Total Pageviews

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween One Day Early!

Halloween Costumes

Halloween, everyone's favorite pagan holiday!  Putting on costumes, bobbing for apples, telling ghost stories, nothing but fun!

So who will you be for Halloween?  Iron Man?  Green Lantern?  President Obama?  The Rock?

Chances are you'll want to be someone who's famous, or possibly infamous.  Someone colorful, happening, and hot!  Someone cool, snazzy, and jazzy!  Someone who can be the life of the party!

That's fun.

After that's over, and November begins, who will you be then?

Maybe you could be someone who deserves to be famous, and not infamous.  Maybe you could be someone who's colorful, happening, hot, cool, snazzy, jazzy, money, etc., you get the idea.

That is to say, instead of dressing up and pretending to be someone else, you could be yourself, and be happy about it.  Maybe put on your "costume" every morning before you go to work, etc., with a few generous repetitions of the Four Pillars to get you in the right frame of mind.  Same thing in the evening if you're about to have a night on the town. 

Even if it's just going to the office, or even just going out grocery shopping.  Put on your own costume and be yourself!

The sad thing is, my father tried to give me this piece of advice, to no avail, when I was young and learned that I had a talent for imitating other people's voices.  I was a regular Rich Little (and I sometimes still am).  Any voice I heard, I could duplicate.  And while he grew to appreciate this talent, he would sometimes let me know when he'd had his fill of it and ask me, "what does your voice sound like?  And when do we get to hear it?"

So now that I'm somewhat more mature, I save the many impressions for those who will most likely be impressed by them, but I also take the opportunity to speak with my voice, and put on my costume.

So to all my friends and loved ones, particularly those who will be taking children trick or treating, have a Happy and Safe Halloween.  But starting Tuesday, put the fake costumes away, and put on your real ones!

Feel free to comment!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sorry I Missed You All Last Week -- Here's The First of Two Entries!

Catching Up!

Sorry all, missed last week, but I'm still around.  I'll just have to give you all a double portion for Halloween, how's that sound?

Yes, as I said in my October 17 post, I'm trying to expand the content from not only ragging on bullies, predators, and punks-who-get-away-with-it (don't breathe a sigh of relief, gangsters, I'm not done with you yet), to basic self-improvement and self-empowerment.  In doing so, I referred to a group known as the "we don't care" crowd.

These people do not have the same desire that we, or I, have to stamp out bullying in all its forms.  Rather, they choose to let slings and attacks fall away like water off of a duck's back, and say things like "it doesn't bother me, why obsess over it, I can't change them, who cares," and so on and so forth.  A very prominent member of this group recognized her thoughts in this post and let me know she had read it, in a good-natured way!  :)

However, as I explained to her, I was not trying to bury the "we don't care" crowd.  Of course, I wasn't completely praising them either.  I was instead showing a certain amount of respect to them.  Although they don't know what it's like to have low self-esteem, and their way of thinking doesn't always help those who do, they seem to have found a secret that the rest of us have yet to uncover.

For some reason, our apathetic and impermeable friends do not feel pain from others' attacks.  This is in no small part because their self-esteem issues are inverse to ours:  they actually have some.  They already know that when people mouth off to them, that they're full of it, and don't know what they're talking about.   They already know that they cannot be turned into what bullies think of them because they don't grant the bullies any power.  They don't get offended by what the bullies say because, in their minds, whatever the bullies say to them is internally translated as, "I need to insult you because it's the only way to cope with my own shortcomings, and because I know I can't hold a candle to you."  Or maybe because those who try to bully them come off as so pathetic and nonthreatening to be perceived as comical.

That's really the key right there:  They don't grant the bullies any power!  When we have low self-esteem, it's only too easy to grant bullies power because we keep forgetting that we have our own!

Remember that you have just as much power as they do, if not more!  The "we don't care" crowd has been storing, conserving, and accumulating power while we've been draining ours.  We need to get up to speed and power up big time!

How you figure?  I refer you all once again to the Four Pillars:  I Exist, I Matter, I Belong, I Deserve.  The "we don't care" types already know this about themselves, and always have.  Since they don't need to have that general concept of self reinforced, this blog is not meant for their perusal.  It is we, the mere mortals of this realm, who need to be reminded of our own self-worth in order to reach the same level as our "with-it" and "together" compatriots.

But DON'T misunderstand me.  This does not negate everything else I've been talking about.  And, once again,  it does not let the bullies and gangsters of this world off the hook for their crimes and misdemeanors.  What I am saying is that with the Four Pillars, and their continuous repetition and reinforcement, you will be at a stronger vantage point to deal with the constant adversaries we all face.  Fight them by generating your own power, not by giving them more of their own to use!  And continue to fight them by seeking punishment and consequences for their misdeeds!

(but, but why?  If they don't bother you, why would you WANT to punish them?  Why do you care?)

That is still the one difference that remains between us and our resilient comrades:  WE know how the pain feels, and THEY never will.  It is not an issue that affects them, but it most definitely affects us.  This is why we must fight this battle on two fronts:  to promote and increase our own power, and to dismantle and cancel that of our adversaries.

And by the way, for some amazing anti-bullying advice, check out the anti-bully blog posted by Dr. Benjamin Leichtling: 

Feel free to comment, as always!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Morning Post -- Moving On To The Next Level.

Moving On To The Next Level

Good Morning Gents --

Fell asleep a bit early last night, so you've got a post early Monday morning instead.

A lot of my content has been focused on how bullies should be punished for their actions and their attitudes.  Don't worry, I'm not going soft on them anytime soon!
But let's say they all do get their just desserts:  They get fired, sued, arrested, beaten to a pulp, even executed, if the law requires.  What then?

Is it really over yet?  Wouldn't you like it to be?

Chances are, you're not willing to end it even when it's over.  Maybe the hurt, anger, pain, and resentment just keeps replaying itself in your mind.  Maybe you feel like killing the bully, burying him, digging him up, and killing him all over again.  When you do this, you're stuck.  You're not moving forward.  You're actually bullying yourself, because you're preventing the bully from being silenced.

The only times to deal with those attacking you are (a) before a confrontation happens, to make sure you're prepared, and (b) when it's actually occurring.  Dealing with it once it's all said and done, unless you're preparing for something that will happen shortly, doesn't help. 

Anyone remember that feeling after a big exam in school?  Oh man, I didn't write what I should have written!  Oh no, I should've added that additional thing!  What was I thinking?  That might be how it feels after the tormentor has left the arena and you're left with things you didn't say.  When that happens, you kick yourself thinking that you should've said this and that, etc.

What can you do with that thought?  NOTHING, but wallow in despair!  Keep thinking that, and you're practically slamming your fingers in a door again and again and again! 

I know why it happens, too.  Because we're probably used to people who get off on scolding, criticizing, and pointing out our mistakes for their own fun and self-gratification.  Youuuuuuuu did this wrong, youuuuuuu didn't get it right, youuuuuuuuuuuuu screwed up! (always with a smug little smile, too, don'tcha love that?)

No, actually, we don't love that.  So if Little Mr. or Miss Perfect isn't in the room with you looking down their noses at you, why should you pretend he or she is?  Do you actually want them to be around at that moment?  Is the experience just not complete without someone to rub your nose in it?  You miss it?

ERASE it.  If you left something out, file it away, LEARN from it, and MOVE ON.  Save it for next time, if it is one, but do not let them keep bullying you even when they're not.

There do exist people in this world who think you should let these things go two seconds after a bullying experience ends.  Just act like it never even happened.  "I just let it go/they never bother me/I don't "obsess" over that/I don't waste my time/she is who she is/ who cares/etc., etc."  These people live happier lives, have clear consciences, and are overall healthier.  They also have no clue how it feels to have low self-esteem or to be the victim of bullying, so it's way too easy for them to say all of the above.  They don't have obstacles to get over, so they can't understand that we actually do.  Although they are better off in certain ways, they only have it half right.

They are absolutely correct that you shouldn't waste time thinking about those who have done us wrong when there's nothing that can be done about it.  They are absolutely incorrect in saying you should "just ignore it" or "don't obsess over it" when it's clear and obvious that the problem doesn't go away when you "just ignore it," but it will if you don't ignore it. 

So how can we tell the difference?  As irritating and as judgmental as the "we don't care" crowd may sound, they really are better off than we are.  They may not know (or even care) how it feels to be hurt like that, but they do know how to move on from something once it's over. 

Just remember that "before is better."  Before a problem occurs, you can rehearse, prepare, get yourself ready.  After it happens, you can't.  Once it's over, you can learn lessons, and place yourself in the "before" position for next time.  You can't go back and alter what was already done.  Trying to do so will hurt you even worse than the bully wanted to hurt you.  Why give them a victory lap to run around your head?

AT MOST, go someplace where you know that nobody can hear you, and let out one or two choice words.  If that's not enough to get it out of your system, wait till you can do some push ups or sit ups, run it off, hit the weights, or get it out some other way.  Just DON'T turn into a seething pile of oozing hatred who can't stop thinking about how wronged you just were.  Anger is only effective from a position of strength, and turning that anger inward can only sap it.

And so, on this Monday morning, let's move to the next level.  We can use our anger to shut these bullies down, one way or another.  But once you're finished with that process, think about something else.

Feel free to comment!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Now That We've All Atoned, Let's Keep It Going!

Keeping It Going!

Well, my fast went well.  Not to boast or brag, but I was so focused on all those thoughts of forgiveness and self-improvement that I didn't even think about how I hadn't eaten. 

The trick, however, is consistency.  Same as many other promises we make in life, they sound so sincere and so heartfelt when we say them, but as time marches on, the desire to do them consistently fades and erodes.

Well, that's not how it's gonna be with me this year.  I've got plans, and I know I'll keep them.  My plan includes getting this blog exposed and monetized, making more time for my wife & my marriage, and continuing to get respect per the Four Pillars.  To put in the training time I need for my next marathon, even if that means doing it in the wee small hours of the morning.  Also, making more time for friends and having fun!  And maybe a few extra hours of sleep in my spare time . . . :)

So will it be with you, gentlemen.  If last year didn't cut it, why do the same thing all over again?  You sure won't get any different results than before.  You may have already apologized to G-D, to others, and yourself for your past misdeeds -- where will you go from here?

Hopefully, you'll do better.  Instead of falling into the same traps you did before, you'll think and you'll listen.  Instead of wringing your hands and flagellating yourself over mistakes you made in the past (or worrying if some other shmo will bring it up and use it against you), you'll emotionally detach yourself from it and use it as reference material.  Signposts, if you will, to point you in the right direction and away from the wrong direction.  You don't follow those signposts, you'll get far worse than a ticket!

Emotional detachment is the hard part, no doubt.  Especially if you've been bullied in the past, or some other trauma has come your way, it's hard not to have feelings and emotions tied to mistakes.  You probably got used to someone else beating you over the head with them so many times, you learned to expect it coming!  Well guess what:  you don't have that coming anymore.  You're not a little boy, scheduled to get punished just because you make mistakes.  You're a thinker, who learns from mistakes and knows not to repeat them.  No amount of bullying or punishment is needed to get you to become that -- you get that way all by yourself, through your own intellect and your own experience!  As long as you know this, there's no reason to be emotionally involved!

And by the way, even if you stick with that, you will still make mistakes.  The difference is, if you keep your head on straight and learn from your old mistakes, you'll end up making new mistakes.  And that's not really such a bad thing.  If anything, those are learning opportunities that you just didn't have last year!  The difference, you'll use those new mistakes as new learning opportunities, and not as lightning rods for more criticism and punishment, and if someone does start with you over it, you'll be able to not allow them to bring you down because of it.

So here we are, the first day of the rest of your life, as they say.  Now is your chance to start putting your new plans into effect.  All you have to do is do it again tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the day after that.  You get the idea . . . just don't do it now because it was a "special occasion" and never do it again.

Peace, everyone -- and to those celebrating Columbus Day, follow his example:  If you know you're right about something, never let anyone else deride you, threaten you, or throw you off your game.  You may not have discovered what you expected, but odds are what you do discover could be just as amazing, if not more!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Message of Forgiveness For The Ten Days of Awe.

The Days Of Awe


Some of you may be aware that last week was the Jewish New Year, and this coming weekend is the Day of Atonement.  This is the time of year when many devout Jews take into account their deeds and misdeeds, their successes and failures, and their strengths and weaknesses.  Many of you might not celebrate these holidays, but what I've got to say about it may be worth a read.

During the Ten Days of Awe, G-D is said to take into account each person's conduct throughout the prior year, and to decide what events he or she will experience as a result of that conduct.  It is implied that if we've done wrong, we may face a comeuppance.  However, the liturgy of these days states that "Prayer, Righteousness, and Repentance avert (or lessen, depending on the translation) the severe decree." 

You've seen me blog about misdeeds before.  The Four Principles tell us that we Exist, Matter, Belong, and Deserve, but they don't tell us that we're perfect.  Unless one of you is a divine super-being from another world, and chose not to enlighten me to this fact, then it's pretty obvious that we've all made mistakes this past year.  We've all opened our mouths and put our feet in them.  We've all forgotten things we should have remembered, and obsessed over things that were completely irrelevant, to our detriment.  We've all gotten too big for our britches and put our own desires over others' needs.  And we've all gotten so incensed in the heat of a disagreement, that we've done or said things that should not have been done or said.

The liturgy gives us a road map that might persuade the Almighty to grant us forgiveness:

PRAYER -- this can take many forms.  For those who are traditional, this could mean attending morning synagogue services and wearing tefillin as a "sign upon your hand and as frontlets between your eyes (see Deuteronomy Chapter 6)."  Or maybe going to church, mass, temple or mosque, and reciting the appropriate supplications seeking forgiveness.  Or maybe just finding a quiet park bench, overlooking a lake , and seeking a personal connection with G-D.

There's no one sure-fire request to make of the Holy One, but I would borrow the recommendation a good friend of mine once made.  Think of how it feels when you're with a good friend, you tell a joke, and your friend laughs.  If you can go to the park bench described above, and you can sense that a good friend is already there, listening to you, you may have already made the connection.  Depending on your surroundings, either out loud or silently, just ask for it.  Ask to be forgiven.  Admit that you're only limited, and did the wrong thing, and that you want another chance.  There can never be any assurance of what the outcome will be, but if you don't ask, it's guaranteed you won't get.

RIGHTEOUSNESS -- this is a concerted effort to do the opposite of whatever mistakes you made last year.  Did you zag when you should have zigged?  Zig and zig hard.  Did you forget too many details?  Plug some notes into your iPhone so you'll remember.  Did you chew out a subordinate at work?  PRAISE your subordinates and praise them well

Did you insult someone just because you thought they were weaker or dumber than you?  Make respect and honor your watchwords, because you won't get that many free passes to do that.  Not on my watch, anyway.

This part is separate from the prayer component because most of us don't need guidance to know right from wrong.  Most of the time, we just know.  Abraham knew that it was wrong to try to kill his son Isaac.  However, because he received a commandment from on high, and didn't know where He was going with it, Abraham didn't have the gumption to refuse.  Many of us have found ourselves in that predicament because someone "cool" wanted us to do something that wasn't.  Righteousness means standing up to those who would have you do the wrong thing, consequences be damned, and saying NO.

REPENTANCE -- this is the tough part.  This means admitting to someone other than G-D that you wronged them, and promising not to go that route again.  Only problem is, to borrow a cliche from several action movies, G-D forgives, but many people don't.  Some of them see repentance as a sign of weakness, and an invitation to browbeat, to upbraid, to rub salt in wounds, to take advantage, and to put you down in order to make themselves look more righteous than they really are.

Several of you have been reading my post from September 19, 2010 on New Day, entitled "The Fast He Wanted," which contains an even more concrete example of a refusal to forgive.  Here's the link, for those who haven't yet read it: 

This is where the 24-hour Statute of Limitations can be used as a buffer.  Chances are, the bastion of self-righteousness that you're now facing didn't tell you that you'd offended them until days, months, or weeks had passed.  This means that any claim they once had against you is waived.  This means that you do not need to feel guilty over what they perceive to have occurred, and you are under no obligation to apologize.  However, to comply with the three steps outlined above, and just because it's good to "be a mensch," you must still apologize if you know you've done wrong.

The 24-hour Statute of Limitations does not prevent you from repenting for your sins if you choose to do so.  It does, however, bar the allegedly aggrieved from attacking you further, because they didn't timely state their claim.  And if they do choose to attack you at a moment of contrition, any obligation you may have felt to apologize and make whole evaporates.  That's right.  Their claim was waived ab initio, you tried to make good on it anyway, and they tried to take advantage of your good nature to state a claim untimely.  People who do that are completely undeserving of repentance, and over time, they'll learn that the hard way.

As for those who were timely, but are less callous and more accepting, don't let them down.  REALLY make good on whatever ails them.  Don't just say you're sorry, show you're sorry.  By money, by deeds, by actions, whatever it is, make them whole.  Even if you can't completely make them whole, your efforts and your intentions will be golden, and they will respect you for it.  And they themselves will be golden by their choice to forgive!

The reading of the Prophets for the Second Day of Rosh Hashanah comes from Chapter 31 of the Book of Jeremiah.  In that passage, Israel is compared to Rachel weeping for her departed children, and G-D tells her to stop her weeping, because her work will be rewarded, and Israel will be forgiven for its sins.  The message, according to the rabbi I heard at synagogue, is that as long as you have performed Prayer, Righteousness, and Repentance, there's no need to keep begging and groveling for forgiveness.  G-D has already granted it to you.  It's OK to feel free now.

So let it be with you all.  Get it right with G-D, get it right with yourself, and ask to get it right with others.  Everything else should be a piece of cake!

A good holiday to those that observe.  And may those that don't take something good away from this week's entry.