Our need to be right

By Ray Regan 

Susan, friendly and bright, enjoys teaching me what’s right. Sue takes her health and chemical toxins seriously.

Me? I eat apples without washing them.

When we talked about exercise and swimming laps, it led to a discussion about chlorine. Sue is passionate about the danger of chlorine in swimming pools because the fumes are toxic.

“It’s used as a weapon," she said. "Stay out of pools.”

I thought of Michael Phelps and the millions of joyful children swimming in chlorinated pools since 1910, unharmed.

Baffled, I said, “What if I did a research project, an in-depth technical study to find the facts about pool chlorine?  And suppose the conclusion is that the harm to people is negligible?”

Susan said, “I wouldn’t believe you.” 

I asked why and she said, “Because I know!”

Susan’s “Because I know!” response made me think about how powerful our need to be right is. We’re comforted by the belief that our views and opinions are right.

When couples or groups argue constructively, we compromise. Even though voices get louder, we work stuff out. We model healthy problem-solving for young people. Both parties listen to each other, and there’s give and take.

It’s the compulsion for us to be uncompromisingly right that needs attention. An obsession to constantly be right sends up red flags.

It’s alienating when we’re rigid — unable (or unwilling) to consider the other person’s point of view. Undermining connections, strong opinions impede intimacy, not to mention compromising.

Our psychological makeup is partly at fault here. In being right, we protect our sense of self or ego-identity. We have a fixed self-image supported by our views and opinions. When we’re contradicted it’s like being attacked — we react by being defensive and stand our ground!

It’s like being right makes us a worthy person. A narrow view because we’re worthy by being born human. We’re capable of giving and receiving love for one thing. Intelligence, kindness and our ability to have compassion for each other — far outweigh being right all the time.

This obsession was me, raising my family. My son’s learned one right way to do things, mine.

My lack of interpersonal skills took the playfulness out of helping. Like when I taught my son to paint a wall. I cared more about a perfect paint job than my son’s needs or what he was feeling.

On the global scale, including America, there are leaders locked into a self-righteousness ideology. Mixing this with power and aggression is deadly. Leaders believing their truth, their religion or ideology is the absolute truth is dangerous, causing harm.

This grandiosity and lack of compassion are the roots of our wars, famine, injustice, and planet sustainability issues for a start.

As a consequence of this craziness, we've formed into polarized groups, each thinking the other is wrong. We can label this complex conundrum “global narcissism”.

What can we do as individuals to remediate this?

We can look into our own narcissistic tendencies. If you’re having cognitive conflicts with people on a regular basis — face up to it.

Expressing tightly held opinions in every chat puts people off. Healthy interconnectedness by listening to family and friends far overshadow our opinions. While there’s a time for debate, we all have inconsequential views and opinions that work for us.

For a start let’s be easier on ourselves — let go of self-judgment. Realize that you’re valuable and worthy as you are. If this requires confiding in a friend about your feelings or seeing a therapist, please do so. We’re worth it and have the capacity to change — if willing.

Self-compassion enables the skill to have compassion for others and to understand their story. Released from our self we’re able to see the treasure trove of incredible people around us — people with unique worldviews, skills, and creative ideas to learn from. Solid listening skills lead to it.

Active listening is an art we can learn. It’s listening to understand — without a ready reply. We can drop competitiveness and shift the goal to having a solid relationship. When judgment takes a back seat the person in front of us opens up, we speak from the heart and in turn feel heard.

This way of listening, familiar to many, enables us to understand why someone believes the way they do. We don’t have to agree, it just opens up connection.

We grew up forming beliefs that help us make sense of the world. What’s true to us may differ from our neighbour’s truths, their religion or culture. We’ll struggle less if we accept the fact that different beliefs can coexist.

Apart from aggression, other people’s innocuous views have no intrinsic, “right or wrong” value. They’re just opinions to be respected or open to healthy debate.

So where does this leave Susan, chlorine and me?  We moved on to bottled water and continue being friends.

Ray Regan is a grandfather and writer from below the border (Oh my). He lives in Downingtown, Pa.


Don't rake in the pain

By Cheryl Witter 

I love fall. Warm sweaters, delicious apples, the popular pumpkin-spiced latte — and leaves. Lots of leaves.

Raking becomes a part of everyone's weekend to-do list. It can be quite enjoyable, but it also can be tireless work involving repetitive movements of bending,reaching,twisting and lifting.

All these movements done for long periods of time can cause soreness and even injury. Especially to the mid/low back and elbows.So don't be embarrassed about waking up Monday morning sore after a marathon-raking weekend.

Physiotherapists get it. We see it every fall. So to prevent your raking adventure from becoming a burden, here are some helpful tips: 

  • Change your heavy old rake for an updated ergonomic rake. These are lighter. And come with a padded handle and a bent shaft. Much friendlier on your body. 
  • Hold the rake close to your body and keep one hand near the top.This gives better leverage. 
  • Keep your back straight and your elbows slightly bent. Avoid gripping the rake too tightly.Your elbow muscles and tendons do not like this at all. 
  • Face the pile and rake the leaves toward your body in a front-to-back motion.The tendency is to plant the feet in a fixed position and to rake in several different directions from that position. Instead place one foot ahead of the other.This allows you to shift forward and backward easily as you rake.Your low back will be happier. 
  • Don't reach or twist to get those last few leaves
  • Alternate hand and leg positions every so often so to lessen repetitive strain on one side of the body. 
  • Bend from the hips and knees,not your back when picking up leaves or bagged leaves. 
  • If you have to stoop,face the pile of leaves and don't twist as you lift.  
  • When lifting the bag of leaves, tense your stomach muscles to give your low back more support. And remember to keep the bag close to your body Lifting and low back injuries often occur when the spine is bent forward 30 degrees with a heavy load being carried (bag of leaves). So back straight. 

Raking can be a perfect storm for injuries. For days on end, there is twisting, reaching, lifting and gripping. ,activities we don't do regularly.

So warm up, pace yourself ,take breaks (pumpkin spiced latte or pumpkin flavoured beer) and adopt good techniques for raking by using these tips.

Don't rush the job.That's where improper technique shows up. And that could mean a very sore back on Monday. Enjoy your raking.

Soon you will be shovelling.

Cheryl Witter is a physiotherapist at North End Spine and Sports.

Do you feel understood?

By Kate Dalton

Is there anything more gratifying than feeling understood by a fellow human?

On the contrary, is there anything worse than feeling that you are completely alone in your thoughts or experiences?

I have long been of the belief that we do others and ourselves a great disservice when we fail to share the truth of “how we are" — how we are feeling and the highs and lows we encounter throughout life. 

Certainly, there is a time and a place for sharing, and not all people are the safe or appropriate sounding board for you to discuss your innermost thoughts.

However, when you do find yourself with people who are worthy of your trust, it can be incredibly beneficial and a big sigh of relief for your mind, emotion, and even body when you tell others what is really going on with you.

Nobody has a life that mimics a shiny Instagram feed every day, but we sometimes get that impression. We may think we are the only one in our group of friends, family, or colleagues who is going through a rough time.

It seems like everyone else has the perfect relationship, the perfect job, the perfect home, or the perfect baby.

But often, when we get beyond superficial interactions and to the heart of the everyday experiences of others, we realize we are not alone. We are not the odd one out.

But to come to that realization, we need people to open up to us and likewise to share our authentic selves with others.

When we pour ourselves out to someone else and are not met with empathy or understanding, it’s an awful feeling. It may cause us to wish we had never spoken up in the first place.

It confirms in our minds that “nobody gets us” and that if only people could walk in our shoes, they could see eye to eye with us.

When we encounter empathy, defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another," it can be life changing.

When we speak to someone and realize we are not alone, that we are not isolated in our feelings and experiences and that another person shares our perspective, it is one of life’s greatest comforts.

I am incredibly blessed to have a close circle of friends I can trust with my thoughts and feelings; whether I feel like I have it together that day or I feel as if my life is falling apart. They listen to me without judgment, without criticism, and without trying to solve everything on the spot.

Furthermore, they point out the good qualities they see in me, they encourage me, they share stories of their similar experiences, they offer ongoing support (and sometimes chocolate which also helps).

So let’s be honest.

When we’re not OK. When we’re not having a good day. When that encounter really did hurt us.  When we don’t feel confident. When we don’t feel healthy. When we are scared and vulnerable and unsure. When we need help. When we wonder if anyone else understands.

Simply put, you will never feel known if you don’t let people know. 

Kate Dalton believes in the power of investing in people. With a varied background in marketing and communications, Kate has a growth mindset that drives her to continually pursue personal and professional development, hoping to encourage others along the way. Email: [email protected].


Lemon or lemonade?

By Peter Enns

The Stats Canada number can be discouraging: 13.7 per cent of Canadians have a physical or mental disability that interferes with their daily activities.

However, the expression says, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I would like to honour one Kelowna resident who made lemonade out of his lemons.

His name is Mike Haines and he has cerebral palsy. His speech is hard to understand and he is confined to a wheelchair.

However, he is one friendly, happy dude. He likes to go to the mall and strike up conversations with strangers. He told me he likes himself.

When he moved to Kelowna with his parents in 1981, he decided he was not going to be dependent upon government handouts. So, after the Lions Club gave him a three-wheel bike, he decided to start a courier business.

He began delivering documents from one downtown business to another for $3/envelope. He was downtown 8-10 hours a day, 7 days a week.

One day, a stereo shop asked if he would put their advertising sign on his bike. He began charging $30 a month to advertise on his bike.

After his bike wore out, he got an electric scooter. This allowed him to have more signs. At any one time, he had 35-40 signs making money for him.

Mike and his signs were a fixture in downtown Kelowna for 25 years. (As a point of interest, one of his YouTube videos can be found by going to bit.ly/KelownaFixture.)

One of Mike’s passions is getting the public to treat people with disabilities better. He has given a number of talks to various restaurant staff, teaching them how to treat customers with disabilities.

One restaurant manager said that Mike brought some of the staff members to tears.

A year or two ago, he began creating an ebook about how to treat customers with disabilities. Earlier this year, he teamed up with a writer and a nurse to finish the ebook. It took  three months, but it was worth it.

The book, How to Serve Customers with Disabilities, is an amazing teaching manual that some local businesses are beginning to buy.

Today Mike is still an entrepreneur. This time, he is selling his ebook.

To see a three-minute YouTube video of Mike’s entrepreneurial history, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK591TqnNUg

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About the Author

Welcome to Writer’s Bloc, an opinion column for guest writers to share their experiences and viewpoints with our readers.

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