude? – No, but a lousy attitude, channeled properly, can make a huge difference in the world.

    Is increasing negativity a function of age? – Heck Ya! Your brain is increasingly full of examples of the stupidity, selfishness and outright ridiculousness of the human species – but if you’re lucky enough to live long enough, those memories are erased and you get to be nice again – and hide your own Easter eggs.

    Am I the only one who has to give herself these same gratitude/attitude pep talks over and over again, because they don’t seem to take? – Nope – You can only be your best everyday, and in the words of Miguel Ruiz – “Understand that your best varies from day to day, whether you’re well or ill, happy or sad, celebrating or grieving – your best is a moving scale”

    If we are immeasurably blessed compared to others, are we unforgivably ungrateful to let anything bother us? – Nirvana seems only to be a consistent steady state among those who either have learned how to fit their puzzle piece perfectly into the world they inhabit or by those who retreat from the daily silliness of interacting with the masses – the rest of us just have to remind ourselves, “Yup, there are those better than me and worse than me – interesting…..I’m off to the pub to engage in a philosophical discussion regarding the angst of man….”

    You make a difference for me – whether laughingly sharing anecdotes or snarking about examples of stupidity in the world, your blog makes me laugh- so go ahead and be “bad” – just remember to share so I get some joy out of it, too! LOL

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I really appreciate you taking the time to read through this muck and give such a thoughtful answer. I love that quote from Miguel Ruiz, that our best varies from day to day. And the explanation of the increased negativity with age makes perfect sense. We should also see more examples of how wonderful the word can be, right?

      I was talking with a friend the other day who was complaining about her mother being critical. But we both realized that we do the same thing with OUR adult kids. Constantly need to be on watch.

      Like

      • TamrahJo says:

        LOL. My mom was telling me about a book she was reading that the main character really irritated her because she was constantly worrying and fretting over the choices her adult children were making and whether they would be safe or not. Then she laughed and said ” and then I realized I do the exact same thing and I need to stop it!”.

        Like

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