You’d think that being a life coach would be the perfect job for me. If you’ve read this blog with any frequency at all, you can see that I’m chock full of advice. I can figure out how to solve every problem on earth except my own.
What I seem to lack is the ability to persuade people to take my advice. Nobody listens. This is where my life coaching skills fall flat.
Because of this, I’m getting much better at only proffering ideas when asked. If someone comes to me with a problem, I am thrilled to put my thoughts out there, but more and more I’m learning that most things are best left to the ring master of the circus in question.
When someone does share a dilemma with me, and I give my advice, it comes as a profound shock to me that they think there’s any pressure applied from my end. Take it or leave it. I’m too used to being ignored to be overly upset when I am, in fact, ignored. It’s expected, actually.
So while the whole Life Coach idea has its appeal, I think I better just stick to my day job, and keep my suggestions within the confines of this blog.
I think it will come as no surprise to anyone that stuff happens. People make mistakes. Sometimes things go wrong.
What I can’t abide is what often happens next. Like flies to a rotting corpse, it seems like people swarm around, in search of someone to blame. I didn’t do it. You did it.
I don’t know if that instinct springs from a desperate need to save your own behind, or if humans are more into Schadenfreude (the pleasure derived from the misfortune of others) than we’d care to admit. I hope it isn’t the latter. I’d hate to think we as a species get off on seeing others thrown under the bus. But I have to admit that I’ve witnessed such behavior more than once.
I implore all authority figures the world over to stop asking whose fault things are, and instead, focus on how something happened, and how that thing can be prevented from happening in the future. Then the situation will improve.
If you focus on blame, people will naturally put more emphasis on covering things up. Serious problems will be swept under the rug. It’s only natural that the average person wants to be self-protective. In that atmosphere, things worsen.
Encourage new ideas. Allow people to think outside the box. Make the atmosphere safe to do this, and people become problem solvers.
Unless you are infallible, it’s really absurd to criticize those of us who commit human errors. Learn from these things and move on, rather than create an atmosphere of hostility and tension.
The only time blame is appropriate is when destruction is intentional.
It is so easy for me to look at other people’s lives from the outside and figure out what they should do to solve their problems. It seems so obvious. Unfortunately, people rarely take my advice. It’s really annoying.
But they shouldn’t. Because if I were so good at this stuff, I’d have all my own problems solved, wouldn’t I? I’d be all enlightened.
The fact is, I don’t really have a clue most of the time. Like the vast majority of homo sapiens stumbling around on this planet, the sapiens part should be taken with a grain of salt. I pretty much make it up as I go along. It’s all very random.
Sometimes I think our dogs are more clued in than we are. They know what they want, and they make a point of letting us know what that is. They always get a full night’s sleep. They’ve figured out a way to survive without having to work. And they express every single ounce of love that they feel, without hesitating or expecting anything in return.
So don’t listen to me. Listen to my dogs. At least that’s what I would do if I were you.
The article describes how the women of Kenya, who historically have been subjected to female genital mutilation, are becoming empowered to effect change for themselves and their children. Because they are at ground zero, they’re better able to come up with solutions that culturally work for them. Brilliant!
A great quote from that article: “When people portray us as victims, they don’t want to ask about solutions. Because people don’t ask victims for solutions.”
That’s a pretty profound realization. I think it applies in a lot of situations. Unfortunately.
I always get frustrated when I see people in shelters or refugee camps, sitting around looking shell shocked with nothing to do. This is not helping them. This is victimizing them.
Just by dint of sheer numbers, these “victims” can be a great resource. For example, there was much talk about women getting raped when they went to use the bathrooms in the Houston Astrodome post Hurricane Katrina, because there simply wasn’t enough security. I bet that wouldn’t have happened if about 50 women formed a committee and all of them had gone to the bathroom together. Try raping us now, buddy. We’ll tear you limb from limb.
And when it becomes obvious that a refugee camp is going to be around for a long, long, long time, why not give these people the tools to plant crops, even if it’s a tiny garden, and allow them to maintain sanitation and security, rather than make them stand around knee deep in their own feces, waiting for your sparse handouts and indifferent protection?
People don’t want to be victims. They don’t want to sit around, wallowing in their own despair. They want to have some feeling of agency. They want to be able to make decisions about the quality of their lives.
When you are faced with an entire community that is suffering some sort of tragedy, rather than looking at them as a burden to be dealt with, perhaps look at them as an enormous font of human knowledge, experience, and ability. Allow them to attempt solutions. Let them take the lead, and then, if necessary, provide them with what they need to blaze their own trail.
Without power, it’s impossible to have dignity. Without dignity, you start to lose what it means to be human. That’s the real tragedy.
Do you feel like an outcast? Do you feel abnormal? Do you have social anxiety? Are you lonely? Misunderstood? Having trouble fitting in? Do you have a health issue, or a fetish or an addiction? Can’t get a job? In a toxic relationship? Do you want help?
Odds are quite good that there’s a support group out there for you. Thank God for support groups. I highly recommend them. Having the camaraderie of like-minded people, who are working together toward self-improvement, is priceless.
A good support group will discuss the issue at hand. It will help individuals talk about their struggles with said issue, and also allow them to brainstorm possible solutions. It will celebrate triumphs and parse failures to redirect people toward a more positive path. The ultimate goal is to get you into a better headspace, and help you build a better life for yourself.
Self-improvement isn’t easy. It takes work. It requires commitment. There are no shortcuts.
Unfortunately, in this era of social media, it’s easy to think that there are shortcuts. For every support group out there, there’s an online forum for people who want to stay right in their toxic place. Want to remain an anorexic? There are plenty of people just like you who will be more than willing to encourage your march toward death. Don’t want to face your fear? You can simply hide in your house and interact with a wide network of people who are doing the exact same thing. Do you prefer to blame others rather than make changes yourself? You will always be able to find people who will join you in casting blame, spewing hatred, and inciting violence.
But how’s that working for you? Being allowed to vent your bile with people who agree with you might feel good at first, but has it solved your issue? Are you happier, healthier, more functional now than you were before? Or are you simply more angry?
Let’s take, for example, your basic Incel group. There are many reasons why one might be involuntarily celibate. If your self-esteem is poor, if you feel ugly or awkward or socially-inept, if you’re isolated or depressed, you could benefit from a group of others who are going through the same thing. You could learn from each other’s mistakes and successes. You could learn that you’re maybe a lot more normal than you first realized, and that would do wonders for your self-image. A group like that, with the goal of helping you find ways to form a healthy romantic relationship, would be ideal. Unfortunately that’s not what on-line Incel groups do.
Incel groups place the blame on others. It’s the fault of women that you’re not getting laid. Yeah. You’re just fine the way you are. Its them. They are shallow and only go for muscular, gorgeous men. Because of that, you are not getting the sex you’re entitled to. That attitude rapidly devolves into misogyny, and then you get people encouraging violence. They celebrate mass killers. They encourage rape and spousal abuse. They say they’d feel soooo much better if someone threw acid into women’s faces.
But the thing is, how does that solve your problem? Do you think that attitude or behavior is going to bring you love? Because I’m here to tell you that you could be the most gorgeous man on the planet, but I’m not going to find you attractive if you want to throw acid in my face. And I’m fairly certain I’m in the majority, there.
Incel groups are also based on a lot of false premises. Most women aren’t looking specifically for muscular men. In fact, a lot of us find extreme muscles kinda gross. We all have different tastes. The fact that many men, who are fat or not well endowed or deformed or have scars, still manage to find love, will tell you that most women aren’t as shallow as these Incel groups would like you to believe. We are looking for love, too. (In fact, the way these groups insult the physical attributes of women, and only prize the “gorgeous”, “unattainable” ones, show that the members are the shallow ones, not the women.)
And, uh, by the way, no one is “entitled” to sex. Healthy sex is a mutually given gift that is shared between people who respect, admire, and love one another. Love. Not hate. Equality. Not superiority or entitlement.
Incel groups are not about support. They’re about male supremacy. That gets you nowhere. Believing others are inferior isn’t going to render you more popular with them.
If you really want to improve your life, look at the people you associate with. Are they trying to help you improve? Are they a positive force, or are they toxic? Are they encouraging anger or violence? That isn’t going to do you any good.
To be clear: groups that marinate in negativity become extremists, gangs, and/or terrorists. You can do better than that. Everyone has felt like an outcast at some point. I guarantee it. But I know there’s awesomeness within you. You just have to nurture it to make it grow.
Hate is the wrong path. Take the high road. It may take some effort to get up there, but in the end, you’ll be all the better for it. Onward and upward!
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Everyone has probably heard a version of this joke:
“Doc, it hurts when I do this.”
“Then don’t do that.”
Simple, yet effective. And it’s also a source of profound frustration for me, because I’d be that doctor if I could. It’s often the most obvious solutions that are never employed. I want to shake people, sometimes.
For example, here in America we export 1.1 million tons of potatoes, while we also import 1.4 million tons of potatoes. When I think of the fuel costs alone, I want to screech. We do so much harm to the planet by not eating locally and in season. And there’s absolutely no reason for it.
And there are so many creative ways one can ruin one’s life. What fascinates me is that turning point moment — The first time someone takes heroin, for example. What could possibly go wrong? Sheesh.
Is it really so hard for all of us to contemplate consequences? Can we possibly be this short-sighted? Are we incapable of thinking in terms of cause and effect?
Apparently so, or there wouldn’t be so much resistance to the mounting evidence of global climate change.
Apparently so, or no one would have voted for Donald Trump.
It’s as if society at large is at the maturity level of a boy who thinks it’s fun to light his farts on fire.
I have this unique gift. I know what’s best for everybody except, perhaps, myself. At least, that’s the reality I choose to live in much of the time. It’s really easy to look at people’s lives from the outside and come up with quick and easy solutions for them, isn’t it?
The real challenge is keeping one’s opinions to oneself. Usually that comes with age and experience. I must admit I still struggle with this sometimes.
For example, I know an amazing young lady who is talented and charismatic and creative and intelligent and thin and beautiful. She should be the queen of the world. But she drinks. A lot. I mean… a lot. As far as I know, she doesn’t let this impact her work, but it looms large the rest of the time. It breaks my heart. I want to shake her until her teeth rattle. “You have so much going for you! Don’t do this!”
I know another guy who hates his job and is constantly hunting for another one. He looks good on paper. He’s extremely intelligent and capable. He gets lots of interviews, but he never gets hired. He can’t understand why. I can. His personal hygiene leaves a lot to be desired. He looks and smells like he has been living in a cave his whole life. He’s actually kind of scary, if you don’t know him. From an employer’s point of view, this has to be a bit off-putting. If you can’t be bothered to take care of yourself, how can I assume you’ll take care of your job? I’m all for self-expression, but it can sometimes be self-destructive.
And then there’s this guy I have a crush on, who doesn’t seem the least bit interested in me. I mean, Hello! I’m amazing! I’m fun to be around, interesting to talk to, nurturing, non-smoking, fiscally responsible, great in bed… I’m a freaking catch! In other words, perfect for him. Why can’t he see that?
The bottom line is that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. If someone wants to be an alcoholic, look like a Neanderthal, or overlook true love, there’s nothing I can do about it. People have the right to walk their own paths. I don’t have to like it.
I get the “can’t make it drink” part. That’s obvious. But I often still try to lead those horses to the water. I really have to work on that. It’s a waste of time for them, and frankly, it makes me look like a pompous ass. Sometimes horses just prefer to roam free.