Finished…

So I am shocked to have signed back into this blog, and discovered that even though I haven’t posted since about the third week of Lent, people have returned in March and April! Shocking!

In terms of the Lenten challenge – well, needless to say, I didn’t last the whole period without bitching about anyone. But I think it’s true that I have seriously curved my bitching and make a conscious effort (which has actually become a more automatic, ongoing way of being) to stop talking about others for my own gain. I wonder if the people I chat to on a regular basis would agree.

Now that Lent is over, what will become of this blog? I have some interesting projects up my sleeve. Maybe I’ll just post randomly as I feel like it.

“Fail”

Well well. Today I did not do too well. It started with an automatic quip at the mention of one person’s name, about 20 minutes into a conversation with the person whom I suspected might make this whole task most difficult. I was mentally prepared for this – we both knew as soon as I’d said it that I’d plucked the apple, so to speak. However, I was very careful for the rest of the afternoon to bite my tongue at a niggling bitchy comment, and for the most part was successful, turning to alternative conversational topics as frequently as possible.

Subsequently I ended up at the Rectory for drinks (where, in keeping with my February resolution, I did not drink – and, on recollecting the last evening I spent there, was more thankful than ever for my pledge of sobriety) and opportunities presented themselves in scores. At first I chose to speak of other topics; I deliberately steered clear of people whose presence or influence I thought might encourage me. I certainly heard some interesting comments, which I worked hard mentally to filter out. And then an outstanding revelation threw me over the edge, and I went on about something for a good 15 minutes. Sigh.

I felt guilt the entire time; I felt entitled to say those things which I ought not to have said; mosquitoes bit me to punish me, and the evening continued. It then became quite hilarious, with various people bitching about others in front of their faces, round table style (which, for the purposes of Lent, doesn’t count – I’m giving up bitching about others to others, and this was mostly all in good humour).

The journey home provided further opportunity. I let slip about the thing once more, but something else I expected would come up did not, and I did not raise it.

The thing I am learning is discretion. Half of the problem is not what you say, but to whom you say it, and how many times. Which is not to say it’s ever right, but that, as with gossip, occasionally it is warranted and natural, and that provided you don’t say it to everyone who knows the poor person copping the flack, maybe sometimes it’s ok.

I don’t mean for that to sound like a cop out. I would like to be able to discuss my opinions with people only when letting of steam is completely necessary and when the listener really means to listen and discuss, as opposed to merely hear and inadvertently encourage. Does that make any sense at all?

day 3.

So far, so good.

I have had few opportunities to chinwag since Wednesday so it has been fairly easy to stave off temptation, and those I’ve been in touch with have few grievances in common with me about mutual acquaintances. There was one slightly precarious episode, but I brought myself back from the brink by complaining about circumstances or lack of action rather than a particular person. I still felt a little guilty.

Which makes me wonder – what counts as ‘bitching’? This has been the subject of at least two conversations since Lent began. Is complaining ‘bitching’? My instinct tells me that since I felt a twinge of guilt, then maybe it is, even if warranted. What about gossiping? I would say not. It is human nature to be curious about what goes on in other people’s lives. I was thinking there needed to be some malice in it, to ‘count’ – I guess anything inherently negative about a person is too broad a definition, but then occasionally a negative opinion is justified… Thoughts from the floor? I’m interested to hear some other perspectives on what exactly constitutes my forbidden fruit.

At any rate I have so far noticed myself thinking before I speak (if you have ever spoken to me you’ll realise this is a feat in itself); and most interestingly perhaps, the simple activity of doing something creative, giving up something that isn’t chocolate or facebook, has been a great conversation starter. Plus the blog adds a separate dimension – some turn away from social media for Lent and here I am embracing it. The bottom line is, you just have to DO something to be a more interesting person. Just do it, as it were. Conversation and experience and conversation will follow.

Feeling very proud to have 40 hits in my first day. *takes a bow* Thanks guys! Keeping a blog is really a resolution of its own. But I really hope I can keep this up – I know it’s going to be a very educational journey.

the challenge.

Today, Lent begins.

I have thought of a bunch of different things I could give up. Many of my friends have chosen to give up Facebook. The weaker ones are still thinking. I have already given up alcohol for February and started exercising four times a week in January (go me!). I could give up swearing but I think I’ll save that for next year.

No, it’s got to be something that doesn’t only benefit me. My bitchy tendencies have landed me in a lot of hot water these last few months, and it is a really unbecoming personality trait. I don’t mean just being mean – not lending my sister my favourite shoes – but I mean saying things about other people that are untrue, or inflated, or unfair, or out of context, or unnecessary, and things that I say just to get a reaction out of other people, or because it might make me look good. This has been a dreadful habit of mine for quite some time and I think it will be incredibly liberating to be able to give it up.

I suspect it will also make me a much more interesting person. I once heard this quote:

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Quotes never stick in my mind but this one did. I’m quite interested in it. I am looking forward (and freaking out about) the challenge of coming up with interesting conversational topics! Advice from my colleagues so far: watch breakfast TV so you know what to talk about (Korean nuclear threats/Sing Star app) and read interesting books.

A bit daunted, but feeling positive about the challenge.