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Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Year of Emotional Maturity

Good Afternoon, Friends and Neighbors!

A nice little run sweated the alcohol out of my system, and the NFL has the last regular-season games of the season.  So where does that leave you and me?

(1) Constantly Seeking Improvement.
Yes, it's a day off from most jobs, but that doesn't mean from all work.  Every day we have is an opportunity to learn from our earlier choices, to improve from our earlier state, and to do things we've never done before.

(2) Reserving Alone Time.
Our high-conflict neighbors simply cannot function unless they are active, around people, and "on" as much as possible.  Our secret weapon is in avoiding this trap.  Every single day, we are to spend some time alone.  To write/journal, meditate, relax, or just be there.  That doesn't mean you stop moving forward, do nothing, and get lazy.  It does mean you take a period of time, not to long and not to short, to clear your mind, stabilize your thoughts, and keep your emotions in check and in order.

(3) Looking For Reasons To Be Happy.
Always find something, every day, that makes you smile.  A joke, a quick word with a friend, anything that gives you a reason to appreciate everything that is right about this world.  Even if you're having a bad day, people are being challenging or difficult to you, or unfortunate consequences have happened, do this.

The Big 1-7 is going to be a year of changes for you all and for me.  I'm looking to become even more successful in my career, get my message out through this blog and other means, and to start a life of happiness with somebody special.




Monday, December 26, 2016

So What's In A Name?

Hey All - It's Christmukkah!  A rare and welcome event when the first night of Chanukah is also Christmas Eve, and the rest of Chanukah runs right into New Year's.  A great opportunity for caring and sharing.

In keeping with that opportunity, I've come to realize that I need to give more emphasis to the true theme of this blog.  Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter have noticed that I have used the hashtags "emotional maturity" and "respect" more often than "Bold Betas" and "alpholes."  This has happened due to what I consider a natural evolution in my writing, and how things are developing in my life and the world around me.

When I started using the original hashtags, I was at a slightly different place in life than I am now.  Since a lot of blessings have been heading my way, the need to have a "bad guy" to throw things at has somewhat lessened, and the need to focus on how to handle life's challenges with intelligence and not with reactions has increased.

There really are people who are high-conflict, unnecessarily aggressive, threatening, narcissistic, and sociopathic.  They do exist.  And there really are people who've been hurt, put down, done to, held back, and underdeveloped.  They do exist too.  However, as I face the end of this year, I've started to realize that the way to address these problems is by not necessarily demonizing or deifying anyone, but not demonstrating how Emotional Maturity and Respect would change both extremes.

That being said, I'm just not sure about retitling this blog, or doing away with the original hashtags.  I think they still matter.

However, in the coming year, I would like to increase traffic, gain more exposure, expand into speaking engagements, and make a contribution to the world around me other than working and paying taxes.  In order to do that effectively, I have to ask the advice of other people who can see these messages from an outsider's perspective.

So, my readers, I address the following queries to you:

(1) Should I, or should I not, retire the terms "Bold Betas" and "alpholes?"

(2) If so, should I, or should I not, retitle this blog?

(3) If so, do I, or do I not, risk losing the audience I seek?

Only serious responses requested, of course.  And if you're on Facebook, and your comment is likely to exceed one paragraph, please direct-message me instead.

DISCLAIMER:  While I'm not yet sure whether to make Emotional Maturity a title of this blog, I am very sure to let it govern how we address each other.  If your statements to me reveal a lack of emotional maturity, they're getting deleted.  Your subsequent accusations of cowardice will not negate my boundaries.

Happy Holidays, everybody!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Emotional Maturity - From The Beginning

Hey All - a real chill in the air, and it's not just the weather.

One reason why we react the way we do to everyday issues and troubles is because we got used to doing it a certain way at an early age.  Childhood and adolescence, those "Wonder Years."  We get stuck in a pattern, our responses get rehearsed so many times they become automatic.  So it's very easy to stop changing and growing at some point.

But believe it or not, this can be altered and upgraded.  Any.  Time.  We.  Feel.  Like.  It.

It's not an on/off switch like our more critical neighbors like to believe.  But it is within our power nonetheless.

(1).  Preparation.
This right here is the most important part.  Our self-talk can keep us stuck in the holding pattern of getting annoyed, argumentative, defensive, or enraged at the same provocation.  We keep thinking, I can't stand this guy, this woman is so stupid, this kid should shut up, so our brains become wired to always think of that person in a negative light.  It's like you see their face and name on a jumbo-tron and your internal capacity crowd starts booing and cursing!  So when you actually see them, Guess What Happens?
To avoid this, flip the script.  Find a way to stop this internal Two-Minute Hate.  Such as:
    (A).  Decide that you will not react that way.  Because they don't make you angry, you get angry.  And you can also not get angry.
    (B).  Prepare responses that will diffuse your reactions, and not manipulate them further.  Those that will repel anything that would otherwise trip a trigger.  Those that will make you, and anyone else, smile, and not fume.
(2).  Execution.
Commit yourself.  Do not show fear, pain, or anger.  As stated above, do not absorb.  Repel.  Block the shots.  Use your stick to deflect it, use your glove to smother it.  Be Bulletproof!

You knew I was going there, ha ha!

(3).  Follow Through.
Don't be that guy.  Don't wait until they leave the room and say, What a nasty woman, what a loud mouth ass, I thought they'd never shut up.  That just undoes everything we already did!  It makes it seem like an act, and that you're not really that mature at all!
After the encounter, exhale.  Breathe a sigh of relief.  Pat yourself on the back for keeping it together, and dismiss them from your thoughts.

Chances are, they won't expect the change.  Shock 'em.  It's very powerful to stay calm when you're expected to fly off the handle.




Sunday, December 4, 2016

Yes, They Got Away With It. So?

Hey All - It's a Chilly Sunday in December.  Hope everyone's doing well.

One stumbling block to emotional maturity is Resentment, and it's slacker big brother, Grudges.  If there's one thought that can keep people angry and stuck, it's that feeling where someone else gets away with doing something wrong, knowing full well that punishment and consequences would be inevitable had we done the same thing.

Goodness knows I've felt angry seeing that happen.  Sometimes the teacher's pet/boss' favorite/coach's son gets protected when they make mistakes, or even worse, one of us takes the hit for it because it's always our fault, and never theirs, no matter what happens.  Unfortunately, this practice has been around since the dawn of time, and short of transforming the hearts and minds of the perpetrators, it will continue indefinitely.

Let's be honest.  It is frustrating to the extreme to have been raised with values, discipline, and lines we don't cross, and then seeing so many other people do the opposite of that and not suffer consequences for it.  It is disheartening to know that some authority figures consider someone else to be better than you, sometimes for no objective reason, and that nothing you do or say can change that.   And it's also that way when we remember how bullies of yesteryear, how nasty, abrasive, rude, and abusive they were, and yet they were mobbed with fraaaands and followers, instead of being isolated and despised.

It's that frustration with life "not being fair" that most triggers our dissatisfaction with this arrangement.  In a perfect world, there would be automatic consequences for these transgressions, hence no transgressions.  But for now, we do not live in a world where that happens.  Instead, for hopefully a limited time, we must adapt to this misfortune.

(1) Accept the decisions that action cannot be taken against.  If the only thing you can do in response to that which aggrieves you is to just be angry and criticize it, then you're wasting your time.  Yes, you can be angry and dissatisfied with it, but if that anger and dissatisfaction can never change the results, then it must be contained.  If it is not, then you risk harming yourself far more than you can ever impact them.  Our high-conflict neighbors still have no intention of owning their actions or improving their behavior.  Until they are compelled to do so, courtesy of Lady Kharma, we must accept that which we have no control over.

(2) If you are able to do something or say something about it, take the chance while you have it.  In my line of work, you have a 30 day deadline to appeal decisions that aggrieve your client.  In real life, the window of opportunity is sometimes smaller.  But if you have the chance, that's your time to make your arguments.  You may need to have supporting evidence to demonstrate why they're wrong and you're right, so have it ready to produce whenever someone else wants to ask questions designed to make you look stupid.  You may need to erect definitive boundaries against behavior you find objectionable while it is happening.  You may need to politely, but firmly, explain that you do not appreciate certain behaviors.

(3) Handle yourself with emotional intelligence, and not with emotional chaos.  When we're angered, triggered, or just plain annoyed, our heads are not on straight.  In that state, it's very easy to fudge the earlier two steps.  We can still remain calm even when telling someone else that their actions are unacceptable, or explaining why someone else's decision should be changed.  We can still respond to attacks designed to trigger us by not becoming triggered.  We can repel their attempts to get under our skin while still responding appropriately to their actions.

No, it's still not OK that people get away with actions that we, and they, know are wrong.  But simply bemoaning this fact and cursing their improperly-gotten gains does nothing to stop them.  Accepting what cannot be reversed, and reversing that what can be, however, are the best weapons we have.  And handling these weapons at the highest level of emotional maturity will ensure the best results possible.

That's The Jam, Folks.




Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Trump Haters? Aim It That Way.

Hey All.  Well, we know what happened.

Were you mad at him for his tone?  His vulgarity?  His crudeness?  What he said about these people, those people, and damn near everyone?

Good.  I'm honestly glad you were.  It's actually very reassuring that this world does not want to live by the alphaganda after all.  This helps my cause more than you might realize.  Now if people could only prove it by keeping their cool and not rioting.

So what to do now, that he actually won?  Divide that anger to be aimed in these five directions:

(1)  Take 20% of that anger at Trump, and aim it at children who bully.  Remember how horrible you thought Trump sounded at his debates and in his interviews, and aim it at every kid who pushes, shoves, wedgies, and threatens those weaker or less adjusted than him or her.  Pretend that kid is Trump himself, and let that kid have it!  Don't hold back!  Just 20% of Trump Hatred should shake that kid's very foundations enough to check the behavior.

(2) Take another 20%.  Aim it at abusive bosses.  Also aim it at boss-appointed bullies who flaunt authority they don't deserve.  Tell them that you think the way you're treated is unacceptable, and if it doesn't change, you're out the door.  (Caveat - unless you're prepared to be self-employed, get yourself a new job before doing this)

(3) Take another 20%.  Aim it at family members who don't treat you with respect.  I mean parents, children, spouses, partners, uncles, cousins, in-laws - no more free passes.  Just 20% of that Trump rage should put them on notice that their behavior will not be tolerated.  (Further Caveat - there is a risk of schism within the family if this happens, because there will always be enablers who think they've done nothing wrong.  Prepare for this eventuality)

(4) Take another 20%.  Aim it at any laws, rules, ordinances, or regulations are unjust, unethical, unfairly prejudicial, harmful, or contrary to reasonable expectations of fairness.  In other words, get rid of stupid rules.  I'm not saying be a foolish revolutionary, since you only get 20% for this assignment.  But make your voice heard.  Write your Congressperson/Senator/State legislator/local legislator and tell them what's not right.  Go to a school board meeting and tell them why things should change.  Act like there's something that might be bigger than your own immediate space, and that it matters big time!  And I'm not interested in whether it's a conservative or a liberal issue - I'm interested in explaining why a rule should be repealed, and not just violated.  And that means persuasion, and not senseless violence.

(5) Take another 20%.  Aim it at the mirror!  We're far from perfect, you and I, and we can admit to ourselves that there are times we've done and said things that even Trump wouldn't!  If you're grown enough to own that, then you can take it upon yourself the responsibility of ceasing it.  If you're still hating Trump, but excusing your own conduct, you can feel free to refer to this process as DeTrumping Yourself!  Think he's so horrible, he's an ogre, he's no good?  Then make yourselves as much of an opposite of that as you can.  Bashing him every minute of every day is an unprofitable venture - demonstrating that you don't emulate those traits will yield huge dividends.

Nobody said he was a role model.  He was elected to be a leader in spite of his foibles, and not because of them.

Ummm, Daaaaaaave?  Can I ask a question?

You just did, so obviously you can.

How could you support him, of all people?!?  You spent how many years lamenting the evil that these men do, and now you choose him to be our President?!?

I'm glad you asked me that most popular and bandwagon-esque of all questions.  For the answer, however, we'll just have to wait until the Inauguration this January.

Until then, I'm looking towards Thanksgiving - where we can all show gratitude, and not regret.  Towards the phenomenon of Chanukah commencing on Christmas Eve - you can't get much more Judeo-Christian than that!  And of course, the year 2017 - foretold by Billy Joel in one of his best songs.

Night All!



Monday, October 3, 2016

How NOT To Be Bulletproof

Hey All - It's About that time!

Yes, it's not exactly news right now, but it still bugs me the way last week's debate went down.  I've posted many, many times about what it means to be Bulletproof:  to never be ruffled by other peoples' insults and conduct; to prevent offenses from getting under your skin; to repel any attempt to ruin your mood.

Aaaaaand then there's Trump.

I remember telling everyone I knew, I bet I know what his advisors are telling him.  It was funny when you busted balls with Jeb Bush, and it was entertaining when you, Cruz, and Rubio made like the Three Stooges.  But you CAN'T do that with Hillary!  She'll make you look like an idiot if you handle that debate the same way!

So for about five minutes, he was cool, calm, and collected.  After that, he went right back to being thin-skinned and combative when he could have been smooth and smart.  It was very difficult to watch.  Yes, he made a few nice recoveries - I'll release my tax returns when you release your deleted emails - but in all the time he spent reacting and responding to her nonsense, he could have challenged her about Benghazi.  And the presence of Bill and Chelsea in the room should not have been an excuse not to bring up Lewinsky and Company once the opportunity presented itself.

To her credit, this is what attorneys in the area I practice do.  They try to distract the Judge and the other side in hopes that arguments against them will not be stated on the record, and therefore waived.  But experienced attorneys know not to leave the hearing room without raising those issues no matter what the other side does.  Donald, by comparison, is very lucky that there will be two more debates.

But my issue with Donald's debate performance is that he presented a textbook example of what it looks like when you're NOT bulletproof.  He got so rattled  . . . so defensive . . . so unhinged . . . did he want Saturday Night Live to have a field day with him on their premiere?!  No, Mr. Trump.  Please!

Don't misunderstand me, I'm human too.  I know how it feels not be bulletproof when pressed or pushed.  But normally that happens with me when I'm confronted with people with whom I don't expect to keep my guard up against.  NOT when it's someone who can't have a free pass!  Had he kept his guard up and steamrolled right over her snarkiness, he might have won.

As Betas, since we are often more empathetic than our more high-conflict counterparts, we sometimes take things to heart when it does not help us to do so.  We often react to distractions that are designed to let our adversaries off the hook.  Only with a strong amount of emotional maturity can we prevent them from antagonizing us.  The amount that Trump so sorely needed.

How?  Here:

(1) Armor yourself:  Your internal feelings are stable, if not at ease.  Your skin is so thick that even the best aimed barb bounces off into the audience.
(2) Prepare yourself:  EXPECT them to try to get you off your game.  When you know which way they'll go, you'll be better equipped to deflect them.
(3) Believe in yourself:  They want to break your confidence.  Make it unbreakable.

Night All!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The One Who Stands Out

Hey All.  The summer is almost, but not quite, over.  Not with almost 70% humidity it's not, anyway.

Recently, we've been focusing a lot on an NFL quarterback who decided this year that he would not stand for the national anthem before football games.  And is often the case, the country is divided over this issue.  Those who do not agree with this gesture, like myself, think that it is a disrespectful slap in the face to our honored war dead and law enforcement officers.  Those who do agree return to the continuing refrain that racism and discrimination still abound, and that they cannot respect a country that has not yet eradicated these elements.

Let's start with the basics:

(1)  This is still America.  What this quarterback is doing is protected speech.  He is not breaking any law by refusing to stand for the anthem, and he can't be imprisoned for it.  After all, this is not North Korea.  Patriotism cannot be forced.
(2)  Some people like to stand out.  To be the rebel.  To be the guy who says, "No . . . I'm not wrong for disobeying rules.  The system is wrong for making them."  In all honesty, that's what we do here on the blog.
(3) However, as the alpholes sometimes forget, the fact that you are able to do something doesn't make it right, smart, or necessary.  Being a rebel just for the sake of being a rebel is a waste of everyone's time.  If there is a cause you stand for, and unfairness to fight, it needs to be done in a constructive way, and not a destructive one.

On this blog, we love America.  We are proud of this country and its ideals of freedom and liberty.  We love how the sky is the limit as to how much you can achieve, and I'm not ashamed of this, earn.  Does that make it Utopia?  No it doesn't.  But quite frankly, we believe that America's strengths far outweigh its weaknesses.

Most importantly, here in the blog, we support respect and emotional maturity.  Mr. Kaepernick is not showing either one.

If he was so concerned with racial injustice, or other issues, he could have used his status as a well-known athlete to make a far more positive impact.  Showing up at protests on his own time, or taping PSA's that support his values might have been a smarter idea.  But using his job to advocate his own personal opinion, which would get many other people fired, is wrong.  It has caused deep divisions not only in the media, but within his sport.

As Bold Betas, we automatically stand out.  Merely by being who we are, we go against the grain.  This sometimes is used for an excuse for bullies to behave the way they do, because that very act of being different is simply intolerable to them.  And the very notion of just letting us be us is far too stifling and boring to even consider.

However, quite a few bullies like to stand out too.  Like the class clown who gets a kick out of interrupting the teacher.  Who bears detention and suspension as badges of honor.  Who loves to put people down to make themselves look better.

Hate to break it to you, as it makes other athletes look bad, but Mr. Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the national anthem is in the latter category.  He's just stirring up trouble.  There is nothing constructive or responsible resulting from his conduct.

Aesop's Moral:  

Stand out to blaze a new trail, not merely to block other trails.

Stand out to build something new, not merely to destroy older structures.

Stand out to present a new idea, not merely to mock an older one.

Stand out to praise others' strengths, not merely to judge others' weaknesses.

Stand out to lift the right people up, not merely to put the wrong people down.