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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Of Pride And Celebration

Hey All.  Hope you're enjoying this first weekend of summer.  Kids out of school, teachers on vacation, both houses of Congress and many state and local legislatures ready to take a break.

This weekend is also being celebrated in many cities to acknowledge what we know as Pride - the celebration of acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

For generations, members of this community have faced discrimination, contempt, and bullying of extreme proportions.  It is encouraging to know that society has essentially opened its armed and accepted those with different sexual orientations than what was traditionally expected as the one and only way.  Laws are now in place that prevent discrimination against members of this community in all areas, including application for a marriage license.

For that, I congratulate this community.  You have come a long way, and you've earned it all.

However, with freedom, also comes responsibility.

When individuals are groups are discriminated against, marginalized, or hated in some way, it's very easy to play tit-for-tat.  It's very easy to demand that the pendulum be swung the other way hard.  It's very easy to demand revenge, very easy to demonize, and very easy to point a finger at someone else who seems "privileged" because they did not suffer the same adversity.  That's where we have a small problem.

The vast majority of those of us who are heterosexual have absolutely nothing against the LGBTQ community.  Speaking for myself, I know how amazing it feels to be in love with someone and be ready to marry them.  I am nobody to say that someone doesn't have that right simply because that love is aimed towards someone of the same gender.

Still, there is a minority that still has trouble accepting it.  They should accept it, as we have.  But forcing them to do so, or face civil or criminal penalties, is not the right way to solve that problem.

Part of Emotional Maturity means understanding that universal acceptance of who you are and what you say simply cannot happen.  Even if you achieve mass acclaim and overall acceptance, there will always be people who will not accept you, and nothing you, or I, or anyone else says will change that.

PERFECT EXAMPLE:  When I began this blog, and I wrote about the virtues of being a Bold Beta Male, and rejecting the idea that every man always be aggressive and abrasive, a particularly unfriendly critic told me that "the only people who are going to listen to you are gays."  I stayed silent.

As mean-spirited and below-the-belt as those judgments and comments can surely be, it is not our place to become triggered by them, to overreact to them, or to demonize those who deliver such statements, even if they most obviously deserve it.  It is also not our place to demand that they unscrew the top of their heads, remove their brains, and allow us to rewire them so they won't behave that way.  It's sometimes our problem that they act and think this way, but it's certainly not our fault.  Therefore, there is no reason for us to become offended, enraged, or outraged by this mentality - because it doesn't hurt us.

I could say the same about racism, sexism, or plain old bullying.  As long as there is something for you to be proud of, there will always be someone who opposes it.  It's simply there.

But the presence of a negative opinion in no way takes away anyone's right to Pride.  It doesn't invalidate you, or what you believe, or what you love.  It doesn't reduce you to dust.  And even if someone else's opinion of you is that unfavorable, it is only their perspective - which should never be yours.

So without rambling on too long, understand that not every single person in this world will accept that Pride.  But the vast, overwhelming majority of it does.  And that majority often includes the people who matter to us the most.  Be grateful for those who accept your Pride, and simply dismiss those who cannot, or will not.

And when I say dismiss, that's different from demonizing.  And it's also not the same as enabling them, or giving tacit approval.  It means remaining calm, unruffled, and not-triggered.  It also means erecting boundaries and removing those who are unable to respect them.  Leave the consequences to Our Mother Lady Karma, and keep your self-respect intact.





Sunday, June 18, 2017

Our Father

Hey All.  Hope all celebrating had a Happy Father's Day.

I know that I appreciate my dad immensely.  He'd be pretty humble about it, but much of what I post in the blog is an outgrowth of the life lessons he taught me.

But even more than my appreciation of him, is my appreciation of Him:  G-D the Father.

Now this isn't based on any religion in particular.  It's just an understanding that there is a supernatural being who has a completely rational expectation of us to recognize and fulfill our personal responsibilities.  Our Mother Lady Karma is the One who handles things we can't control, executes judgment against those who wrong us, and pardons us for our errors.  G-D the Father, however, has a very different role to play.

What He does is remind us of what we CAN control, and that we'd better handle it to the best of our abilities.  His message is, "I'm not going to do your job for you."  Should we get started and keep moving, He is very likely to provide assistance, and quite possibly rewards, along the way.  But if we don't work for it, He won't provide it.

Our Father G-D doesn't want us to give up trying after only a few attempts.  He wants us to get our hands dirty and fail again and again until there has to be some sort of success, great or small.  He wants us to rise above critics and nay-sayers, disable our triggers when they are not needed, and to be as disciplined as possible in our thoughts and actions.

He knows that we'll make mistakes.  Honestly, He expects them to happen.  And He also expects us to keep our emotional reactions to a minimum because they'll only get in the way.  Our Mother can kiss our skinned egos to make them better.  But Our Father wants us to heal them ourselves, because we can!

That doesn't mean He's mean or unforgiving.  If He were, He'd be convincing us all to jump off bridges and end it all.  Instead, He wants us to live, and live right.  He wants us to understand that every new day is another chance to get it right, and not to eternally punish ourselves for when we get it wrong.  He wants us to own The Four Pillars, and own them hard!

So, Friends & Neighbors, today I hope you told your fathers how much you appreciate them.  And every day going forward, I suggest we show appreciation to Our Father G-D by making ourselves even better.




Sunday, April 30, 2017

Speaking Their Language

Hey All.  It's another relaxing Sunday, and that means it's time for another post.

In our challenge to obtain Emotional Maturity, we are often confronted with manipulators, beyess artists, and posers who have developed talents that don't deserve respect.  Instead of owning up to their misdeeds, (or not even doing them in the first place - what a concept), they do everything they can to excuse, confuse, distract, or just babble incessantly in hopes of avoiding consequences.

It's very easy to become angry at them for being this way - and their apologists will not hesitate to remind us that it's a talent we lack - until we remember that this is their only talent.

However, when we are able to easily decipher what they say, we can avoid being manipulated by them.  Some prime examples:

(1)  "No offense, but . . ."  - I'm going to bash you, but instead of admitting that, I'm going to add this disclaimer so I end up looking like the good guy.

(2) "I have no idea what you're talking about."  You're right, but I'm too full of myself to admit it.

(3) "I see the good in all people" - I know my friends are assholes, but if they do/say things wrong to you, I'm going to defend them, because I need popularity more than respect.

(4) "You might learn something/Be open minded" - I'm better than you, so you have to let me interrupt and talk all over you.

(5) "I'm not putting one over on you" - Now that I disarmed you, you're going to fall for my BS just like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.

This by no means an endorsement of the brutally honest - there is such a thing as respect - but there are way too many bullies, abusers, and narcissists who victimize people by beyessing them so hard it comes out their ears!

There are way too many people who get bullied and disrespected when young, used and abused by employers when grown, and made mincemeat out of by spouses and significant others with no morals to speak of.  Contrary to popular opinion, the answer to that problem is not a left hook or a leg sweep.  It's preparation and maturity.

Once you know their language, you can provide responses that clearly indicate that we're not getting fooled.  Here are some examples.

(1) "No offense, but -" Why would I get offended if I wasn't even listening?

(2) "I have no idea what you're talking about."  That's OK, your six-year-old nephew will explain it to you.

(3) "I see the good in all people" - I'm impressed.  I didn't know they made microscopes for that.

(4) "You might learn something."  Mission accomplished.  Bye.

(5) "I'm not putting one over on you."  I didn't say you were.

Don't get it twisted, we're not looking to find the best comebacks, or to have the Hollywood ending.  We're also not looking to get the most hoots and hollers from the spectators and bystanders.  What we are looking to do is set boundaries, and let our egocentric cousins understand that they don't own us, that we are not their followers, and that if they want more tools, they can go to Home Depot.  One of the best ways to do this is to learn their language, instead of being misled by it.  Aside from this, we can leave people like this behind, and (if we choose) replace them with less predatory and more empathetic counterparts.

And even if you don't have a ready response to these meritless, untruthful, and deceptive statements, don't worry.  Our Mother Lady Karma has even better ones.  Maybe She thinks a good comeback might be a ride in handcuffs, an unexpected pregnancy test, or having those very words proven false.  Let Her handle that.  We'll handle our own development, our own happiness, and our own choices of whom we choose to include in our lives.




Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Deadly Trap of Demonization

Hey All - believe it or not, it's really spring!

Through my travels through social networking, I've joined a few groups that provide support to people recovering from abusive relationships.  Out of respect for those members, I won't reveal their names, but they are there, and hopefully some of their members will decide to like the Facebook page.

As I read the entries on this new page, I empathize wholeheartedly with what these folks have seen.  My heart goes out to how they have suffered, or continue to suffer.  However, it seems that telling the tales of woe is only one part of what's needed.  The other part is to heal and move forward.

At the beginning of this year, when I found Emotional Maturity and incorporated it into this blog, I started to realize that just bashing, crashing, and demonizing is not enough.  No, we can't pretend this didn't happen.  No, we can't pretend that what they've done is all our fault.  And no, we can't say that it was all our imagination when they've hurt us.

However, we can't just make their fault and misdeeds a crutch for everything.  At some point, we've got to stop the anger, end the grudges, and dispose of our ill will.

Many of those who do us wrong will not be apologetic or own up to their actions.  As Isaiah Hankel says, we cannot expect a confession from such people - all we'll get is an excuse, a denial, a reminder that we're not perfect either, or maybe a half-assed apology.  Accordingly, expecting to squeeze blood from a stone, or resorting to any other type of violence, is a waste.

Once we accept that they will not grow halos and wings, we have to stop cursing them for their horns and pitchforks.  We don't have to call it forgiveness - they may have caused harm that forgiveness won't resolve.  But we can call it dismissal or release.

We can censor them from our thoughts and conversations.  We can leave their scenes on the cutting room floor.  We can remove their likenesses from our internal Hall of Fame, and extend provide them with one of those tiny memorial plaques people screw onto park benches that nobody else notices.

For any of those group members who can read this, I feel you.  I've been done to, done wrong, rejected, dejected, and neglected almost as much as you have, though I won't minimize your pain or make it a competition.  I've also committed the erroneous error of holding onto those past wrongs for longer than necessary.  No matter how wrong they were, or how evil they may still be, believe me when I say that holding grudges against them doesn't cure it.  Instead, it eats away at you!

Even worse than that?  It lets them off the hook.  Yes, I know, that's shocking, but you're making something happen that's the exact opposite of what you want - you are letting them off the hook when you hold grudges against them.  There comes a time when our feelings about them stop being their fault and start becoming ours.  We are assuming liability for their fault!  We are bailing them out!  We are becoming just as bad as they are, because we emulate what we hate!!!!!!

You sure you want to give them that gift?  Or would you rather reduce them to the unpleasantness of a bad dream?

That's what I thought.

For those who prefer spiritual comfort for this effort, rest assured:  There's a Lady Named Karma.  She's not impressed with bad boys, and She's not friendly with mean girls.  She has the authority to pass judgment that we lack, and She has much better tools at Her disposal than we do.

Stop holding on to anger at our tormentors, and seeking revenge against our rivals.  Instead, direct that energy towards continuous life improvement, as expected by Our Father G-D.  Let Our Mother G-S Karma handle what the rest of them deserve.




Questions, comments, concerns?  Feel free to private message me.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Responses and Responsibility

Hey All - Hope we're all staying warm.

Like the title?  Wasn't thinking Jane Austen, but it just sort of happened.

To be honest, it's more than a little bit annoying to think that when someone else does something wrong to us, we still bear even a hint of responsibility.  Many times when people say this, it's because (a) they're the ones who did us wrong and they don't feel like owning it; (b) someone is trying to manipulate you; or (c) "they like to see you squirm."

When they're wrong, they're wrong, there's no denying that.  But that's not the end of the story.  Believe it or not, how we respond or react isn't exactly their fault.  They're not telling us what to say or how to say it - we are.

We need brevity.  As I've stated before, whatever negative emotion you're feeling about someone else must be felt for a short period of time.  It doesn't have to be only two seconds and then announce to everyone "It Doesn't Bother Meeee-eeeee" - that's just showing off.  But whether it's a few minutes or less than an hour, you must train yourself to stop it.  It's not helping you the longer it's there.  If you can't use it constructively, then you can't keep it around long.
    (1)  Can you do something about it?  Aim it that way, right now!!
    (2)  Can you not do something about it?  Get rid of it, right now!!

We need clarity.  We have to present a basic cost/benefit analysis as to whether the negative emotions are honestly worth it.  If they can't bring about a workable result, then turn them off.

We need faith.  We have to donate our hurt feelings, our grudges, our rage/fury/hatred and dislike of others up to the only One who can really judge them.  I wish I had a scorecard for you, as well as pie-charts and graphs to tell you how often it happens, but I don't.  Nevertheless, I've seen this Lady go to work and go to town on people who've done my wrong, and she's been known to pack a whallop on them.  So remember:

  • There's A Lady Named Karma.  She's not attracted to bad boys and She doesn't hang with mean girls.
  • She seeks justice and consequences in all things, especially when it can't happen due to others' misdeeds.
  • She has much better tools for vengeance at Her disposal, and She won't screw up the job the way you or I might.
That doesn't mean you just let things happen when you do have the opportunity to stop them.  There is a Father G-D above us who will remind us, "This is your job, not Mine."  But there is also a Mother G-SS who can handle everything that we can't.




Sunday, March 12, 2017

Less Blame, More Respect

Hey All!  Once again, the weather is messing with us, running hot and cold.

We live in a world with people who just aren't perfect.  They make mistakes, they don't think things through, they insult (sometimes with every intention of doing so), and sometimes they just give us reasons to dislike them.

Although it doesn't always seem like it, they are still human.  Flesh and blood, heart and soul, faces and names.  We don't have to pretend to like them when we don't, and it's wrong to pretend that they're our friends when they aren't.  We also don't have to turn a blind eye to our boundaries when they are violated.  But hating them is not the answer either.

There are times we have to be honest with them about why what they do is not acceptable to us.  And those times are limited.  There is no need to turn a statement into a rant or a lecture.  Not only would it be an in-your-face attack against them that might not be warranted, but spending more time than necessary disparaging them (a) doesn't change them; and (b) makes us worse.

As one of my influences, Dr. Isaiah Hankel, has said, it doesn't do us any good to pursue a confession from others.  Chances are better than likely that (a) the other folks already know what they did wrong, and don't feel the need to fall on their sword over it; or (b) they think they've done absolutely nothing wrong, and don't owe you anything.  All we're ever going to get out of these folks is (i) a half-assed confession; (ii) an excuse; or (iii) a counter-attack because it's just as easy for them to judge us as it is for us to judge them.  We don't need a confession if we already know what they did, and we don't have to argue for them to find themselves in the wrong if we already think they are.

Instead, it is better for us to simply understand that they either have reasons for what they do, or they're simply misinformed, and simply leave them as they are.  No, that does not mean we give them license to abuse us.  And no, that does not mean that we should give them unlimited free passes without taking actions necessary to protect ourselves.  What it does mean is that it's not our job to forever point fingers at them, demonizing them as undesirables and hating them as untouchables.  It simply doesn't help us to continue doing that.  There is far more strength of character to take only actions that are necessary, without demanding that they become more like us, and without any malice or hatred involved.

If we can remain unflappable around them, without letting them get under or skin, and without allowing them to tempt us into hating, judging, or demonizing them, we win.  Plain and simple.




Sunday, February 12, 2017

Limitations and Percentages

Hey All - a rainy Sunday afternoon is about to become a rainy Sunday evening.

Today I finally made it official and retitled this page.  It's not as short and snappy as the last one, but it's more real, more inclusive, and far more constructive.

I feel a little bit like someone who's been "born again" or "saved," but now that I've figured out how to practice emotional maturity, I feel like a new man.  I feel happier, calmer, and more able to accept new thoughts and information.  I can accept criticism or disagreement without getting amped up and raging out.  And most importantly, I can realize that there are people in this life who do not conduct themselves the way I'd prefer, but that instead of becoming enraged and infuriated like some dopey sitcom character, I can either accept them despite these objections, or reject them because of these objections with no second thoughts.

For many of you reading this, it might be old hat to you.  And it should be.  Therefore, you probably shouldn't be reading this blog, because you might have most of it figured out already.

However, I'm pretty darn sure that there are still many of you out there, like me, who did not have such a strong command of these things.  Some of you might be young, still going through school, unsure about what direction to take and a little bit scared, and having trouble coping with life's unpleasantness.  Maybe we can help each other out.

Until recently, I exhorted all the Bold Betas out there to be Bulletproof, and I threw a lot of shame and disapproval at all the alpholes.  In doing so, I made a few errors.
(1) I negated those who might be tough, badass, alpha types who are not seeking to harm those who weren't.  We live in a world where we need police, soldiers, firefighters, rescue squads, sailors, marines, special forces, and heavy physical labor.  I am nobody to say that those men and women who perform those jobs are no good.
(2) I overlooked the truth that simply being a Beta didn't insulate someone from being just as judgmental, just as hurtful, just as arrogant, and just as brutal as any of the alpholes on their worst day.

When we demonize, we obliterate anything good about someone, and when we deify, we place someone on a pedestal that they don't deserve.  To the extent I've been erroneous to do this, it's stopping now.

When we are emotionally mature, we understand that nobody is perfect, but also that nobody is evil.  That doesn't mean we're going to go out of our way to hang out with people we don't like and pretend to be their friends.  But it does mean that we should not think that this person can do no wrong, and that this person can do no right.  That way, we do not respond to people with childlike expressions of wonder and worship, or with infantile forms of name-calling and belittling.

Instead, we acknowledge everyone else has degrees and percentages.  If they score high on what we find acceptable, even leaving a certain amount of "room for error," we welcome them into our lives and bestow friendship and respect on them.  If they score low, we kindly and politely place them on the other side of our boundaries.

In understanding that there is no all-or-nothing situation here, I'm minimizing the use of the labels and concentrating instead on the real way to eliminate bullying, sexism, and racism - good old fashioned Emotional Maturity.  I hope you'll continue to show me support for this along the way.