Your Power: Did You Give It Away? Go Ahead. Get It Back And Feel Better About Yourself.

VOA52-HI010

Photo credit — Joseph Sohm

In a recent consulting session, a female client in a small company was having issues with one of the men at work.  She butts heads regularly with this team member, they try to work it out (with lukewarm success) and then it happens all over again.

At the beginning of our session, she was full of words.  She talked fast and had a lot to say about the situation.  First, I listened and encouraged her to unload.  I took speed-of-lightning notes and when the basic story was clear, she began to slow down.

“The next step is to simplify.  Are you ready for that?” I asked.

She said yes.

Simplify

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Photo credit — Joseph Sohm

This first step in most In Care of Relationship sessions, after hearing the basic story, is to SIMPLIFY.

This means:

  • Find the thread that weaves through the whole shebang.
  • Imagine the various “unrelated” issues as a fraction and reduce it.
  • Discover the theme of the multi-faceted-whirly-gig-Rube- Goldberg life and give it a rest.

 

Simplification is my job, by the way, not the client’s job.

Being factual and simple calms the wild seas of emotion, and a wound-up client begins to think more clearly again.

Getting simple makes things easier on so many levels!

Two Columns

I asked her to imagine two columns.  One labeled “What He Does” and the second labeled “My Responses.”

The content of the columns was pretty easy for her to state.

His Actions:  demand, dominate, dismiss, be overbearing, criticize, shame, belittle, exert pressure, accept only logical or factual, and deflect.

Her Responses: defend, resist, get angry, refuse, feel sad, force myself to comply, try harder, judge, get anxious, give up, ignore.

lion and chippyThe visual:  A chipmunk and a lion.

My client was not in her power at all.  She (the chipmunk) is no threat to the lion,  and might even be considered by him to be a bother.  The lion could give the chipmunk one swat and it would be over.  He knows it and she knows it.

In real life, the translation is that the male team member thinks my client is young and has a lot to learn — so the solution, according to him, is that she should listen to him and do everything he says.

And then, of course, she’ll turn out great — just like him.

Well…

The problem with that idea is, of course, that SHE’S not HIM.  She didn’t come here to Planet Earth to be him, can’t be him, doesn’t want to be him, and shouldn’t be him.  She came to Earth be HER. 

Furthermore, the whole idea of being a team member is that you contribute what you’re good at. 

(Hello!)

You don’t melt into one style, one thought process, one anything.  Your best contribution is YOU.

So the tricky part is that nothing she says or does around him is effective, but the bigger story is that the interactions don’t work for either of them.

Whose responsibility Is that?

Since I’m working with her, the answer is that it’s her responsibility.  Totally and completely her responsibility.  If I was working with him, everything would be in his lap — his total responsibility.

At In Care of Relationships, that’s how we roll.

(But the responsibility conversation is a bigger conversation for another time!)

The Conversation

SHE:  So what do I do?  Shall I initiate a meeting or write him an email?

ME:  Don’t do anything yet.  Let’s get your feet on the ground before you take action.

SHE:  Well, shall I try to think positively about this, focus on the positive aspects…?  But truthfully, the thought of trying to think good things about him makes me retch.

(Which made us both laugh because it was so true for her!)

And what about all those people who talk and work things out?  I can’t seem to do that with this guy.  Talking to him is like talking to a wall.  I can’t think straight.  We can’t work anything out — EVER.   Which makes me feel insane.  Totally insane!

And boy, do I have some things to SAY TO HIM.

I WANT TO YELL AT HIM.

(Which, yet again,  sent us into peels of laughter… such good relief …)

ME:  Here’s the thing.  You’ve lost your power around this man.  Get it back.

SHE:  What?!?

ME:  You can’t fix anything from where you are now because you gave away your power.  Maybe you even handed it over on a silver platter.  If you want to change things, first get your power back so you have a foundation.  It’s yours.  Just take it back.

SHE:  Wow, hold on.  What?!?  My power?!?

(… long pause… it’s always a good thing when brain cells are re-arranging themselves…)

OK, say more.

ME:   Thinking about the positive works often for you, and you do that really well — usually.

But not in this case.  In this situation, you’re pretty down and out — you’re feeling powerless.  Like a chipmunk against a lion.

How do you know you’re sitting in a puddle of powerless?

Everything is hard.  You feel ineffective.

SHE:  I understand that.  I’ve got a long ways to go with this one, huh?

ME:  A change can happen pretty quickly, actually.  It depends on how much you practice.

So do you see what your work is?  Use every interaction to remember your worth, your value, and your true and steady self. Nobody took anything from you.  You gave it away, temporarily.  Just reclaim YOU.

Fluffy Clouds in Fair Weather Sky

Photo credit — Joseph Sohm

SHE:  So I have no frigging idea how to do that.

ME:  To start, practice in places where being yourself is pretty easy, like when you’re alone.  It can be as small as making yourself a breakfast you enjoy.  There, I did it!  Notice it. Just take note — and celebrate — when you know how to be yourself, do things your way, or have what you want. Give yourself a high five.

This may sound silly, but it’s not.  You’re building momentum here.

Now add another person to the mix, someone who is easy for you to be around.  Notice that it feels good to say, express, and BE.  And then do that with another person and another.  And notice that your confidence grows, as well as the positive momentum.

(We went through some possible examples for her.)

Gradually move your attention to situations where it’s a little harder to be exactly who you are — where you might have a little hesitation or hold back.

(Again, we covered more examples here.)

THEN…

You’re ready to address the work situation.

At a business meeting with this gentleman, practice being real, instead of holding back.  Speak up.  Say what you mean.  Express your true response.  Don’t cover it all up pretty and throw a blanket of happy daisies on it.  If you’re outraged, be outraged.  Stand up and shout a little if you need to.  Nobody will die.   Say what you want to say without apology. 

Inside, I bet your spirit isn’t feeling careful and polite!!!

SHE:  No, I’m not — at all.  I’m feeling kind of explosive!

ME:  Well, it’s natural that you would be feeling that way.

OK, are you ready for a few more things?

  1.  First, keep in mind that he’s not preventing you from anything.  He’s actually helping you be yourself.  I know that idea is slightly annoying.  It’s annoying that he is the reason you will improve your ability to express yourself more fully in all situations.  Isn’t that ironic?  Your “enemy” is actually helping you!  Wild, huh?  (Not surprisingly, she groaned a bit….)
  2. Don’t be all scattered and squirrel-y, running this way and that —  explaining or defending.   This dissipates your energy, your focus and your impact.  Instead, before a business meeting, take a moment to get centered.  What are you feeling and thinking?  What topics will you bring up?   Write them down.  It may help you be more concise when you communicate to the team.
  3. Speak up and speak out.  Make factual statements — short and to the point.  And then wait.  (Hint: This will require restraint.)  Hear his response and make another short and to the point statement.  Be direct.  Use as few words as possible.  “No” is a sentence.  “Yes” is a sentence.

Here are some examples of direct statements.

  • Let’s do this a different way.
  • I can’t help you with that right now.  I can help you (in two hours, in a few days, etc.)
  • That’s a great idea.  Here’s one tweak that would work for me.
  • I’m not interested in doing that.  We need to assign that task to someone else.  Would you like to find that person or shall I?
  • I have a better (different, new, epic, etc.) idea. 

    © 2007 VisionsofAmerica.com/Joe Sohm.  All Rights Reserved. (800) SOHM-USA (764-6872)

    Photo credit – Joseph Sohm

  • This is a great discussion and I’m glad we’re talking about this.  Here’s what I think.
  • I have no job description, so I’m writing one for my position.  I’ll keep you informed of my progress.
  • Tell me the result you think needs to be produced, and once we agree on that result, I’ll figure out how to get it done.  Do we have a deal?
  • Here’s how to speak to me (ask for something, get help, inspire me, etc.) to get the best out of me.  (Then say it.  And say why that works.  Give quality information.)

Your whole job is to be yourself. Being yourself IS your power. 

When you are fully YOU,  what you say has clout, because you’ve got — YOU — to back it up.  You stand for something.  That’s powerful.  And fun!

SHE:  That’s what I want.

ME:  Yep.

SHE:  I’m excited about this.

ME:  Go get ’em!

 

Gangaji on Emotional Wellness: How To Feel Softer On The Inside When Life Treats You Hard

We know or somehow we are mature enough to tell the truth of how miserable it is to shrink the heart down and then to try to keep out all the threats.  At a certain, mysterious moment you are just willing to say, ‘Okay, I surrender.  I give up.  Let it all come in.’  In that moment, what a revelation of the capacity of your heart to include everything.  Everything.  All the pain of the world, all the pain of the past, all the pain to come, the necessary pain that is part of life, the unnecessary pain that is part of avoiding pain.  All of it.  All of it. Then your heart is not just your heart and it’s not the beautiful muscle of your body, or even your emotional heart.  It is the core of the world.  It is the universe itself.  It is life itself, knowing itself as the capacity to hold all of life.  That’s the possibility.”

— Gangaji

Life can be hard, stuff happens, things change.  People die, or almost die or threaten to die.

And you think you’re doing quite well, thank you very much, dealing with all of this, and then you go to your massage therapist for a session.

You get on the table, you get settled.

He starts working you over, and…

… he tells you what you’ve really been doing with your emotion.  He tells you where you tucked your feelings (for safekeeping or whatever!!), or where the leftover emotion landed in your body — instead of letting it go.

Lucky for me, I have a massage therapist who has a lot of space for people to do whatever they do.  Around him, it is easy for me to laugh it out, cry it out, or groan it out.   Good for me, good for him.  God bless him.

WebMD will tell you all about the effects of stress on our health.  They say that stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response.  The internet has a lot to say about stress.  But our bodies speak the loudest.

I’m an emotional person, so this “what-am-I-doing-with-my-emotions” thing has been with me for a good long while.  While the subject is not new to me, my clearer awareness is — and it’s always changing.

Learning to navigate the impact of certain emotions, like fear or grief, is something that every human on the face of the Earth deals with sooner or later.  Like you, I’m more aware and awake than I was yesterday or the day before that.  Good for me, good for you.  “Practice makes progress” says David Roth, singer-songwriter.

There is a remarkable, funny, and compassionate woman named Gangaji, who (with a tender smile) teaches “just STOP” — don’t resist the emotion, just go into the center of it and see what’s there.  She is big on investigation.  If you go to one of her Public Meetings or Retreats, there is occasionally a chance to go up and talk with her on stage.   You can ask a question, which then becomes part of her discussion, and your question becomes useful to everyone else in the room.

I have had the opportunity to talk with her publicly several times, and it is a deep and satisfying experience.  She sits with you and helps you look into, and feel into your inquiry.  It was the experience of having her hold my hand (even though she wasn’t physically holding my hand) while I walked into uncharted (for me) emotional territory.

papaji and Ramana

Gangaji’s teacher, Papaji, and Papaji’s teacher, Ramana

Gangaji is so still.

And quiet.

She has all the time in the world for you.

And so, because of her, I walked where I had never walked — into the center of my fear and frustration.

And what did I find?

Nothing.

Nothing at all.  Not a shred of anything.

There was silence in the middle of what I had labeled fear, and at the center, at the core, fear felt no different than love.  They both felt peaceful and essentially the same.

Everything felt peaceful and “made of nothing.”

It was a “free to be” kind of nothing.  Chains dropped, boundaries flew somewhere else on little wings, feelings of restriction vanished, all thought disappeared.

And there was nothing except peace.

Blessed be.

**********

You can hear Gangaji on the radio — https://gangaji.org/radio/.

The great good news is that love is free and it has not gone anywhere.  In all of these aeons that you have been hiding from love, love is still here, it is still open, it is still waiting for your commitment, still waiting for you to say, “Yes, I give my life to the truth of love.  I vow to let love live this life as it will, for better or worse, for richer or poorer.”  The love that you search for everywhere is already present within you.  It may be evoked by any number of people or events.  A mountain can evoke this love.  A sunset can evoke this love.  But finally, you must realize you are this love.  The source of all love is within you. — Gangaji

“My teacher told me to stop where you are, just stop.  That is really, basically what I offer you.  I guarantee that if you are willing to investigate for yourself, you’ll find, in the heart of the matter, peace.  There may be pain right before the moment of investigation, and there may be disbelief or denial of what’s found.  But if there’s a willingness to stop following any thought, you will find even deeper peace and fulfillment.  Finally, you will recognize you are discovering the truth of who you are.  You are not really finding peace and fulfillment, those are just the byproducts.  You are finding yourself.

What is always here is here now.  What is always here is the only thing that is permanent.  If you want anything else, you want something that will disappear someday.  So it is very wise to want what is always here.  Then you want yourself.”  — Gangaji

9 Essential Life-Affirming Lessons You Can Learn From A Mouse

gray mouseToday, in preparation for guests from Israel, I thought I’d tidy up a bit.

So there I was, vacuuming the stairs, and what to my wondering eyes should appear…

behind my shoes on the top step….

A little gray mouse.

He didn’t really seem like a wild mouse.  He was extra attentive, present and curious.  He looked healthy and well fed.  The stairway carpet provided perfect camouflage.  He matched!

He didn’t run far, which surprised me.  After scurrying a bit, he sat and looked at me.  I had the odd thought that he was glad to see me.

Maybe he was just happy I wasn’t Bella – our cat!

And then he must have remembered he was a mouse and I the (big scary) human) could be (big scary) trouble — he dove behind my shoe again.

“Hmmm,” I thought.  “How can I help this little guy?”  I pondered the pros and cons of climbing up past him vs. retreating down the stairs to find something to capture him.

While I was thinking, two little gray eyes came out from behind the shoe again.  He peeked!

(I swear) he was communicating with me.

(I swear) he said, “Can you get me outta here?”

I found myself talking back — out loud, no less.

“OK, let me get something to catch you in.  Stay right there.  I’ll be back.”

A drinking glass and something to cover the top of the glass should do.  I wondered if he would still be there, or whether he would run off?

But after all, he had asked for my help.  Yes, he’d be there.

With drinking glass in hand, I perched on the stairs, studying my shoes for signs of gray movement.

It took me a few moments to realize I was actually staring at his back and tail.  His tail was tucked in the crease of the stairs.  (And hey, it was all the same color.)

His head, however, was inside the open toe of my shoe.   I’m sure he fell for the theory that if you can’t see someone, they can’t see you!

To get the rescue fully underway, I moved my shoe again.  He hesitated (“Crap, I’m visible!”), then dodged into the open corner where there was no protection at all, (“Crap!  Still visible!”)

So (I swear) he just gave into the moment, and sat, as quiet as could be — him looking at me, me looking at him.

“Wow, this is different!” I thought.

I reminded him I was here to help…

(yep, there I am in my stairway talkin’ to a mouse)

…and put the glass quickly in front of him.  He ran in willingly and sat down as if to say, “OK, now what?”

He did not try to climb out. (I swear) he seemed satisfied.mouse in glass

So out of the house we go, me and a glass of mouse, and who comes to greet me, but Bella the hunter cat.  She’s the one who brings playthings into the house for late night fun and frolic, and I’m sure he was one of her toys.  She eats some, plays with some.

I had a little conversation with Bella and attempted to walk away casually, but she was like, “Hey what-do-ya-got-there-in-your-left-hand?”

A little voice said, “Open the door to the house and see if she’ll go in.”

(Wait.  Who said that?  Was that my mouse friend coaching me?  I swear…)

So I followed directions, and  invited Bella into the house.  Much to my amazement, she went happily inside!  I couldn’t believe it.

(What in the world is going on here???)

I turned, headed to the nearby woods, and clearly heard “no, not there.”  Dutifully, I changed course.   The next stop felt right, so I set the glass down on its side, and said, “Go for it, cutie pie.  Happy to help!”

Well, he did go for it.  Without hesitation, he ran out of the glass, but then PAUSED and looked back at me (I swear) before he ran off to his new life.

Such a simple thing, yet so instructive!

So what I did I learn From My Friend, The Small Forest Creature?

  1. Hiding is OK.  It’s temporary.  Also, it can be helpful, even life-saving.
  2. Who says you can’t live in a shoe?
  3. Help is ready and waiting to surprise you at any moment.  Go ahead — expect it.
  4. Things are not always as they seem.
  5. The crisis before you could elevate you — and free you.
  6. Big, scary looking moments can be totally to your benefit.  They probably are.  Have a little faith.
  7. Talk.  Someone could be listening.  Good things could happen.  You never know.
  8. See and hear through your spiritual eyes and ears, not your physical ones.  It works every time.
  9. Always say thank you.

Why Men Stop Helping — From The Mouths of Men — Part 3 of 3

Caribbean Sea near Cuba trimmed

Photo Credit — Lois Henrickson

This is the 3rd article in a series about a sticking point in many relationships — how can women get what they need from the men they live with, work with, and meet?

In the first article, I quoted two female writers followed by three readers who commented on one of the female writers.  It was pretty brazen stuff.  I asked a question about blame.

In the second article, I reported your comments and gave more information.  I also asked why you think men stop helping in a relationship.  The ladies had a wide range of views on the subject.

For answers, I thought, “Who would know better why they stopped helping than the men who actually stopped?”

So I asked men.

What Men Say

Copyright Joe Sohm/Visions of America. Posted with permission.

Copyright Joe Sohm. Visions of America.

One man said, “My wife never celebrates the wins with me. There is no pause button on the honey-do list.”

Another said, “I can’t do anything right according to her. So it is easier not to get involved.”

Other Men Said:

  • “She micro-manages.”
  • “She’s always looking over my shoulder to see if I’m doing things her way.  Never mind my expertise.  It’s gotta be done the way she thinks it needs to be done or I never hear the end of it.”
  • “I’ve stopped asking for her input about most everything.  I just don’t talk.  I do what I do and that’s it.  Last year, I attempted to do a renovation project with her.  I’ll never do it again.”
  • “She comes behind me and fixes what I’ve done. Why do anything?  I can’t even play with her daughter right.  Why can’t her daughter learn how men play?  We’re pretty good at team sports!  On a Sunday afternoon, we play a game — soccer, basketball, touch football — and sure that’s rougher and tougher than my girlfriend having tea on the veranda.  But nobody gets damaged and if there’s a bump or a scratch, we fix it or brush it off and keep playing.”
  • “What I offer is not ‘good enough’ so I might as well not do it in the first place.  It’s not worth my time or my attention.”
  • “You can either have what you want or tell us how to do it, but not both.”
  • “I can do twenty things right without being asked and when she arrives on the scene, all she notices is the one thing I missed.”

That’s honest feedback.

Ladies and Gentlemen, what say you?

Why Men Stop Helping — What YOU Said — Part 2 of 3

NY Hotel Man

In Part 1 of this series of 3, I asked a question:

Why would a woman — ever in a million years — point the finger at someone else, and put herself in a position where she essentially claims no power to make a change for the better?

No one answered that question.  (Interesting, huh?)

Readers did have plenty to say about why men stop helping.  I responded in the comments section below the blog.    Some readers wrote me personal emails as well.

Based on what all of you said, let’s explore the subject a little more.

Why Blame?

What’s the use of blaming?  Why do it?

Humans are generally not so fond of emotional pain.  We do whatever it takes to get pain away from us.

For example, we:

  • Ignore it.
  • Don’t feel it.
  • Don’t look it in the eye.  Don’t examine it.

So blame works perfectly (theoretically speaking) for off-loading pain.  If I point the finger at someone else, won’t I feel better?  That’s the idea.

But experience shows us it doesn’t work.  Not really.

Am I Different From These Women…?

I asked myself this question.

It’s a fair question.

First I thought, “Oh, I’m really different.  Sure I’ve blamed, but not like that.”

Then I thought, “But not like that… hmmm… it’s still blame.  Maybe I’m not so different.”

Have I done or said what these women are doing or saying?

If I had to answer either yes or no (no qualifiers) I would have to answer yes.

I’ve blamed my past partners for all sorts of things.  I have thought (even declared and discussed with friends), how wrong he was.  I’ve had the attitude that men are “less than.”

However, somewhere along the way, I learned to be a little classier about blame.

  • I can speak rather eloquently and you can hardly pink and white liliestell I’m blaming.  Even if you’re extra perceptive.
  • I can blame and smile at the same time.
  • I have been known to toss a couple dozen lilies into a conversation reeking of blame, hoping no one would notice the ugly stuff.
  • I’ve colored blame all pretty and perfect looking, and called it “helping.”
  • I’ve been known to dress blame in fancy black tie attire, and really — you’d never know it was blame, it looked so good.

Ahhh… but the heart always knows.

‘Cause even with the overlay of a cheery disposition, blame still feels rotten.

I just didn’t know what to do about it at the time.  And neither did the women I quoted.

(So no real difference between me and them there.)

And, no matter how we dress it up, blame is still blame.

(No difference there, either.)

The Verdict Is In

So am I any different than these slug-spitting women, all disgusted and disgruntled with their lazy men who don’t care?  Am I different from these women with 10 inch nails for hair who think men are parasites, or stupid or lazy?

In some ways, not really.  Not essentially.  Not so much.

But it depends on the measuring stick.

I may speak differently.  I may spell differently or put a sentence together differently than these women.  And — we’ve all played the blame game.

Yes, I have evolved since the days when I blatantly blamed.

Yes, I am growing and changing and learning.  I’ve turned (way) more of my attention to appreciation and noticing what works.

What a qualitative difference that has made!  I recommend it!

But do I EVER blame now?  Yes.  And I notice that these days, my blame is more sophisticated.  It’s prettier and more likely to fly under the radar.

It’s harder to detect.

It’s sneakier.

Trust me, I still have plenty of work to do.

And I’m doing it daily.  I’m cleaning up my act.

How Can I Get More Help?

VOA51-CA334The women I quoted in a previous blog are not my clients, nor would my clients say what I read.

But even a smart, resourceful, loving woman can have her version of the question “How do I get more help from my husband?”

It’s a good question.  A great question even…

Why Do Men Stop Helping? 

Readers, I’m interested in what you think about any aspect of this subject.  I invite you to share what you’ve experienced or what you’ve witnessed.

Coming up next week:  I talked to about 20 men I know personally about this question, and ask them to share from their perspective.   It’s good to hear from both sides of the equation.

Please feel free to forward this blog to anyone who would enjoy joining this conversation.  Here’s the shortlink.  http://wp.me/psIjl-Pe

Thanks in advance for posting your thoughts in Comments below.  Your words won’t appear instantly — to avoid spammers, I will approve your comment.

Next Week: Why Men Stop Helping — From The Mouths of Men — Part 3 of 3.

Why Men Stop Helping — What (Some) Women Say — Part 1 of 3

© 2007 VisionsofAmerica.com/Joe Sohm.  All Rights Reserved. (800) SOHM-USA (764-6872)

© 2007 VisionsofAmerica.com/Joe Sohm.

Women, I have questions for you.

Do you think (maybe secretly?) that men are lazy?

Do they avoid helping you?

In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.

But in my consulting practice, female clients sometimes share with me that their husband or male partner doesn’t them help enough.

My clients’ frustrations, however, seem mild compared to what I found researching the subject on the internet.

(Prepare yourself…)

 

At the top of my Google search was a female writer declaring that lazy men are simply too comfortable in their relationships.

She figured they had likely worn themselves out in their attempt to “get us.”

She went on to say that men probably feel they have “done their bit” at the beginning of the relationship, and will happily sit back and bathe in the emotional nurturing that you give them.

For her finale, she listed 14 things that lazy men expect from you and what to do about it.

Oh dear.  Good grief.  Heaven help us.

I took a deep breath and ventured on.

The next female advice-giver gave 8 ways to deal with a lazy man.  She started with #8 and worked her way to #1 which was “Don’t yell to get what you want.” 

I nearly fell off my chair.  I’m not sure if I was laughing or crying.

This was on a site with 99,500 followers, mind you.

Frankly, that was all I could handle.  I decided to stop researching.

But with my mouse clicker poised to close the web page, I noticed something.

Could Things Get Any Worse?

Apparently!

VOA51-CA086

Copyright Joe Sohm/Visions of America. Posted with permission.

How?

Well, some very unhappy women chimed in about the advice from the writers.

What they said was printed in neat little text boxes to the right of the article.

I figured it couldn’t hurt to read a few.

Said one woman, “I have been married for 25 yrs.  Hate to tell ya this but fixing lazy is like trying to fix stupid.  It’s not going to happen.

Another said (and for the record, I quote the misspellings, grammar goofs, lack of punctuation, and all…) “I would rather live alone, struggle financially then deal with theses parasites called husband.  I say parasites because if you ever dealt with annoying fleas, there is so much simularity. Why do you keep them around for the money?  Is that it?

And finally (and again, an exact quote), “my husband lies on the couch while i do everything i ask him to take the trash out he says yes in the morning i have to take it bad knee bad back it seems he doesnt give a shit about me at all.”

I stopped reading.

I had to get up from my desk.

So What’s The Deal Here?

VOA71-4087

Copyright Joe Sohm/Visions of America. Posted with permission.

Maybe there’s more going on than meets the eye.

What is driving these women to express (spew) these (awful) things about men?

What’s clear:

  • Three women (who undoubtedly represent thousands (?) of other women) aren’t getting what they need.
  • Three women have no idea how to get what they need from men (just like many other women.)
  • Do the women want to change their situation?  I don’t know.  Not so obvious.
  • Do they get energy from being right while putting someone else down?  Again, no way to tell.
  • The kicker, the pivot point, the big hairy deal:  All three women point the finger at men and not at themselves.  They place  responsibility for the outcome outside themselves.

Finger pointing is not exactly a power move, is it?

Blame is a choice that states (well, screams) “I’m a victim here.  I can’t do this, you do it.  You fix this problem.”

Was It Something I Said?

Maybe it’s our English language.

Lera Boroditsky, an expert in linguistic-cultural connections, notes that in English, we’ll often say that someone broke a vase even if it was an accident, while Spanish and Japanese speakers tend to describe it as “the vase broke itself.”  She goes on to site a study in which English speakers who watched a video were much more likely to recall who accidentally popped balloons, broke eggs, or spilled drinks than Spanish or Japanese speakers.

Isn’t that interesting?

Boroditsky also makes a connection between the English language and our criminal-justice bent toward punishing transgressors rather than attempting to help them.

But which comes first, thought or language?  Doesn’t thought create language?  We turn our thinking into words and concepts?

So that doesn’t really let us off the hook…

Maybe we adopt blame because it’s easier.  Maybe it’s a habit.  Maybe it’s something we learn and then practice.

A Question For You

So I ask you, why would a woman — ever in a million years — point the finger at someone else, and put herself in a position where she essentially claims no power to make a change for the better?

Readers, what say you?  I’d love to hear your personal experience or something you’ve witnessed about the above question.  Thank you in advance for posting your comments below.

Next Week:  Why Men Stop Helping — What YOU Said — Part 2 of 3

Such Singing in the Wild Branches by Mary Oliver

Wood Thrush

Such Singing in the Wild Branches by Mary Oliver

It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
stopped
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfectly blue sky––all, all of them

were singing.
And, of course, yes, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

for more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

by Mary Oliver. “Such Singing In The Wild Branches” is  from Owls and Other Fantasies.

Other books by Mary Oliver

  • 1963 No Voyage, and Other Poems (Dent (New York, NY), expanded edition, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1965.
  • 1972 The River Styx, Ohio, and Other Poems Harcourt (New York, NY)
  • 1978 The Night Traveler Bits Press
  • 1978 Sleeping in the Forest Ohio University (a 12-page chapbook, p. 49–60 in The Ohio Review—Vol. 19, No. 1 [Winter 1978])
  • 1979 Twelve Moons Little, Brown (Boston, MA)
  • 1983 American Primitive Little, Brown (Boston, MA)
  • 1986 Dream Work Atlantic Monthly Press (Boston, MA)
  • 1987 Provincetown Appletree Alley, limited edition with woodcuts by Barnard Taylor
  • 1990 House of Light Beacon Press (Boston, MA)
  • 1992 New and Selected Poems [volume one] Beacon Press (Boston, MA),
  • 1994 White Pine: Poems and Prose Poems Harcourt (San Diego, CA)
  • 1995 Blue Pastures Harcourt (New York, NY)
  • 1997 West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA)
  • 1999 Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA)
  • 2000 The Leaf and the Cloud Da Capo (Cambridge, MA), (prose poem)
  • 2002 What Do We Know Da Capo (Cambridge, MA)
  • 2003 Owls and Other Fantasies: poems and essays Beacon (Boston, MA)
  • 2004 Why I Wake Early: New Poems Beacon (Boston, MA)
  • 2004 Blue Iris: Poems and Essays Beacon (Boston, MA)
  • 2004 Wild geese: selected poems, Bloodaxe,
  • 2005 New and Selected Poems, volume two Beacon (Boston, MA)
  • 2005 At Blackwater Pond: Mary Oliver Reads Mary Oliver (audio cd)
  • 2006 Thirst: Poems (Boston, MA)
  • 2007 Our World with photographs by Molly Malone Cook, Beacon (Boston, MA)
  • 2008 The Truro Bear and Other Adventures: Poems and Essays, Beacon Press,
  • 2008 Red Bird Beacon (Boston, MA)
  • 2009 Evidence Beacon (Boston, MA)
  • 2010 Swan: Poems and Prose Poems (Boston, MA)
  • 2012 A Thousand Mornings Penguin (New York, NY)
  • 2013 “Dog Songs” Penguin Press (New York, NY)