Live and Learn

Who Said That?

By Janice Lee Odom

             I once commented to a friend that they had made me feel bad because of something they had said. This particular friend was not the sort of person who would accept such a statement.

            He said, “Oh no, if you feel as though your feelings are hurt by what I said, then you have given me way too much power.”

            He was right, and the things that I have learned since then only strengthened my conviction that what he told me had freed me from a negative thought pattern that was wreaking havoc in my life.

           I recently read a book entitled The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout. A sociopath is a person who lacks a sense of moral responsibility. As Stout points out, up to four percent of the population is comprised of sociopaths. To put that in perspective, that’s one in 25 people. This statistic doesn’t even include the vast number of other individuals who may not be sociopaths, but who certainly may not be what we would call psychologically healthy.

            One of the premises of Stout’s book is that a sociopath is highly unlikely to seek counseling. The reason is because they don’t feel emotion. That means that they are not burdened with the psychological burdens that the rest of us carry. Even if the sociopath did find themselves in counseling due to trouble with the law and/or court order, a psychologist would have a hard time with treatment options. What type of motivation do you use to help a person who doesn’t feel emotion?

            This brings us to the reason Stout wrote the book. As a psychologist, you may not be able to help the sociopath, but you can help the people who are often their victims. I realized, as I previously mentioned, the sociopaths are not the only people who have a negative effect on otherwise mentally stable people.

            Here is the important part. When a person is a child, they may say something mean to you like, “I hate you!” Even an older person in stages of dementia may say something mean to you. When this happens, I most generally chalk it up to their stage in life. I don’t believe that my child really hates me. I don’t believe that my grandmother wants to call me mean things. It’s just that they can’t help themselves. It really shouldn’t reflect on me at all.

            When a person who is a sociopath or who is mentally unstable or is stressed out says something mean to me why in the world would I let it hurt me? All too often in life, we give our power away to people who don’t deserve it. Don’t do this to yourself.

            There may be people in your life that you can’t avoid. Maybe you’re close to them. Perhaps you are their caretaker. I’m not saying avoid them. What I’m suggesting is that you avoid letting something they say cause you to be emotional. You don’t have to get angry. You don’t have to be sad. You don’t have to feel mistreated. At least not by something somebody said.


Memories are to be cherished and preserved

By Janice Lee Odom

 Some of the most precious things that we have in life are intangible, like our memories. There have been many studies done on memory. “Flashbulb memories” are memories that occur during moments in which there is a high level of surprise, a high level of consequences, and perhaps a high level of emotional arousal.

     There are collective flashbulb memories, like September 11, the assassination of JKF, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. These are “collective” because large groups of people remember what they were doing when these things occurred. It is as if their minds took a picture of the event. 

       Then, there are flashbulb memories in the life of the individual. These are things like Christmas, birthdays, graduations, and deaths.

       Even though we think that we remember everything that happened, experiments have shown that our memories are not as accurate as we think. Even flashbulb memories, which are more accurate than our regular memories, are very fallible. As time passes, we “mis-remember.” We forget, even though we think we remember.

       I lost my Grandmother, Beatrice Curry, in February. Long before she died, she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, a terrible disease in which the memories of a person are lost, starting with the short term and progressing to the long term memories. It is a disease that strikes mostly older people. Alzheimer’s Disease is but one of several diseases or causes of memory loss, including brain tumors, Senile dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Parkingson’s Disease to name a few.

       I take care on a daily basis to remember. I journal, I take lots of pictures, I analyze.  Preservation of our memories is so important in our daily lives. Yet, it is a thing we often take for granted.  Such a precious thing as our memories must be given serious consideration.

       So, as 2013 lies ahead of you, be diligent in documenting your life, preserving your heritage, and holding your memories dear. Cherish them with the knowledge that these moments will not come again.


Transforming our Communities
By Janice Lee Odom

           I  believe that no matter how gifted and talented the candidates that we elect to office are, they will not be able to accomplish the kind of transformative change that our communities need without the help of its citizens.
          Statistically speaking, most all of the economic development that is taking place in Eastern Kentucky is happening because citizens decided to work on projects that were worthwhile.
          I realize that there are many great, active citizens in our communities. There are also many worthwhile organizations. Many organizations are doing multiple things in communities and some members of organizations are becoming burned out because it is tiresome to do all of the great things they are doing while trying to maintain a home, work a job, be part of a family, etc.

I believe that part of the solution is to engage the unengaged in the communities. That requires that we develop community projects that are achievable, and have the ability to stir a passion up in our community. If we feel passionate about our goals, and we have a strategic plan, we can transform communities, and if we transform communities, we transform lives.
          I believe there are people within our communities who need a purpose. Oftentimes, as when we were kids on the playground, we wait to be picked by a team. We want to be invited to participate. For example, I knew a person once who complained that they had gone to a party and noone had spoken to them. That person said they would never go to another party thrown by that person because they perceived that the people there were unfriendly. I replied, “Maybe the people at the party thought you were unfriendly because you didn’t speak to them.”
          My point is, you don’t need an invitation to get involved. You don’t need permission to get involved. You can be the author of the project! You can spearhead something, create something, lobby for something. You can ask to be involved.
          Whatever you are passionate about, start there and expand outward. You may pick up steam and garner the attention of like-minded people. You could change your world! Or at least your little corner of it! And, as most of us already know, there are parts of the world that really need changing.


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