Over-apologizing. I’ve heard a lot of this lately, and all it does is diminish our personal power. If you are in the wrong, apologize sincerely once and move on. If others can’t let it go – that’s their issue, not yours.
Judging the decisions of others. We have no idea of the hidden forces in the lives of others, and it has been my observation that our cultures relentless judgement and shaming is only further driving a wedge in our ability to communicate and make our own good decisions. In addition – many of us have to put on our armor before we engage in basic conversations because it has become acceptable for others to press their opinions on us AND THEN get angry when we don’t agree.
Giving into the ridiculous culture of fear that we now live in. I saw some parents on my hike today, insisting that their kid put down the stick they found in the woods. Why? Many times, at the beach, I’ve heard kids getting in trouble for getting sand on the beach stuff. This drives me nuts – it makes no sense. Can we let go a little, and let our kids just be kids? Their lives are regimented enough, and there is no end to what we feel we have to teach them, all before they are 10. Childhood is a lot of things, but it is not clean – there are bugs and mud, and it is rare that the eye gets poked out. Sticks are excellent toys, when you are a kid, it doesn’t take much to be satisfied. I realize this is in direct contradiction to #3, but humans are paradoxical by nature.
Continuing outdated traditions. Halloween candy excess, anyone? Pufferfish as a sashimi delicacy in Japan? Black Friday shopping? As a kid, there was magic in the Halloween candy haul. Of course, this was “back in the day,” so there was less of everything, and more running around outside (with sticks, of course). Now the sugar intake feels relentless, and at the risk of being the Mom I never wanted to be, I say we stop wasting our money on this triple waste. We waste our money when we buy the candy, we then waste it further when we decide to throw it away on the sly when our kids are asleep, or we give it to the dentist??? We then also pay for diseases related to an excess of sugar.
Creating more shows that glorify bad behavior. They are fascinating, and they are fun to watch, (Especially love Billions) but without the balance of some good stuff, our brains start to accept these behaviors as the norm, and then we start behaving similarly, which further erodes relationships. People were so devastated when Parenthood went off the air, and I believe one of the reasons for this was that it showed a nuanced, complex, but generally positive sense of family and navigating of life’s difficult situations and complex relationships. Willingness to swim against the current and to tangle with complexity and paradox is a form of leadership!
Reacting to every stimulus. There are so many things we aren’t in control of, but we are in control of how we react. If we can practice the pause between stimulus and response, we begin to consciously choose how we want to respond in the current moment. So then, instead of being a party to a deepening aggression, or creating regret, we begin a practice of behaving more thoughtfully, becoming higher versions of ourselves, and leading by example for others.
Not allowing ourselves time for reflection. Reflection can be uncomfortable, because it can feel like we are not being productive – you know, “if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t count.” I call BS on this. There are plenty of things that can’t be measured but do count. Love. The way the weekend can feel. Peace of mind. Also, when we examine what we could have done better, or an event in which we are feeling shame, there is a natural tendency to run into the arms of any distraction. This cheats us of the opportunity to not make the same mistake. If nowhere else, this is the place to Just Stop.
Our crazy news-cycle-capitalist-driven culture beats its drum of insistent pressure: everything, all the time. But editing, removing the things that don’t work or are counterproductive can return some balance and sanity into our lives. And if we start to feel more moments of inner peace and are less reactive, might we start weaving back some equilibrium into the torn fabric of our national culture? What things in your life do you want to Just Stop?