What’s In a Name?

August 28, 2011

Our parents pick our name, sometimes before we are even born. Putting changing one’s name aside, our names gather the energy of who we are. People get images of a Jane, a John, a Damian, a Fabio or a Lolita! A name might signal a cultural influence, the mood of the parents at your birth or the hopes/dreams they wanted for your lifetime. In any case, your name becomes a part of you in many ways. In most cultures, when we address someone in person or in mail, we use the person’s name first in a salutation. We then write our note and then end with our own name.

Texting changes things

The more recent onset of cell phone texting tends to cut to the chase and eliminates the familiar greeting of “Hi Jane” and just goes to the “what are you up to?” since the note is meant to be short. Both parties have agreed, when they text each other, to be less formal by use of this method of relaying information. Usually, one doesn’t text an individual that isn’t familiar. In other words, the relationship is established.

Or should it?

But should the advent of texting convey to the world of email or more formal snail mail? Let’s say that someone is sending you a greeting card and they write your name, “Estella” on the envelope but do not write it on the inside of the card. Instead, they just write, “Love, Ed” after the nice words that American Greetings has created. Now how does Estella feel when she reads a card that does not have her name at the top of these nice words and just a signature at the bottom? Perhaps it will be accepted that Ed really is directing his feelings towards her. My take is that Ed is either not thinking about it and is just being “short”, or, what I really believe, is that it’s a way to skirt his real feelings. I think this manner of not directly addressing the person in the header or top of the card is a way of being emotional vacant. He really doesn’t want to commit but is doing his best to pretend that he does. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the relationships where this type of behavior has occurred and then see if the guy or girl has committed to a serious involvement. The answer is telling.

Let’s get back to email

So here we are back at the email message where our friend (perhaps) Ed is writing a note but leaves off the salutation, yet does sign with his name at the end. This may be common, but personally, I find it rude and rather offensive. Does he realize how rude he’s being in his rush to interact that he just doesn’t care how he comes off including creating really negative energy? Maybe it’s the lifestyle we lead. People are always in such a hurry. So wise up all you “Eds” out there! Be polite, slow down, and remember to use your contact’s name. In the end, there will be a more polite and positive energy exchange for everyone.

Blog: Why Act Like a Neanderthal?

August 22, 2011

Where does hostile behavior come from?

In ancient times, man (as in human beings which includes both men and women), had to defend him or herself from predators and so when he/she felt threatened would growl, show teeth, bite, hit or otherwise lash out. This aggressive behavior was a defensive mechanism meant to protect the individual from harm. Not having an aggressive personality would have put the individual in a very bad or weak position in this type of hostile environment. Thus aggressive behavior was a learned and appropriate trait for hostile environments. However, these learned traits have come down through the ages as part of our DNA. That said, even big black bears don’t attack unless provoked and can be calmed with a little honey. Wow! So something sweet can tame the savage beast? What a concept! And, it works on humans too. Try offering a treat rather than a stick and you might find more pleasant behavior waiting for you.

Are we all basically a more modern Neanderthal?

Sometimes I think so; but as a species, we have learned to moderate our behavior – that’s what being civilized is all about. Being a member of a society means we’re not feral anymore, not most of us anyway. Ever try to tame a feral dog or cat? I was told that after about 8 weeks, a kitten would be too far into being feral that they couldn’t be tamed. Well, I proved the status quo wrong. I adopted two kittens that were most probably at least 10 weeks old and with a great deal of patience, love and understanding, guided them into being household pets. (One just died after 17 years of being the most loving creature and taught me much about unconditional love. The other one, his sister is still with me. ) The same can be said of children. If we mistreat our children, even to the extent of not paying enough attention to them, overly criticizing them or in the extreme, actual abuse, it is entirely likely that they will grow up to be dysfunctional adults, totally over reacting at every potentially threatening situation.

How can we correct the unacceptable behavior?

If wild animals can be taught to behave, use the cat post for scratching rather than the curtains, and know which furniture is for them to use, then certainly with love and understanding we can teach our children to be productive members of society. This is certainly true for adults as well since children grow into adults. Thus I feel that the issue with out of control adults really starts in childhood. No, I’m not totally blaming parents for all the ills of adults – we all have to take responsibility for our own behavior at some point – but there are many situations where looking to childhood and the messages we received there have a huge impact on our current lives.

If this is you, what are your options?

First, look at your life now. Is it all it can be? Could your aggressive behavior be causing you issue? If so, take a look at what you can do to correct it. Anger management classes may be appropriate in some cases, more formal therapy may be required in others. If you’re the type of person that can be reflective, spend a weekend with a book that helps you to walk through your childhood, answer questions and meditate on the specific memories that are of real issue for you. What pushes your buttons? Often, this type of inner awareness work will reveal certain patterns that will help you to moderate your behavior into a more balanced stream and move from aggression to assertiveness. In the end, you will be a much happier person and no longer a Neanderthal.

Learning to Get Along in the World – Being Assertive Vs. Aggressive

August 15, 2011


What does it mean to mature?

In one of my prior articles, I addressed just screaming to get what you wanted and indicated that such behavior only works for babies, small children and teenagers prior to their being grounded. It may also work for corporate types until they get their first performance review. In other words, acting act by yelling is a sign of immaturity which also implies that if you haven’t learned not to yell or scream every time something isn’t right in your world, well, you guessed it, you’re just not mature.

What comes next?

Proper behavior is important to moving our lives forward in a positive direction. There’s a whole set of what can be construed as behavior most becoming a young adult, an adult, and a professional. Today, I’m just going to address the difference between being aggressive and being assertive.

When we are young and our parents just tell us to “Be quiet since good children are seen and not heard,” many individuals begin to feel incapable of expressing their opinions appropriately as adults. I see this often in my coaching. Such people feel that what they have to say just isn’t important and thus they have a difficult time of getting their needs met. Now we’re on to something. Eventually, this individual gets tired of holding their unmet needs in, so to speak, and what comes out may not be pretty. Most probably, the result of parents not allowing their children to be heard when they were young, fails to foster a sense of self-worth and thus, the child and later, the adult, may go to extremes to be heard. I believe that this is the cause of work place violence, domestic abuse, and many other extremes of behavior. Is it justifiable? Of course not. Most parents are just behaving the way they thought was best for their children. I fully believe that my parents never wanted me to have trouble relating to others when they told me to,”Be quiet, we don’t want to hear your opinion”. Yet, this is what I heard growing up. It made me feel bad, just like my opinion wasn’t worth anything. And, at the time, it wasn’t valued. But later, I felt it wasn’t valued in other more public arenas as well.

It took me a very long time to figure out that I was a good person and that my opinion mattered just as much as the next person. Once this transition occurred, I had to modify my behavior. I was being a bit too pushy in trying to get my needs met initially. I was being aggressive and therefore offensive to some people. Moderating this behavior to be more socially acceptable is what assertive responses are all about.

I feel intuitively that what I experienced as a child is common among many other children of my generation since their parents told them the same thing that my parents told me. In turn, these children of depression era parents also learned that their opinions were not valued. Unfortunately, not everyone can figure out on their own that they are important, regain their self-worth, and make the transition from aggressive to assertive behavior.

How can one learn to be less aggressive and more assertive?

Here’s where getting help is important. If you can’t seem to figure out what’s wrong with your own behavior, but you do realize that there’s a problem, find appropriate help. Help may take the form of a mental health practitioner, an energy worker such as myself, or a good friend.. Don’t allow yourself to get into trouble. Do be proactive and get the proper support. Hopefully, you will eventually learn to moderate your behavior and be a much happier and more successful person.

Want Something? Just Scream!

August 5, 2011

When we are young, and we want something we merely stand, sit or lie on the floor and scream. So it’s in our history to fuss for the things that will make us happy when we’re feeling uncomfortable. Initially, these irritations take the form of wet diapers, hunger pangs and pokes by siblings.

ScreamAs we age, the disagreeing events may get slightly more sophisticated when bullies push us around (If we don’t want to fight), our mother tells us to clean up our room, or we’re grounded for doing too much screaming! At this point, perhaps we start to get the idea that there are other ways to alleviate our issues than merely yelling when the going gets rough. Well, tell this to a teenager that wants to borrow the family car, stay out past her 10 PM curfew, or hang out with older kids.

Or, to my cat Judas, who stands in the living room and screams for what she wants. Last night I was on the phone and heard my 17 year old red tabby screaming downstairs. “Hold on”, I told my caller. “Judas, what’s wrong?” Then I realized it was time for her treat and our evening bonding in front of the TV. Though she sleeps all day, Judas wanted mommy next to her on the sofa for a few hours to pet her. Isn’t this like any family needing quality time together? Judas has her unique way of telling what she wants very clearly. Amazing isn’t it?

Perhaps quiet teenagers that go into depression should learn from Judas. It’s better to scream and be heard than commit suicide because no one paid any attention to them.

Eventually, all this screaming should turn into assertive, non-aggressive behavior in order to function in the real world. This is not an easy transition. By responding to Judas, I hope she will eventually learn that a smaller “Meow” will get my attention thus helping her to moderate her actions. Unfortunately, she found a way that works for her and she’s taught me well. Isn’t that exactly what we teach our children? Exactly, how to manipulate us? The answer is complex. If we ignore the behavior it can escalate, so that’s not a good solution.

If we try to show others that we do care and that acting out isn’t the answer, then just maybe, they might learn that a less aggressive tactic works. The healthy approach is to teach assertive behavior so that one can be a part of a community, team or work environment. What would the workplace be like if we all came in yelling for what we wanted? That said, we do know of those individuals that have to dominate team meetings, overly state their positions and intimate others to get what they want. This behavior is an extension of the screaming when they were young.

So parents, listen to your kids; kids, listen to your parents. And pet owners, listen to your pets. If we all learned to do more listening, perhaps there would be less screaming. In the end, screaming is a call for help. And, for those quiet teenagers out there, just be heard and get your needs met before you kill yourself trying.

So Rude! Or, How Not to Date

August 2, 2011

I really wonder if people care how they sound or behave anymore. In the old days, people were taught to say something nice or not to say anything. My parents taught us to have manners! What has happened to people today? Where did their sense of themselves go? Once we are out in public, we are judged not only by our appearance, but by what comes out of our mouth, as well as our actions. Don’t they understand that when they leave their manners at home, they are simply rude? Ok, so here I go.

I’ve been interacting with single men lately and have some firsthand examples in this particular demographic of the population. I met a guy, let’s call him Tom for ease of discussion, whom I was to meet this past Sunday. We agreed to meet at a restaurant near his condominium. All he had to do was leave his apartment, come down the elevator to the ground floor, walk outside his building and go next door to the restaurant. One would think that the timing for this process would be short enough for him to make it to our meeting spot by the designated time. I had to drive to the restaurant, park the car, and walk around the corner to the location and I was right on time. Tom was late indicating a sense of self-importance. He obviously didn’t want to wait for me. Immediately this sent a message to me that he really didn’t care to be polite. Okay, so this was how the date was going to start. I knew from this first moment that it wasn’t going to go well. So, for all the guys out there, make sure you arrive before your lady or you will send a similar message. You should arrive and be waiting for your date. Don’t keep her waiting. That said, there are always extenuating circumstances. But this was a Sunday afternoon and there were none. He was just late. Tom now has one strike in my mental playbook.

We go on to the greeting. I held out my hand and put on my best smile. To his credit he not only took my hand but he pulled me towards him for a kiss on the cheek. Alright, that was a nice touch, but it felt a little out of place at our first meeting. This sent a signal to me that he really didn’t know what he was doing in terms of the energy he was sending to me. One minute he’s sending an “I really don’t care about you since I can arrive late” and the next it’s “but I can kiss you on the cheek”. Frankly, I was uncomfortable with the kiss.

The next step was to actually sit down at the table. I had already sat down at a table inside the restaurant as it was close to 100 F outside. He was after all late, and so I picked the location to sit. Rather than just leaving it at that, he actually said, “Why don’t we sit outside?” I thought it was pretty obvious that I wanted to sit inside. If I had wanted to sit outside, wouldn’t I have selected a table outside at which to wait for him? To ask me was an attempt to negate my obvious preference for his. This was another rather insensitive move on his part, and one which I took as a power play. Why does power always enter into the picture? Wow, we’d just met and a power struggle already. If it had been 10 degrees cooler I would have agreed, but I really couldn’t handle the heat so I told him, “It’s really too hot for me to be outside.” Again, having to repeat my preference made me feel even more uncomfortable.

At that point, he sat down and we went on to have an interactive discussion. This is where things got even more interesting. I found topics to ask him about such as the nature of his work and his upbringing.

Total lack of interest

He never once asked about me. As long as I was willing to continue to focus on him, he was willing to talk about himself. He showed no real interest in me. So why did he bother to meet me in the first place and then be so very insincere?

Meanwhile, he ordered an ice tea and I followed suit. When Tom decided the meeting was over at just about the hour mark, he put three $1 bills down in front of him. In a not so subtle way, Tom was telling me that he had no intention of even paying for my iced tea! The guy earned a six-figure income and couldn’t spring for $3. No matter how you feel about someone, paying for the lady is the proper thing to do, especially if the tab is just a few dollars.

To sum it all up, Tom had no manners, was totally self-absorbed and was so very rude! I wonder how others treat him since what you send out comes back to you. I’d hate to be him looking in the mirror.





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