16 votes

What are examples of little things in life that you overlooked but now you understand?

These could be very small details or huge realizations that, somehow, you missed when you were younger.

I'm in my fifties and have had a few of these. Some big, some small and some in between.

EDIT: I just noticed that the title isn't phrased properly. However, I'll leave it for posterity LOL. So, 'little things' should just be 'things'.

24 comments

  1. [8]
    HotPants
    Link
    Advice is easy to give, and hard to take. If you give advice, and it works out, you wont get the credit. But if the advice you gives backfires, you will get the blame. And it's easy to give advice...

    Advice is easy to give, and hard to take. If you give advice, and it works out, you wont get the credit. But if the advice you gives backfires, you will get the blame. And it's easy to give advice without meaning too.

    People who are overly confident are usually misguided in their confidence.

    I used to be very black and white when I was younger.

    I was frustrated when experts didn't give clear recommendations in their area of expertise e.g. my grandfather the economist would always hedge on investment advice.

    Now I understand.

    12 votes
    1. lou
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      They are also incredibly persuasive. Just look at top comments, which are often there regardless of their truthness or credibility. The magic formula includes: it must be a negative assessment...

      People who are overly confident are usually misguided in their confidence.

      They are also incredibly persuasive. Just look at top comments, which are often there regardless of their truthness or credibility.

      The magic formula includes:

      1. it must be a negative assessment
      2. categorical statements without qualifiers such as "Probably", "I think", "I believe", "Maybe...'.
      3. a hint of irritation ("This is not just wrong, it is in fact so wrong that it's getting on my nerves")

      It's similar in real life, which I believe is even more favorable to the overly confident, since now they can raise their voices and more efficiently demonstrate their emotional investment in whatever nonsense they spouse.

      As I like to say, in a battle between logic and rhetoric, rhetoric wins every time.

      8 votes
    2. suspended
      Link Parent
      This was one AHA! moment I had a few months back when I was mountain hiking. To explain, I was so certain and/or confident about some things in life. Then I realized...'wait a minute, why am I so...

      People who are overly confident are usually misguided in their confidence.

      This was one AHA! moment I had a few months back when I was mountain hiking. To explain, I was so certain and/or confident about some things in life. Then I realized...'wait a minute, why am I so certain about this?'. I took several weeks rehashing what I'd previously assumed, did some deep research, reached out to friends that have more expertise. What do you know? I was way off base.

      6 votes
    3. teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      I’m still like this. Less so than when I was younger though. But an older friend still calls me out for being too black and white. I can acknowledge it’s not the best way to view the world, having...

      I used to be very black and white when I was younger.

      I’m still like this. Less so than when I was younger though. But an older friend still calls me out for being too black and white. I can acknowledge it’s not the best way to view the world, having progressed on that front in some areas. But it helps to make decisions and parse our chaotic world. It bridges the emotional-logical gap in a satisfying enough way to let me put a topic down and stamp it completed.

      Maybe getting older and accepting more greys comes from having made those black and white decisions before. At some point I’ll feel like I’ve seen most of the major themes I’ll see in life. And when those themes start repeating I can finally give each one the care it deserves, knowing exactly how much black and white world I still have left to fall back on. Then I can slowly lower myself into the grey world as I grow accustomed to it.

      5 votes
    4. [4]
      simplify
      Link Parent
      Additionally... people don't want advice, they just want to complain. People will find you more attentive and charming when you listen to their complaints without offering solutions. I'm...

      Advice is easy to give, and hard to take.

      Additionally... people don't want advice, they just want to complain. People will find you more attentive and charming when you listen to their complaints without offering solutions. I'm personally still working on this. I'm very solution-minded and when a problem is presented to me, I immediately begin trying to figure out how to solve it.

      But I want to stop doing that. Nobody really wants unsolicited advice. If they want specific advice from you in your domain of expertise, they will explicitly ask for it. Trying to solve other peoples' problems for them without an invitation to do so (and a complaint is not an invitation) can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and even resentment. It's better to just reply to a complaint with "I'm sorry to hear that, that's a tough situation" rather than with advice.

      Further, I don't want to be the one complaining... ever. People love to complain, but most of us don't necessarily enjoy listening to complaints. It's a burden, but it's something we will endure, of course, for people we care about. If you're only looking to vent, it's better to just vent to your partner, your therapist, or even a journal. I don't want to complain to others because, as we've established, I'm probably not looking for their advice unless I explicitly ask. So all I'm really doing is burdening someone else with my personal problems. I don't want to do that.

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        beanie
        Link Parent
        I agree with some of your points when it comes to unsolicited advice and how to go about responding to a complaint. I'd like to give a different light to the idea of complainting. Can we rephrase...

        I agree with some of your points when it comes to unsolicited advice and how to go about responding to a complaint.

        I'd like to give a different light to the idea of complainting. Can we rephrase the word complaining with addressing an issue? I think the word complaining irks me because as a woman working in a male dominated field, a lot of the issues I was addressing were perceived as complaining. I felt that a lot of the issues I was addressing about harassment were therefore overlooked, kept persisting, and evidently lead to me leaving the job (with very tattered confidence and self-respect. A co-worker went so far to say that he was "nose blind" to the issue when in fact I told him all those things and was dismissed probably because he perceived it as me complaining - but what do I know).

        I understand some issues like minor inconveniences (coffee being cold, etc.) can be perceived as complaining. But I wouldn't go as far to say that complaining in the general is burdensome (I would say that you perceive it as a burden because you have been indoctrinated to be the "problem solver" and being you can't solve this problem hurts your ego/ self-image, but that might be a stretch - I don't know how you were raised).

        Lastly, addressing an issue may be seen as viewing a situation from another pair of eyes, or seeing that others are treated differently than you, that systematic issues are at play here that don't effect you, but effect other people that may not look like you.

        Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill though. I may have been triggered by the word complaining. Just sharing my opinions/ my life experiences. There are things that we won't be able to single-highhandedly solve/ fix. That's okay. Maybe listening (and not making the listener feel like you are burdened by their speech) can shed light to macroscopic or cultural issues, if they tell enough people, maybe the culture will change? I don't know. Just a thought.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          simplify
          Link Parent
          I agree with you. The workplace is an entirely different beast. My comment was more about social situations and interpersonal relationships. Addressing an issue at work is not complaining in the...

          I agree with you. The workplace is an entirely different beast. My comment was more about social situations and interpersonal relationships. Addressing an issue at work is not complaining in the same way.

          Maybe I can merge the two ideas to better clarify my point. In this scenario, you and I are friends out for a beer. Let's say you were having a serious issue at work, and you begin to tell me about it. There's nothing I can do to solve it because I don't work with you. The most I can say is, "Wow, that's rough. You should talk to your boss about it." I'm still going to listen to you, because we're friends and I care about you, but at a certain point it becomes an interpersonal burden because you're just venting to me. It's all take in the conversation, and no give.

          What I'm saying is that I don't want to be a person who vents like that. Most people don't want to hear your problems, and most people don't want to hear advice on how to solve their problems. There's a difference between, "I'm dealing with this idiot at work and it's causing me a lot of strife" versus going on at lengths about it to someone who can't do anything about it and has no stake in it. And we all know people who do that.

          It is good, however, to make people feel heard and to give them the opportunity to voice their frustrations. We all need that. I think, though, there's definitely a line and we could all do well to recognize that line.

          1 vote
          1. beanie
            Link Parent
            That makes sense. If I could extend some unsolicited advice, you can vocalize where that line is for you to your friend at the bar. "Hey, I hear you, I know you're dealing with this idiot at work...

            That makes sense. If I could extend some unsolicited advice, you can vocalize where that line is for you to your friend at the bar. "Hey, I hear you, I know you're dealing with this idiot at work and it's causing [you] a lot of strife, and I really want to enjoy our time together at the bar. It's hard these days to meet up and have a good time. If you need to continue talking about your work issue, I'll keep listening, but to be completely honest with you, I don't think there is anything else I could do except listen and maybe offer some advice, if you're open to it. Would you be open to putting that work issue aside for now and enjoy the moment, I really want to spend time with you and don't want to pressure you either way".

            I'm not going to lie, I know that one is a tough sell. But sometimes people need to be made aware that they are taking too much of the time & space. To give the benefit of the doubt, sometimes they don't notice they're doing that (you have that self awareness to not be that person, others may be so wrapped up in their own problems that they may not see it). And, if they aren't made aware of it, they sometimes end up skipping out on what's in front of them (and continue being in that repeated endless complaining loop) instead of enjoying a really good time that's in front of them. I know what you mean though, there is a line and it's hard to walk that tight rope. I can definitely see how my unsolicited advice can go WAY south.

            1 vote
  2. [8]
    lou
    (edited )
    Link
    It took me quite a while to understand that saying exactly what I'm thinking is often the worst thing that I can do. When I talk about this, someone eventually respond by singing praise for total...

    It took me quite a while to understand that saying exactly what I'm thinking is often the worst thing that I can do. When I talk about this, someone eventually respond by singing praise for total honesty. Total honesty can be useful sometimes, but so is lying.

    I use the word "lying" purposefully to avoid euphemisms which might make it more palatable. Lying is a requirement of functioning as a human being, what separate the good from the bad is your motivation to do so.

    The truth can be harmful for everyone involved. Lying can be beneficial in certain situations. Everybody lies, it's in the fabric of society. Only a small subset of the questions we receive is meant to be answered sincerely.

    Lying doesn't come naturally to me. What everyone does without thinking requires great concerted effort on my part. That's mostly silly stuff, but saying "my truth" caused people a lot of unnecessary pain throughout the years.

    Everybody lies. The only difference is that I admit it.

    10 votes
    1. [7]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      I know what you mean but thinking of it as a stark choice between total honesty and lying seems like an excessively binary way to think about it? There are lots of choices that fall somewhere in...

      I know what you mean but thinking of it as a stark choice between total honesty and lying seems like an excessively binary way to think about it? There are lots of choices that fall somewhere in between. Where would you put changing the subject?

      7 votes
      1. [6]
        lou
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I'd say that in the context of a conversation any purposeful (or at least partially conscious) mischaracterization of reality is a lie. You can, however, choose to express mostly the same thing...

        I'd say that in the context of a conversation any purposeful (or at least partially conscious) mischaracterization of reality is a lie. You can, however, choose to express mostly the same thing with words that are more likely to emotionally improve communication. For example, "I don't like this coffee" is probably better than "this coffee tastes like sewer waste". "This coffee is great!" would be a lie.

        It gets more complicated than that. A lot of regular discourse is made of well meaning lies, but most people don't really think about it. It's automatic.

        6 votes
        1. [5]
          HotPants
          Link Parent
          Hi Lou. I think the coffee example is useful. Would changing the subject on terrible tasting coffee be easy for you? If not, what is hard about changing the subject? Is the hard part screening...

          Hi Lou.

          I think the coffee example is useful.

          Would changing the subject on terrible tasting coffee be easy for you?

          If not, what is hard about changing the subject?

          Is the hard part screening what you say based on the impact it would have on others?

          Or do you feel it's important to be truthful, and changing the subject is the same as a lie?

          3 votes
          1. [4]
            lou
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            I think so, but the example is trivial on purpose. Real situations in which the issue of truthfulness arises are usually more sensitive and complex. That said, changing subjects is not that easy...

            Would changing the subject on terrible tasting coffee be easy for you?

            I think so, but the example is trivial on purpose. Real situations in which the issue of truthfulness arises are usually more sensitive and complex. That said, changing subjects is not that easy for me. I'm not interested in a lot of things, and conversations on things I don't care about can be excruciating.

            If not, what is hard about changing the subject?

            Hard to put into words. I'm incredibly invested in certain subjects, but other than that I don't care as much for socialization.

            Is the hard part screening what you say based on the impact it would have on others?

            That is definitely a pain point. I find it very hard to understand what is expected of me. My natural tendency is to be as precise as possible, in an effort to avoid misunderstandings. However, this often makes me seem insensitive and uncaring. There's a balance to be achieved, for sure.

            Or do you feel it's important to be truthful, and changing the subject is the same as a lie?

            Not really. I acknowledge that it's necessary to lie. That irritates me, but this is not a moral judgment. I just suck at it.

            1. [3]
              HotPants
              Link Parent
              That's hard, as ambiguity often allows for a gentler way to communicate meaning. To extend the bad coffee example, would it be too imprecise and ambiguous to say "the coffee is too strong for my...

              My natural tendency is to be as precise as possible

              That's hard, as ambiguity often allows for a gentler way to communicate meaning.

              To extend the bad coffee example, would it be too imprecise and ambiguous to say "the coffee is too strong for my tastes, but that I am glad to have the change to spend time with good company?"

              Also, isn't precision in conversation an oxymoron?

              I have this weird conversation running through my imagination, of someone trying to precisely communicate how exactly the coffee tastes like sewage water. In a manner to avoid any misunderstandings. It kind of goes like this.

              "This coffee tastes like sewer waste. At least, it tastes exactly like how I imagine sewer waste would taste. I've never actually tasted sewage waste. Heh, heh. At least, as far as I know I haven't..... Have I? (Cue inquisitive glance at formerly gracious hosts, which obviously falls flat.) OK, and clearly it just has a hint of sewage, otherwise I would be running madly to the bathroom right now, instead of rambling on about how putridly disgusting this coffee is to me, this foul & obnoxious brown liquid that you are so curiously proud of, so I mean there might just be something wrong with my taste buds, I really haven't had anything else to eat today, at least in terms of food, so I don't know, maybe everything tastes like sewage waste to me right now?"

              OK, it's a trivial example, and a stupid imaginary conversation. I guess I have nothing of value to add here.

              I usually delete these comments before responding.

              I will leave this one here, so at least you know someone cared. In a stupid kind of way. Like a dog. Sort of a well intentioned, but totally useless kind of caring.

              2 votes
              1. [2]
                beanie
                Link Parent
                I honestly woke up thinking I'd write a post similar to yours @HotPants (challenging the notion precision, stating that they probably never tasted sewer water so how is that statement...

                I honestly woke up thinking I'd write a post similar to yours @HotPants (challenging the notion precision, stating that they probably never tasted sewer water so how is that statement "truthful"... side note: I prefer to use the word honest in this case.). I debated this through the night, because I do the same thing where I delete the post before responding because, well, I'm not sure, sometimes I feel my responses could be too harsh for the listener to actually ponder upon and I want to make sure at least some of what I say is accessible to some degree. But I think you went about it in a pretty non-harsh way, I don't think I could expand on the thought experiment as well as you did @HotPants, that was awesome!

                To offer another means of thinking about the idea of being "honest/lying", a way I think about how I respond to situations where I'd like to continue a relationship (or have a non-confrontational interaction) is by asking myself "is what I'm about to share helpful to the situation or is it just me vocalizing my opinions?" I don't always go about conversations this way, because sometimes it's nice to shoot the breeze. But when it comes to responses that could be "hurtful/ confrontational", the way I described is usually the way I go about it.

                I'll give another example, because I feel that @HotPants really broke down the coffee example. A friend of mine is frustrated and cranky. I can say "bro, stop having your panties in a bunch, you're messing up the vibe and affecting the people around you! Get your sht together, man!" or I can have other means go respond (ask them what's up, if there's anything I can do, maybe make them a cup of tea/ favorite snack, offer to go on a walk with them or play a quick video game, etc.). Because responding with "get your sht together" just adds fuel to the fire IMO. I'll post this, but I'm also debating if I should... yeek!

                1 vote
                1. HotPants
                  Link Parent
                  Well, if I am going to be honest, I had typed it up, deleted it, and retyped it again later. I find it difficult to relate to lou's situation, as it's not something I have lived experience in....

                  Well, if I am going to be honest, I had typed it up, deleted it, and retyped it again later.

                  I find it difficult to relate to lou's situation, as it's not something I have lived experience in.

                  Perhaps given the made up example, I first mistakenly thought he suffered from the same issue I did when I was younger.

                  But after reading through his responses, I see I am eminently unqualified to do anything but commiserate and ask probably unhelpful questions.

                  1 vote
  3. [4]
    beanie
    Link
    My SO (we've been together for 10 yrs now) told me repetitively that because I've been through some really tough situations in life, I could be there for other people (i.e.: I have large amounts...

    My SO (we've been together for 10 yrs now) told me repetitively that because I've been through some really tough situations in life, I could be there for other people (i.e.: I have large amounts of understanding & patience to sit and hear hard things that can make others uncomfortable), but they wont' be able to do the same for me. Only recently was I able to accept this.

    Recently, a really close friend of mine who I consoled for the last 4+ years through family estrangement (we've been friends for somewhere close to 15 years now) felt the need to set a boundary of "I need you to let me know when you're going to unload and vent. I need a trigger warning because a lot of the times you're bringing up heavy topics and I'm not prepared and unsure how to respond". I told her that I understood. And, tbh, it's definitely a fair boundary to set. I can understand her POV. But, on the other hand, I can't help but think of all the times she unloaded without warning, when I didn't know what to say (so I said something along the lines of "there's nothing I think I could say, but I'm here to listen"), the times she asked me to join her family talks as a mediator/ emotional support, and one time unloaded when I specifically said I didn't have the emotional capacity at the time to talk about her personal heavy topic (at the time, I didn't say anything when she vented because I felt she needed it. Later that evening, she texted me an apology since she knew I specifically said I didn't want to have that heavy conversation and having it anyway). I told her not to worry about it. On my end, I felt like, man, if I specifically said not to do something, and they do it anyway, maybe they really need to do that thing; I can put my needs aside for this. Idk, the experiences are heavy themselves, not knowing what to say brings distress? Imagine experiencing the heavy thing.

    Maybe this means I'm just really bad at setting boundaries? Or I've somehow convinced myself that others would do for me what I do for them? I'm not so sure those things are fully relevant here? We've been friends for a really long time and have been there for each other. Sometimes the scales tip each way depending on who needs it, right? Maybe we can be there for each other in different ways (equity as opposed to equality)? One thing really resonated with me at that conversation though, it was the thing my SO instilled in me for so long: because I've been through some stuff, I have a larger emotional capacity than others. I love you, babe. Thank you so much for coaching and preparing me for this. I love you so much.

    8 votes
    1. suspended
      Link Parent
      I'm not responding in order to give you any advice. I believe that you will figure out the answers to your own questions. However, I'd like to comment on a particular piece of your story. Namely:...

      I'm not responding in order to give you any advice. I believe that you will figure out the answers to your own questions.

      However, I'd like to comment on a particular piece of your story. Namely:

      I've been through some really tough situations in life, I could be there for other people...

      This is, on the surface, true to some extent. I've, also, been through incredibly hard circumstances that you could read about here. In short, I was abused at every level (physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually etc.) by the two persons (my parents) who were supposed to do the opposite.

      When I reflect upon the decades that I believed that I could help others because I came through the other end of 'hell on Earth', I can only get glimpses of possible scenarios. Maybe there were a couple of friends and/or acquaintances that had a positive take away (can't be sure).

      Honestly (and if you read my linked story above, then this would make much more sense), I struggled with what I was supposed to do with the (IMHO) privileged experiences that I've had. The thoughts and emotions started with 'why me...who am I...I'm not worthy'. Obviously, I was beating my self up about this.

      One morning I was walking my dog and I just broke down crying, calling out to the universe for answers. Then a small voice said: 'Bless others as I bless you'. I still struggle a little with the origin and meaning of this communication. However, I've been practicing this, as best I can, for almost a decade. It seems to be the best approach for me going forward.

      If people in my life are positively effected by my behavior, then that's great in my book. If they aren't (and not because I didn't try), then what can I do about that? Probably nothing.

      4 votes
    2. [2]
      lou
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      You don't need to answer with the content, but exactly how heavy are these unloadings? I'm not exactly the ideal person for this stuff, but for something to unsettle me it has to be extremely...

      You don't need to answer with the content, but exactly how heavy are these unloadings? I'm not exactly the ideal person for this stuff, but for something to unsettle me it has to be extremely heavy with serious consequences in the short term. Most "heavy conversations" are only heavy for the one that's opening up, not for me who's merely listening. And, when I don't have anything to contribute, there's nothing wrong with silence.

      Edit: In sum, unless your friend has a very frail mental state, I do find it a bit weird to request advance warning before heavy conversations.

      2 votes
      1. beanie
        Link Parent
        Omg, yes, thank you! This is exactly how I feel! Like, at the end of the day, I need to respect people's boundaries (if we want to continue being in each other's lives, it's necessary). But, I...

        Most "heavy conversations" are only heavy for the one that's opening up, not for me who's merely listen. And, when I don't have anything to contribute, there's nothing wrong with silence.

        Omg, yes, thank you! This is exactly how I feel! Like, at the end of the day, I need to respect people's boundaries (if we want to continue being in each other's lives, it's necessary). But, I also am like, just listen? You needn't feel like a response is required.

        how heavy are these unloadings?

        The unloadings vary from unemployment, green card submission, apartment/ car hunting (when one has been unemployed for an extended period of time and money can be an issue). Family issues of fat shaming/ insulting, possible anorexia in a family member, childhood sexual assault/ abuse, drug/ alcohol usage of a family member (not very hard drugs, but it's still enough to affect this person's daily life. I definitely think it's alcoholism though.). Personal path in reducing substance use/ abuse, mental illness/ describing some of the episodes, interpersonal work related issues.

        Don't get me wrong, I know other people have a way more heavier/ complicated life. I was lucky to have people there to support me because I could definitely see how my life style could have made its trajectory into an even more downward spiral. I feel that some of my family members don't have as strong a supportive friend/friend group that I had. I see the same patterns/ negative coping mechanisms and I wish I could be around to let them know it gets better (with a lot of work - and it's worth it). I try not to get too invested because I know at the end of the day they have to put in the work.

        But yeah, in relation to the friend story I mentioned, I was just letting her know what I was going through, what's on my mind, and how I need a little more grace when it comes to some expectations (that my mind is pre-occupied with some stuff, that some things have changed about me due to some experiences, how I show up differently, and also just kinda sharing my life/ experiences). This is my life, so these are the things I'm going to talk about? Idk. Also, when I've experienced these things, I need to seek more heavier content to feel engaged (I can't watch super market sweepstakes, I'm sorry! Give me a documentary, or a really heavy drama, something that makes the brain tick. So, I also think the heavier content adds to the stratification).

        Side note, thanks for engaging. I see you engage in others responses as well. It's nice to see.

        3 votes
  4. [3]
    Merry
    Link
    It is a lot easier for friends and family to be a part of your life and stay in touch when you are physically capable of being in their presence. When we talk about other people, it is more often...
    • It is a lot easier for friends and family to be a part of your life and stay in touch when you are physically capable of being in their presence.

    • When we talk about other people, it is more often a reflection on ourselves than a damnation of someone else's character.

    • When people yell, it is because they feel like they aren't being heard. They may not be communicating clearly what they want you to hear but they still will feel frustrated they aren't having a certain need understood. The best way to cool a situation down when someone is yelling out of anger is to give a long pause (like 10 seconds) after they have finished what they have said. That silence can sometimes be all they need to reflect.

    • If emotions were colors, anger would not be a primary color. It arises from more basic states of mind such as sadness or fear. You won't ever make someone's anger go away by being angry back at them.

    • People in power are still just people. They have anxiety, fears, hopes, and dreams. They have families and friends. They make mistakes just like you and me.

    • Our actions are the only true belongings we have in this world. We cannot escape the consequences of our actions.

    8 votes
    1. culturedleftfoot
      Link Parent
      Only thing I disagree with is this. I can see an argument for fear being more fundamental, but anger is just as primary (or not) as sadness. They're both determined by your perspective.
      • If emotions were colors, anger would not be a primary color. It arises from more basic states of mind such as sadness or fear.

      Only thing I disagree with is this. I can see an argument for fear being more fundamental, but anger is just as primary (or not) as sadness. They're both determined by your perspective.

      5 votes
    2. skybrian
      Link Parent
      Yes, I agree but with an exception: regular one-on-one video chats work well. Both sides have to want to do it, though.

      It is a lot easier for friends and family to be a part of your life and stay in touch when you are physically capable of being in their presence.

      Yes, I agree but with an exception: regular one-on-one video chats work well. Both sides have to want to do it, though.

  5. Adys
    Link
    When to fight the system, vs when to work with the system in order to turn it against itself.

    When to fight the system, vs when to work with the system in order to turn it against itself.

    4 votes