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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.




Thursday, September 21, 2017

Forgiveness - Giving and Receiving

Hey All - had the best weekend, period.  Message me why and I'll give you the low-down.

Every year, Judaism has the Ten Days of Awe.  It begins with Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the religious calendar, and ends with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  Custom states that at the beginning of the Ten Days of Awe, a celestial auditing commences, and all the living are evaluated as to their deeds and misdeeds.  At the end of those Ten Days, the auditing is concluded and everyone's fate is sealed.  Therefore, it's a custom to use this week and a half to be more self-aware, more reflective, and definitely more empathetic to others.

When I was a kid, the father of a friend of mine had a note hanging from the refrigerator with a magnet.  It stated that the six most important words in the English language were, "I Admit I Made A Mistake."  It felt good to read that, but I knew that making such a sincere admission wasn't always going to get me a pat on the head.  My experience with the authority figures at the time was that stating that you did something wrong, no matter how regretful or sincere you were about it, would get you very unpleasant consequences.  Not everyone knows this, but when you do this to kids enough times, you end up teaching them to lie - if they know that telling the truth will always mean something bad, then it shouldn't be a surprise when they just tell you what you want to hear.

Honestly, we could do so much better, as a society and as people, if apologies and forgiveness really meant something.  What if we were less willing to condemn, and more willing to understand?  What if we were less willing to deflect the blame, and more willing to accept responsibility?  What if being wrong, or mistaken, wasn't seen as the kiss of death, and was seen as simply being human?  And what if the desire to hold someone else's mistakes over their head permanently simply wasn't there?

If we're talking about criminal wrongdoing or fraudulent activity, that might be somewhat more complicated.  But just about everything else we do in life should be easily resolved with a simple apology and acceptance if those who make mistakes weren't made afraid to own them, and those who felt wronged weren't so adamant about holding grudges.

Of course, this may severely impact the legal community.  Then again, a less litigious society might be a more pleasant society.

(A)  Did you make a mistake?
    (1)  Admit it.
    (2)  Own it.
    (3)  Forgive yourself.
    (4)  After you've finished dealing with it, don't dwell on it.

(B)  Did somebody do you wrong?  And if so, did they accept responsibility?
   (1)  Accept it.
   (2)  Forgive them.
   (3)  Keep moving to the next issue.

This doesn't mean taking the hit for something that you didn't do.  It also doesn't mean that you have to let someone continue to do you wrong all the time.  But it does mean that if you did the wrong, there should be nothing preventing you from owning it, and if you were wrong, there should be no reason to hold grudges or seek retribution.



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Use Your FIlter

Hey All - Sunday night, and you know what that means!

We have always been told not to let others' opinions of us affect us.  But we have also always been told that we should be open to criticism, accepting of new ideas, and not resist anything that contradicts what's "in our bubble."

Great, mixed messages.  Gotta love when they come our way.  How are we really supposed to know which way to go?

That's a trick question - we already do.

(1) In what manner is this opinion or "fact" being expressed?  Is it interrupting something you were already saying?  A catcall as you walk by someone?  Is it from someone hijacking, one-upping, or upstaging something you were already doing?  Shut 'em down.  You're dealing with a textbook example of a narcissist, and the only way to "fight" them is to not engage.

(2) Is it coming from someone who's earned your trust?  Is it in private, out of respect?  Is it focused more on help and/or friendship, and less on "I'm right and I'm smarter than you?"  Give it a listen, and listen good.  You don't really know everything.  So if there's something you can use that's being provided, accept it and say thank you!

As with all things, the key here is respect.  Bashing you in public and forcing an opinion on you is not respect, it's an attempt to subjugate and dominate in order to feed someone's ego.  Explaining things in private, with honesty, but not just for the sake of putting someone down, and explaining why they think it should be considered, then that is respect.

(Caveat - there is such a thing as stealth narcissists, who pretend to be your friend in order to manipulate you.  See, I don't only think in black & white)

We have in our minds a filter.  We can accept knowledge that is verified, solidified, trustworthy, and provided from credible sources, and use it to evolve and update our knowledge.  And we can reject unverified and unsolicited information from questionable sources that is not reliable and does nothing to update our knowledge.

But you have to understand this!  But you have to think like me because I'm right!  But you can't tell me that you still believe that!

Then stop trying to sell it.  Planting seeds is one thing, but anyone who forces their opinion on us needs to be removed.  We decide what to accept to update our knowledge, they don't.

In fact, that's one of the most powerful things we have over others:  Our choice whether to accept or reject their messages.  Some people simply cannot handle rejection, different perspectives, or adverse opinions.  They may or may honestly expect people to ask "how high?" when they say jump.  Merely saying "no" to them sets off alarms.

NARCISSIST SURVIVAL TIP:  When necessary, if they don't understand "no" after the nth time, just let them win.   Pretend they know it all, and they schooled us.  They obviously need the "win" more than we need to argue with them.  Then they'll be quiet and we can leave.


Sometimes you might have a message that others reject too.  If they're not interested, they're not interested.  Move on and don't beat a dead horse.




Night all.  Feel free to comment or PM me!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Respect All

Happy Sunday, All.  The temperature is still hot like we want it, but summer is slowly winding down.  For the meteorologists in the audience, we all know that summer does not end until the Autumnal Equinox on September 23, 2017.  However, the rest of us have gotten used to it ending prematurely on Labor Day, thanks to our friends in academia.

A lot of hot-button issues have popped up recently.  Racism.  Free Speech.  The Civil War.  Our President.  There has been non-stop, ad nauseum coverage of these issues on all networks, channels and frequencies.

I say that's enough of that.  Perhaps finding ways to resolve these issues might be better read.

(1)  Respect All.

We are all human.  Flesh and blood.  Heart and soul.  Thoughts and feelings.  On some level, all of us matter.  This includes every faith and stripe.

This does not necessarily mean that we must all love each other, as set forth below.  It does, however, mean that there is never a reason to hate anyone else.  We're all somebody, and we've all had experiences that others haven't.  We must accept that no matter what.

(2) Befriend Few.

Unfortunately, people judge us by the five people we're around the most.  It might not be fair, but it happens because our attitude, behavior, and conduct is heavily influenced by the five people we're around the most.

Some of us seem to be friends with just about everyone.  In one sense, this is a good thing, because you know how to say things people like to hear and do things people like to see.  It's also not the best thing because not everyone likes to see and hear the same things.  And even if we respect each other, that doesn't mean that we should all be friends - once more, it doesn't mean we hate them, it just means that we can't really be friends with everyone, despite appearances to the contrary.  Outside of the undergraduate academic setting, popularity is a ruse.

Moreover, being friends with everyone cheapens the value of a friendship.  Keeping a circle small, on the other hand, means that you might look to only befriend those who you can trust, and who can make you even better than you already are.

(3) Love One.

Not everyone is a fan of marriage, or even monogamy.  When we're young, we're often encouraged to play the field, and when we're single we are encouraged to meet as many potential mates as possible.  But in the end, it's our natural inclination as human beings to find that one person with whom we can share everything about our lives.  Yes, there is such a thing as divorce, since marriages are not always meant to last.  But there is also such a thing as a soul mate.

Once you find that soul mate, you do it right.  You don't violate the trust that's there.  You don't let disagreements become high-conflict sporting events.  You don't put your needs over the other's.  You make it a 50/50 equal partnership.  Nobody is the scrub, and nobody is on the pedestal.  You take the respect you show everyone else, and the friendship you grant to a chosen few, and you make it exponential.  You show that one person what nobody else gets, and you keep on doing it.


This just might be the most difficult thing to do.  Believe me, I know.  There are those who are not respectful.  There are bullies.  There are predators.  There are racists.  There are sexists.  There are those who think they're entitled when they aren't.  There are narcissists.  There are criminals.  There are pathological liars.  There are elitists.  There are people who try to minimize us, manipulate us, and fool us.

There are truly evil people in this world.  And when we hate them, we join them.

Unfortunately, we have triggers, and we have thresholds.  We still have that fight-or-flight reflex downloaded into our programming from the days of the Neanderthals.  We still feel compelled to fight fire with fire, and we still get a rush from our lizard brains when there seems to be a reason to engage in conflict.

We can acknowledge this.  And we can still, notwithstanding, control it.

We can romanticize "fighting fire with fire."  And we can also watch both sides burn to a crisp.
We can get our backs up, become militant, and smear everything the others stand for.  And we can also step back for a second, review our reactions, and realize that nothing we've done or said has made us any better than them.

We can also realize that we run the risk of letting them get under our skin when we react that way.  They want us to react.  They want to be the bad guy, because they think it actually makes them look good.  If we react in violence, we run the risk that they are better prepared for what we might use against them.  And even if we somehow overpower them with our kung-fu/UFC/smash-mouth moves we may have, we've really let them overpower us.  We have allowed them to dictate our responses to everything, permitted them to infect our well-being, and interfere with our logical reasoning.  We have accepted their way of might makes right, and we have allowed them to be our masters in that regard.

Contrary to popular opinion, we are a thousand times better off when we don't let that happen.  It's far better than you might think.

We may feel that American society is at a crossroads.  If that's true, there's actually a pretty good path to take instead of the others.




Feel free to react, comment, follow, or re-Tweet, within the bounds of respect.