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Why You Shouldn’t Force Yourself To Be Tough (Especially When You’re Sad)

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Why You Shouldn’t Force Yourself To Be Tough (Especially When You’re Sad)

Life’s challenges force us to harden up. Relationships, work, children, family and finances all combine to put us under a lot of pressure and the way we are expected to deal with these is to develop resilience and to some extent indifference. We are required to be tough. To teach our kids to be tough and with each blow life delivers to knock us down, we need to get up, dust ourselves off and pick up where we left off. The more times we start again, the colder and more jaded we become.

Perhaps what’s needed is a shift in attitude. To become stronger and resistant to the tribulations of life, maybe the answer is that we need to become softer not tougher. Maybe what the world needs is more nurture.

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Lose control sometimes

Without injuring others or placing your own life in danger, it’s healthy to let go sometimes. You don’t have to be irresponsible to release responsibility and embrace freedom for a change. When life is becoming too burdensome and the weight of obligation and duty seems suffocating, do something that allows you to release yourself from what can feel like a prison. Do something that pushes your boundaries, something that you wouldn’t ordinarily do. Take a calculated risk and allow yourself to crumble a little. Be answerable only to yourself.

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Get in touch with your emotions

Discover how you really feel about things. It’s easier said than done. Instead of maintaining the status quo and keeping the peace; instead of following the herd and making the predictable and reliable decisions that you are expected to make, ask yourself what you truly desire. Imagine what you could accomplish, if failing wasn’t an option. If there was no fear of being judged and no adverse consequences, what would you really choose? More often than not, the worst case scenario is only in our mind and fulfilling our desires are more possible than we can imagine. Learning to acknowledge and express our emotions freely may seem like weakness in a culture that requires us to be tough, but in actual fact it takes a strength far more valuable and honorable than living in denial.

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Soft is the new hard

When you think that a situation requires you to be tough, to stiffen your upper lip and puff out your chest in the face of something difficult or even traumatic, consider if you have another option. Maybe for a change it’s time to wallow in the tragedy of your experience and really feel what it is to be human. Striving for mental toughness may close you off to a world of emotional development and progress that you may otherwise live through if you let yourself open up for a change. Softening your perspective towards yourself and others; allowing yourself to experience tenderness and nurturing instead may seem counterproductive, but in the long run, may reap more abundant rewards. You may feel sadness more intensely, or anger. Disappointment, fear, grief. The flip side is you may discover joy like you’ve never allowed yourself to feel before. You may laugh harder, feel more inspired, encounter wonder and awe at things you previously took for granted.

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Tough is just bravado. Softening up is a new normal you should try.

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Diane Koopman

Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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