Archives for June 2009

29Jun

Anger & Me

I’m done with it, anger I mean.  It’s a complete turning point in my life.  I’m not talking about my own anger, I’m talking about other people’s anger.  I remember that a couple of decades ago, pop psychology said “Let it all hang out, express yourself, express your anger.”  I think we went to far.  Anger is an infection that can leak into an environment and turn spring air into smog.  Why are people so invested in it?

Anger is not even an original emotion.  It is our thinking response to fear, panic and pain.  Think about it, someone cuts you off in traffic, your very first response is panic or fear, you’re about to get into an accident … will someone get hurt?  And before that millisecond is over, you recover and your judgment takes over.    ‘What’ is wrong with that person, doesn’t he know know how to drive, does he care about anyone else on the road?”  Or “I pay taxes for roads too, you a#$hole!”

Anger is the result of our thoughts about some perceived threat that is facing us.  It is filtered through our belief systems and judgments and is often utilized as a manipulative device – for attention, to get agreement, to defend what we believe is our own.

Here is the thing, it gets into us, it resides in our resentments and in our psyche as a permanent fixture of our anguish.  We want to spit it out onto the world and in most cases with most human beings that is exactly what goes on.  People spit their resentments and emotions onto each other without thought and without care.  They allow their anger to permeate everything in their life.  Sometimes other folks are comfortable in an environment of anger and so they tolerate it, they live with it and they try to appease it.

Well I’m fed up!  I really don’t care if you are angry.  I don’t want that kind of vibration around my being.  I don’t want to feel it, I don’t want to hear it and I am not interested in re-hashing it.  Deal with it.  Give yourself high blood pressure, a heart attack, whatever, but keep it away from me.

I am sick to death of hearing angry stories where the slacker is always the victim of someone, some institution, some situation that has made them bitter about life.  Do you get that YOU are bitter?  Do you get that YOU are now THAT?

Hey, do I sound angry?

Well, in any case.  If you want to talk about what is scaring you, haunting you, hurting you, well okay.  But if all you are going to tell me is your evaluation about the world, forget it, I already have my own evaluation.  And my new world doesn’t tolerate anger, at all.

23Jun

Rules of Engagement

1)            Distinguish between feelings and judgments (conclusions and evaluations).

2)            Respect each other’s feelings and thoughts.

3)            Ask for clarification by reflecting back what you understand.

4)           When responding, don’t accuse (refer to #1).

5)            Take responsibility for one’s own feelings and judgments.

6)           Take responsibility for one’s own communication.

7)           Listen; don’t prepare your answer while the other person is talking.

8)            Be aware of the structure you build: Is it supportive / positive?  Is it destructive / negative?

9)            What you say and do matters, EVERYTHING matters.

16Jun

The Consequences of Beauty

There is something relieving about aging and menopause and I think I finally figured out what.  I’ve always been an attractive woman, but I began as an ugly duckling.  In a family of platinum blondes and red-heads I had dishwater straight hair and no dimples.  I was oblivious to my blossoming beauty until well after I married a very possessive man.

I have a beautiful girlfriend who is red-headed and “double D”.  She is a bit younger than me and so retains the “sparkle”.  She is lamenting her reference from her last job.  She had a female supervisor who disdained her.  Now, my beautiful girlfriend worked for me in a prior job for five years.  I’ve known her since 1994 and I am sure of her essence, her demanor and her integrity.  So…I immediately suspect that the reason that her professional reference was not all that it should be is, because her former supervisor was an over-weight & angry young woman who could not stand some one as beautiful and kind as my friend.  I’ve seen this kind of behavior on many occasions.  Folks who are in pain over their own perceived inadequacies try hard to put their pain onto other folks.  They wish the worst towards the best.  Anyone who “sparkles” is a personal threat to them.

As awful as women can be when faced with a beautiful woman, men can be far worse.  Men judge immediately and formulate for themselves all types of attributes that a beautiful woman must have.  Often even men that I respect will attribute “dumbness” to blondes in the absence of any evidence that the woman is dumb.  I’ve seen men get incredibly nervous when required to work with an attractive woman, to the point where the nervousness results in hostile behavior.  Far easier to target an unknowing woman than to deal with insecurities about self.  It is true that we are a dishonest and non-confrontive culture, we will often give up on a relationship just to avoid conflict of any sort.  Yet I think it reprehensible when people use their professional position to take advantage of others.  My own daugter has suffered sexual harrassment to the point of losing her income and even her reputation in her chosen field.  Five years later when her supervisor chose to apologize – it was already too late, my daughter had sought out and was safely in a new profession.

There is something about being beautiful that is sort of like being pregnant, people believe they have a right to invade your personal space, as if your appearance is permission for judgment, comment and oh yes, ogling.  Why is it okay to stare at anyone?  Particularly when your mouth is open or you are frowning…

That is the mysterious relief that I feel about aging and menopause.  My attractiveness is no longer a threat to other women.  A lot less men chase me and their eyes linger less on my breasts.  I get more eye contact than I have ever had in my life.  One other thing, the competition is over.  I don’t have to put make-up on to go outside.  I don’t have to wear the latest and best clothing that is the cutting edge of fashion.  No one is looking, I’m not going to get a judgmental comment about my fashion sense (except, of course, from my own daughter).  So there is an enormous sense of relief.  L.L.Bean and LandsEnd are okay for me, and I won’t ever spend the hours and my disposable income on searching through racks of clothing again.

Please understand that beautiful, sexy women are just like anyone else.  Some of them are incredibly bright, some are not, some are insecure, some are very secure.  You cannot attribute anything to them without knowing them.  I am NOT trying to paint a picture of suffering – even though some consequences can be dire – I just want a conversation about all of what is true.  The majority of Americans pursue youth and beauty relentlessly without thought to what could be wrong or negative about their actions.  Beauty does not imply perfection and it does not lack heartbreak.  Nor does beauty imply that life is easy.  Believe me, my beautiful daughter had just as difficult a time giving birth as almost any other woman.  She was in labor for 12 hours and “pushed” hard for 3 hours.

Next time you see a beautiful woman, look into her eyes.  Be with what is in her eyes.  Trust me, she knows if you have objectified her.  She knows if you are capable of respect for her inner self.  Be ready, because you just may end up with the prettiest friend on the block…

07Jun

Is What You Do, Who You Are?

Is getting a DUI proof that you are a drunk, or is it evidence of a substance abuser who has not figured out how to cope?

How do YOU know who you are?  Some events are harbingers of change, some events symbolize a rite of passage, but no event defines you.

You can know who you are by what you do, you can know who you are by looking at how you spend, you can know who you are by looking at what you surround yourself with.  If you do not know who you are, there are many ways to find out.  Yet there is a difference between the “soul” you and your behavior.

In order to be “present” at any given time, you must be aware of your mind, body, thoughts, emotions and spirituality.  It follows that knowing who you are must include all of these.  To begin with your mind includes thinking and thoughting.  Thinking is the original process you are in this moment in time and thoughting involves invoking old events and beliefs into current thinking.  You’re body not only reacts to your current thinking and thoughting but it keeps its own history throughout time and throughout your physical being. 

Emotions occur as often and are as varied as thoughts.  Emotions vary in intensity, often based on the character of the person.  Spirituality is not religion, nor is it religious practice.  It is an internal connection with that which is divine.

How does your character define you?  Characteristics are often simple descriptions, but for purposes of this discussion are inherited.  They are most easily recognized as inherited in infants.  A newborn will often display character traits immediately without benefit of socialization.  Therefore the assumption is that these traits come from our genes.  Any nursery will reveal a wealth of different characteristics in newborns from:  happiness, sadness, and fearfulness to clinging, cheerfulness and angry outbursts. 

So to begin you have your inherited character and with it comes all of who you are, a thinking, thoughting, emoting, spiritual, physically alive being who lives in circumstances and through events.

So who are you?  Begin the conversation, it may be the most important conversation you have…