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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Stoneman-Douglas - The New Columbine

Hey All - Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

It's becoming old news pretty fast, but I needed to say something about this latest school shooting.

For the last several weeks, as the country has moved on from the school shooting in Lakeland, Florida, we've had a lot of issues come up on the news.  Second Amendment vs. Gun Control.  Better mental health care.  Whose fault it was.  Whose fault it wasn't.  And we've seen this great group of kids from that high school - the Most Likely To Succeed types - take center stage and challenge Washington and Tallahassee to do better jobs.

But I've seen a different issue and started running with it, because I think it comes before the others:

Did anyone ever just say hi to this kid?

Did Emma Gonzalez ever ask Nikolas Cruz if he was having a bad day?  Did she ever sit with him at lunch?

Did David Hogg ever invite him to play at recess?  Did he ever contact the school psychologist out of concern that Nikolas was in a bad way?

These are straight, unloaded questions.  I'm not suggesting that these students did anything wrong.  Instead, I'm asking if they had ever tried to show Nikolas that he wasn't really alone.

They can persist in finding fault with the NRA and the Broward County Sheriff's office.  Whenever something goes wrong, it's perfectly natural to demand to know who was responsible.  But it might also be enlightening to review the choices we've made ourselves.

Nobody has said whether or not Nikolas Cruz was bullied.  From the sound of it, he might have been a real terror if he was barred from wearing a backpack on campus, and then expelled.  That might have made the thought of speaking to him daunting - kind of like Kevin speaking to that weird old man in "Home Alone" - but if he had know that someone was at least willing to treat him like a human being, he might not have been so willing to destroy other human beings.

Yes, there is the possibility that someone tried this and it didn't work.  Maybe Cruz might have thought people approaching him were phony and fake, or looking to manipulate him.  Kids can be pretty good at that.  But if nobody enlightens us on that, we'll never know.

And, of course, I'm not saying that anyone should have pretended to be his friend when there was no friendship.  Friendship is a precious thing that should only be granted to a select few.  Respect, however, is to be evenly distributed to all.

With all of these issues that have propped up, I hope the youth of today and tomorrow will consider these events in their future dealings with their troubled peers.  It's for damn sure that throwing shade, bullying, snarking, and dissing isn't helping anyoneAnd this blaming and shaming in the media in't much better.










Sunday, February 18, 2018

No Fair?

Hey All - Enjoying your Sunday?

One major obstacles we encounter in our quest to reach Emotional Maturity is our sense of fairness and equity, and how the rest of the world sometimes doesn't operate with it.  In school and work, we've witnessed favoritism, nepotism, and miscarriages of justice.

It can sting and burn us when our hard work is disregarded and dismissed, and someone who worked less hard gets more respect.  It can sting and burn worse when we are compelled to operate within rules and restrictions that don't seem to apply to others.

It can sting and burn even worse when what we want to say - what we are passionate about and feel to the core of our being - gets interrupted, ridiculed, and rendered meaningless by people who are not concerned about our feelings.

Some people will tell you to "get over it."  That's code for, "I don't care - shut up."  So I won't say that.

Others will deflect to focus the issue on your faults, and tell you that you deserved it so they can get away with it.  I won't say that either.

SECRETS THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW:  There are subjects they care about just as deeply as you care about yours.  However, their ego tells them that their issues matter and yours don't, because they're better than you.  Try to re-evaluate your need to associate with anyone who does this.

Here's what I will say instead:

(1) Evaluate What's More Important - Your Message, Or Your Audience.

It's ok to acknowledge that it hurts when that rejection comes at you.  But you've also got to consider the right time, place, and audience to receive your message.  For example, if you're a Yankee fan, there's no reason for you to talk big and bad about how great your team is in a room full of Mets fans.  Your passion for the Yankees may be heartfelt and sincere, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to bring it up in front of them, knowing full well that they are only too ready to say that your team is less than wonderful.

Aim it where it counts.  And pick a better audience to receive it too - just because they don't like it doesn't mean they're right.

(2) Don't Make It Life Or Death.

Find yourself stuck with people who like to interrupt?  Hopefully it's because you didn't miss an opportunity to un-stuck yourself.  But if you can't get out of it, please accept the fact that no part of this conversation will be about you unless they feel a reason to criticize you, or "only be honest."  Your strengths and accomplishments simply have no value here, like currency from other countries.

Don't fall into the trap of starting a whole big topic that you feel is super-amazing-wonderful in the presence of people who you already know do not.  That's just as bad as Charlie Brown running to kick the football Lucy is holding for him, knowing full well that she's always going to pull it away.

Understand:  It's not that it's "not all about you."  It's never going to be about you, and it's always going to be about them.  Let them have it, they obviously need it more than we do.  And if you're able to do so, reduce or eliminate your interactions with them.

If you must speak to them at all, use sentences of five words or less.  By the time they try to interrupt you, you'll have already finished speaking.

(3) Don't Be A Sidekick.

People don't like these labels:  Narcissist, gaslighter, manipulator, psychopath, egomaniac.  We are not psychiatrists, and cannot make these diagnoses.  We can, however, decide for ourselves whether people who behave like this should or should not be in our lives.

If you find yourself always in the presence of someone who seems to interrupt everything you say, correct every single thing you say that isn't perfect, and finish your sentence for you when it is, you have a real problem.  Much of the problem is whoever is acting this way - it's not acceptable.  But it's also you - you welcome this behavior and allow it to continue.  When you allow yourself to live under someone else's thumb and someone else's rules at all time - with the obvious exception of the military - you are losing.  Leave them - please.

(4) Accept That Others Make Rules That Are Beyond Our Control.

This includes the relationships other people have with each other that might impact on us inequitably.  Bosses who fawn all over people with less qualifications and work ethic than we have, but treat us unfavorably.  So-called friends who go out of their way to also be friends with people we're not happy with, or automatically turn on you in front of crowds to make themselves look good.  And, for the singles out there, those who are not attracted to you, no matter how good to them you might have been.

Getting furious at these kangaroo-court rulings, hating those arbitrary and capricious decision makers, and holding permanent grudges against anyone who says no to you are sure-fire ways to keep yourself in arrested development.  Acknowledging so much unfairness of things, however, with the wisdom to know when to speak out, and when not to, is a way to rise above it.

That boss would rather listen to their favorite than to you?  Maybe that's their mistake, and they'll learn it the hard way.  They're friends with that one?  Let them be even better friends with that one by taking away their second choice.  And someone else just isn't into you?  Stop being into them - they clearly don't deserve that much adulation.

TAKEAWAY:  The rest of the world will not always do the right thing by us.  They will treat us unfairly, address us disrespectfully, and sometimes try to shoot down and disparage everything that we think is important, because they have a mouth and nobody taught them when to close it.  We cannot always "get back" at them, get them in trouble, or hurt them just because they do things we don't like.  We most certainly can, however, address them without becoming angry or triggered. 




Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hate None - Return of The Alpholes

Hey All - Hope you're having a relaxing Sunday Night!

As long as I've been writing, I've pointed out that there are people who aren't good to us, don't care about us, and somehow manage to get away with everything they've ever done wrong.  I've demanded that they be eliminated from our interactions, I've exposed their wrongdoings, and I've branded them with a label that they never liked very much.

For the uninformed, I called them alpholes.

Having always had a low opinion for those who were aggressive when they shouldn't have been, dominating and controlling when a leader or boss was not needed, and just way too full of themselves, I needed a name for them.  I combined the term "alpha males" with "assholes," and it was a perfect fit.  Having been on the mend from a terminated relationship, and feeling somewhat resentful, it was just the right message at just the right time.

However, the need to keep using that term, over time, has proven unnecessary and unprofitable.

The circumstances that I was in when I started using that term changed, immeasurably for the better.  That terminated relationship has faded into the background, and was replaced with one that is a thousand times better.  I also discovered, little by little, that those who were not being good to me or for me were not owed a lifetime of continued and begrudging association, so I stopped.  Last but not least, I understood that I didn't have to think about how angry I was at something from the past, I didn't have to be stuck with a constant reminder of it, and I didn't have to trap myself in a cycle of hate, grudges and finger-pointing. 

I didn't have to keep thinking about how unfair their judgments seemed to be, because I could just make my own.

When I kept pointing out other people's faults, it honestly didn't make me happy.  It made me feel miserable.  There was simply no glory to be found in bashing and crashing, no matter how badly those alpholes deserved it.

Also, I tapped into a little bit of Dr. Isaiah Hankel's words:  To paraphrase, he discusses how fruitless and unprofitable it is to demand that someone else confess or admit their wrongdoing - it won't happen, because nobody thinks they're the bad guy in their own stories.  The most you'll get out of that affair is a one-minute half-assed apology, an hour's lecture about how you deserved it because of what you did, you're not perfect either, and how they're better/smarter/whatever than you anyway, and a lifetime of resentment. 

I very rarely call them alpholes anymore, but that's only because it's my own choice to not stir up my own negative feelings.  They still exist, trust me.  I've simply learned, the hard way, that they're going to be alpholes no matter what we do or say, because they honestly believe there's nothing in the world wrong with what they're doing.  Demanding that they grow halos and wings in response to our objections to their personalities doesn't work.  We can either accept them for what they are, which is tolerance and respect, or we can reject them for what they are, which is boundaries and self-respect.  

(1) Cursing them for not behaving or thinking the way we want them to is not the answerRemoving and Replacing them, if they're unacceptable, is.

(2) Telling everyone else you know how terrible they are is not the answerEliminating them as a topic of conversation, is.

(3) Stripping away all of their humanity because of what you find intolerable, is not the answerDeciding what you will tolerate and what you won't, is.

This is our reality.  The problem is not the fact that they are alpholes and do alpholish things.  The problem is us getting so busy throwing shade at them that we forget that we can simply remove them with no malice aforethought.




Sunday, January 7, 2018

Containment and Control

Happy Sunday, All.  Hope you're dressing in multiple layers!

What holds us back from achieving emotional maturity is negative thinking.  Anger at someone else, fear about what might happen, regret/self-punishment over what did happen, and grudges against others.

Are these feelings valid?  Yes.  There are people in this world who aren't good to us or for us, and we might not have the luxury of simply getting rid of them.  There are unknown events waiting for us around the bend that we're not confident about, and there are mistakes that we've made that haunt us.  That's all real.

But it's not all of reality.  Not by a long shot.

Someone else can back me up with the scientific data, but it seems that negative thoughts and attitudes have a much stronger pull on people that positive, happy, peaceful and sedate thoughts do.  That's why we see so many fights and arguments on social media.  This also why some people, even after they reach middle age, somehow find themselves involved in juvenile drama and conflict.  Moreover, it's why some people can't move forward and deal with the here-and-now - they're playing a non-stop rerun marathon of everything that they remember badly, over and over again.

(1) Recognition:

There are reasons why we have these negative thoughts, and they're mostly valid, as set forth above.  We need to recognize when these thoughts are popping up before we address them.

(2) Limitation:

Excuse the analogy, but let's consider our bladder and bowel functions.  When we are newborns, we just "let 'em rip," whenever and wherever we feel like.  However, the first lesson our parents teach us is to handle these functions in one place, and one place only.  Once we learn that, we eventually learn how to exercise a fair amount of control over the timing of these functions so that we can use them in this one particular place in a way that we can dispose of the results without subjecting anyone else to the sight, sound, or texture of them. 

And, oh yeah . . . when we're finished with that business, we flush it away so nobody else, with all due respect to the plumbing industry, has to deal with it.

Believe it or not, we can do the same thing with our thoughts.  We can limit the time, place, and circumstances of when we have them.  And when we're done, we can flush them away, light a match or candle, and walk away relieved.

No, I don't mean not preparing yourself for a task you have to perform tomorrow or next week.  Prepare, by all means, but if the toilet analogy doesn't feel right, then just close the file on it once you've finished your preparation.  Either way, once you've done your business, please remove yourself from the toilet.  Waiting in the bathroom all day for your biological cycle to repeat would not make sense, because you'd miss everything else.  Don't do it mentally, either.

(3) Disposal:

Can you control what it is you're thinking about?  Get to it sooner rather than later.  If possible, do it now and be finished with it!  If you can't do it now, write a note for yourself to do it later.  Place it on your to-do list with a reminder on a certain date and and time.  That way you won't have to worry about forgetting it.

Can't control it?  Then stop thinking about it, period.  That doesn't mean never think about it.  It means think about it, and then stop thinking about it.  Those thoughts don't get to rule your life, you do.

And as I've said before, sometimes that means getting rid of people who trigger those thoughts.  If you can't do that, you can still remain unflappable in in their presence, and refuse to allow them to poison your mind or trip your triggers.  But still, removing them is the best option.

WE DO NOT LIVE ON THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW.  We are not trapped in a cycle of hate and fear.  We are also not trapped with those who try to manipulate us into feeling hate and fear, and them blame us for feeling them.  We decide what to think and what not to think, and we also decide whom is permitted to influence our thoughts.

But what about different perspectives?  But what about learning something?  OK.  We'll consider the source first.  We don't judge books by covers, but after we've read them, we can, and must, decide what we think of it.



Saturday, December 30, 2017

Another Year To Grow On

Hey All!  About to close the door on another year.

Technically speaking, we can start a new beginning any time we feel like it, but there's nothing wrong with making that commitment on New Year's.  It's just a matter of not completely forgetting about it the next day!

Well, since you'll have me blogging and posting for the next 52 weeks, hopefully we'll both stay reinforced.

Let's make commitments to:

(1) Remove the wrong people from our lives, and erecting boundaries so solid that they'll never return;

(2) Respect the right people in our lives by Acting Like It Matters;

(3) Set goals that are finished when we reach them, and not those that are finished when we get bored with them;

(4) Accept responsibility for our mistakes and learn from them, instead of just getting angry;

(5) Be assertive in all dealings, not passive so you are taken advantage of, and not aggressive so you are not taken seriously;

(6) Say no when no is the right answer, and follow through without being manipulated by guilt or doubt;

(7) Decide what should be thought about, and remove, dismiss, and reject what should not be thought about;

(8) Address conflict only when necessary for prevention of imminent harm or for professional obligations, and not because someone else is bored and needs to provoke fights;

(9) Respect your body enough to set limits as to what you eat and drink, and how much;

(10) Respect your personality enough to not be in environments or situations where you are not respected.

This list is inclusive, but not exclusive.  No matter what you choose to do, I wish you all a year of Emotional Maturity.





Sunday, December 3, 2017

Where Does It Start?

Sunday Morning, All - Time to bring back some thoughts and wisdom.

Throughout the halls of government and the tinsel of entertainment, we've borne witness to a Reckoning:  Powerful men who had, for years, used women as sexual playthings, are being accused by scores of women of crossing the line too often.  Nearly every day, new revelations are being made, new belated apologies are issued, and established careers are ending.

Women are lashing out in anger and resentment, and some confessing that they, too, were abused or harassed and know the pain.  Men are, once again, being faced with the reality that unlike our Neanderthal antecedents, we cannot have our way with women as we feel like because they are still just as human as we are.

Any thought to how this type of savagery, and resulting backlash, originates?

I'm pretty sure I do.

Bullying, in and of itself, is clearly a less egregious offense than rape and sexual abuse.  Nobody's arguing about that.  The grotesque physical violence involved with those actions have been properly criminalized, the rights of those accused of those crimes have become narrowed, and the consequences of those convicted of those crimes are the harshest possible without a death sentence.  We should all be in agreement on that.

However, it appears to be that the dynamics between perpetrator and victim in both situations are actually quite similar:
(1) A perpetrator who seeks to dominate the victim;
(2) A victim who is in some way weaker than the perpetrator;
(3) A sentiment that whatever the perpetrator does is completely the victim's fault by way of provocation; and
(4) Even worse consequences if the victim seeks to have the proper authorities execute judgment against the perpetrator.

As a whole, society has attempted to reverse the way rape/sexual assault victims have been treated, as stated above.  Nowadays, it seems antiquated and backwards to suggest that a rape victim provoked the attack, and those victims who do come forward are lauded as courageous heroes.  Also, as stated above, the constitutional rights that are guaranteed to those accused of other felonies seem to be minimized for those accused of sexual offenses.  Ideally, this should lead to extreme deterrence, and a reminder that no self-respecting person should ever even consider committing these offenses.

But even if, as stated above, bullying is a less egregious offense than crimes against sexuality, why does the above dynamic remain the same for bullying when it has changed for sexual offenses?

Why, in the instance of bullying, does the perpetrator face little or no deterrence?  Why is the victim of bullying blamed for its occurrence in the way that rape victims once were?  And why is a victim of bullying labeled a coward when the proper authorities get involved, where a victim of rape is deemed brave for doing the same thing?

I have a few conclusions of my own:

(1) Reverse Sexism:  It goes without saying that most rape victims are female.  It also appears that most bullying victims are male.  For reasons not made clear, the notion that men and boys must be more self-aware of their actions and respectful around women is non-existent in the scenario of bullying apparently weaker males.  Instead, victims are labeled with misogynistic terms for not being "man enough," and they are shamed for not knowing how to "fight back."  This is a short-sighted mistake.  Ancient and medieval societies lived by "might makes right."  They're still extinct.

(2) One Thing Leads To Another:  Bullying might not be a crime, but that doesn't make it acceptable.  It seems like a fair inference that when children are not taught to treat other people with respect, and are instead enabled, encouraged, or rewarded for abusing those weaker than them, they will simply graduate to doing it on a larger scale.  And since women are still, for the most part, physically weaker than them, it's not such a stretch to expand from abusing weaker males to abusing females.

(3) Lack Of Empathy:  There is still a strain of society that seeks to criticize faster than it seeks to praise.  It somehow seems more exciting, more self-justifying, and even more fun to point a finger at someone else's misfortunes than it is to applaud someone's successes.  For reasons I have not yet figured out, it is somehow easier to blame a victim than it is to blame a perpetrator - possibly because the self-appointed critic is convinced that their life experience has provided them with untold knowledge and wisdom, and that because of that, they know that they would never have made the same mistake.  This may or may not be true, but a reminder that not everyone has the same upbringing/culture/worldview might persuade them to be less critical.

So What Can We Do About It?

(A).  Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be . . . I'll be nice and not use my official term for them.  Teach them to Respect All, whether they're friends with them or not.

(B).  Stop Enabling.  If you have friends or relatives who get a charge out of bullying, tell them it's not ok.  If you'd rather not confront them, then just stop associating with them.  We don't live in a comic book, so you don't need a classic line - just make it clear you don't accept it.

(C).  Condemn Bullying The Same Way We Condemn Rape and Racism.




A good Sunday, all!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Most Unforgiven

Hey All - hope you had a nice weekend!

Recently, a heard a clergy-person's sermon about empathy for others, and the rejection of selfishness.  He questioned whether or not we care about the plight of those who lack what we have.  And he included whether anyone cares about inner city "ghetto" residents, or even prison inmates.

This is only an idea, nothing's been done yet, but that gave me food for thought.  I wrote some time ago about how those in poverty are living that way, and often stay that way, because of their mentality and attitude.  They feel stuck, powerless, and unable to move forward.  They turn to activities that give them momentary comfort and pleasure - hence the alcoholism, drug addiction, and unintended pregnancies - because they know only too well that the rest of their day is filled with regret, sorrow, and frustration.  You don't have to be a bleeding heart, a social justice warrior, or a tree-hugger to understand that these people are hurting, and that they see no end in sight.

What if I had some of my videos emailed and broadcast in homeless shelters and jails?  What if I gave them a message they could get into?  What if they found Emotional Maturity and could either (a) find a way to get off the street; or (b) rejoin society without the desire to commit crimes again?

Don't get it twisted, I'm not giving anyone handouts.  We've seen well-intentioned social programming fail, since there still are poor, and there still are criminals.  We've also seen this 99%/1% divisiveness, blaming those who are wealthy for the plight of the lower classes.  Neither one is right.

They do need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, no doubt about that.  But first things first, they need to start believing in themselves big time.  They need to know that they Exist, Matter, Belong, and Deserve.  They need to know that they are Bold and Bulletproof.  And then they need to learn enough discipline to master their emotions and expend their energy in the right direction.

Feedback would be appreciated, but by private message only.  This is something I'd like to make happen.