On Upsetting the Applecart

Upsetting the applecart, according to Dictionary.com, is to spoil carefully laid out plans.  (Source: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/upset–the–applecart) However, how I define upsetting the applecart, is doing anything that will upset the status quo. For instance, if everyone is supposed to wear red, and you are wearing blue, you may be upsetting the applecart.

Sometimes it is important not to upset the applecart. Examples and explanations of situations where it would not be so wise to upset the applecart would be as follows:

  1. In order to rebel against authority–Ninety percent of the time, it is not a good idea to upset the applecart by rebelling against authority figures in your life, whether it be the police, teachers, or bosses. Not only will you get in trouble, but you will also not likely to induce the changes you want to be made either by the authority themselves, or the peers around you.
  2. By doing something that is illegal and/or immoral.–If you are upsetting the applecart by doing something that is grossly immoral or illegal because you don’t like something or because you want to do what you want to without any regard to the consequences of your actions, that is being reckless. It is not really changing anything or really “upsetting the applecart” in any positive or significant way.

There are other times, however, when it would be very wise to upset the applecart. Examples of these may be as follows:

  1. When the people around you are doing something wrong or unproductive (i.e..when things that “have always been done this way” will not accomplish the desired result or results in the long run). –For instance,  if you work in an environment where people are regularly nasty to each other and are always fighting, you can upset the applecart, so to speak, by refusing to engage in that environment or instead be speaking encouraging things to those you meet there.
  2. When you want to accomplish sustained, positive change in the world around you.–For example, many countries in the past engaged in enslaving people that they thought were “inferior” to themselves.  Now we know that that is wrong. In the past, many thought it was just the way things were, but abolitionists like William Wilberforce and Fredrick Douglas, worked together to eventually put an end to slavery here in the U.S.   They upset the slave owners’ applecart, so to speak, to win the freedom of millions of mistreated African slaves in the U.S.
  3. When you want to be true to your values and convictions, even if everyone else around you is not in agreement.–For instance, my faith hero, Rachel Scott, made a dent in this world and upset the applecart, by being not only vocal about her Christian faith but also applying her faith to her daily life, even though it meant her losing all of her good friends at school.  Another situation where upsetting the applecart may be wise is when you see someone being unfairly treated or bullied, and you stand up for the bully’s victim even when no one else will. This is not primarily about making you a hero, but more about doing the right thing and instigating a positive change in your world.

Whether or not you choose to upset the applecart, the most important thing to remember is how to do it correctly.  Remember that upsetting the applecart may be difficult because you are going against the status quo, the grain, so to speak. Some people may not respect your convictions or what you’re doing, but if it is the right thing to do, do it anyway.  You may even lose some support along the way, but if you know that this is the right thing to do, don’t give up.

Here’s how to upset the applecart most effectively:

  1. Think about how you will upset the applecart.–For instance, if your work or school environment is a place where there are a lot of cliques and infighting, determine a way you will change that by not subscribing to the same things your colleagues or classmates are. In this example, I would want to upset the applecart by not participating in the gossip and infighting myself, and by hanging out with many different types of people, not just ones with whom I feel comfortable.
  2. Determine you will be different in some way than the status quo.–Stand out in some way. –Don’t be afraid to be different, or be yourself, in situations where upsetting the applecart would benefit others.   For instance, in multiple sources, Rachel Scott, my faith hero, is quoted as saying, “I won’t be labeled as average.” Rachel Scott was known for upsetting the applecart in a positive way.  Her faith and compassion for others stood out. She hung out and encouraged those who no one considered or wanted to be around.  She held firm to moral boundaries but rejected shallowness and fakeness.
  3. Hold firm to your convictions and beliefs always.–Never let what other people think of you and/or your beliefs hinder you in any way. Never surrender your beliefs and convictions if you know that you are right. Yes, be open to others’ wisdom and advice if you are wrong about something or to understand people better. However, never let someone change your beliefs and convictions based only on their benefit or just to please them.  Change only because you (or God) want(s) you to.

Upsetting the applecart allows us not only to stand out and be different but also to initiate effective change to our world and those around us. Change, and upsetting the applecart can be upsetting to some people, but they are necessary ingredients to improve oneself and the world around you.

 

Being Civil Online and Preventing Cyberbulling

Cyberbullying is a serious problem, especially among teens, where more than 1 in 3 have been cyberbullied in their lifetime. Cyberbullying may also be an issue even among adults and young children. In a society where anonymity online can be used as a weapon against people who either a.) hold different views than the perpetrator or b.) are hated or that the perpetrator is disgusted by, we need to be vigilant against cyber bullying and make sure we don’t become perpetrators ourselves. I’ve seen many people on even social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter rail against each other and call someone they don’t even know personally nasty names or even tell other people to end their own lives over petty issues.

This is why we need to be sure we are always civil online and do our part to ensure that the Internet trolls don’t successfully hurt others or ourselves.
Here’s how:

Being Civil Online

  1. When you disagree with something or something someone wrote or said online angers or irritates you, do yourself and that other person a favor: Don’t say anything nasty to them. –I made the mistake of biting back and saying some crude things a very long time ago when someone made rude remarks about the type of music I listened to. In retrospect, I should have just left it alone. Sometimes bloggers (and I read a lot of blogs since I’m part of a blogging group now) say things that disgust, upset, or irritate me. Not all the time, not often, but once in a blue moon. I have found the most effective and most civil way to voice my disagreement over their post is to say nothing at all. If you feel, however, that you must say something to them, do it civilly. Find points in common. For instance, in the example of the people making fun of the music I listened to, I could have said, ” We both listen to similar kinds of music, but just different groups. I am sorry that you feel that way about [name of group], but I respectfully disagree with you.” OR “It looks like we both like different groups, but maybe we both have another artist we both like. What are some other music artists you like?” Lastly, ask questions and try to learn about why they think that way. For instance, if you live in the U.S and you really don’t like Trump and the person you are engaging with really likes Trump, you could ask, “What have you found that Trump does well?” or “What led you to vote for him?,” but say it in a neutral, wanting-to-learn tone of voice, and not an accusatory, judgmental tone of voice.

When someone attacks you:

This is harder because it’s personal. They want to hurt you, perhaps to make a point or put you down. It doesn’t matter. It is not right for them to do that, but there will be trolls. Internet trolls are, according to Wikipedia, “In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement.” Often trolls either want to hurt you personally out of anger, or for their own amusement. However, we can prevent ourselves from stooping down to their level by taking these measures:

  1. Don’t respond to them, if possible.— Yes, even if you angry inside (and I would be too, to be honest) the best way to not attract the kind of attention the troll wants is to be silent. Don’t give them the pleasure of a crass, emotionally-laden response. They want that, but if no one responds to them, the troll will die down and look for targets elsewhere.
  2. If you do respond, keep your responses simple and/or robotic.—If they say something about or to you that you know is untrue, say so. But that’s it. You don’t need to add about how they angered you or how rude they are (They already probably know, but they don’t care.). Just say, “This is not true.” or “What you said isn’t true.” If they insult your character, and the criticism isn’t warranted, but you feel the need to say something, say something like, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but that isn’t how I see it. ” OR “That isn’t true.”
  3. Report them to the moderators.–If they keep escalating, tell it to the moderators of the board. Don’t get overly emotional with your complaints. Just say, for instance, “So-and-so [person’s name here] keeps telling me that I lie and cheat on others when I have done nothing of that sort. And he (or she) keeps bad-mouthing me to other people. For instance, [tell of first instance, and other specific incidents thereafter]. Could you please tell him or her to stop? It not only hurts me, but the other people around me, and more importantly, it hurts the integrity of this whole board.” If the moderators don’t do anything about it or blame you for telling them about these incidents, don’t say anything bad or inflammatory back, just get out of that forum.

Preventing Cyberbullying:

First and foremost, don’t be a cyberbully yourself. Always communicate your responses and writings with love and grace to those who will read it.— If you disagree with someone, even strongly, be respectful of him or her. Don’t be judgmental or condemning, but speak the truth in love. If you want to give advice, make sure the person is welcoming of them. Never give unsolicited advice. a.) The person will get upset at you for “helping” them, and you both won’t feel better after the interaction. You, because you wouldn’t be appreciated by them, and them, because you will seem overbearing and like a busybody to them. b.) They probably won’t listen to said advice anyway, and you will waste your time trying to “help” them.

Second, if you witness someone being cyberbullied or attacked online, do something! — If you don’t want to engage with the attacker (and sometimes it’s wisest not to), report the attacker to the moderators/administrators. If they don’t do anything constructive about it within a reasonable time period (but give them some time, don’t be impatient), then get out of that forum! If you can engage, engage with the victim first. Stand up for him/her. For instance, if someone is attacking him/her because of his/her disability, tell the person something encouraging like, “I think you are a beautiful and unique person. You may have this disability, but don’t let it stop you from accomplishing your dreams and don’t listen to [perpetrator]. That is just not true.” Also, tell the perpetrator, “Attacking [name/screen name of victim] is not acceptable in this forum. If you don’t stop and/or apologize to [name/screen name of victim], I will report you to the appropriate people. Thank you.”

These are some ways I have found effective in dealing with the serious issue of cyberbullying. What are some other ways you have found to help combat cyber bullying? Please discuss in the comments. Also, may we all join forces to combat this issue so that the Internet will be a place of peace and love for all.

For related content, please see my friend Kat’s blog on:  Preventing Slut Shaming

sources: http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/cyber-bullying-statistics.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll

How To Get Along With Difficult People

We all have them in our lives-People that we either don’t get along with at all, or just people that are more challenging to cope with to us.  However, sooner or later, we will be confronted with someone whom we must get along with even if it is rather difficult to do so. Using what I learned from various experiences in my life, here’s what I found are effective ways to cope with them:

  1. Don’t argue or fight with them— In my own life, I had several people who just refused to see “my side of things,” and I just tried to argue them to my side–of course to no avail! I also found the more we argued about things, the angrier I felt, and the more hopeless I felt that they’d ever be reconciled to me, or I to them. However, I found that trying to find a compromise with them, or even just letting them have their way sometimes works to avoid tense arguments with people.  For instance, if we wanted to order food for a party, and they wanted to order ice cream  for everyone, and I wanted pizza instead.-instead of me trying to argue that we should order pizza, I would just either let them order ice cream since most people would probably like either anyway, or we order half pizza and half ice cream. That way, everyone gets what they wanted. I get my pizza, and he or she gets their ice cream.
  2. Find their “Light.”–This idea originated with Rachel Scott, one of my faith heroes, in her essay “My Codes, My Ethics,” which can be found here. It basically means to find something admirable about them, other than their outer appearance. For instance, a person that I had trouble getting along with before can be a really hard worker. Additionally, this person is often very flexible. However, I would never have found that out or considered this had I only focused on all their negative personality traits! After finding their positive trait or traits (i.e.. their Light), I would try to cultivate that positive trait by encouraging them in it. For instance, I would say to that aforementioned person, “I find it really encouraging that you worked really diligently on  project today. I think it will turn out wonderfully! ” Be specific in your praise or encouragement. Name specific instances in which the person cultivate that trait. Also, be genuine and heart felt about your praise. People know whether you are being “fake” in your praise or if you genuinely mean it.
  3. Try to understand them and their point of view–If the difficult person has hurt you, try to understand their motivation behind it. It’s usually not completely malicious. Were they having a bad day? Do you rub them the wrong way? Are they going through or have they gone through something stressful or traumatic recently or in their recent past? Are they just plain evil or malicious? In order to understand their motivation, you need to attempt to cultivate some type of communication with them. You may just need to be honest and ask them, “Why aren’t we getting along?” or even “Why do you feel the need to hurt me by doing “X”?” and name specific instances where they have hurt you. Then, you will be able to find out their motivation. If they are just evil, then stay far away from them until they come to their senses and repent, but this is often rarely the case. If they are going through something stressful or traumatic, try to encourage or comfort them through it. Be there to offer them any moral support they may want or need. Did you contribute in any way to their hurting you? For instance, did you display a snarky attitude and as a result they shot back nasty words towards you (not right on their part, but understandable), apologize and make amends. I must note, that yes all and any of these situations are not excuses for anyone to hurt us, and get away from an abuser if you are able to, but trying to understand their motivation may make it easier to be at peace with them and be able to forgive them.
  4. If they come to their senses or repent, forgive them–This is easier said than done. We don’t forgive for them, or because they “deserve” it. No one deserves our forgiveness, and we don’t deserve anyone else’s either. Forgiveness is an act of grace one offers to another.  We forgive to rid ourselves of the anger, bitterness, and resentment in our souls that eats us up and threatens to destroy our other relationships or at least make them less fulfilling to us.  Also, forgiveness does not mean that the person responsible for hurting us does not need to face consequences for their actions. You are absolutely allowed (and it would be wise) to set boundaries and, if applicable, reparations be made for you and the other people affected that they hurt.
  5. If you are religious, pray for them.–I am a Christian, and one of my friends at church told me to pray for a person with whom I had problems, and to my surprise, prayer helped! My friend told me that I had to pray good things for them, and nothing bad or snarky. So, I did. I would also encourage people to thank God for specific qualities of that difficult person that are admirable. This goes back to 2.)–finding qualities of that person that are admirable or positive. Also, pray to God for the difficult person’s heart to be softened.  Praying like this changed my attitude towards them. The attitude I have towards this person now compared to before I prayed for them is nothing short of miraculous! I believe God works in mysterious and amazing ways, so we can be at peace with everyone  (or at least almost everyone).

We all have difficult people that we must cope with in our lives, whether it be people in our families, people at work or school, or in other places. In order to be successful in society, we must learn to effectively work or cope with them.  I hope these tips will help us to cope better in these challenging situations.  May we be a Light shining in the darkness, and be able to cope effectively with these difficult people, and maybe even befriend them!

How to Set Boundaries

May trigger *Speaks of/refers to abuse or abusive behaviors*

Some people will test your boundaries. I was talking with someone about that a few days ago, and she made me realize I have two choices when someone violates my boundaries: a.) Allow people to walk all over me and take advantage of me.  OR  b.) Set clear and firm boundaries. Here’s how (By the way, some of the advice is extrapolated via Captain Awkward, so some credit goes to her as well. She offers some good advice for everyday or abusive situations.) :

1.)When someone touches you without your permission and does so in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable: let out a small yelp! Don’t be afraid to make a scene, even if it is someone in authority over you, but with them, do so respectfully. Remember no one has a right to touch you without your consent!  You can alternately say, “Please don’t touch me like that (or without my permission). ” OR ” I don’t like that. Please stop.” OR  “That makes me uncomfortable. Please stop that.”  If he or she makes a big fuss over it or touches you more, tell someone in authority or higher-up than them if they ARE authority, or the police if things get really bad (i.e.. if you are getting assaulted ), but only as a last resort!

2.) When someone asks you to do something you are uncomfortable with or don’t feel morally right doing, you are allowed to say “No” to them sometimes. For instance, if a boss wants you to fudge data and you don’t feel morally right doing so, instead of a.) Getting upset and cursing him or her out.  b.) Letting him or her violate your conscience, do  C.) Tell your boss firmly, but politely, “I don’t feel comfortable doing this for you. It violates my personal convictions. I am sorry.” See also: “I can’t do that for you, or I will get in trouble from [higher-up managers, law enforcement, etc.]. Sorry.” If he or she insists, keep telling them the same thing like a broken record, but don’t raise your voice.

3.) When someone yells at you or treats you rudely for no good reason, you can also set boundaries to help them stop their behavior too. When I got upset(legitimately), instead of setting boundaries with that person, I yelled at that person and got very angry. (Don’t do what I did!) The person then told me very sternly, “Don’t talk to me like that!” Though that made me more upset, what the person said to me was spot on and made me treat that person better in the long run.

When someone–a friend, a parent, a co-worker, a customer or client, a boss at work, or anyone else, yells at you for no good reason, you can use these words: “Don’t talk to me like that.” in a calm, but firm tone. This says to them two things: 1) Their behavior is unacceptable and needs to stop now. It won’t be tolerated. and 2.) that you deserve their respect. And it’s true. Though much of respect is earned, no one has the right to yell rudely for no reason or verbally abuse you in any way. Just because something doesn’t involve physical violence, does not mean it’s not abuse! If the person(offender) escalates their abuse after telling them “Don’t talk to me like that!”, walk away and/or tell them, “I’m not talking to you until you can talk to me nicely!” This will tell them in  no uncertain terms, that you will not accept their abusive behavior.

Setting boundaries not only ensures you will not tolerate abuse or being taken advantage of by others, but also will help the offender or offenders realize the impact their behavior is having on you and others, and help them (hopefully) change or face the consequences of their abusive behavior.

Boundaries and Consent

A problem that we have in our society today in general is other people’s boundaries.  Sure there are things that we all must do in order to be successful. It can look a bit different for each person. For me, for instance, I have to go to work , go to church, and deal with many different people (including difficult ones) every day. These are non-negotiable for me. However, I strive to do these things while also respecting others’ boundaries or “no” for me.

However, there are things some people (including me, sadly, sometimes) do or say that can be a violation of others’ boundaries. Here are some of the violation boundaries I’ve noticed in life situations I’ve encountered or heard, and how we all can do better in creating a culture of consent and respecting other people’s boundaries:

violation of personal space-When we touch or hug someone without their consent, we are violating their personal space. I’ve seen it happen to others and me more times than I can count. This violation is not only on an individual level but also on a societal level. For me, being violated in this way isn’t usually that big of a deal (Key word: usually), but for others it can be devastating or at the very least triggering because of past experiences of being abused or otherwise devalued. And we must respect these people, because if you were in their shoes, how would you feel?  If you are a parent, you must also respect that your child (no matter how young) does not always want to be hugged or cuddled or want to show affection to another child or adult. It may be because this person has hurt them in some way, or because they just don’t like to be touched. That is OK. Even if you are NOT a parent and a child or an adult you know does not want to be touched or hugged, you must strive to  love and respect the individual by respecting their wishes. I’ve heard in numerous settings where I heard a child or an adult (or everyone) must hug someone, just because X person did. No, no, no! First of all, just because X (or you) feels comfortable hugging the person, doesn’t mean everyone does or has the same type of close relationship.  Secondly, a true hug cannot be forced!  Thirdly, forcing someone else to hug implies to that person being forced that their feelings and their body isn’t of value, that others can do what they wish to that person or their body– a very dangerous precedent indeed!

violation of time-When we show up to someone’s abode without their consent or when we unload on someone that doesn’t want to or doesn’t have time to listen to us unload, we are violating the others’ time.  When faced with the possibility of violating others’ time, I try to respect the other person instead. For instance, when I want to talk to a friend but she is busy doing something else, and she confronts me with this, I would say, “I’m sorry for bothering you. I will talk to you when you are not as busy.” I would never : a.) Throw a tantrum and say, “But whhhy can’t we talk about this NOW?!” b.) offer up suggestions on why what she’s doing now isn’t as “important” as me.   c.) invalidate her boundary in any of these or other ways.  Likewise, we all must respect others’ time whenever possible.  We must apologize and make amends when we fail to do so, because as my pastor aptly says, “Time is life.”

Violation of privacy-When we put up pictures of someone else or give out their phone number or address without their consent for everyone to see, we are violating their privacy. Exceptions: When a phone number or address is already publicly available on multiple sites somewhere else, such as of a celebrity or other famous person, it is probably OK to post it on Facebook.  Or when a picture of someone is already on Facebook, as long as  the picture does not objectify or devalue that person in any way, it’s probably OK to put up too. However, as a rule, we should ASK the person/people  before we post or upload anything that includes others on Facebook, Instagram, or any other site. When they say, “No” don’t throw a fit or tantrum, or demand they see things *your* way. Also, this applies when someone does NOT want to talk about something that is bothering them to you. You cannot, absolutely cannot force someone to talk and expect them to have much respect for you and your boundaries if you can’t respect theirs.  Instead, we should say something like, “That’s fine, but if you ever want to talk about it, I will be here for you and support you through it all,” and then just drop it. If they want to discuss what is bothering them, with you, they will. You just have to be patient with them.