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??

pa-raven

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!

pa-jesus

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.

pa-comic

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.

 

 

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Navigating Emotions – for Aspie’s, ASD’s and Normals

My college sophomore constantly discovers differences between herself as a Aspie* and her bell-curver* classmates.  This time she found she is a lot worse at understanding other people’s facial expressions than she first thought.  A teacher showed her class a bunch of faces and ask them to identify the emotions expressed.  Every one else was immediately naming the emotions they were supposed to be. But she didn’t even get a third of them right.  She was coming up with a couple answers that each could be and doubting herself because there wasn’t any context.  All of her answers were usually wrong from the intended one.  She was able to connect her confusion to experiences of working on projects with partners who would not tell her how they felt about something even though she asked politely more than once. It was a frustrating situation.

Bellcurvers = Normal

Bell-curve-normal friends suggested that “most people* do not say what they are feeling verbally because they are in fact saying it with body language and facial expressions. Most people are born programmed to be able read these signs with no effort. The people in the class could distinguish the emotions from the pictures because the furrowed eyebrows and tightly puckered lips will mean anger in any context, so no context is needed.”

Me (3yo) and my sister. I'm on the right, obviously.

Me (3yo) and my sister. I’m on the right, obviously.

Me at 5yo. The only one NOT smiling.

Me at 5yo. The only one NOT smiling.


Reflecting on my own childhood and youth, I realized that I have studied these silent signals since I was quite young, with the intent of blending in and passing for normal.  If you look at my earliest childhood photos I am the one with the blank, often serious look on my face.  The same look is used for early diagnosis of autistic children.  Later on I affect an expression more in keeping with the others.  But as late as high school I clearly remember friends and strangers alike passing me in the hall and shouting at me to “Smile!” and “Don’t be so serious!”  It was a command that I thought very sexist. “I’m not your hood ornament,” I would think, “If you don’t like my looks, look at someone else.”

Me in High School practicing “Normal” (On the left, obviously)

But I did try.  From elementary school on I recall watching and copying  people’s gestures and expressions for hours at a time.  In high school I made a study of people’s walks.  My Aspie sophomore has the walk typical of most ASD folks:  hunched shoulders, hands dangling limply at the sides, slightly concave chest, feet sloping forward in an awkward shuffling pace.  If you are ASD and want to find others in your tribe, look for that walk.

The ASD walk

The ASD walk

All that studying of mine has led me to be a very good counselor.  And since I have been working as a counselor for many years now, allow me to share some of my observations as well as skills and techniques for navigating the world of emotions.

Skills for Understanding Emotions

As a therapist, helping people sort and deal with their feelings is pretty much my job.  Once I have an idea what kind of feelings are blocking a person, the hypnosis can be VERY effective at changing the negative patterns for good…in just one session.  So the real challenge is simply getting people to talk about their feelings.  Despite what our normal friend said,  I can tell you MOST people are out of touch with their own feelings, let alone other people’s.  Often, they manipulate themselves into feeling things they were taught was appropriate. Example: women will often deny feeling angry and instead say they feel sad. Thus, anger over something they could stand up for and make it STOP…becomes depression because they don’t vent it, they push it inward where it begins to eat away at their happiness.  Similarly, men often deny ALL feelings BUT anger.  And, like the women with their depression, when men channel all their feelings into anger they create more problems than they solve.  Problems like rage, belligerence, isolation, alcoholism, and violent crime.  (It’s not because they’re men or women.  It’s because of how they were socialized as children.  If you have children in your life, PLEASE read:  How to Raise Children and Pets  )    Don’t take my word on this, go ahead and look it up.

What you’ll find is statistics that show depression is much more common in women than men, and men are more likely to show anger, suffer alcoholism and commit violent crime. This has MUCH more to do with socializing and parenting kids to fit into discrete little boxes called “male” and “female” than it does with the actual differences in male and female brains.

Another problem I see with the BC-normal assumption that recognizing emotions by expression is somehow instinctive?  Normals* often place responsibility for other people’s feelings on themselves & NOT on the one feeling stuff.  This can lead to a lot of problems.  As a baseline that kind of thinking leads to people who, like my clients, do not even know WHAT they are feeling, let alone how to process it.  It can also lead to irresponsible behavior (making others responsible for our feelings) and in some cases it leads to manipulation.  There’s an old stereotype that says women use tears to manipulate their men.   In my experience, though, MEN use emotions to manipulate just as much as women.  But when we take responsibility for our OWN feelings and let others do the same, there’s no room for manipulation.

The way to do it is say what you’re feeling as soon as I can identify it.  Also say what you want, early and often.  When you cry, it’s NOT because I’m sad or hurt, its to release a big wave of emotions – any variety of emotions.  Always let people (especially the men) know, “I’m  NOT hurt or sad, I’m just overwhelmed with ______ (happiness, relief, stress, worry, etc).”

If you are a BC-Normal and you’re still reading, first:  Thank You!  Secondly, please consider that recognizing other people’s feelings is probably NOT instinct.  It’s probably conditioning and rote memorization.  You’re probably guessing those feels wrongly about 50% of the time AND that is probably leading to misunderstanding, confusion, and frustration.  And it’s probably may allow other people to manipulate and use you against your will.  At the very least, it is occupying a significant portion of your brain and energy that could otherwise be used for creative problem solving.  So, the following tools could really free you up.

Guessing rather than expressing feelings makes for great comedy.

Guessing rather than expressing feelings makes for great comedy.

Skills and Tools – for Getting People to Talk about Feelings

One of my techniques for helping men open up and share so I can help them is to start an argument. This also works well with military women.  If you get someone to debate with you about any topic you will begin to hear bits and pieces of their emotional life.  I’ve learned to listen to what they are NOT saying and you can too.  If a person says, “My GF is totally vegan, she won’t even buy meat.”  He hasn’t told me that he’s NOT vegan.  He hasn’t told me that he’s annoyed that his girlfriend won’t go to a steakhouse or bring home some fried chicken for dinner.  Those are the things he’s NOT saying.  Those are the things I write down as emotional road blocks. You can also use empathy to sense their feelings.  But everyone has a bit of empathy if they dare to use it.

Empathy for a friend

Empathy for a friend

You can also get people to share feelings by asking for advice.  Mention an imaginary “friend” who’s struggling with…whatever.  But its a Rule that people often like to give advice about other people’s feelings, rather than talk directly about themselves.  Most of the time we are projecting our own feelings when we consider how others might feel.  They may also volunteer what this other person “should” do, which gives you the chance to ask “Why?”  At that point they will likely share anecdotes from their own childhood that are key to their emotional state.

By far my favorite technique is the Pregnant Pause.  I simply ask directly, “How are you feeling?” or “How do you feel about that diagnosis (project, upcoming test, etc)?” And. Then. Wait…………………..and wait……………..and wait………  Most BC-Normals are VERY uncomfortable with silence, so they will begin to hunt around and guess at what they might actually be feeling.  Then my job is simply to repeat what they’ve said so they can hear it for themselves.  They say, “I’m fine with it.”  Me, “You’re fine…?”  Them, “Well, you know, I’m a little nervous, I mean, shouldn’t I be?”  Me, “So you feel nervous?”  Them, “Hell’s bells!  I’m in a complete panic!! What should I do?!” Me, “Oh, sure, I’ll bet anyone would feel a bit panicked.”

You see, BC-Normals have been conditioned to look outside themselves for approval.  Aspie’s and other ASD’s* are simply resistant to that kind of conditioning.  If you ask an Aspey friend how they’re feeling about the up coming presentation, expect her to pause for a few moments and then report, “I think I’m well prepared, but every so often my thoughts spiral into a crescendo approaching panic.  I’m just not that comfortable with so many people looking at me.” or they will simply say, “I’m not sure HOW I feel, its such a jumble of things.”  In any event, and ASD will tell you the truth as best they can, no guile, no subterfuge, no “shoulds”.  ASD’s are not necessarily better at feelings, they just resist the conditioning that convolutes them unnecessarily.

Skills and Tools – for Spotting Feelings

If you can’t tell by looking at someone what they feel, you may try to get a response by asking directly, “What are you feeling?” But there are many situations in which BC-Normals won’t answer that, or won’t answer honestly.  Remember, the reason is likely because they’ve been conditioned to think people should guess their feelings.  If you ask directly, they may get offended, or begin to blame you – especially if what they’re actually feeling is something they’ve been taught is “rude” or “wrong”.  Don’t feel bad and don’t accept blame.  It’s really NOT about you and there really are NO rude feelings and NO wrong feelings.  It’s just unfortunate conditioning.  And by “conditioning” I mean they were smacked every time they did it wrong, usually without explanation.

Guess Work

Don’t give up, either!  Say something like “You look cross”
That usually gets the person to say, “No, I’m ______( tired, jealous, angry, hungry).”  Notice, ALL of those feelings can look alike.  Also notice, when you guess at someone’s feelings, soften the word a bit.

  • Instead of Angry, say cross.
  • Instead of painful, say tender.
  • Instead of depressed, say sad.
  • Instead of panicked, say uneasy.
  • Instead of exhausted, say tired.

There’s a reason for this softening.  It is important, because the poor Bellcurvers have usually been punished for emoting too strongly.  YES, actually hit for crying! They may have internalized the notion that some emotions can be TOO emotional.  This is hogwash and poppycock.

poppycock hogwash1

Emotions are never too anything.  They are exactly right for the individual feeling them, unless they are being stuffed, stored, or inverted instead of being ventilated by identifying them and talking or acting on them.  But, if you guess using an intense descriptor, many bellcurvers will deny the feeling, even if you got it exactly right, because they’re afraid of being too emotional.
Lastly,  if you’ve tried asking, and you’ve tried guessing, and they still won’t share, you don’t need to bother yourself with their feelings.  All you need to do is communicate.  What you say is:  “Well, I don’t know how you feel, so I can’t take your feelings into account.”  Then do your best to shake off their stares and glares and funny expressions and move on.  Do your best to work around their feelings, whatever they are.  Eventually, this technique will either get the BellCurver to put their feelings into words for you OR it will get them to share their feelings with a third person or two (in the form of gossip), who will most likely tell you about your friends feelings.  Regardless of whether you hear the feelings from your friend or a third person, count it as good.  You’ve finally got the info you needed.  Your friend got to express themselves.  And MOST importantly what other people think of you is None. Of.  Your. Business.

In fact, I’ve had people tell me they thought I was “really cool” because I don’t care what “They” think.  Huh, imagine that!  Cool because I don’t even try to be cool.  And all this posh glamour can be yours at the low, low cost of Minding Your Own Business!

Angry?

Angry

Angry?

Pay attention to my anger!

Frightened?

No please!

Happy hour?

Wine?

 

 

 

 

Skills and Tools – For Dealing with Your Own Feels

Avoid emotional tangles and passive-aggressive mean-fests by applying these neat-o skills:

  1. Identify your own feelings ASAP. Say, “I feel _____.” both early and often.  That will keep the simple feelings from building up into unmanageable globs of mish-mashed feelings.
  2.  If you’re not sure HOW you feel, but you know you are feeling something big, Say, “I need a day (moment, few hours, week) to think.”  Say, “I don’t know how I feel yet.”  “I’m not sure how to feel about that.”  “I’m not ready to talk about it.”  Then, please take the initiative to bring up the issue again when you can name some of your feelings.  Remember:  You’ve got a right to ALL your feelings.
  3. Telling others that is something that works well too.  Whenever other people tell you THEIR feelings spontaneously: “You’ve got the right to your feelings.”  I’ve used that as a parent:  Kid, “I don’t want to go to school!! I HATE school!”  Me, “You’ve got the right to feel that way.  I’ll give you 15 minutes more sleep, then we have to get moving.”  As a teacher: Student, “I HATE you, Ms. Thompson!” Me, “Ok, you’ve got that right.  The assignment is due by the end of the class.”  And as a partner: BF, “You’re making me mad!!”  Me, “You have a right to your anger.  Any thing I can do differently?”
  4.  When talking face to face make emoticons with your face and hands.  If you’re not sure which ones to use you can watch anime characters, matching the faces with the feelings or words.  You can watch your teachers, parents and friends then recreate their expressions and tone, like I did.  You can also try out for plays or hire an acting coach.  A lot of ASD people do VERY well as actors.  You get to try on a bunch of different personas without risk and the director will often tell you what emotions to show for which lines.   And its fun!  Which is the MAIN point of emotions: to know when you’re having fun and to have fun with other people as much as possible!

*Aspie, ASD = Asperger or on the Autism Spectrum

*Normal, Most people, Bellcurver, BC-Normal = Not on the Autism Spectrum

ASD feels KEY: 3, 11, 3, 2/5 – 2/5, 8, 2/5, 4 – 2/5, 13, 6, 7 – 11, 8, 15, 16 …..oh, whatever!!

 

 

 

 

The Game FAQ

Here to go along with the Timelines Game (click this link: The Game ) are some Q&A from gamers.  Feel free to post or email/message/text me with any questions of your own day or night.

1) Firstly:  YES, The Game is real.  You are NOT going mad.  You can play the game in your sleep but at some level you will become conscious of your gaming.  If it rocks your world, please reach out!  I am very familiar with the flexible reality/time you may experience and can help you find grounding.     (clearmirrorhealing@yahoo.com,  www.facebook.com/ClearMirrorHealing )

two realities

2) How can I reconcile the two realities?
Part of the work of timelines is to experiment with possible solutions. So once you find some strategies that work out well they get woven in to Real Time…the tricky thing is that they can be woven into past present or future. I’m actually discovering that the wise voice that pulled me thru difficult times in my past was ME now(!), going back to me of the past and whispering the encouragement or reassurance or insight that I needed then. That’s a bit mind-blowing. But also very comforting.
So that’s me taking your question “reconcile” literally.
3) If you mean, how to keep myself from losing touch with THIS reality?
I’d say, write yourself notes, post-its on your mirror or texts to self on your cell. Telling others (like me) also helps. Shoot! just hearing yourself say it out loud helps you pick good sense out of the confusion. But be sure NOT to write down or tell too many folks bits that don’t work out for the best. Other people acknowledging your experiences also anchors it in their timeline, their reality…and makes it harder to eliminate from Real Time.
Example: I actually found a major cause for Hitler’s genocide in WWII and could have eliminated it. But since so many people remember & it’s recorded in history, it can’t be changed much. Imagine my disappointment and frustration?
So, mostly tell the parts you want to keep, those moves that produce good results without hurting others. You can tell me anything because I’m used to the reality-time shifts.
Angels, guides, team

Angels, guides, team

4) Do you believe in asking spirit guides, angels, etc for help? 
Yes, I do it all the time. They are real people too.  BUT please keep in mind that YOU (humans) are the most powerful of all such beings. Everyone needs friends and team for sure. Just be careful not to slip into worship or reaching outside yourself believing others are more capable. They are friends & equals who are not as bounded by time as humans. But they are just as capable of being wrong, jealous, mischievous or even evil…just as other humans are. Rely on YOUR OWN judgment and check things for accuracy. 
5) What are your thoughts on how free will plays into our paths we are walking?
Excellent question!
A world of real peace is only possible in a world of free choice, free thinkers, and self-determination. So you ARE making your choices using the timelines. The limiting factor, of course, is other people and their choices. Which, again, gets into how and when the experimental timelines get woven together into the path called Real Time. The great advantage of timelines as a semiconscious game, is that we can experiment and learn without hurting others. And once we chose our best paths we can eliminate or “forget” those things that hurt us too much.
 6) What if I get stuck in a loop?
It’s worth noting:  Doing harm whether intentional or not (ie evil) as a human is very damaging to your personal power. (It’s damaging to everyone but especially dangerous as a human.) You can actually destroy any good fortune you must have accumulated in order to be born human by repeating actions and strategies that cause harm to self or others.  Let’s face it – everyone makes mistakes.  Mistakes are the proof that you are trying NEW things & NEW strategies.  BUT mistakes are your best lessons only IF you learn from them & stop doing dumb destructive stuff.  Don’t get so proud or arrogant that you can’t laugh at your own mistakes, learn from everyone you encounter, pick yourself and your bruised ego up and try something new.  And NO MATTER WHAT do NOT fall into the mentality of “but that’s what we’ve always done.”  That, my friend, is the theme song of evil.
So, if you’re stuck in a loop on the Timelines, it’s because you’ve fallen into the pattern of repeating a strategy or action that is NOT producing results to move you forward.  No matter HOW “right” it seems or how many people advise or endorse that pattern…you are proving to YOURSELF that it’s a nonsense strategy.  It will NOT ever produce the results you want.  If you stay in that loop its like beating your head against a wall..or actually like getting caught in a “hole” in whitewater rafting terms.  You can literally die being battered against those rocks.  So, stop, step out of the pattern, gather resources and come up with a new plan or strategy.  Then engrave upon your heart, mind and psyche, DO NOT TRY THAT AGAIN!  and move on.

7) I read in one of your blogs how you can sometimes see a potential train wreck coming.  I hope you would tell me to jump off the tracks if this is one of those times? Or maybe that is what you are already doing?
   I think you’re handling this very well. I don’t see any big train wrecks for you. Just my cautions about keeping “one foot on the floor” …ie making notes and talking to others to keep from losing track of what matters for day-to-day functioning. Sleep, wash self, eat, work..repeat.
8)  What are the order of levels (worlds) within each level?
Hell, Hunger, Anger, Animality, Humanity, Heaven, Learning, Realization, Bodhisattva, Enlightenment.
Each has its own set of challenges.  But the learning is key.  And the learning is different depending on which numbered Level you are in.
Hell = suffering (mostly of your own creation) Clearly, a good place to learn to STOP creating your own hell.
Hunger = desire or greed or neediness…And learning how to delay gratification and use desire to drive accomplishments.
Anger = you know…Important to avoid, but more important to process it, vent it, use it as a drive to take appropriate action.  On higher levels your anger may not be over petty annoyances, but over injustice suffered by other people.
Animality = the state in which you kiss up to folks you perceive as “more powerful” and bully those you see as “less powerful” like a dog-eat-dog world.  It’s a good place to learn about what real power is & how to handle it too.
Humanity = getting along socially with others, usually pretty easy-going.  But it’s also a great place to learn social skills as well as sort out social norms and values that don’t make sense.
Heaven = Joy…not true and lasting happiness, but the experience of joy.  How to handle winning, applause, praise & compliments…without becoming arrogant or getting blown away is learned here.
Learning = the formal act of seeking answers, better solutions, study, etc.  This level is a lot of fun.  But you won’t really anchor the learning without going to the next level…
Realization = This is where the rubber meets the road!  Where you apply your learning to your life or experiment with the things you’ve learned while creating even better strategies and processes.
Bodhisattva = Can I say the rubber and road thing again?  ok, no…this is where you really build team.  You share your learning and realization and/or help others to solve their problems based on what you’ve learned, and even help others to reach the level where you are so you can go on from here as partners or team mates!
Enlightenment = Here all the many levels of learning come together.  You and your team have time to discuss and reflect and celebrate.  From here you can move to the next set of learning (Level 2,3,4…) or you can choose to help more people in the Bodhisattva level as long as you like.  On the higher levels you can also cross into other people’s timelines from here.
8) What if I FAIL?
Actually, the Timelines are self-limiting and adapt to the learner so that you cannot really “fail” you can only get stuck until you wise up and choose to learn and move forward. Like all good games, if you screw up on one level you will drop back a level or two and have to work your way up again.  Everyone generally starts on Level One.  But you can screw it up and drop down to Kindergarten.  Each level has ten levels within it…beginning with Hell.
So, while Kindergarten Hell can suck, it’s also absurd and comical enough that you learn to laugh at your own mistakes real fast…and usually remember those lessons well.  Once, some ne’er-do-well’s created or found what they called the “back door to hell” but it turns out they were landing in Real Time in an actual place where people act like kindergarteners from Hell even though they think they’re all grown up.  People there actually justify their insane non-functional behavior by saying, “But, that’s the way we’ve always done it.” and if you point out, “And it’s NEVER worked.” they will only laugh and keep doing it the dumb way.  As you might imagine, there is a lot of drug and alcohol abuse there, a lot of crime and violence, and a lot of misery and suffering.  Sadly, you CAN actually burn out your life force and cease to exist if you stay there and embrace that way of “life”.
So, DON’T.  Learn and level up. Don’t be a dummy. That’s what the Game is for and about!

How can it all be FREE?!

I try to stay a-political in these blogs but I’m crossing that line today simply because this is more of an education and human rights issue.  Its a shame that it is being so politicized, really.  So, here I am explaining to the American public how all that “FREE STUFF” Bernie Sanders talks about ACTUALLY WORKS.  I’m not going to tell you how to vote.  I’m just going to tell you that I have lived in a few different countries and a few different states and I have seen these programs working.  You don’t have to believe me.  You can look it up or you can go there yourself and see for yourself.  My point, really, is that a lot of intelligent people in the US cannot imagine that its even possible, because they’ve lived without it their whole lives.  They pay their taxes.  They DON’T want to pay more in taxes. So where would all the money come from to create this wonderful world of rainbows and unicorns that Bernie keeps talking about?

Bernie Uni

FREE MEDICAL

Let me start with universal medical care. Most developed countries have universal health care.  What it means is this, if you get sick or break a leg or get pregnant you just go to the doctor or hospital and they fix you up free of charge.  Now if you want a face lift or gastric bypass or some other elective surgery or maybe you want a fancier hospital when you give birth, well you have the option to pay for that.  Its not free.  They do a good job with the free health care.  In fact, the health  of citizens in these countries is much better than in the US.  If you do the math, a population of healthy people will produce more wealth for the country than a sick population that can’t work and needs disability insurance.  So you can subtract the cost of disability, unemployment, and sick leave when you add up the cost of “free” health care.

FREE-HEALTH

But the real savings is in lowering the expense of the health care INDUSTRY.  See, in countries where the feds foot the bill, there’s a vested interest in choosing the most efficient forms of medicine.  That means health maintenance and it means alternative medicine.  Now this is my field, so I can tell you, the reason alternative and natural medicine has not taken off in this country is NOT because it doesn’t work. Its because its not lucrative.  Sure, you can make a little money off selling herbal extracts, but you can’t patent what people can grow in their own backyards.  So you can’t hike up the price of an herb to $700 a capsule and expect people to pay.  Also if you actually CURE your patients you don’t make as much money off them because they get their lives back and they don’t need you again for awhile.  (I know this because this is what I do – I CURE “incurable” illness.  I don’t make much money but I have a long list of happy patients.)  Health care costs stay low when you use more natural medicine and less industrial medicine and pharmaceuticals.

See basically what a for-profit health care industry is good at is finding medicines and therapies that keep people sick and keep them on a daily prescription for life.  So that’s where our health care industry is right now.  You may have noticed that almost everyone you know is now on a prescription of some kind or has had surgery.  When the nurse does your intake you might notice she now says, “What medications are you taking?” rather than the old question, “Are you on any medications?” And if, like me, you say you aren’t on anything she will ask incredulously, “None?”  And you may have noticed that you spend about 10 minutes or less with the doctor, and about an hour waiting to see the doctor.  So its working.  Everyone “needs” prescriptions and surgery and regular visits and this makes lots of money for the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies.

Countries that have universal, federally funded, health care use herbal medicine, homeopathics, aromatherapy, nutrition therapy, acupuncture, and other proven natural therapies right alongside western medicine.  Why? because they work well and they cost very little.  The US health care companies don’t use these therapies and often discourage their use because its impossible for corporate execs to get rich selling them.  So if the health care industry does NOT have to make billionaires of the pharmaceutical executives OR the insurance executives, let alone pay off the stockholders in those industries, the cost of health care goes way down.  That is a huge savings!  (You can check this out by going online to order pharmaceuticals from another country.  It’s MUCH cheaper when you buy them from socialist countries. Not because their government is paying for them, but because the companies are forced to charge a fair price in those countries.)    Its not magical, its simply using the most efficient and effective cure for illness INSTEAD of using the most lucrative “band-aid” to keep patients coming back.  So, if health care is NOT a money making industry but simply a break-even industry there are lots of ways to reduce costs AND keep people healthier!

health ranking

….but get less.

Health care spending

Now we spend more…

 

FREE College

Now let’s look at “FREE” education.  Here’s the way “Free College” actually works:  There is a dollar amount cap on how much is “free” per year.  If you go to community college or state college it is free.  If you go to Harvard, you are still going to have to foot a chunk of the bill. The State of Louisiana actually HAS THIS IN EFFECT, and it has worked for years (Here’s the link:  http://www.osfa.state.la.us/schgrt6.htm ).  Of course students have to make the grade AND keep their grades up or they lose the funding.  The Louisiana program was started by one philanthropist who set up a fund that still works pretty well today.  So it doesn’t necessarily have to be supported by tax dollars, it can be run from a one time investment.  You could also check out how it works in most European countries.  They may have even better systems. 

funny-free-college-countries-USA

When colleges are no longer just another way to make big bucks, they begin to focus on outcome & actually educate kids in practical ways. They also focus more on actual qualifications for incoming students when its no longer a competition for who’s Daddy can donate a new wing on the student union, or what students can win money for the college through big money sports.  You can also subtract some of the cost of unemployment, food stamps, the prison and police systems from the overall cost of “Free” college.  This is because young people with job skills, entrepreneurial skills, and life skills are MUCH less likely to end up dealing drugs, using drugs, getting fired a lot and generally being poor.  Desperate people do desperate things, you see?  But people with college education don’t get quite so desperate.  They tend to get busy inventing a new industries or branching out with new skills when they meet a challenge.

green-energy

FREE Energy

What about renewable energy sources?  That’s expensive, right?  Well, no.  Firstly, that pays for itself over time because its ACTUALLY FREE ENERGY once you get the solar panels or windmills set up.  The investment costs for solar panels and windmills are pretty reasonable and will also go down as they become more popular and R&D is put to work.  Last I checked it costs about $20K in set up costs to power a three bedroom house with a sunny roof.  If you take a look at the numbers you’ll find that people who put solar panels on their houses usually end up paying some piddling amount like $10 a month for electricity, which is pretty nice!

Secondly, you can subtract the cost of all the wars in the Middle East (which is about $3 million a day now) from your start up costs on renewable energy.  Because our government is waging those wars to keep down the cost of petroleum, which is only actually abundant in the Middle East these days.  So, that’s a HUGE savings right there!  To say nothing of the cost in human lives.

I recently bought a used hybrid car for $2000.  It costs me about $15 per week in gas, or $100 in gas to drive the 4 hour trip to get my kid to college (and back).  And that’s a 2003.  I’m sure I’d save even more with the newer hybrids.   So, even if the cost of gas goes back up to $6/gallon when we bring the troops home from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and so on, I’ll still be ok for gas money, you see?  And so will you once you go hybrid.  Or you can go electric, plug it into the solar panels on your house, spend $0 on gas and even pocket that $35 you would pay for an oil change every three months. (Electric cars don’t need oil)

Electric car in solar garage

Electric car in a solar garage = $0

Business Freedom

Now let me say a word about the business of America: Business.  Won’t all this socialism hurt American business?  Actually, no.  It will HELP American business tremendously!                                                                                               (See, this is actually a failing of the US education system.  If you didn’t study world governments in college you probably have no idea how different Socialism and Communism are.  You may even think that Socialism and Democracy are two opposing systems.  But Democracy is government by the ordinary people of that country, while Socialism, Capitalism, and Communism are ECONOMIC plans, not forms of government.  Communism is the one in which the government owns businesses.  Capitalism is the one that allows monopolies to actually own the government.)

In socialism the government regulates community resources that are shared or needed by all, like roads, health care, education, fire departments, and so on.  It also limits private industry so that monopolies cannot be formed.  If monopolies can form and grow, they can come to control the whole industry or even the government.  Then small businesses cannot survive.  They get crushed by the monopolies.  You also end up with industries that are “Too big to fail” so they can run wild & spend irresponsibly and the people have to bail them out or the whole country’s economy will collapse.  And if the monopolies get big enough, wealthy enough, and powerful enough, they can pressure government officials & pull strings until its no longer a government by the people, its a government owned by a few captains of industry.

But in a socialist economy, monopolies are limited.  If a company gets too big, it has to be broken up and sold off.  Often, company growth is capped so that once it grows past a certain point it is sold off to the employees in the company itself.  So instead of becoming a big monopoly, it becomes a small democracy.  The employees of the corporation gradually come to own and run the company themselves.

Monopolies crush competetion

Monopolies crush competition

So contrary to what most Americans think a fully socialist society will NOT crush competition, it actually increases real competition.  It will NOT limit variety and choices but increase them.  It doesn’t cost MORE, it actually costs much less.  The main reason you don’t know this or can’t quite believe it is because the news media in this great country of ours is ALL controlled by about four family corporations.  (Except for NPR.) Your education was also influenced by a few powerful corporations that dominate the textbook industry.  Also federal, state, and even city governments in our country are largely controlled by a few powerful corporations and capitalists.   So, it simply wouldn’t make sense for the owners of those lucrative corporations to tell you that you would be happier if you stopped them from controlling your life and paying you slave wages to fall in line and follow the crowds.

media-ownership

On the other hand, no one is paying me to blog or explain all this.  It’s also FREE!  So, I don’t mind telling you that if you really want to make America great again?  Make it a democracy again.  Stop paying a few greedy folks at the top of the money pile to tell you how to think.  Maybe you can even re-post this article on your own site, or page.  That’s free too and it could help We, the people, understand what’s really going on.

The Bern

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.

creation

Science

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

Belief

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.”

Creation

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.

Bundt-Cake-7

God*

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.

Parents-Estranged

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.

parenting2

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.

parenting

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.

 

True

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.

cicada

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

encourage-and-empower

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.