Passive Aggressive Behavior and How to Change it

Lots of folks are fond of pointing out when others are behaving in a passive-aggressive way, especially when those “others” are your partner in a relationship.  But did you know that passive-aggressive behavior was trained into most of us in childhood?  And did you know that passive-aggressive people tend to be attracted to passive-aggressive partners?  AND did you know there is a solution that can turn your life around??


You may recognize passive-aggressive behavior as what happens when your wife or mother vacuums the floor when you’re trying to watch the game, but it STARTS with the fact that she was trained NOT to ask you for help with the cleaning.  That’s right!  Well meaning people train their kids that its RUDE to ask for some things directly, or to say what you really mean.  Sure, it SEEMS nice to avoid asking people for help and instead wait for the “nice” people to offer their help.  It seems “nice” to ask your friend details of their day first as a segue way into dialogue when you’re actually aching to talk about your OWN week.  It seems “nice” to ask your co-workers where they’d like to go for lunch when you’ve actually got your heart set on Chinese.  But these are NOT nice ways to behave.  These are passive-aggressive behaviors parading as “nice”.


If you find yourself hinting around about what you’d like for your birthday, or waiting to be asked or surprised, you, my friend, are passive aggressive.  If you call up a friend and ask about her day, then stew because she doesn’t reciprocate, your passive-aggressive (P-A) training is interfering with your life.  If you go along with what your friends want to do on your night out but find yourself vaguely prickly and disgruntled without knowing why, you’re one!    If you find yourself getting angry and silent a lot without really knowing why, you too.  If you can’t ask for what you want in bed (even if your partner wants to know!) its time to re-train yourself!


As adults, we all have the right AND the responsibility to re-train ourselves.  If you’ve read The Secret, The Law of Attraction, or other such books, you know that you can achieve your dreams if you focus on what you truly want.  But your P-A training may have been so effective that you can no longer really identify what you want out of life or even lunch.  This is sadly unfortunate but common.


How to Change?

Re-training yourself is both easier and harder than you think.  It’s easy because you only need to practice ASKING for what you want and SAYING what you mean early and often.  It is difficult because doing so goes against all your training.   It may feel awkward, rude or incredibly difficult to start speaking up at first.  You may discover you often have no idea exactly what you want.  Alas, you’re in good company.

But if you want to stop your angry outbursts, stop hinting around and being misunderstood, stop manipulating others to get what you want, the solution is always the same:

  1. Identify your wants and needs
  2. Say it out loud.
  3. Say it to others.

With practice, it will become easier and more natural.

What if you’re struggling with step 1.?  One solution is to place your hand over your heart, ask yourself how you feel or what you want & notice your feelings.  This is an NLP technique that makes good decision-making easier.  Begin to use this technique whenever you’re unsure of your feelings or desires.  After some practice, your own feelings will become more and more clear.

Step 2. involves speaking out loud to yourself.  Even this may feel awkward at first.  But ALL healthy people talk to themselves and talking out loud is practice for speaking up to others.

When it comes to step 3. you’ll want to guard against anger.  It might at first seem like you have to feel an angry sense of injustice before speaking up to others.  Some “How To” memes may even encourage your right to say “NO” and reject those who seem to bully you into going along with the desires of others.  But as an adult, you owe it to yourself to accept that no one in your life is overriding your wants and needs, you’re simply letting them have their way by keeping silent.  Don’t muster your courage to speak with anger or blame.  Simply speak up when you know what you want.


You’ll also be speaking up to say what you DON’T want, but avoid focusing on the No’s.  In fact you’ll do well to soften the No’s by using phrases like:   I’d rather not.  I really prefer not to.  I’m going to have to decline.  I’d love to, if only I had the time.  I’m afraid I’ve got my heart set on something else.  So kind of you to ask, I’ll take a rain check.  Soon you’ll find that the only one who was bullying you was yourself and the voices in your head.  Voices, btw that may sound vaguely like an angry parent telling a child its rude to ask…or deny.

Remember: speak your desires early and often.  Soon it will be fun and easy!  If the transition back to getting what you want out of life (instead of what everyone else wants FOR you) is too hard, come in to Clear Mirror Healing for help and support.  We’ll get you back in charge of your own life in as few as 3 sessions!

Footnote:  If you’ve read all this and find yourself thinking “Huh, I always speak my mind.”  It’s very likely you are somewhere on the ASD spectrum ( See ASD is NOT a Disease  )  And all your parent’s efforts to train you out of speaking clearly and directly have happily failed.  Congratulations!  If you want to find friends who are also clear, direct, uninhibited and TRULY KIND, look for other ASD folks.  They’ll be the one’s speaking up only when they actually have something to say…and the one’s who’s fashion sense is a bit unique…and the one’s content with a good book or their own solitude.  You know the type:  the folks like YOU.









Marriage, Affairs, and what Really Works

There is a simple formula for forgiveness and it is understanding.  When we fully understand another person’s feelings, motivations and choices it is impossible NOT to forgive.  But until we truly understand, it is just as impossible to forgive.  People often delude themselves by pretending to forgive or forcing themselves to forgive, but it’s never real and there is always residual resentment that festers.

I have had the honor of helping many folks recover after an affair has rocked their relationship.  The healthiest couples always seek to understand the root causes and motivations of the affair for themselves or their partner.  Those are also the people who find ways to forgive and rebuild.  The sad truth, though, is that a number of people seem to have been conditioned to believe that they SHOULD NOT forgive or even understand.  They seem to be driven by sentiments like “What will my friends think?” or a paradigm that says “I DESERVE to be angry!  I DESERVE vengeance!”   I’m not sure where these paradigms come from or who exactly they think is cross-examining their private relations, but I know this sort of mindset only brings misery to everyone concerned.

If this has been part of your way of thinking, let me offer you advice I once got when I was new to psychic abilities and could ACTUALLY hear what people were thinking and saying about me:  What other people think of you is NONE of your business!  Once I made it my policy to remind myself of that truth, life genuinely got better.  There will always be naysayers.  There will always be yappy dogs along your path. But anyone who is more interested in talking about your life than living their own, really is NOT someone who’s opinion should concern you.  They are, in fact, admirers!


That said, I’d like to take the idea a little deeper.  It just seems to me that the Western world’s one-size-fits-all approach to marriage is not really fair to anyone.  If so many people have affairs and/or are hurt by affairs, maybe monogamy as defined by the State just doesn’t work.  I mean, does it really make sense to go into a legally binding contract for a lifelong relationship with someone WITHOUT negotiating terms?  Just because the government or a religion says “this is what you get, take it or leave it” why would we suppose that could ever lead to true happiness?

Now, I’ve always been a religious AND spiritual person, but this just seems absurd.  Why would any two adults let an organization define the terms of their most intimate, most important relationship?  And if we do so, why on earth would we suppose it would make…and KEEP us happy?  My point is NOT that we should eschew marriage.  My point is that marriage, its terms and expectations should be negotiated like the contract it is.


Would you sign any other sort of contract without reading and discussing its terms?  What about a contract that bound you into a LIFETIME commitment?  Don’t you think your attorney would advise you to look that thing over?  Review the terms?  Understand the definitions?  Even negotiate a point or two?

My contention is people should sit down, discuss and negotiate.  Otherwise one partner may be signing that contract thinking you are obliged to clean the house every day, make supper every night, agree to sex 3 times a week, pop out 3 babies and raise them in your spare time, all while keeping your girlish figure AND a smile on your face.  Meanwhile the other partner might sign thinking you are going to get a promotion every year, provide for retirement, wine, dine, and romance them at least once per week, take them on luxury vacations, happily change poopy diapers and listen while they vent about their hard day every time you get home from work.  Sound familiar?

Sure, some of those are old-fashioned ideas, but all of them are deeply entrenched in the cultural psyche and they hover in the back of our youthful dreams and fantasies when we think of marriage.  Know what else is dancing around back there?  Happily Ever After!  That’s right!  How are two people with such grand expectations going to achieve any happiness if they never discuss those expectations?  Leave alone EVER AFTER, puleez!

The real truth is, people all have quite different expectations of marriage and relationships.  Their families have expectations too.  And often extended family can be very persistent about getting THEIR expectations met!  After all, they don’t have to live with you, or fight with you before bedtime!  They can wreak their havoc and walk away because they have not signed a legally binding contract.

in laws

I think maybe, when we are mature enough to sit down and negotiate marriage line by line, value by value, we will truly be ready to live it.  I also think we will be mature enough, as a society, to discover that marriage is NOT just for one man and one woman.  I think we will soon discover that marriage is NOT just for gay couples, either.  I think we will discover that a marriage of 3 people, 4 people, or 5 people may actually work BETTER than two for a lot of folks.  We may discover that people only have affairs because forcing ourselves into a couple is NOT really what works for everyone.  As we relax and loosen up our definitions we will probably find something that works best for OURSELVES.  And we will probably find that that kind of happiness makes it much, much easier to let other people find what works best for THEMSELVES.  And wouldn’t it be nice if pursuing our own happiness ALSO meant letting other folks do the same?

Guns That Kill People

I know, I know, guns don’t kill people, people do.  And I get that.  I really do get that.
As a matter of fact. I get, in a very firsthand way why people in this country SHOULD be allowed to have guns.  I grew up in a family of hunters.  For most of my childhood I had never tasted beef.  The only meat my family and I ever ate was venison.  This wasn’t because we were rugged outdoorsmen trying to make a point.  This was because we were poor country people living on a minister’s salary.  We couldn’t have afforded to eat meat if my Dad had not been a hunter.

And he was a real hunter!  The old kind who spent all day tracking and waiting patiently in the woods, reading little signs in the forest, and talking to nature.  He really did too! My Dad would pray out there in the woods and ask the deer who would not make it through the winter, the one who would prefer a quick clean death, to come to where he was.  I remember he once killed a big twelve point buck who was blind in one eye & slightly lame in its hind leg.  The meat of that deer carried us through the whole winter.

12 point buck

12 point buck

Once, when my brothers were older, Dad went hunting with my teen-aged brother and his best friend.  The friend wounded a deer just before he had to leave and get to his job.  So my Dad tracked the wounded deer all that day and all the next day, just to put it out of its misery.  It was bow season, so when he finally found the big buck he had only one shot to kill it before it would be off tearing through the underbrush, running away.  He missed.  When the deer took off running, it was slow.  It was wounded in the leg.  So my Dad took off too, on foot, chasing the deer.  Now, if you know anything about deer, you know there is no man alive who can chase a deer on foot, in the woods, and win.  Deer are very fast.

But my Dad must have been talking to that deer, or the Great Spirit or Mother Nature or something, because my Dad caught up with it.  The deer tripped over a root and went sprawling into a clearing.  My Dad tripped over the same root and went sprawling into the same clearing, face to face with the wounded deer.  Now, again, if you’ve spent your life on concrete you may think deer are soft.  But if you’ve ever been up next to a real deer, you’ll know that face to face with a big strong buck, antlers and all, that the deer is going to win in any hand to hand battle.  My Dad must have known this, but to him there was no option.  The deer was wounded and would die a slow miserable death from infection, or my Dad would risk his life to do the right thing.  Armed with a hunting knife and a large stick, Dad wrestled the deer for an hour. He finally flung his body onto the deer’s back and while it tossed him around, cut its throat with the knife.  It wasn’t as clean or as quick as he had hoped.  When we butchered the deer we found more than 10 knife cuts.  My Dad did not get out of bed for three days & he never really hunted again.  He never killed a deer again.

All this is just to say, my family’s hunting style was the old ways, the Native American way.  In tune with nature.  Calling out the sick and the weak.  Killing only to eat.  Risking your own life to do the right thing by the people who feed you when it came to that.  There are still hunters like this.  There are still families in the US who depend on venison to get through the winter.  So, that makes one kind of sense.

There are also great bands of humans who call themselves hunters but treat their guns and their trucks like people and treat their dogs like things, and treat the deer like things, and treat Mother Nature like a thing.  For a first hand account see Max: A rescued Hound. (click to connect)  These humans should not be called hunters.  These humans should not even be called people.  And these humans should NOT be allowed guns.  Plain and simple.  These are the kind of people who kill people without remorse and without cause.  The proof is already there because dogs are people, deer are people, and Mother Nature in all her glory is a person.  These folks kill for entertainment.

african huntingWhen I came back from living in Kenya, I remember people baiting me with questions about whether or not, in a country where private gun ownership was not allowed, whether people still found ways to kill other people.  And, yes, absent firearms, people still killed other people.  Out in the rural areas they had a policy known as mob justice.  If someone out there committed a horror, groups of villagers would gang together, track them down and stone them to death.  But I’ll tell you, its a much different thing to kill a person when you can feel their rasping breath on your skin, see the fear in their eyes and know their humanity is no different than yours, than it is to stand at a distance picking off kindergartners like tin cans.  I also saw villagers build bow and arrows by hand and kill the odd antelope or warthog to provide for their families.  So, in short, I saw first hand that people without guns can still defend themselves, and still hunt.

Maybe guns DONT kill, people do.  But, I still don’t think people without humanity should be allowed to own guns.  In fact, I don’t think humans without compassion, or reason, or humanity ARE people.  So, maybe people DON’T kill people.  And maybe humans who don’t qualify as people shouldn’t be sold guns.  shooting cans

The other kind of people who should not be allowed guns are crazy people.  I think we have ALL agreed on that already.  Its not too hard to figure out who those people are, either.  The people who can watch the recent mass murders in Oregon, after all the similar mass murders in this country alone, people who can watch little school children killed, and their teachers jumping into the line of fire to protect them, and still clamor for their inalienable “right” to guns without controls?  Those are crazy people.  Those are people who SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO BUY GUNS.  Because those people no longer have the ability to reason, or feel compassion for other people.

Science and God and Bundt Cake

evolution-treeI recently ran into some debate between “creationists” and “evolutionists” that gave me cause for pause.  Its just odd to me how both sides miss the point so badly.  In the first place, its patently absurd for anyone to think that science conflicts with anything.  Science is the process for discovering truth.



I know, I know, the way science was taught in school left you thinking that science is a collection of data.  But no, science is the reason we collect data, or facts.  Science is NOT the facts themselves.  In fact, if you’ve been paying attention those “facts” we like to call science have been changing.  That’s right!  If you learned high school science back in the 80’s you will find that quite a few of the “facts” we were made to memorize are now laughed at.  So you have to keep up.  You have to keep learning and keep “doing” science or it becomes ‘unscientific’.  That is NOT because science is unreliable.  It is because science is a PROCESS of discovery.  Science is the tool for learning truth.

Change is the real beauty of science.  Because change is the very nature of the world.  Some things change fast, some things change slowly, some change so slowly that we think they aren’t changing at all.  But they are.  Change is the one consistent and reliable truth of the universe.  So those collections of factoids that we like to teach to the younger generations are fun and interesting, but memorization isn’t really appropriate because they are all subject to change.

If you would actually learn (or teach) science you must learn the process of scientific investigation, also known as “The Scientific Method”.  Here’s how it works (simply):

  1. You have an idea or question about life, the universe, or anything.
  2. You set up a logical “If…then” proposal to help answer your question.*
  3. You test out that proposal at least 3 different times. (the more times the better)
  4. If the results (a.k.a data, or evidence) doesn’t prove your proposal, make a new proposal & keep testing until you find a proposal that proves itself.

*Step 2 is the tricky one because you’re sort of guessing at the answer (your hypothesis).  You want to make your best guess, but you don’t want to get so attached to your guess that you start faking (manipulating) the data so you can “win”.  You have to remain devoted to the truth & realize that the real “win” is not getting your hypothesis right on the first try, the win is discovering the actual truth!

So a lot of truths are discovered by just messing around to see what happens.  You’re not actually proving anything true until you can test it by the scientific method and repeat the test over and over with the same results. For example, when I took fruit fly breeding lab as part of my college genetics course, I’d do “extra” breeding just for fun.  Like I’d find the two weirdest looking flies and breed them together to see what happens.  Sometimes I’d get a bunch of baby flies with all the weird traits, and sometimes I’d get a bunch of “normal” babies.  That was fun but it didn’t tell me any truths until I thought, “Hmmm, I think the reason is XYZ.” and then I did a few more crosses to test out my hypothesis.

mutant fruit flies

You can apply the scientific method to anything, and it doesn’t even have to be science-y.   Like when I taught school I discovered I could use the scientific method to determine whether a student was telling me the truth.  I might say, “Sam, did you finish your classwork?”  Sam says, “Yes.”  Me: “Did you really?” Sam: “Uh-huh” Me: “Is it all finished?”  So, you see, I asked the same basic question three times, three different ways.  The funny thing is, a person usually couldn’t tell the same lie three different times quickly like that. So by the third time they usually broke down and told me the truth, or at least begin to squirm uncomfortably, then I’d ask to see the classwork.  As my kids caught on I’d have to ask the question more times. “Is that so?” “Did’ya?” “Huh?” “Huh?” “Huh?”  Annoying but effective.

My point, again, is that science is a process for uncovering the truth.  Science is NOT the collection of data or truths themselves.  The truths may change as the world changes, or the data may support different truths as our technology, testing and measuring ability gets better.  But science (the process of proving) doesn’t change because it is perfect. My other point is that science can be used to prove lots of things that don’t seem like science.  You can use science to make your relationship better, or to make your faucet stop dripping, or to make a better bundt cake.  You might even use science to prove the existence of God.*

bunt cake

bundt cake


Before I go into the existence of God, let me say a word about belief.  If you are relying on science to prove or disprove things, then once enough supporting data has been collected you can say that certain things are “true” and other things are “not true”.  Belief has no role in the matter once the scientific method has been correctly applied.  So “belief” is only accurately applied when there is some supporting evidence but not enough scientifically collected data to call it “true” or “proven”.   Belief is for the gray area where hypotheses are held until the actual testing can begin. It is not necessary to claim to “believe” in gravity, as there is ample data to support it as truth.  Likewise it is absurd to claim to “believe” in evolution, as it has been well proven AND I can even set up a little demonstration where you can watch evolution happen right before your very eyes (with bacteria, or fruit flies, or any organism with a fast enough reproductive cycle that is likewise small enough to contain and big enough to observe.)

evolution in a petri dish

Belief can also be correctly applied to things that cannot be tested scientifically.  So wrose carnationhile I could PROVE that you would smack me if I asked “Huh?” repeatedly, I cannot hope to prove that roses are prettier than carnations.  I may BELIEVE that roses are prettier than carnations.  I might BELIEVE that my mother’s bunt cake is better than your mother’s.  These things can never be proven or dis-proven, so they must be held forever in the limbo of “belief”.  I might actually be able to prove (or dis-prove) that people prefer roses to carnations, but I couldn’t prove they were prettier because pretty is subjective.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  It is value that cannot be measured.


So if anyone asks you if you believe in evolution, the answer is, “Belief is not necessary. Evolution is true.”  The same is true of science.  If someone claims that they do not believe in science, you can reply, “Science doesn’t require your belief, science is proof.”


Now lets look at things from the other side.  Let’s look at God and spirituality and all that.  It may just be that the existence of God has already been proven.  Wouldn’t that be fun?  And what if we could prove that God is real, and God really created all this stuff called “the universe”?  That would certainly make both science AND religion more interesting, don’t you think? But, “Wait”, you say, “Didn’t you just state that evolution is a proven FACT, Tolley?”  Yep, hold on to your hats folks, cause this is where I really make my point.

Take a look at that little story in Genesis, the one about creation.  God starts by dividing light from darkness, then land from water, then makes swimy things in the water.  Next there’s creepy crawly things on land, things that fly, then “beasts” (or mammals) and then humans.  Now, if you step back for a minute and stop all your arguing, you’ll see what I’ve been seeing all along.  Someone told the story of evolution to the person who wrote Genesis.  They told it like you might tell a bedtime story to children, but its the same basic story.  And, after all Genesis was written a very long time ago and that person was probably a simple nomad who might have grown bored or confused by a detailed description of DNA, genetics, random mutations, environmental pressures, fruit flies, and all that.  Why, I even know some modern people who get bored with that.

nomadDNA New

Now we can’t actually apply the scientific method here, but we can apply reason and logic.  And logically, the possibility that evolution and creation are actually the same exact thing makes a lot of sense.  Especially if you’ve seen my demo with the fruit flies and tasted my really excellent bundt cake, all created by the diligent application of science.



Now if we dig a little deeper and hold on ever so lightly to our dogma, this next bit is even more fun.  Remember when we were taught in school that all matter in the entire universe was made of atoms?  And remember how we learned that all atoms were made of only three things: protons, neutrons, and electrons.  Well, now science has proven that its not true.  String Theory, as well as the Wave-Particle Duality of Quantum Mechanics, actually teaches us that those 3 things that make up every atom are really only ONE thing, vibrating at different frequencies.  And of course Albert Einstein already told us that all matter is actually energy just very highly concentrated.  Then we went on to prove Einstein’s theory that Energy does in fact equal Mass (i.e. matter) by splitting open some atoms and blowing some hideous big energy out.  (Also, that’s pretty much what the Wave-Partical Duality is telling us: subatomic particles are both energy (waves) and matter (particles) at more-or-less the same time.

string theory

To summarize, science has now proven that ALL things are ONE THING.

Now, until we can test the hypothesis it might be tempting to believe that that ONE THING that makes up EVERYTHING in the whole universe, is God.  That belief might be entirely appropriate especially if you have other forms of supporting data (like your prayers being answered).  At the very least, it would be appropriate to suspend disbelief and gather more data.  I mean, if you were God and you were all alone & the only thing existing in the big empty universe was you, what would you use to make the world?  I guess you would have to use your own body, or your own soul, especially if those two things were really ONE thing, as the data seems to suggest.

God is the matrix.

We could say, then that God is the Matrix.  God is the substrate.  If that’s the case, then that thing about God being both IN us, with us and all around us might start to make a different kind of sense.  Also, the bit about the first human being made from the very soil of Earth, is maybe, not so crazy after all, if, you know, the soil is not just matter but also the very soul of God.  If you got enough particles of anything together for long enough, you could end up creating a soul from the matter, just saying.

So, if you’re still following the logic, the only thing that really DOESN’T make sense is why we argue.  Or why we don’t treat the environment with the same respect and dignity that we treat our own bodies, or the bodies of our dear departed who have come from the soil and now gone back into it?  And why on Earth don’t we treat ourselves with the same respect and dignity we reserve for God?  And why don’t we treat each other as both God, and as ourselves?

We have a bunch of religions and spiritual practices telling us this same basic thing in different ways.  Now we have science proving it true.  Even if we could listen with no more sophistication than a simple nomadic sheep herder in a semi-desert thousands of years ago, we might hear enough truth to believe it.  Or at least write it down as a hypothesis, suspend disbelief and gather data.

I love bunt cake

I love bunt cake.




The Parent-Child Relationship

I find it disturbing how many parents take it for granted that their children will one day say, “I hate you!”  Parents and parenting “experts” alike laugh it off like its a natural part of the landscape.  Even more distressing is how often parents of adult children deal with estrangement, distance, and alienation from their grown kids.  Mostly its distressing that people usually blame the kids in these cases.


Children come hard-wired to love and forgive their parents no matter what.  If that love sours, its we, the parents, the adults, who need to take responsibility – both for its cause, and for its solution.  But most of all, we should be proactive from the beginning to ensure such powerful love doesn’t turn to hate.

The biggest part of the cause seems to be that parents try to fill a role.  They try to present the facade of “Mom” or “Dad”.   They make poor decisions (usually based on their own parent’s behavior) then they hold tight to their decisions because “I’m the Dad.”  They make mistakes but never admit their mistakes or apologize because “I’m the Mom.”  They base their parenting role-play on the notion that because they are the parent, they cannot be their child’s friend, or even an equal.  But all people are equal, and children know that.


Let me introduce a new idea in parenting:  the relationship.  Regardless of what your grandparents, in laws, or friends on Facebook claim, parent and child are bound together in a relationship.  Like any relationship it must be built on fairness, trust, communication and honesty.  Anytime you step into a role and present a false persona you are choosing to destroy the honesty, trust, and communication.  You cannot live with another person for 18 years or more, presenting a false persona, never letting them see who your are as a person, and expect that relationship to last.

Those small people are astute observers.  They see what you are and what you’re not.  They see through your facades and your role-play.  They see what you hide from the rest of the world.  After 18 years of life they will either see you as the sham that you are, or they will see you as a real human being, delicate and beautiful, trying your best, failing more often than you succeed, struggling to do better each time.  They will watch your every move, your reactions through thick and thin.  They will see you at your best and at your most humiliating and shameful.  They will either see the fierce, glowing beauty of the human heart, or they will see the paper tiger with nothing behind it.

My suggestion is to conduct the parent-child relationship like you would an ideal relationship with someone you love, respect, and admire.  Trust them to be capable of only what is appropriate to their age and stage of life. Admire their efforts.  Appreciate their intentions. Thank them for every chore or favor they complete.  Apologize when youre wrong and learn to do better.  Most importantly, be real.


Be your real self.  Cry when you need to.  Laugh as a way of life.  When you’re angry, tell them why.  Don’t let them think they are the cause of your anger.  Don’t take out your anger or frustration or disappointment on them.  They will blame themselves for everything that you feel unless you explain the real causes of your feelings.  So, let them be your allies.  Tell them what you’re going through.  Let them help in whatever way they can.  Let them cheer you up.

Let them see you recover, get back on your feet, and try again.  They will learn from your struggles how to handle their own.  If they never see you lose, if they never see you lost or confused, they will become overly critical of themselves when they face these inevitable human experiences.  Let them learn from your good and your bad.  Let them learn what it is to be truly human.  And let them see you improve over time.  Let them see you grow stronger with each challenge, more capable with each obstacle you face, more compassionate and brave with each emotional blow you endure.

If you raise your children as real loved ones, allies through the hard times, companions through the loneliness, contributors to the victories, then they cannot help but love you for a lifetime.  The true beauty of the human heart is in its tenderness, in its ability to endure and grow.  Knocked down ten times, it stands up eleven.  There is no tenderness in falsehood.  There is no beauty in a wall, unbending, unchanging except to crumble over time.  The fierce beauty of flowers is as much in their delicate nature and their brief existence, as in their colors.  Find an artificial flower, covered in dust, colors fading with time, and where is that beauty?

Do not raise your children like a machine, repeating only what it was programed to do.  Raise them with heart, learning as you go.  They will teach you the details.  They will change you as they change and grow.  As long as you keep making new mistakes, and don’t repeat the old ones, you will always be the perfect parent.  As long as you don’t pretend to be better or worse than you are, they will forgive you all your many mistakes.  They will learn to love you with all your imperfections and that will teach them to love themselves, with all of theirs.



What if humans were more like the animals and insects? What if, for example, when we became bored we automatically began to make a high pitched droning sound like a cicada? It would be a game changer. Instead of pretending rapt interest in lectures that have continued too long or failed to actually inform or excite, we would be obliged by polite dignity to excuse ourselves and quietly leave the auditorium before we began to distract the others. The pompous lecturer would be left to face the empty seats of his own humility, and to reorganize his thoughts into words that better touch and inspire the listeners.


Click here for sound sample

Schools would become such a wild cacophony of squealing drones by lunchtime that students would have to be sent home early. Teachers, unable to hear themselves over the high pitched symphonies winding into frantic fervor, would have to forever abandon their forced memorization and superficial covering of topics for tests in favor of actual teaching. The neuroatypical students could no longer be marginalized, ignored, or labeled as poor learners. Their daily droning would teach us once and for all that their problem was not slow learning, but learning that was too fast, too thorough, and too far-reaching for traditional methods of spoon feeding disparate factoids. We would be forced to let them learn from experiential activities and then teach us. There would remain no doubt, no delusion about exactly who was failing whom.

What if your friends and lovers could no longer pretend to be engaged in your self-absorbed monologues? What if your children could no longer be expected to sit quietly through Grandpa’s inane diatribe or Grandma’s lecture on proper manners? We would be forced to become as interested in the lives and thoughts of others as we are in ourselves. There would be no more protracted and jealous divorce battles. We would have been driven from the home holding our ears during the first few days when we began to stifle our partners mind and spirit. Selecting a partner would become much easier, though. They would be the ones still listening when all the others had drifted away amid stifled squeaks.

angry ears

angry ears

And what if we had ears like cats or like the beautiful blue Navi from Avatar? If we walked into work in the morning with our ears laid back, people would know to stay away from us until we were over the strain of our commute. There would be no more brown nosing the boss for a promotion. The flex and tilt of our ears would give away our true feelings. Maybe bosses would even be obliged to become honestly engaged with their team rather than little dictators giving the hard work to others and stealing the credit for themselves.

Maybe we wouldn’t be able to go around grouchy all week snapping at others and blaming them for our foul moods if everyone could see that we arrived in a foul mood and simply nursed it for days. Seeing ourselves in the mirror might be enough to make us pull on the big boy or big girl pants and get over our bad selves. Maybe we couldn’t ignore our friends who had spent days or weeks with their ears drooping in depression. We might find a way to reach out to them and help.

depression cat

depression cat

Or if we could wag our tails like dogs when friends and loved ones came home. Flick the tips of our tails testily like cats before we lost our tempers. Purr when petted or given affection. Hiss our displeasure at annoyances. Maybe then our lives wouldn’t be built on fake relationships. Maybe our blood pressure wouldn’t soar, our arteries wouldn’t clog, and our bowels wouldn’t back up in our 40’s. Maybe it would be easier to focus on how much wagging or purring we had in or lives each day than how much bulged in our bank accounts. If healthy happy children wagged and yipped and gamboled playfully when their parents came home, perhaps abusive parenting would cease to be hidden. Then, perhaps, it could cease to exist.

happy wags

happy wags

Or maybe, just maybe, we could use our words. Since spoken words are what set us apart from other animals in our kingdom, maybe our words could be used to express our true emotions. Maybe we could allow people to speak their feelings freely and hiding true feelings behind false smiles could be called rude and thoughtless, instead of polite. Maybe children could be congratulated for identifying and giving voice to their true feelings. Maybe when people got angry they could just shout, “I’m angry at you!” and we could acknowledge their right to feel, and give them space until they were ready to solve the conflict. Maybe we wouldn’t follow false leaders into false wars if we all had a solid grip on how we really felt, and we weren’t afraid to say so. Maybe if we simply said what we felt to be true and refrained from saying what we didn’t honestly feel, maybe there would be a lot less confusion, coercion, and conflict. Maybe our true hearts and minds are a better guideline than all the intricacies of manners and polite society. Maybe its enough to be true to ourselves.

Make purrs, not war.

Make purrs, not war.

You CAN Stop Child Abuse


Child abuse is much, much more common than you would ever suspect.   But just ONE adult who reaches out with compassion can make the world of difference.  Most insidious and damaging is child sexual assault because damage to the sexual body causes trauma to the emotional, spiritual, social, and physical bodies.  Like all abuse, sexual abuse takes many forms, not just the publically acknowledged form we call “rape”.  Anything that attacks or undermines the healthy sexuality of a person is sexual assault to the body, mind, and spirit.

To help and protect children we must understand how pedophiles choose their victims.  Children are preyed upon much more commonly than adults because they are more vulnerable and because they are whole and perfect.  A pedophile is someone who was damaged sexually themselves so they are sexually broken.  Rather than seeking appropriate healing, these individuals try to “steal” the beauty and wholeness from the sexual bodies of others.

Children come into the world whole and perfect, with open hearts and open minds. They glow with power and beauty.  Even though most people in our culture don’t consciously see this the way I do, everyone registers it subconsciously.  Predators see the parts they are missing and try to take them by force, or manipulation.  Of course, sexual power cannot be stolen (only earned by loving and empowering others) so the predator breaks the child’s spirit and remains broken himself, only damaging himself further through his cruelty.

The children most likely to be preyed upon are those who have no healthy caring adults willing to listen and talk frankly and honestly about sex.  Kids are made even more vulnerable if they are punished for “lying” (see How to Lie and Why You Should) or physically or emotionally abused by parents or caretakers (also pronounced “spanking”, “controlling”, “disciplining”, etc – see How to raise Children).  Such treatment leaves kids with no one they can turn to in times of doubt for fear they will not be believed…or for fear the adults in their lives will reject them.

Realize that, like adult victims of abuse, children experience feelings akin to shame, guilt, revulsion and self loathing in the wake of assault.  But these kids don’t even have the words, knowledge or resources to sort these feelings, reach out for help, or reason them away.  So the pain and damage goes deeper, making the child even more vulnerable to other predators.  One strong, kind adult who can reach out to a such a child, even once, can turn this picture around.  The crushing spiral of damage and vulnerability CAN be stopped.

Key to helping is knowing the signs and having the courage to act.  Adults may ignore the tell-tale signs of child abuse because they are afraid to confront the perpetrator.  This is NOT an unrealistic fear.  Abusers are usually experts at manipulation and can easily turn the tables, making the hero look like the perpetrator.  Moreover, the courts make the process of punishment convoluted and ineffective.    The good news is that punishing the abuser is NOT the way to stop child abuse!  In fact sending a sexually broken predator to prison is likely to make him MORE of a danger to the community, not less.

When, exactly, has violence, used against the violent, been shown to STOP violence??  Never.

So the REALLY GREAT news is that you don’t need to attack the attacker.  What is needed AND most effective is empowering the victims & would-be victims.

Empower kids!

Empower kids for safety!

How to Spot Abuse

1. Inappropriate sex play – while it’s completely normal for kids to take an interest in nudity of all kinds, to play with their own bodies AND to be curious about animal mating behavior and reproduction, kids who act out adult human sexual behavior are demonstrating knowledge beyond their years.  DO NOT punish kids for such behavior.  DO NOT get embarrassed.  See this demonstration as a cry for help.

2. Sudden weight gain (or loss) – A sudden change in weight can often be traced directly back to an event of abuse or trauma.  Appetite is a funny thing.  It often goes haywire in response to stress.  People may use food to fill an (emotional) emptiness inside.  Or they may exert control over what they eat as a subconscious response to a desperate lack of control over more profound areas of their lives.  Neither gain nor loss of weight in children should ever be dismissed as merely physical.

3. Nervousness, anxiety, fear & avoidance – If a child gets stomach aches, tremors, or other physical symptoms when its time to go to school or church (etc) this is a red flag that something very serious is wrong at the institution.  Often, predators intimidate their child victims with threats to their parents, siblings, or loved ones.  The child may be too terrified to tell anyone what happened or who did it, but they will go to great lengths to avoid being alone with the predator.  Please DO NOT dismiss a child’s fear as “normal” or punish them for “acting up”.  Always take a child’s fear seriously.

4. Back pain & degenerative bone disease – Many of the victims of child sexual assault that I have treated manifest some kind of lower back pain or degeneration.  The symbolic connection is clear: the spine and especially the lumbar region form the foundation of our physical selves.  Back pain and disease that persists in young people should always be taken as more than simply physical circumstantial, or random.  I have had great results healing such conditions by treating the whole person.

5. Compulsive lying – When children are forced to keep the terrible secret of sexual assault to themselves, their whole lives become a lie.  They have to lie to themselves every day to hold on to their sanity.  Its very common that these people become compulsive liars.  Compulsive lying can be spotted when a person lies randomly or casually.   There may seem to be no reason or point to the lies.  They may invent tall tales just to get positive attention or they may enhance the truth for no apparent reason.  Never punish a child for lying (See How to Lie and Why You Should).  Help compulsive liars, child or adult, to seek counseling.

6. ADD, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Split Personality (a.k.a Dissociative Disorder), and even the more problematic manifestations of the Asperger’s Spectrum – all these “incurable” problems of unknown cause have their roots in child abuse.  The trauma caused to the psyche of a child by physical punishment and assault often results in a mind that is “broken” and unable to function with continuity.  If you believe in spanking and have a child manifesting any of these disorders, you need to change yourself before you can change your child.

Kid's empowerment is key to stopping abuse!

Kid’s empowerment is key to stopping abuse!

How to STOP Abuse

1. Listen & believe – Kids don’t always have the vocabulary to express what has happened to them.  If assaults continued over a long period the memories are probably somewhat suppressed.   So if a child tries to tell you something about abuse it is likely to sound vague and confusing.  You job is to believe them.  Your job is NOT to play judge, jury, or detective inasmuch as those are tempting roles.  Take any ideas about wrongfully accusing an adult off the table and simply focus on believing and supporting the child.  This is how you actually make a difference.

2. Relieve – One of the most powerful things you can say to a child who has been the victim of assault is this, “Any child your age would have done exactly what you did.”  Believe it or not, one of the most soul crushing burdens children suffer is the burden of guilt and shame.  As obvious as it may seem to you that a child cannot be responsible for sexual assault, victims of all ages suffer from the delusion that they could have and should have done something to stop it.  Predators also use the natural human tendency to self blame to keep their victims silent.  They may say things to make the victim believe they were voluntary participants, or that they were seducing or enticing the perp.  So when you reassure a person that their silence was normal and the best anyone could have done, you lift a huge psychological burden.

3. Answer and Explain – The most empowering thing you can do for your own kids or any kids in your care is to answer their questions about sex and sexuality as simply and matter-of-factly as you can.  Children are sexual from the day they are born, but it is a very different kind of sexuality than that of adults.  So get over your own hang ups, get some facts and share them with the kids.  My studies have shown that the best way to ensure a child will grow to have a happy, well adjusted and satisfying sex life is to answer their questions about sex factually and without embarrassment when they are young.

4. Empower & Support – Talk to kids like they are people.  Support and respect their opinions and ideas just as you would an adult.  They are only small and inexperienced, they are not mentally deficient.  Never teach a child to obey an adult “Because I said so.”  Avoid giving too much power to authority figures.  Children will respond respectfully to adults and authority when they themselves are treated with appropriate respect.  If a child has a “creepy feeling” about a person or a place, don’t talk them out of it. Believe them.  Children are naturally more in tune with the unseen world.

5. Affectionate touch – Hug your kids often. Pet their heads. Pat their backs. Kiss their ears and toes.  Humans need warm affectionate touch like flowers need sunshine.  There is something about kind, respectful physical affection, freely given, that both heals and prevents victimization.

6. Treat & Heal – I wish all counselors were good counselors.  I wish everyone working for child protective services actually cared about children.  I wish I knew even one other therapist or health professional who could actually heal the sexual body.  You have the right to be discriminating when you choose a professional to help your child.  And you have that responsibility.  I treat and heal assault survivors everyday.  I give life, liberty and happiness back to those who have been preyed upon and broken.  Please call, text or email for an appointment.

Facts:  Of the patients I treat about 50% have signs of sexual assault in some form.  Males and females are equally likely to be preyed upon. MOST sexual dysfunction among adults (from lack of lubrication to uterine prolapse, from incontinence to poor libido to erectile dysfunction to cancers) has its root cause in sexual assault. 



How to Lie and Why you should

  Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky


I grew up believing that honesty is always the best policy. As an adult, though, I realized that was not true at all. I was raised in a family who were honest to a fault. Honesty can sometimes be brutal and often hurtful. And a lot of folks are simply dishonest with themselves. Raised to be completely honest, I was preyed upon by people who would use my honesty against me. And I was frightened and horrified by lies whenever I discovered them.

Mother nature's lie

Mother nature’s lie

During my shamanic training I learned that lies are not evil nor necessarily harmful. I learned that the natural world is full of misrepresentation, illusions, and untruths. During my hypnosis training I realized that the truth is always ever subjective. I learned that we can go back and rewrite our history because truth is fluid.  Ultimately, I realized that lying is not wrong, hurting people is wrong.  If you’re lying in ways that hurt people that’s wrong.  If you’re telling the truth in ways that hurt people, that is equally wrong.

The lying Cowbird

The lying Cowbird

I went on to raise my children with that understanding.  I taught them to lie appropriately and well.  It always makes me angry when I hear an adult berating a small child for lying.  Adults lie all the time.  Children see this quite plainly.  We demand that our children lie to Grandma and say they loved her gift then we punish them for telling their version of an event if it seems outlandish.  Even what seems like a tall tail by a child is probably closer to real truth than adults dare to think.

Rather than confuse the issue by labeling some lies “white” some “big” or “fat” and others “small” its best to simply accept lying as necessary and keep in mind not to hurt people.  If you are already confused by labels and friendly well known sayings about honesty, if your lies are getting you in trouble or if you are just new at lying you should learn and understand the Four Rules of Lying.

Four Rules of Lying  (adapted from Oprah Magazine, April 2014)

1. Always tell yourself the truth.

Denial is not just a river in Egypt.  It can really undermine your existence if you allow yourself to live with too much of it.  So always examine your life, your relationships and your choices honestly.  If you make a mistake, admitting it to yourself keeps you from perpetuating the problem.  Your most important relationship is the one with yourself.  Lying to yourself makes it harder to really like or respect yourself …and it only goes downhill from there.  Lying to yourself makes it hard to trust yourself and learning to trust yourself is what keeps you from being jerked around by other people’s lies.

Da Nile

Da Nile

2. Tell loved ones as much truth as you can.

Truth builds intimacy.  It is the basis upon which we are able to form lasting heart to heart bonds.  So share the truth to the degree that your want real lasting love relationships.  Choose those relationships wisely.  But realize that your relationships with your spouse, your children, your friends, and other loved ones WILL unravel and fall apart if you do not continually deepen the bonds by sharing your true thoughts, feelings, struggles and victories.

The truth becomes too much when it is hurtful and unsupportive, so please continue to tell loved ones that those jeans make their butt look GREAT – just be honest if the fly is open.  These sorts of observations are the subjective, fluid sort of truth.  The real truth is that if a person feels good about their looks, that’s all that really matters.  Besides, its not just Sir Mix a Lot who thinks big is better.

baby got back

I cannot lie!

3. Tell acquaintances enough truth to maintain connection.

Say you just walked out of a scathing review by your ogre boss when a colleague meets you in the hall and asks how it went.  If you want to keep your relationship strictly business just say, “Fine.”  If you want more of a friendship connection, tell the truth, “I’ve had colonoscopies that were more fun.”  Then she can either respond with bonding, “I know what you mean! I was depressed for a week after mine.”  or she can choose to keep distant, “Oh, gee! Sorry to hear that! Got to go!”

Some people like to keep their work lives and personal lives separate, and that’s fine.  But if you are feeling a bit lonely or would like to make some less superficial connections at work, sharing your truth is the way to real connections.  The way to do it is with a little truth at a time.  Share a candid thought or feeling, see if your co-worker responds with the same.  Then share a bit more.  You can choose just how deep the connection goes by the depth of your honesty.  And you can always backpedal with small talk if you decide they’re not bosom-buddy material.

Share if you dare to bond

Share if you dare to bond

Just try to avoid the common trap of connecting with co-workers over snarky comments.  Sure, in a bad work situation it is easy to connect over a common obstacle, “Is this guy a dictator, or what?” But if the only “truth” you are sharing is negative comments or complaints, people are going to start avoiding you.  Or you may end up buddying up to some “Frienemy” types who just want to spread juicy bits of news on the grapevine – including YOUR news!

4. To kill a relationship: lie.

Some people will use your truth against you.  These are the people you want to lie to as a rule.  If your co-worker known for stealing creative ideas asks you what you think of the new system, feel free to be vague or superficial.  Or even make something up!  If the boss uses people’s family problems as an excuse to pass them over for promotions, don’t mention your divorce OR your engagement.

When I was in a particularly cut throat pre-med program, I learned to add ten points to my score whenever classmates asked me my grade.  Most people were either looking for a study buddy to leach off of or they were looking to make themselves feel good by putting others down.  Its also a good idea to memorize a few replies to deflect probing personal questions from questionable people.  If a colleague asks if you use botox, smile and reply “That’s funny, why do you ask?”  If she’s a new friend looking for a personal recommendation, she will say so.  If she can’t share her truth first, she’s not friend material.

Neither the truth nor lies are guaranteed to set you free.  But understanding that personal truth is the currency with which we buy depth,  trust, and respect in relationships CAN be very liberating.  Use them both wisely and well.

What We Think…We Feel

Here in the wake of so many thoughts and feelings about Caitlyn Jenner when so many of us are having bold new thoughts about the way we feel or daring to feel new things about the way we think, I’d like to revisit some of my feelings and thoughts about Manthink and Womanthink.  I’ve mentioned before the need for a Man’s Liberation Revolution, and  if I could be the one to start it I think I would start with this:  Let’s teach our men and boys to separate thoughts from feelings.  Let’s stop dictating to our boys what and how they should feel and simply honor their authentic feelings.  Let’s stop dragging their hearts around.

Click Here for theme song.

Click Here for theme song.

My daughter, home from her first year of college, asked me about a friend of her’s the same age who is already looking forward to marrying and settling down. Why would a guy want that so early?

The answer is  that lots of men confuse a Wife with a Life.  (And not all of them young men, either) Many men somehow grow up thinking that once they can claim someone as “My Wife” she will take charge, build and operate a life – that he can then look to with pride as his Own Life.

This tempting illusion is made worse by the fact that men have a sex drive that simply comes on like clockwork at regular intervals.  They mistakenly assume that a woman’s sex drive simply goes “On” at regular intervals too.  So, marriage to My Wife means that she will want to have sex with him regularly.

Anyone can see how enticing it would be for a man to lasso a gal into marriage.  Once he has someone to call My Wife, he supposes she will build and maintain A Life that he can be part of without any additional effort.  She will seek him out for sex without him having to work at seduction.  He can put his feet up and coast from there on out! What a huge disappointment The Life with The Wife will turn out to be when he is rudely awakened from this mythological fantasy.

Men in Western society have had a nasty trick played on them since birth that teaches them that their feelings are not valid.  Boys often get punished for expressing genuine feelings.  Then they are told in clear, black and white terms what they SHOULD feel in given situations.  When they go to school or join sports teams, their peers reinforce these unrealistic standards, punishing boys for showing honest feelings and rewarding them for faking other feelings.  Its no wonder they should want to have this magical creature called a Wife who will simply take over all the sticky situations that call for negotiating feelings and just let them avoid feelings altogether.

But such a creature doesn’t exist.  Men usually find this out the hard way.  They think they have WON the game when they’ve made some lady The Wife.  Then they wake up to find they only signed up for a new JOB.  There is no magical sex at regular intervals, sex has to be earned daily.  That ‘take charge attitude’ they thought would mean she could organize all the messy parts of life?  Its now pointed at taking charge of him and everything he does.  And that lovely construct they called My Life?  Evaporates when The Wife files for divorce, leaves, and takes the whole Life with her.


The sad part of this myth is that if you do what ‘they’ say you must and feel what ‘they’ say you should to win? Everyone loses.  Men don’t get what they’re after and neither do the women.  But you know what’s even sadder?  Real happiness is actually much, much easier.  And everyone wins.

For example, when a woman says she wants her man to “take care of her” the Good Husband is trained to think he has to work himself to death making lots of money to fulfil her every whim.  But what she really means is she wants him to stand up for her feelings and her support her dreams.  That’s a lot more fun, too.  Real women who really love YOU want to contribute equally as a team player.  She doesn’t want to have to sell her soul to an awful boss to keep her children fed, but she does want to contribute.  Acknowledging her skills and strengths and calculating a tangible value for what she does within the home as well as out is one step in that team oriented direction.

Let's get REAL!

Let’s get REAL!

When she thinks, “take care of me” she doesn’t mean you starting a fight when someone insults or demeans her.  It means you putting your arm around her on the spot and saying, “You don’t have to take this, let’s go!”  It means you ASKING her about her dreams and goals, and making it your goal to help her realize them.  Honestly, when women say “take care of me” they really want to be protected and cared for emotionally.   Haven’t you seen all the movies where the man becomes “married to his job” and ends up alone?  Money is only a small part of security, and it’s a part that can and should be open to negotiations.

Here’s another common misunderstanding.  When a woman says she needs to be able to trust, men usually think that means sharing a Facebook page or email passwords.  Such a recipe for misunderstanding and lack of privacy is a disaster waiting to happen.  But when men hear “I can’t trust you” they think of sexual infidelity.  They think trust is about who you’re having sex with.  But what a real woman means is she needs to be able to depend on you saying what you mean and meaning what you say.   If you are stretching the truth, or making promises you don’t back up with action, there can be no trust.  If you are saying what you mean and backing it up, she can extrapolate the data for herself and KNOW whether you are emotionally and sexually her’s…or not.

I’ve known plenty of people who have ruined the best relationship of their life because they were determined to FEEL what some cultural conditioning  said they SHOULD feel.  It usually starts with something that goes, “I have a right to feel__________!” or “Anyone in my situation would feel ________.”  Then you ask a dozen friends and strangers how they would feel “if…”  Usually the individual goes on to ruin his relationship with feelings of jealousy, hurt, anger, rejection – or any number of publicly condoned feelings that spell a death sentence to REAL trust or REAL intimacy.

Real intimacy is built ONLY of real feelings.  Real trust is only ever founded on real actions, backed up by real words and truths.  If men get their real feelings beaten out of them and instead accept false feelings, they have absolutely no possibility of ever having real intimacy, or real marriage, or a real life.  If women let it happen they will have absolutely no possibility of ever finding real trust, real love or a real man.  Begin to be your authentic self.  Begin to accept authenticity, and ONLY authenticity in others.  (Including the children!)  Your world will be a better place.



Here’s an exercise in personal authenticity:

Set aside all the things your parents, your peers, your culture, and your society says you “should” feel.  What’s left?  That is what you honestly feel.  If there is nothing left?  CHOOSE to feel what is most beneficial all round.

Example: Your partner has an affair.  You “SHOULD” feel: anger, jealousy, eternal mistrust, pain.  You might then spend the rest of your life seeking vengeance, holding a grudge or extracting a price, or nursing your wounds.  This is what ‘they’ approve and condone.  Let me know when that starts to sound like fun or happiness, k?

OR you could set all that aside and see what you really feel.  You may find that your only authentic feelings are those of loneliness.  Then you can take action to solve whatever lack of real intimacy led your partner to seek out someone else.  This is what couples counseling is for.  Or you may find you actually feel glad.  Perhaps the lack of intimacy goes too deep and you actually want to find someone you can build real trust with.  You may even be happy that your partner found someone else.  Or maybe if you’re really honest you may find a 3-way marriage actually feels more fulfilling, who knows?

If you have felt what “they” said you “should” for so long that you cannot actually identify your true feelings?  Don’t worry.   Mastering the human emotional experience is THE major challenge of life.  You can actually choose to feel what serves you best.

For example, after my divorce, my Ex would often come to my house to talk and vent about his day.  Frequently, he would get around to blaming all his present problems on me.  I knew “anyone” would feel resentment.  I knew “they” would condone my anger.   But I decided to ask myself one simple question, “What good will it do you to argue with this man, in front of his children?”  I realized no good could come of it.  So I chose to feel compassion and pity.  Obviously, he had no one else to vent his day to (compassion) and lacked the sound reasoning ability to find the true cause of his problems (pity).  I found that simply letting him vent without feedback from me meant he would leave sooner.  That was the action that served me best, so that is what I chose to feel.

If Caitlyn Jenner had not been badgered into feeling a bunch of SHOULDS as a “He” she might have transitioned earlier.   I wholeheartedly applaud Caitlyn Jenner and all her family, friends and loved ones.  Most trans and non-binary people will never have the means to transform our physical form to match who we authentically are inside.  But all of us can begin to feel our own authentic feelings and think our own unique thoughts.  And we can stop pretending to feel and forcing others to feel,  what we never really felt in the first place.  Maybe we won’t even want to change our bodies if we can reclaim our hearts and our minds.

Be REAL. Be a champion.

Be REAL. Be a champion.

How to Raise Children and Pets II

Be The Leader

The most important practical step in teaching children and pets is to establish your role as the firm and fair leader.  If you are a good competent leader your young charges will be eager to learn from you.  If you are a poor leader, it won’t matter how good your teaching techniques are, neither pets nor kids will learn much.  (They will learn to be like you but they will not behave or learn manners.)

Leaders eat first.

Leaders eat first.

Rule of Food

In dog and cat communities the rule of leadership is simple and clear:  The one who makes the kill eats his fill.  In other words to establish yourself as the leader, you must eat your meals and snacks before your pets and resist the urge to share, until you are finished.  It is a good practice for the leader to share the last bite of food as a reward for waiting patiently.  Do NOT share while you are still eating.  This applies to both cats and dogs.  With cats, its important also that you do not even let them sniff your food.  If you DON’T apply this rule your kitten or puppy will soon establish themselves as your leader and your decisions will be disregarded and overturned.

Now for the food rule to work you must put down only as much dog or cat food as your pet can eat in one sitting. Do NOT keep the food bowl filled throughout the day.  Put it down at mealtimes and then take it up.  You should leave  fresh water out through the day.

Firm and Fair

The rule of food does not really apply to humans but the firm and fair rule does.  Being the leader depends on being firm and fair.  The leader of any group is expected to make decisions for the well-being of the group members.  If you make decisions that are self-serving and unfair to your youngsters, they will begin to disregard your decisions and rebel.  So you need to say what you mean and mean what you say.

The easiest way to stay consistent (i.e. firm) is to decide in advance which things actually matter TO YOU.   Enforce rules and learning that apply to those things.   Then decide that all the things that don’t matter, DON’T  MATTER.  For example, when my kids were babies I decided that Safety, Health, and Getting Along With Others were the things I cared about.  I can be firm and consistent about teaching and enforcing rules that apply to these areas because I ACTUALLY care about them and because they ACTUALLY matter for my kids’ futures.  So I don’t bother my kids with whether their choice of clothing matches or is fashionable, my concern is only for whether the clothes are clean, comfortable and appropriate for the weather.

Let kids dress themselves.

Kids need to make their own choices.

Kid fashion.

Kid controlled fashion.

Likewise, when my kids became teens I applied the same standards to monitoring their social life.  Do they have the tools for making friends and Getting Along?  Are they staying Safe and Healthy?  So while other Mom’s were asking their FaceBook friends “At what age should girls be allowed to date?” and fretting over making social choices FOR their teens, my rules were clear.  I knew that I would allow my daughters to date as early and as often as they had an interest.  Because when they are too young to drive their dates were just another opportunity for me to teach Health, Safety, and Getting Along.  I took them on their dates, demonstrating how to strike up conversation, how to manage awkward moments, how to meet the parents, how to trust their own good judgment, and how to stay Safe and Healthy.

Just as I had allowed my kids to choose their clothes, I also allowed them to choose their own pace for dating, and drinking, and sex – as long as they are safe & healthy & getting along.  Allowing young people freedom of choice gives them the chance to develop good judgment.  It allows them to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes while you are still there to help, and the consequences are still relatively manageable.

Middle school dating is good practice.

Middle school dating is good practice.

Too much restriction communicates the message that you don’t trust their judgment and decision making abilities.  And that in turn teaches your child that she cannot trust her own intuition, judgment, and decisions.  So when her friends all jump off a bridge she will go along with them.  Even though her intuition tells her “Danger!” she knows she cannot trust her intuition but must trust in “what other people will think.”  When an adult tells your son firmly to get in the white van, in he gets, even though his spidey sense is tingling.  Because you have taught him he must do things “because I say so” rather than trusting his own decision making skills.

The white van of random authority.

The white van of random authority.

You see?  To keep your kids truly safe when you are not around they must learn to trust themselves, NOT to simply comply with adults, or group think.  Its logical and reasonable.  And it explains the age-old questions of why teenagers are so hell-bent on going along with the crowd and yielding to peer pressure.  Its because their parents spent their whole childhood teaching them that “keeping up with the Jones'” and “what the neighbors think” is more important than being real, or safe or loved.

How to say “NO”

Before I teach you how to make ‘NO’ stick, you must first be sure that you are ONLY saying ‘no’ to things that actually matter.  Some parents seem to think their job is to say ‘no’ several times per hour. Or maybe they just get off on the feeling of power they get from saying ‘no’ to small people and punishing them if they disobey.  Some fools call this leadership, but that is a misnomer.  The correct pronunciation of the word is “Bullying“.  So if you were raised by or schooled by bullies, I am truly sorry.  But from here on out you need to work on  your sense of personal power and stop bullying smaller people.

True power comes only from empowering others.  Everything else is properly called ‘Bullying

To make ‘no’ mean ‘no’ you must employ a technique I call the Baby Elephant.  When Indian elephants are babies they tie one foot to a stake with a rope.  The baby elephant soon learns that it cannot pull the stake out of the ground.  Now when that baby grows up it can be tied to the same stake.  Even though it is now strong enough to pull the stake up and run off, it stays anchored to the spot by its belief that it is not strong enough to disobey.

Use the Baby Elephant technique early and often.

Use the Baby Elephant technique early and often.

When your baby (human, canine, or feline) is young you must employ the Baby Elephant technique whenever possible – but NOT by Bullying, simply by following up any legit ‘no’ by making it so.  For example, lets say you take your young human to grandma’s or to the home of a childless friend.  Baby, being intelligent and curious, spots the delicate glass vase on the coffee table and goes for it like a magnet.  You say ONE loud and clear (but not frantic) “NO”.  Then you immediately swoop down and wisk the vase away to a high shelf where baby can neither see nor touch it.

See how nicely that works.  Once again, you say one “NO” then you make it so.  Keep this policy up for as long as you can.  Once baby is so big that you can no longer “make it so” they will actually believe deep in their soul that when YOU say “No” it always means “No”.  Their firm belief based on your consistent behavior will continue to make it so for the rest of their life.  Magic!

The Baby Elephant technique works with kittens and pups also, so work it early and often.  Remember, you must teach them good behaviors when they are still small enough to make it so.  For example, when that cuddly adorable kitten plays with you and for the first time flares its tiny claws out, say “No” then immediately make it so.  This is easily done by wrapping a small amount of scotch tape over its front paws.  It may take 15-20 minutes for kitty to pull the tape off.  And while it doesn’t hurt, it makes an indelible impact on the mind.  You will probably only need to repeat this lesson with tape about 2-3 times before they learn that claws and play don’t mix.

You can use this technique with humans and pets to teach good manners of all kinds.  For example, if you want your pet to stay off the furniture you can say “No” and then pick up the baby and put them in a confined space for a short while – like a play pen.  You can keep kitties off the kitchen counters by covering the counter with sticky reversed tape or crumpled foil – and saying one firm “No” when they test their agility.  Again, it won’t take many ‘tries’ to teach the lesson.

Keep your “no’s” short and sweet and keep your repercussions short and intuitive.  The idea, again, is NOT to punish – ever.  But to teach self control.  Allowing baby to experience natural repercussions is best. And when that isn’t safe or practical, make the repercussions as ‘natural’ and logical as possible.  So if your voice has a punishing tone or the time in the play pen is long enough to make baby cry, you are being too harsh.  The idea is to create a learning situation that rewards, rather that punishes the learner – makes them proud and happy to learn!

Easy Enough

I am a Girl.  (You and my Ms Mag friends may want to correct me, “No, no, You’re a woman.” but if you knew me you would agree.  I am a girly girl.) Girls like to share and be nice.   I have many girl friends who dislike some of the harsher realities involved in Being The Leader.  Like eating a big pompous meal while cute kitties and doggies watch with big sad eyes and mournful sighs.  Girls, bear in mind that none of your furry friends is starving.  Nor will they starve as long as they remain in your home.  But if you let the cute cuddly babies “share” rather than learning manners, once they become adults they will make your life hell.  And you may just throw up your hands and decide to set them loose on their own.  Then, I promise you, they will not only starve, but starving may well become the least of their worries.

The same happens with human babies.  It may sometimes seem like too much work to swoop down and make the magic “No” a concrete reality.  It may often seem easier to simply confine and restrict your child rather than let them experience the consequences of their decisions.   But one day that child will be alone in the world without you.  One day their consequences will be beyond your ability to clean up with a kiss and a bandaid.  Your child will one day fall and break a leg if you don’t let them fall and skin a knee early and often.  Likewise, she may break her heart only once, once and for all.  Unless you let her bruise it a little over the years when you’re there to teach her to tuck and roll and leave behind a trail of friends instead of wounded enemies.

Let them skin their knees and hearts while they can.

Let them skin their knees and hearts while they have you.

In short, you need to toughen up and let your babies suffer discomforts.  Its true that it hurts you more than them, while they’re cute and fluffy and little.  But if you’re too selfish to hurt for them while you can, you will cause them a great deal of hurt down the road.  So toughen up like this girly girl and take it like a man.  The world is much to big and wild a place for you to teach a baby all it needs to know.  Your job is to teach it how to learn quickly and learn well.  Your job is to prepare it for the day it faces the big wild world alone.