Living with humans.

Living with people is hard. Even harder when you are introverted, not highly emotive, and overly practical about how to run your life. Even harder when your lifestyle is markedly alternative. But living with people can be handled.

As briefly mentioned last week, we were thinking of moving in with relatives and it fell through. And one of the reasons for it was quite simply that we felt we could not live with them at all. Their lifestyle clashed with ours, but there was a requirement that we merge our lives. And every pressure was put on us to change our own behaviours and accept the behaviours of the people we were moving in with. Which I suppose is fair enough, as they were there first. But neither Jon nor I are ready to change our lives so dramatically for anything or anyone. And the levels of drama were, quite frankly, massively above what we can tolerate, which, incidentally, is “as close to zero as possible”. So why try at all? Quite simply, we didn’t actually expect to have to change so much.

You see, we comfortably “live” with a couple we’re friends with semi regularly. We’ve had sleepovers, shared hotels, and our last holiday involved a solid week of houseshare. And although even arranging a single visit or day with the relatives was a nightmare, somehow living for a week with our friends was easy. We could do basic housework, arrange meals together, go places and even schedule my work and medical emergencies and shopping, all without a single falling out. So what gives? Why can we do that with them, but not our own family?

The core difference actually comes down to independence versus agreeability. Jon and I both have a strong desire to be independent, both as individuals and as a couple. So we aim to do as much as we can on our own. We also would rather things got done than did not, so we’re both agreeable as long as the work that needs to get done is getting done, but not at all agreeable when delays occur. And our friends are very much the same. They want to do their own thing and they want to do it in peace. So even though we were living together and doing things together, ultimately we were still operating as individuals and we were agreeable so as to enable all of us to continue operating as individuals.

Meanwhile, the main sources of conflict with the family were based around dependence and a need for agreeability beyond comfort. They were demanding to be informed of every aspect of our lives, insisting on helping us rather than letting us hire someone to do work, and getting upset whenever we chose to do something on our own. They were essentially demanding a merge of lives, a loss of independence to us. Share the dogs, let them take care of XYZ, put their needs first. And being highly emotive people, whenever we sought independence over communialism, they became upset. So rather than focusing on a problem, such as the dog needing somewhere to stay but them being unable to keep up their promises, or the solution, such as finding someone else to take care of her, we were expected to first and foremost focus on how we hurt their feelings throughout the situation. In other words, we were expected to be dependent on them and to be agreeable towards them. It was the complete opposite of our relationship with our friends.

I’m sure many people are happy to live with people who they are dependent on and agreeable towards. But ultimately, to avoid drama, you and the people you live with need to agree on your levels of interdependence and agreeability. Whether you want to lead completely isolated lives under the same roof or whether one of you will be completely dependent, you need to agree on that. And whether you want to handle everything bluntly or whether you need people to be sensitive to your emotions, you need to agree on that.

People can live together when they lead completely different lives. They cannot live together when their socializing patterns are completely different.

Let that be a lesson to all: before living with people, discuss dependence levels and how agreeable you need to be to each other. Because drama doesn’t come from disagreements, conflicting beliefs or busy lives. Drama comes from differing neediness.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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Why He Doesn’t Want To Come Home.

A phenomenon Jon and I have discussed previously, to no great conclusion, was revived by the recent idle drivel coming from the mouth of the UK’s own minor version of Bernie Sanders.

The short form of the matter is that, however much men will joke about “well, it beats being home with the gf/wife”, an increasing number of men actually act on it. They will go drinking right after work, take on overtime, or even go and do an unpleasant job for a friend or relative, relishing the time away from home. And we were stumped. But a little more discussion, insight and thought has led us to a fairly satisfactory answer: he doesn’t want to go home because he has no space there.

Humans may be social animals, but we are also private animals. As fairly reclusive introverts, Jon and I know this more than anyone. And we can see that even the most outgoing of extroverts from time to time withdraws into themselves the same way we need to do on a regular basis. Humans need time and space to think, to be quiet, to work on solo projects and to unwind. For introverts its about recharging, for extroverts it seems more about reminiscing and planning, for ambiverts its a bit of both.

And for most of our lives, we get that time and space. From around seven or eight years old, the point where we begin to see ourselves as a unit of society and socialize more sacrificially, passively and/or empathically, we are granted a right to time and space. We get to walk off on our own, have our own possessions to keep us busy away from everyone else, maybe even our own room if money and culture allow. This is Retreat with a capital R. And we need it. As we grow older, this boundary becomes more defined, even with friends and family. We learn to tell people we want some quiet time, that we’re tired, that we wanted to read a book or watch a show. And we learn that when others say similar things, they also need their space.

For some reason, though, many decide to throw this harmony out of the window when it comes to looking for a mate. My only guess is that it’s based on the same mechanism whereby people will lose weight, learn game, or even join a cult to find a partner. We simply put temporary effort into changing ourselves because we know, consciously or subconsciously, that being better means mixing our genes with better ones.

Some also temporarily give these people their personal space. They don’t have their own room any more. They don’t even have their own bed. They don’t have any space in the house where they can be left alone. They don’t have any time where it is appropriate to say “I just want to read a book right now”. Because they are convinced that they need to hand their whole lives to the other person in order for a relationship to work.

But the problem comes in with that “temporary” clause up there. Just as with spontaneous weight loss, a bit of game or joining a cult, unless your changes genuinely become a core part of you, this effort will melt away as the relationship cements. You will grow tired. You will have days where you don’t want to talk at all, or where you just want to sit down and regather your thoughts after work. You will want your time and space back. And so will your partner.

But in this sort of relationship, nobody makes the first move to letting that happen. All of a sudden, the person they loved and wanted to spend every second with becomes a chain around their ankles. They won’t shut up, they keep walking in on them gaming/reading/listening to music/indulging a hobby, they start pushing to do more things together to “relight the spark”. They both resent this constant presence and paradoxical distance.

And that is why he doesn’t want to come home. Because she is there. She is always there. It isn’t his home. There is no peace, no quiet, no time and space for him. There is no Refuge.

Of course, you needn’t spend any time apart to prevent this situation from developing. Jon and I easily spend every free minute together. He doesn’t have to go to the pub after work and I don’t need a girls’ night out to recover and get some social space. But you have to learn to be alone together sometimes. You have to be quiet, and restful, and minding your own business sometimes. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but a little peace and quiet goes a long way.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What are your observations on couples who can’t spend time together? What are the ways you and your partner meet the need for Refuge? Have you tried being alone together?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Being One Of The Others. Part III. Beyond School.

The concept of “otherness” is based on the idea of “us vs them”. In short, when we have established what we are, everything else is not us, and therefore must be “them”. The “other” is the individual who has not yet found a place where they belong, or who primarily deals in an environment where they do not belong.

In Part I: Stepping Out, I explored how Other Girls (OGs) are less often an absolute reject and more often the female equivalent to the male rogues: capable, gender-conforming individuals who feel at odds with the main group they live among. In Part II: Partnering, I explained what makes an OG tick and how an OG winds up choosing another Other as her partner, addressing all major variables from unattractiveness to countercultural preferences. And all this explains a bit about OGs on a basic, primitive level. But it all also takes place around high school age, which OGs obviously leave at some point. In Part III I will attempt to show how an OG may find a place for herself and seek friends, family and financial stability outside of normal pathways.

FRIENDS.

The OG was never exactly surrounded by friends in her key development years. And, whilst there are variants, two key reactions to this isolation become evident:

  1. Get as many friends as possible. Throw yourself out there. Embrace your weirdness. It’s not desperate to want to be noticed, liked and spoken to for once. The extrovert option.
  2. People are overrated. You just need one or two close friends. Preferably of the same sex, as men/women are unreliable. Enjoy yourself on your own. The introvert option.

Yes, there are variables. Some extroverts also fall down the path of eliminating one sex from their social life, some introverts are clingy and dependent, some nihilists have many friends and some popular OGs are still awkward about their Otherness. But generally an OG falls into one camp or another.

The issue for all OGs is that main group girls still hate them, or are just plain confused by them. The more status driven the culture, the less solidarity between OGs and MGGs. Which poses some trouble to introverts, as they need one or two close people to function normally, but even more for extroverts, as hostile rejection can eat away at any extrovert, however Other they are.

This means OGs will basically go “social hunting” in areas where other outsiders congregate. Biker bars and metal concerts? Sure, but also libraries, anime conventions, rock bars, tattoo parlours, religious buildings, charities, extreme political groups, squats, gyms, pretty much anywhere a MGG would turn her nose up at. This is for partnering purposes, of course, and an OG will generally gravitate towards the environment that hosts her type of man, be he Main Group or Mad Scientist. But often the partnering drive is subconscious and the girl is simply reaching out for any social contact.

Eventually OGs find each other, or a partner. At which point the introvert and extrovert distinction becomes even stronger. The introvert, having one or two close, reliable, trustworthy, likeable friends will retreat from social hunting. She is done, she has all she needs and she will make no further effort to connect to people. She drops off the face of the planet. The extrovert, however, never has enough. Even if she has a boyfriend or husband, four best friends and a few circles of acquaintances, she will still want to go to her usual haunts to reach out to more and more people and establish a sense of security.

FAMILY.

OGs tend not to like their families. I am unsure why, but my best guess is that the sort of environment that breeds an “abnormal” woman is probably not the sort of environment she wishes to stay in. At the very best she may place blame on her family regardless of evidence to the contrary. At the very worst she comes from a home that literally destroyed her. Whatever the reason, OGs do not like their families.

Confusingly, whereas girls who fall into mainstream cultural patterns who have bad family relations tend to be a bit dangerous to interact with and poor at forming their own families, OGs are hit and miss. Some OGs have a very hard time relating to people and keeping in touch with people. Some OGs are socially normal within their group. Some OGs repeat a bad parenting cycle. Some OGs rebel against it and raise healthy kids.

The only factors that seem to have any bearing on an OG’s future family leanings are surrogacy and replaceability.

  • SURROGACY: Did the OG replace her parents with something, preferably another person, even a role model? How about siblings? Are they present, or replaced? Did she fill in the gap of being a single child by developing close friendships?
  • REPLACEABILITY: Does the OG view people as irreplaceable? Does she hold fast onto her friends and remaining relatives and try and keep them on side? Or does she regularly replace role models and friends?

If she has surrogates for her absentee family and does not replace these surrogates like printer cartridges, then she is probably socially normal, even if she has turned her biological family down.

FINANCE.

OGs can and do find surrogate families, partners and friends later in life, despite school age restrictions. But it is worth noting that the same restrictions that plague an OG during her formative years will come back with a vengeance in the world of work. OGs will gravitate towards job positions that require little sustained interaction. This means any job where interaction with any one person lasts only a few minutes at a time. Introverts may pick jobs that are generally low on interaction, such as animation. Extroverts may pick jobs that are higher on general interaction, such as service sector. But both will try and work with people in the shortest bouts possible. Why? Because the less you talk to people, the less they know about you.

An OG, in work, is forced to deal with coworkers and clients who are almost certainly do not share her subcultural or countercultural leanings. Seeing as many MGGs react to OGs with hostility and many main group men have odd perceptions about them, an OG wants to make interactions short and sweet. The following are all jobs OGs may enjoy:

  • Teacher for older children or adults.
  • Typically male, solitary work, like mechanic or programmer.
  • Art work, such as painter or musician.
  • Accounting, behind the scenes secretarial work.
  • Basic customer service.
  • Warehouse work.
  • Sex work in all its forms.
  • House maintenance, basic housework.
  • Entrepreneurial ventures.
  • “Nerd” work, in areas that are very quiet and male dominated.

And even then, sometimes the pressures of putting on a social front, especially for OGs who have some level of mental disorder (more on that later, but, yes, it is a bigger issue for OGs than main group girls), can get too much. Many OGs aspire to work from home or be a housewife, or will sit back on welfare so as to avoid the daily interactions of work. Not necessarily a good or smart thing to do, but if the daily grind leaves her feeling genuinely unsafe, as though she were in hostile territory, it makes sense.

And that’s it for the basics of an OG’s social life beyond high school. The next section will be on attraction: hobbies, interests, men. Why might OGs be harder to connect with (as a friend or prospective partner) than MGGs, and what can be done to develop some understanding or foster affection if you are not also an OG?

[Author’s note: Before anyone mentions hypocrisy or absolutes, this whole thing is general guidelines, not set in stone. Yes, I disowned my family and keep very few friends. Yes, I view most people as functionarily replaceable. And no, I don’t think that is having an effect on the few relationships where I view the people as irreplaceable. They’re two classes of person to me. But the point is that there are exceptions, I know there are exceptions, and I have to admit that the vast majority of OGs who do not have family surrogates or who treat surrogates as tools will end up doing the same to partners, friends and even their own children. So whilst it bothers me a little that it could change a random stranger’s opinion of me at some point, I would rather have the more accurate information out there. It would be intellectually dishonest to do otherwise so as to make myself feel better.]

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Being One Of The Others. Part II. Partnering.

The concept of “otherness” is based on the idea of “us vs them”. In short, when we have established what we are, everything else is not us, and therefore must be “them”. The “other” is the individual who has not yet found a place where they belong, or who primarily deals in an environment where they do not belong.

In Part I: Stepping Out, I explored how Other Girls (OGs) are less often an absolute reject and more often the female equivalent to the male rogues: capable, gender-conforming individuals who feel at odds with the main group they live among. In this second part I explain some of the relationship dynamics of OGs and how normal human sexual behaviour manifests or fails to manifest among us.

PARTNERS.

Rollo posits that “Nerd culture represents an environment where a girl’s otherness makes them a prized commodity.” He goes on to suggest that these girls may have been outcompeted in the popular SMP. Which does hold true in many ways. However, in my personal experience, it is not quite so simple. Not all OGs will leave the popular SMP, still playing or competing in it even once they have opted out of every facet of modern society. Many, possibly around half, of opt-out OGs are average or below and seeking a field where they have better leverage. Yet at least half of OGs were romantically successful and sexually desired by high ranking males before becoming othered. And often they are still desirable as they attempt to exclude themselves. Thus, I put forward the four reasons I have observed OGs leaving the popular SMP for:

1: Unattractiveness or low femeninity.

It’s always an issue. As Rollo correctly stated, when a girl is below average attractiveness she will look for a pool where she has more leverage. This unattractiveness might be simple physical characteristics: facial deformity, being just about below average, overweight, etc. However it may also be a social cue: poor makeup, unfashionable clothes, strange hair, lack of tribal markers. It can also be psychological or behavioural: aggressiveness, brashness, anxiety, emotional flatness, sarcasm, nihilism, etc. All of these can make a female seem genetically unfit to potential male suitors, meaning she either cannot pair up, cannot pair up to her standards or cannot pair up openly.

Thus, she will seek a pool where she ranks higher, a pool where the men she desires are less valuable and more available or a pool where she can play the part of trophy rather than the part of mistress.

2: Introversion or conservativism.

This follows on from the psychological andbehavioural side of unattractiveness, but deserves a mention all of its own in current society. However attractive a girl is, if she does not step up in appropriate time for a guy, based on his experience and observations, she will drop social qualifying points. The girl who knows you for a year before working out if she even likes you, whether she can trust you or seeing you enough to make up her mind is not the most desirable one. She is likely to wait around as her love interest dates other girls, wondering when to make a move. Unless he is interested in her from day one, this is one of those rare cases where even a cute, average or feminine girl can end up in the “friend zone”, more appropriately described as the “sister zone” or the “child zone” for the absence of any sexual desire from him for her.

The second issue is related to introversion, but a bit more serious, especially for girls who are younger. The girl who flirts and dates like an extrovert (even if she is not) yet does not put out soon enough for her romantic interest will lose his passions. There are two types of conservative girls: naturally conservative and socially conservative. The naturally conservative girl may be giving off the wrong cues because she cannot distinguish between friendly, coy and flirty, as she does not have the different behaviours herself. She can be friendly for years before developing sexual interest, and still accidentally imitate the other girls’ flirting behaviour, displaying social sexual attraction cues. The socially conservative girl is in a more awkward position. She naturally still seeks sex, but has conditioned herself to hold out. Therefore, her body is displaying basic, natural, instinctive sexual attraction cues, the sort of cue that is picked up on automatically and considered a safe guess as to her nature. When either of these girls fails to live up to what her social cues or natural cues implied, they can find themselves losing the attention of males around them.

3: Disagreement as to the qualifiers of a male.

As I already explained in Alpha Girls, Sigma Girls, although all women want the best man we can “catch”, what defines “best” depends on the woman. A more introverted woman may view a true to type Alpha as a threat to her safety, an excessive amount of socializing and a source of stress. A woman who does not worry too much about comfort or wealth may be just as happy with a poor musician as with a rich one, provided he meets her other criteria.

The same goes for “other” girls. Rollo has touched on this also with his concept of the Exceptional Emo. Here a girl seeks a man not for the usual indicators of success (wealth, status, physical prowess), but for markers of creativity and independence. These males can be situational Alphas or Sigmas themselves, and are very desirable to girls who want a quieter life compared to the Alpha Girl, or who simply do not like the array of Alphas available. There are many Situational Alpha and Sigma archetypes that are as desirable to OGs as the standard Alpha archetypes (entrepreneur, patriarch, jock, politician, rogue) are to main society girls. To boot, the things that main society girls consider to be these men’s “downsides” can be strongly attractive to OGs. For those reasons, it would take a while to describe them all in depth. However here is a summary of the six main types, as far as girls are concerned:

  1. The starving artist. A rogue creative type: flighty, sensual, sensitive, stern, possibly bipolar, drug or alcohol issues are a genuine threat, many ideas that start and are never completed, his art consumes him entirely leaving limited affection and time for women, despite this he will pursue many.
  2. The death cultist. A religious heretic: blasphemous, anti-cultural, independent, attracts many followers, persuasive and charismatic, many ideas that he never acts on, can as easily be the starter of a vegan-hippie-diet-peace-movement or of a branch of Satanism, so long as it shocks.
  3. The switch. The bottom-dom: soft, sensual, sensitive, highly manipulative under the surface, demands perfection, a master of the carrot and rod, may engage in submissive sexual play, follows his plans and ideas through.
  4. The mad scientist. The technical creative: off-kilter, possibly schizoid, nervous tics, constant flow of ideas and conversations, puts things into practice as soon as the idea strikes, unorthodox methods of getting results, sometimes cannot explain or recreate his processes.
  5. The mathematician. An introvert with dominant traits: nervous-looking and quiet, more physically imposing than he should be, possibly practices martial arts or another form of physical combat, sweet yet somehow he is obeyed, an expert in an undervalued or often mocked field.
  6. The warlord. A situational Alpha who values violence: big, strong, imposing, commanding, he understands that violence and its suppression and expression are actually key to maintaining peace, he enforces laws of his own or prior design, holds his woman to a high standard of independence.

An OG is vastly more likely to want to be with one such male, as he more closely resembles her. And these males are unlikely to be true to type Alphas even among subcultures, let alone in popular society. An OG may leave all social connections behind in order to pursue a Sigma starving artist who has limited interest in her.

4: Cultural contrasts.

Tying all these points together, the end point is that an OG is a culturally separate entity from the main group. If she looks oddly, does not engage in typical female habits, does not follow standard relationship patterns or cues and has a stronger preference for a death cultist or a mad scientist than for the jock or the entrepreneur, she simply will not view the dating pool afforded to her as sufficient. The cumulative result of various differences between her and her competition will make her simply opt-out of competition.

This might be because she thinks competition is too strong or too weak, because she thinks the most socially valuable males are undesirable, because the males she thinks are appealing are not attracted to her or because she thinks the popular girls will essentially cockblock her every effort. But, at the end of the day, when you want a coffee you go to a coffee shop, not a smoothie stand.

Next week: OGs beyond education: marriage, employment, family.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

5 Things To Give Up When You Feel Like Giving Up.

Some days everything gets on top of us. We’ve all been there. Maybe it’s a looming deadline with no possibility of timely completion. Maybe it’s a confusing point in a book you just can’t wrap your head around. Maybe someone has left their laundry on the stairs one too many times. Maybe you managed to break something you need and can’t readily replace. Or maybe something tiny just happened and it was the straw that broke the poor camel’s back.

Whatever it is, it makes us throw our hands in the air, roll our eyes, tug at our hair and say “That’s it, I give up!”

So, for when these days hit us and hit us hard, here are the five best things to give up when you feel like giving up.

1: Give up bad feelings.

Sometimes it’s easy to let bad feelings get the best of us, especially when we are overwhelmed. But these feelings do nothing to improve our situation. If anything, they make our lives and everyone else’s worse.

For anger: Go and do something physical to burn off the steam. Keep your thoughts in your head and work through them before bringing them up to someone else.

For despair: Go somewhere quiet and practice your breathing. Look for the good things you still have.

For guilt and blame: Ask yourself whether blaming will get you a solution. If not, accept that someone or something caused the problem and let it go. Promise yourself not to bring blame up against yourself or others in the future.

For weariness: Go and have a lie down and a hot drink. Slowly ponder solutions to your problem in a practical way.

2: Give up boredom and routine.

Sometimes we’re just caught on a hamster wheel of daily habits and we just need to get on with things. And then we get thrown off and it feels like we will never catch up.

For those days when your routine is boring you, you are getting slow and failing to meet your schedule or deadlines, call it out. Go for an extra coffee break at work. Crunch your numbers in the morning and do you emails in the afternoon. Go walking at lunch time. Put housework aside and paint for an hour.

Just push your routine aside for a bit and enjoy your day.

3: Give up bad habits.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. We start doing things that are directly self-sabotaging and don’t even think twice about them until the inevitable results happen and then, like a smoker struggling to breathe after a flight of stairs, we wonder why we picked up the habit to begin with.

If we are routinely running late for deadlines, perhaps we ought to reconsider our procrastination habits or accepting so much work. If we are often breaking glasses and plates, perhaps we ought to get some pretty plastic dinnerware. If we keep making ourselves ill with overwork, perhaps we ought to consider the work-illness ratio of effectiveness and take it easy once in a while.

Try and live for maximum health and mental wellbeing. Don’t let anything get in the way of that, however “important” it seems to stay busy.

4: Give up perfection.

Sometimes we get in the way of a perfectly good day by looking at five minutes of it and declaring “that wasn’t good enough”. How many times has a morning went really well only for you to break your favourite mug and declare the day ruined? If you’re anything like me… too many times. Why does that one moment have to define our days?

If something genuinely serious happens, then sure, our day is ruined. But a small issue like breaking a mug has not made our morning any less pleasant and has not set the tone for the rest of the day. Make a commitment to being happy, no matter what happens, and to letting the little things slide. When you do this your life will have a massive reduction in drama and frustration.

5: Give up fretting.

It’s a bit of a cop-out to tell a stressed person to stop being stressed. But it’s easier to stop fretting than to stop stressing, and if you leave frets behind, the stress will soon follow.

Sometimes we just let things get the better of us. This is sort of the other side to the coin of perfectionism. When you know that getting one thing “wrong” can ruin your day, you worry about making sure everything is perfect. Which means we end up stressing about problems that haven’t even happened.

When you feel like giving up, ask yourself if the day is salvageable or whether the whole world has truly ground to a halt. Generally, you will find something to enjoy from the day and something to look forward to. Push the worries out of your thoughts, tell yourself off for thinking about them and focus on actual solutions.

I guarantee you, it will feel better.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How do you deal with it when you feel like the whole day/week/year/world is ruined?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… tell you’re rambling.

In the vein of last week’s How To… on communicating clearly, I’d like to elaborate on an area.

When we want to communicate clearly and show ourselves to be decisive, confident and sufficient, we need to keep our speech very concise. However this doesn’t actually come naturally to everyone. It doesn’t to me, for example. Sometimes we need to bear in mind a few things when we’re trying to be to the point.

1: The content.

First of all, be careful and consider the content. Ask yourself…

What am I talking about?

Who is concerned?

When and where does it take place?

Why am I talking about it?

Anything above and beyond answering those four questions is too much. Sometimes it will take a lot to answer them, but generally most conversations and exchanges are a few sentences short. The rest is filler.

2: The grammar.

When reading I’m sure you spot uncomfortable repetition of words, very long or abrupt sentences and phrases that seem out of place. Bear this in mind when speaking and stick to clearly and simply composed sentences:

Subject (Who) before verb (What) before object (To Whom).

Cluster adverbs (How, Where, When, Why) at the start or end of the sentence.

List How before Where and When and Why either before them all or after them all.

3: The delivery.

Make sure the relevant parties are listening before you start.

Make sure you are easily heard and everyone knows what you’re talking about.

Ask for questions at the end of your statement.

4: The mental and emotional state.

When you are in an emotionally or mentally vulnerable state you will ramble more.

When you’ve been drinking, when your hormones shift, when you’re overtired or hungry or angry you will talk far more. Check yourself and try and speak as little as possible when you’re in these states.

5: The traps.

Finally, there are some conversational traps we all fall into that lead to rambling without noticing.

Repetition. When the other party keeps rambling and repeating themselves we can start repeating ourselves also. Make sure you are clearly heard and understood. Do not respond to repetition.

Loops. When there isn’t much to say or no agreement is reached, a loop can start where nothing new is added but the discussion keeps going. End or postpone the argument.

Digression. When we get sidetracked and carry on down the side track instead of the main argument. Keep focused and keep anecdotes, references and comments brief, without expansion.

Lack of structure. If there is no structure to our statements, speech or writing, then rambling will occur. Plan a layout in your head and try and stick to it.

Too much structure. If you plan the conversation in detail, the second you get sidetracked you may as well have no plan. Plan only your main points and order and stick to them both.

And that’s how to tell if you’re starting to ramble and a few tips for keeping it at least manageable.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… spend more time together.

It’s a common complaint and one I’m understanding more the more effort I put into paid work, garden maintenance, self improvement and puppy training.

As you add things into your life, you find that time with your loved ones gets pinched a bit and some people are even accidentally cut out entirely for weeks at a time. Which is no good. Whether you want the calm and quiet of just sitting with your partner or whether you need to be thrown into a party to feel at home, we all want to be a little bit social.

So here’s how to make time for those you love.

1: Do things together.

Well, that sounds obvious, doesn’t it? The problem is in how we apply this. We think to ourselves “well, I have ballroom dancing and the kids have playgroup, so how can we fit in a shared activity?”

In reality, the solution is a bit simpler: we try and fit into each other’s activities, or find new activities we can share. Rather than add more and more and more to our days, it may be wiser to cut some things out and start over, working on our hobbies and tasks together.

2: Discuss schedules.

It’s important to talk our schedules through as we plan our weeks. Both for working out shared activities and so that our flexible plans don’t clash. If you need to go shopping, for example, it’s better to do it when your partner and children are also busy.

By building a set schedule and discussing the whole family’s schedules you can find time to spend with each other.

3: Together but alone.

Just because you don’t share your hobbies or one of you have work doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t spend time together.

Jon and I frequently spend time together in the same room, him doing his thing and me doing mine. Just because I suck at gaming or I have writing to do doesn’t mean I can sit next to him as he plays a new game.

4: Date night, family night, play night.

Try and make time at least once a week to spend together. Even if you’re too busy and your schedules and activities rarely match up, having a night a week when you can

-catch up on the week’s events

-plan the next week

-have some fun together

will make a big difference to your life.

5: Have a break.

If you literally can’t find an hour a week to spend with your friends and family, then maybe you’re working too hard.

Think of when you can plan in a proper break to have fun with your loved ones, revise your workload and schedule and get into a healthier, happier life.

And that’s how we can try and spend more time with our loved ones, even when we’re insanely busy. Like with a lot of these How Tos, it isn’t a hard concept. The key is just in making the effort to follow the steps through.

How do you make time for your loved ones? What do you like doing on family days?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!