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Showing posts with label fear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fear. Show all posts

Saturday, November 21, 2020

A confidence game: Self-confidence

This whole election cycle has been draining more than usual.  Every four years we are told that this is the most important election in our nation's history.  Judging by the reaction to this one, however, I wonder if this is true this time?   But, I digress.  We choose our leader based on who we have the most confidence in (or who we have the lesser lack of confidence in).  Speaking of confidence, I was thinking about it this week.

I don't know how everyone else experience's confidence (or lack thereof), but the answer reminded me of my experience skydiving.  


Moments of not feeling confident

  • I measure what I say.  To make sure what I say sounds good/smart/funny/clever...
  • I don't speak a point as assertively as if I hope you will agree.
  • I don't walk as confidently.
  • I tend to frown or be more serious.
  • I speak more haltingly as I analyze what I just said and/or will say next.
  • I hold my emotions in tightly to not let fear overtake me.
  • I dread having to make the move out of the plane.
  • I hold on just a little longer before I jump out.
  • I tend to focus on making sure the bad thing doesn't happen, rather than enjoying the experience.
  • I move a little more cautiously.


Feeling confident
  • I speak more from my gut or soul and don't pause to over-analyze it.
  • I express my point firmly as if I mean it and I expect you to understand (and possibly agree).
  • I walk more confidently.
  • I tend to have more lightness of being.
  • I speak very smoothly and continuously as if it comes naturally.
  • I've falling thought the clouds enjoying the ride smiling and enjoying it.
  • I am glad let go of the plane and I'm trusting my tandem instructor.
  • I confidently talk with my tandem instructor as I we are going through the air.
  • I focus on completing it successfully like a champ.
  • I am deliberate but 'sure-footed' as we land.

The point is when I am confident I focus less on myself and more on the issue or task at hand.  I don't fear being 'exposed' for the 'wrong' choice/decision, but instead am comfortable being observed.  In juggling terms, I feel like I am tossing up the multiple balls smoothly.  When I am not confident, I focus more on myself and how I look or questioning if I am doing it or saying it right.  I don't like an audience as I don't want others to see me make mistakes or screw up.  I 'fear' being seen as not being competent.  I feel like I am tossing multiple balls up in the air and having a hard time keeping in the air for any length of time.

Just just my take on confidence, specifically, self-confidence.  It is a freeing experience like soaring through the air without cord and not worrying if you are going crash or end with a thud.  As always, I hope other who read this can relate or at least get something out it.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, June 26, 2020

How To Give Up Power Gracefully: Accepting the Possibility of Failure

Recently with the Coronavirus Pandemic raging, I had custody of my daughter for about five weeks.  My daughter was just finishing spring break when her school was shut down for Covid-19.   I had/have been working from home since that time myself.  Until recently her mom wasn't able to do so.  So, she wasn't in a position to do anything except call her during the day to make sure she was on track.  Beyond that her mom works at a hospital, so there was initial fear that her mom could get the virus at work and spread it to my daughter.   After about 4 weeks of work full-time/homeschool, I was getting stressed out.  At that point, her mom asked wanted to switch custody.  This would give me a break from working full-time/quasi home-schooling my daughter.  Obviously, giving my daughter a chance to see her mom and vice versa was a big part of the equation.  However, I paused for a moment and was silently screaming, but I can't give her up now, we are just getting untracked with her e-learning.  I knew that wasn't the answer I needed to say.  So, I said let's work on a transition.

I felt like over the previous weeks, that we had a system in place that could potentially maximize her productivity.  Also, I knew I could help her in some areas which my background is very strong.   For example, math is a very strong point of mine.  Mostly, I felt like I had a beat on her productivity.  I was afraid that she would lose the momentum that she gained with me.  In short, I was concerned I was afraid of losing control.  My intentions were noble.  I wanted her to do well with e-learning and I didn't want her to lose momentum or ready access to my help.   My heart was saying 'no', but my mind was saying, 'you really should transition her'.  

In my brief flirt with control on the issue (and the lingering feelings), I verified a few things I knew and learned a few more about power and control. So, what did I "learn or relearn" about power, control and human nature.

Power/Control Observations.
  • It is often driven by fear--a fear that you are the only one who can do 'what needs to be done' properly.
    • Your assessment may not be accurate.  Often times there is more than one good solution to a problem.
    • Your assessment and actions may discourage others from trying to help.  Why fight someone who thinks they act as if they are the only one who can do something right?
  • Uncertainty or inability to 'read' others whom you would be yielding control to.   It sometimes doesn't matter if others have shown the capability of being responsible, just the chance that it might not be done right, is enough to 'not risk it'.
    • When I'm driving, I know what my intentions and what my capabilities are.   When you are driving, I can't tell if you are aware of 'how close you are' to the person in front of  or if 'know you need to get over'  So, I might harp on you about your driving even when you know you have it under control.
    • When I'm driving, I know where I am going and I know the route to get there.  If you have told me where it is and aren't sure if I know, you might to try to back seat drive.  The fact is, I might actually have a good idea how to get there and haven't really said anything or asked because I knew how to get there.  But your uncertainty might cause you to feel like you need to 'control' the situation and "make sure" I know.
  • The goal can be or seem noble or selfless.  
    • I just want to make sure it all turns out for the best, especially if I'm very experienced at it.
    • I'm looking out for 'your' best interest and I'm am willing to help or do the heavy lifting.
  • The impact however can be negative.
    • It can discourage the other person from even trying.  If you feel like another is micromanaging you and always taking charge on their schedule, it feels like too much trouble to fight assert your role or try.
    • It can remove the opportunity for the other person to learn from trial and error.
    • It can remove the opportunity for a solution that is just as good or better to be discovered.

In my story, in my mind, 
  • I was afraid of my daughter losing her progress or momentum.
  • I was afraid of letting another be in charge of the seeing to it that she got her homework done or the help she needed.
  • I assumed that my way 'would work indefinitely' and not have it's own drawbacks.  
    • Such as me getting burned out or her resisting my pressure/steps to keep her on track.
    • Such as she needed not seeing her mom and pets on her mom's side would have no ill effects even if it was just for a few more weeks. 
  • I assumed that no one else could find a similarly effective path towards making sure she was on track.
  • I had the hubris to think to for a moment to assert that it was MY role as opposed to a shared role.  Even if what I felt was true that I might have a little bit more effective way of keeping her on task, I had to accept that the need to exchange custody was greater.

In a matter of moments, I had given up 'control' of keeping her on track (and keeping custody).  At first, because I knew I had no right to ask to keep custody so I could oversee her e-learning I acceded quickly to her mom's suggestion.  However, I came to realize soon thereafter that it was, for me, a control issue.  I hated give up custody.  Also, I was nervous that her e-learning momentum could be lost, but I realize that I had to accept the possibility that my daughter would 'fail' at keeping up her e-learning momentum.  I realize a number of years ago that "I can't fix everyone", nor should I try.  Similarly, I had to accept the fact that I couldn't guarantee what I deemed a 'successful' outcome.  To not understand otherwise would be not to understand the idea of letting go of trying to 'control'.  I had to let go and let God.    I was sad to be giving her up a few days later and I was a little nervous, but I knew in my heart that I was accepting the role that laid out rather than trying to be a control freak.

Just some thoughts,

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Control Freaks: Top down vs. bottom up.

My wife and I were talking about control freaks we've had in our lives.  A common refrain I've heard about controlling people is that they to try to control out of fear.  I think there is a large element of truth to that, but I don't necessarily think that all people try to control out of fear or if they do not necessarily do it all the time.  I think some people tend to be controlling because 'they can'.  That is they like the power of being able to 'control' others.  So, it occurred to me how could I differentiate the two?  What I came up with is a concept of top down vs. bottom up.  So, here is my concepts for what it is worth.

TOP DOWN Controller (Macro)
  • They may start to exhibit their controlling behavior out of fear, but ultimately when they have gained power, it is to keep or expand their power.
  • Look to control for power, to dominate others.
    • Have a greater likelihood of being a megalomaniac.
    • Often clothe their 'need' for controlling others in being interested in the welfare of others.
    • Even while expressing their concern for the welfare of others, they themselves seem to find a way to benefit nicely from their use of power.
  • Have a super-sized ego.
    • Have the sense that only they know what is best.
    • Consider themselves as great or greater than their message.  In other words, not only do I know better, but I'm also tend to be the best (or only one) to implement what I think is best for everyone.
  • The ends justify the means in many cases.  In other words, while I am not necessarily authorized to exert the power I am--and in some cases it is unethical--I am justified in exerting the power for the 'good of everyone'.  In other words, there is an element of malevolence to their attempts to control, even if they don't recognize it.
  • Control over others tends to be more global rather than situation specific.

BOTTOM UP Controller (Micro)
  • Tend to control out of fear, rather than a secret need for power.
    • If I don't do this myself it won't get done (and it may reflect poorly on me).
    • Yielding too much control can or will make me vulnerable.
  • Not necessarily addicted to generalized power.  Tend to seek control over certain people in certain circumstances. 
  • May have a certain arrogance in their area of control (I know better), but their control is as much to seek some or self-protection (or those they are charged with).
  • Would tend to have an ability to give up control in areas that they don't care too much about or where they feel reasonable secure.  

I think everyone seeks some level of control in their life.  I think it's common to see oneself as not being controlling at all, but I believe that most people exhibit a certain desire/need to control people and circumstances in their life.  In my opinion, where the need for control becomes a problem is:
  • It interferes with a healthy and respectful relationship with others around you.  That is to say there seems to be a need to step on someone's toes because a) a lack of trusting the other to do the right, proper or effective thing b) "knowing" that you can do whatever needs to be done right.
  • It results in a loss of appropriate freedom and liberty for others.

There are places in life however where control is appropriate and appropriately deferred (and placed in the hand of others):
  •  Adolescents necessarily would tend to have to earn 'control' with responsibility, ultimately deferring control or decision-making to their parents.
  • Students control to the teachers/staff in adolescences and adulthood defer a lessor degree of control to their professors.
  • Subordinates, especially as it relates to their employment, would tend to have to defer control or decision-making to their bosses.  Similar dynamic with subordinates deferring control to their leaders in the military.
But I digress, even in those cases authority is usually earned.

I don't have a big overarching conclusion to this blog.  I would say though that is important to exercise control judiciously where it is given/earned/expected, be willing to defer control where it is appropriate or helpful, and always to remember that control is as much a responsibility as a privilege.  It shouldn't be taken lightly and if if mishandled can be subject to being taken away.  That being said, I'm deferring control of the words of this blog post to my readers to be used as is beneficial in their lives.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Knowing what you know and not being afraid to say it.

One of my 'favorite' sayings is that "I don't take any joy in being right".  Usually I say that when I express what I consider to be a hard truth.  That is something I would almost prefer to be proven wrong on.  

I once expressed concern for a friend to a common friend of ours.  I was worried about my friend's struggles and the next day I came to find that she had died not more than a couple hours after I had expressed my concern.  Needless to say that threw me for a loop.  I wasn't trying to be prophetic, but unfortunately, as I like to say, "I saw a disturbance in The Force" regarding her.  Suffice to say I struggled with that prophetic point for a while.  But, I digress.

I think sometimes we have a truth so obvious to us that it is literally imploring us to grasp it.  It could be:
  • Time to trade in or buy another car (as our current car is living on borrowed time).
  • A friend or loved one who used to used to seek you out or be open to talking seems to avoid you at all costs (as if to say they are distancing themselves before dumping you).
  • A loved one suddenly becomes disinterested in everything and starts giving away what some of their prized possessions (as if to say, I may not be around much longer, but I wanted to make sure you get this item).
  • Or one of countless other scenarios.
Usually, truths like that are easy to 'see' even by the most detached observer.  In situations like that you can only miss the truth if you really don't want to accept it.  But, I digress.  Often times, a truth is a bit more subtle and there is a possibility that you could be reading it wrong, but experience has taught you otherwise.  In this case, you have a choice what to do with the truth (as you see it) in terms of expressing it.


So, what do you do?
  1. Risk conflict or even a friendship or relationship by putting it out there?
  2. Say, "Well it's not my problem."--even if you do have a role to play-- "I'm not going to get in the middle of a situation or risk grief for being honest or blunt." and not say anything?
  3. Realize that not everyone is open to the truth and it likely will fall on deaf ears anyway?  That is some things have to be learned the hard way.
  4. Realize that a situation really may not be your business and even though you'd love to help as you see the situation clearly, it really isn't your place to step in.

When we want to 'help', we have to make sure we aren't crossing the line of inappropriate, like in situation 4.   We have to be careful when we do have a role in intervening and giving our input, that we aren't coping out by falsely or incorrectly treating the situation like it is a situation 3 type.  That is to say, we rationalize not intervening by declaring the situation as hopeless ahead of time when it may not be so.  Working a situation in a situation 2 way, may be the cowardly way of handling avoiding saying what you need to.  But, it also might be a quite rationale approach if you've gotten burnt trying to help before.  To be fair though, it is possible that you aren't equipped at given point to face the possibility of blow-back from putting the 'truth' out there.  In this case, for your own safety, you may decide not to intervene and instead effectively take the approach in situation 2.  This leaves us with situation 1.  In some ways, putting the 'truth' out there can be both the most courageous thing you can do AND the most freeing thing you can do as well.  When you see a situation or problem for what it is, it may eat at us until say our peace.

When you realize an important truth about a situation, it is important to recognize the situation or circumstance for what they are.  Doing so effectively can guide you what to do with that truth.  I guess in this life, the important thing to do is be willing to express your truth.  That is to say be brave enough to express the truth about a situation (even if it is a truth to yourself).   The circumstance may not rise to the level of having to express that truth, but at least you will be prepared if and when it is time to express it.

Just some thoughts...

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The illusions of control - A take on controlling/controlled people

To any of my faithful readers who've ever been accused of being a controlling person or a control freak, don't worry.  Regardless of what anyone else thinks, you aren't truly in control anyways.  So, the claims of others to that effect, don't fully matter anyway.

In a way, you are being accused of trying to do something you probably don't or wouldn't succeed at anyway.  I firmly believe that control is largely an illusion and that to the extent we have control, it is short term and passing.  On January 5th of this year (2017), I was once again reminded of just how illusory control can be.  On January 4th, I was thinking about getting another year or so out of my 2006 Ford Focus before I would buy a new car.  By shortly before 8am on January 5th, I was staring at the reality that I would need to buy a new car imminently.  Another driver's failure to control her car, led to the destruction of my car, something whose timing I couldn't have predicted. That being said, just because we don't always have control over life's events doesn't mean that we should just throw up our hands and 'cast our fate to the wind'.  Rather it means we should factor in some uncertainty and keep in mind that despite our best plans, we have to be flexible enough to adjust them if the need arises.

But I digress. Regarding relationships, in order for control to be seriously attempted, there has to be someone who could feasibly be controlled.   That is to say, there has to be someone who is tends to be controlling and someone who tends to 'fall prey' to a controlling person.

I am going to ponder the delusions, illusions and mindset which I believe controlling people and 'controlled' people to be be under.

  • Often they live fear-based.
    • It may be cliche to say controlling people are often driven by fear, but many cliches are true.  
    • The fear may take a number of shapes.
      • Fear of humiliation.  Obviously, you inherently have control over your own behavior as you have free will and can make choices.  However, those that you perceive that represent you--employees, children, spouse, family--are external to you and they have free will also.  So, as the thinking of a 'control-freak' goes, I will be judged based on those around me, therefore, I must do everything I can to pressure them into conforming to my standards of acceptable behavior.  
      • Fear of making a costly mistake/missing a deadline/losing it all.
        • Their fear can cause themselves and/or others around them to be wound too tight.
        • Their fear can cause themselves and/or others around them to be too conservative or risk-adverse.
        • Their fear can cause themselves and/or others around them to second guess too much.
        • Their fear can cause themselves and/or others around them to micromanage.
        • They can't read the minds of others, so they can't 'take a chance' of failure.  This is especially true when if the other(s) have EVER 'failed'.  Even if they risk failure when in control, they have more 'certainty' as to success.
  • Often they live all about them or narcissist-based.
    • A controlling person I believe tends analyzes everyone and everything as to how it affects them.  How does it make me look or feel?  How does it help, hurt or inconvenience me?
    • They do not want to deal with the feeling of uncertainty that giving up control seems to unleash in them.
    • They often seem to need to positive validation tied to success at whatever situation they are 'taking-charge' at.  That is to say they seek situations to run or control (and therefore people) so they can get the praise associated with 'success' at them.
      • Instead of quietly seeking to do the right things, they seek to the opportunity to make sure others see it.
      • It can be a symptom of an underlying low self-esteem.
      • Instead of being comfortable in their own skin, they require more and more confirmation of their goodness or worth.
  • Often they are 'groomed' to be controlling.
    • They have either seen or felt the affects of when one isn't in 'control'.  They don't want to feel that.
    • They have often been 'taught' or learned from influential people in their lives that they can't count on others and that they have to be in charge.
  • Often they have rationalized their controlling nature.
    • MARTYR complex - Thinking they are just doing "the Lord's work", even when they have pushed others out of the opportunity to help.  
    • SOLOMON complex -Thinking they are just doing what is best for all parties. Justifying their behavior based on what they deem to be best for all, rather than asking or accepting the input of others.
    • HERO complex - Thinking or worrying that without them, things may not go off right.  That is to say, the situation "requires" them. 

  • They often live fear-based
    • They worry about being rejected totally.
      • Thinking if they stand up for themselves, the other may dump, fire or similarly completely reject them.
      • Thinking perhaps that they do not deserve better and/or cannot find better.
    • They worry about being partially rejected.
      • Thinking if they stand up for themselves, the other may withhold positive attention and/or ridicule them.
      • Once again thinking they don't deserve and/or cannot find better.
    • They mistake keeping the controlling person happy as being 'accepted' by them.  In reality, such a mindset can often lead to rejection by the controllers as they don't respect them anyway.
  • They are often what I call "negative narcissist". 
    • Think they can't do it right anyway.
    • Think they deserve what they get.
    • Think they can't please the other(s) anyway.
  • They are often 'groomed' to be controlled.
    • They have had their voice shut down at some point by a controlling person, often a parent, from an early age.
    • They have been often told or implied that they are not capable aka are a failure.
      • Too ignorant
      • Too clumsy
      • Too weak
      • Not as good
      • Too much of a risk
      • Too mistake prone
    • While sometimes they may lack initiative and seem to 'crave' being controlled, often it may just be that they are just beaten down by being shut down and/or being implied that they are a failure.
  • They often rationalize their controlled nature.
    • PEACEMAKER complex - They are the peacemaker and/or don't want to make waves stir up trouble or make life more difficult for anyone.
    • HELPFUL complex - They want to be seen as being helpful and not argumentative.
    • EMPATHETIC complex - I should be more understanding of the other, given their situation (tremendous workload/responsibility they have, victim of abuse, etc.)
      • You can be understanding without allowing yourself to be walked all over.
      • You have to remember that often times you didn't cause that situation or problem for them (or at least were not fully responsible), so while it is okay to empathize, it is not okay to let it be a tool to control you. 

This is not meant as a comprehensive study or take on controlling people (and controlled people), but really a discussion piece on what I see in these people/situations.  As they say, "You Mileage May Vary" (YMMV).  

The world is full of leaders and followers.   Inherently, neither role is necessarily a bad thing.  Being a leader doesn't inherently mean one is a 'controlling' person no more than being a follower inherently means one is a 'controlled' person.  It is often times the mindset behind why they are taking that role and how they are treating others.

  • The best leader leads because he or she wants the best for those whom they lead, not to satisfy a craving for power/validation.  That is to say they lead not because they wish to control others, but rather they see a need that they can help with and it concerns them enough to 'take charge'.
  • The best followers follow as they realize they want to help, but realize that 'too many cooks spoil the broth'.  They are content helping behind the scenes and not getting 'leadership' credit.  They may share the vision of the leaders and realize that they can help out with the vision.  That is to say, they follow not out of a need to be validated (by the leader) or out of a sense that they don't deserve better or even out of a fear that they can't lead.  Instead, they understand that being a follower is a role.
  • Leaders can be followers at times and followers can be leaders at times.  It really depends on the needs of the situation and the strengths of the parties involved.

My takeaway on this subject is to recognize your role, why you are in your role, recognize your need to be respected, but also to respect others.   We have to understand that we can't control everyone and everything nor should we want to.  Life is full of uncertainty.  We can't live with complete uncertainty, but we also can't expect to live no uncertainty.   While it is important in many cases to minimize uncertainty, it cannot be at all costs.  We cannot control others for our own selfish needs, nor can we allow ourselves to be controlled for our own selfish needs either.  We have to respect that each of us has a role.  We have a time and place to lead and a time and place to follow.  We have a voice to be heard and we have voice to be silent and to hear others.  Based on our gifts, the types of roles and the size of our voices may be different, but we should not let it devolve into a controlling situation.

While respecting our own needs, we need to be able to take ourselves out of the picture and let our role come naturally rather than be forced.  I believe God will, if we listen, direct us to our roles making it not so much of a matter of control, but rather doing or being open to the right thing.

Just some thoughts.  I've hope you've gotten a little out of this posting.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Pushing through fear: Freedom of letting go

Whether it is interviewing for a dream job, competing for the big prize or in the big race/event, starting out in new city, getting the courage to ask out someone who intrigues you or any other such circumstance, each has at least one aspect in common.   Typically each of these involves some degree of uncertainty or fear.  Each involves stepping outside our comfort zone.   Each involves risking 'failure' or allowing vulnerability of a sort and the shame or discomfort that comes along with it.  We could freeze up, we could fail or perform miserably, we fall on our face, we could face an uncomfortable or awkward rejection, etc.  In short, we could feel a portion or a full measure of shame, discomfort or humiliation when we try.  Just like there are people who seem to enjoy or thrive on pain, I suppose there are people who ride the humiliation train back to the station to 'feel alive'.  However, most people I know don't enjoy those feelings.

I will follow-up this blog with another one called, "It's true: Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose..." as I realized there really is a certain freedom when you hit rock bottom.  But, for the moment, I will focus on when we still have something to lose and how to deal with the fear.  I've learned over the years multiple strategies in dealing with it, some better than others.
  • Self-talk
    • Tell yourself that more often than not, the worse case scenario is just that.  That is to say, highly unlikely to happen.
      • When I tandem sky-dived, I told myself that the instructor wanted to go back home that day too.  That is to say, I wasn't the first anxious person to sky-dive and that he knew what he was doing and was going to do his best to minimize any risk I could pose.
      • I have a bit of fear of drowning. When I snorkeled for the first time in the open water away from the boat, I was nervous.  However, I realized it wasn't as if I struggled too much that the crew would just let me drown.  
    • Talking through and eliminating the unrealistic.
      • When I lose something around the house or in my car, I remind myself that it didn't just fly out the window when I was driving.  In other words, it's not gone forever, but just lost.
      • That even if you think an interview goes poorly, interviewers normally don't ridicule you to your face, take you out back and shoot you or call your current boss and tell him to fire you for being an unmitigated interview disaster. 
    • Tell yourself that people don't die of humiliation and that a lot of time the humiliation you feel is emanating from you than being projected at you. 
  • Studying (or preparing)
    • The more you prepare for a big step, big move or a big competition, the less you leave up to chance.  That is the less uncertainty you have.
      • If you do your research about a company and the role or position you are interviewing for, you go in less likely to get surprised during the interview.
      • If you research the different aspects of a city that you are moving to, you have an better idea what to expect when you actually get there.
      • If you study what is important to the object of your interest and focus on developing a rapport with her, you can better acclimate her to you.  That is to say subconsciously she could picture herself with you.
    • The more you realistic your preparation, the more you can you see yourself with a positive outcome.
      • For example, when racing, I did both speed training and distance training.  Short interval speed training allowed myself to acclimate (and picture) running faster than usual.  Distance training made me confident that I could readily run the race distance.
      • Traveling to and around and staying in a new city before the big move, can help you to picture the daily routine around of it--where to shop, what roads to take, etc.
  • Self-denial
    • This is where in your mind, you minimize the actual risk.
    • Sometimes, if we accepted what the actual risk was, it would keep us from doing what we need to.  Self-deception can move us to a point in which we engage in 'fearful' behavior by pretending there is no reason to be concerned.
    • Ignorance may not be bliss, but in the right circumstance it can be freeing.  If you don't realize the risk until the fact, then you haven't given yourself a chance to worry about it.
  • Slight 'recklessness'
    • Sometimes there is a definitive fear or risk no matter how much you have prepared, tried to reason your way out of the fear or deny the risk.  You just have to make a decision to step out and jump off the diving board, hoping that there is water below.
    • Sometimes you have to jump out of that plane with a parachute, imaging that the chute WILL open just like it always has done without fail, time and time previously.
  • Straitjacket
    • Sometimes boxing yourself into a necessary choice is a painful but effective way of dealing.
    • If the choices that you leave yourself are worse, then you leave yourself 'no choice' but to take the chance.
    • When I sky-dived, I let everyone that mattered to me know that I was going to.  I took someone with me who had done it before and was likely to hold my feet to the fire and think less of me if I chickened.  I drove to a location a few hours out, thereby making a return trip back home too humiliating if I had 'chickened out'.  In short, the cost in shame, humiliation and money was too much for me to stomach.  So, I took the 'easy' way out and did the jump.

I guess my takeaway from this blog post is that sometimes you just have to find a way to push through the fear.  Sometimes you can talk yourself through it, sometimes you can fool your way through it, sometimes prepare your way through it, sometimes you can just decide to do it anyway and some times you can 'shame' yourself through it.  But, ultimately in life sometimes we just have to find a way to push past the fear and let go.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Motivated to write thoughts on motivations

I am political by nature, but I normally attempt to refrain from politics in my blogs.  To me, when you are trying to reach out and share what you think are helpful 'self-help', 'introspections', 'observations', etc., the worse thing you can do is antagonize those who might be in your audience. In that vein, I've noticed a number of years ago that people will double down on views that are at best dubious if they perceive you are attacking them personally vs. sharing a different perspective.

I mention all this because I think this blog & the follow-up one because it includes the idea of political correctness.  This blog post will be the first of two, the second one will be about biases called: Biased about biases.

All that aside, I have pondered motivations.  What motivates us to do or not things and/or exhibit certain behaviors?  From my perspective, it usually falls in one of these categories (which I don't think are necessarily completely separate from each other).
  • Fear
  • Face
  • Faith
  • Full of self
  • Feeling good about self

FEAR as a motivator, is pretty obvious.  When your back is up against the wall & when you are afraid of the consequences of your actions or inactions, it can be a powerful motivation.  Some examples.
  • Studying for a test because you are afraid of failing it.
  • Avoiding someone who threatens you or who is threatening to you.  That is fear of getting bullied.

FACE can be a powerful motivator, especially within certain communities.  Sometimes people bravely say things like I don't care what others think, but their actions put lie to the words.  Anyway, trying to 'keep face' is actually based on a specific type of fear.  That is the fear of ridicule, humiliation or being shunned.  Some example:
  • A family to trying to hide a 'family issue', like a spouse's drinking.
  • Parent(s) threatening to cut off their children if they get involved with someone whom they don't approve of.  Especially, if it causes 'shame' in the parent(s) circle or community.

FAITH to me is doing the right thing, even when it is not the easiest or popular choice to make.  It can be tied to a certain 'religion' it is an acquired sense that a certain set of choices are the right thing to do.  In a sense it is adherence to doing the 'right' or 'honorable' thing to do AKA the golden rule.  Some examples:
  • Helping a person stranded on the side of the road change a tire or helping a stranger jump their car even when we are tired and want to be somewhere else.
  • Standing up for an unpopular kid at school.

FULL OF SELF to me means you're motivation is to do what you want because you think you deserve it or are owed it.  Essentially it is a narcissist's motivation.  I don't believe that trying to save face is narcissistic, but I believe that it can be a characteristic of someone who is one.  Some examples:
  • Being demanding due to your status because you believe you are entitled to it.  We've all heard of stories of famous athletes, actors, singers, politicians, authors, etc. treating people around them poorly because they believe that due to their importance, they shouldn't have to be bothered in any way and should be catered to.
  • Shutting others down and showing an unwillingness to entertain another point of view because your so smart or so important that the point of view of others doesn't inherently matter.

FEELING GOOD ABOUT SELF as a motivation can have overlap with faith.  If you are acting on your faith, you will likely feel good about yourself.  That being said, I am talking about political correctness (left or right) and the desire to present or see yourself as a 'good person' because you are thoughtful enough.  As a disclaimer, I think just because something is deemed 'politically correct' doesn't mean that it is wrong.  I just may mean the motivation for it might be off.  Some examples:
  • Pushing what can sell to yourself  is 'thoughtful' agenda to prove you are a thoughtful person.  
    • The agenda itself might be appropriate, but the desire to prove yourself as being the more thoughtful person could be too self-centered.   
    • It could be on the left trying to show how 'tolerant' you are (as compared to others).
    • It could be on the right trying to show how 'patriotic' you are (as compared to others).
  • Pushing extreme tolerance or extreme righteousness to overcompensate for your failings/feelings when the best thing to do would just be to work on yourself or come to terms.
    • This could look like pushing tolerance to the extreme to overcome your discomfort with yourself.  In other words, if I push to make everything acceptable, then I can 'normalize' to myself what I'm uncomfortable about.
    • This could look like pushing extreme religious piety to compensate for your hidden failings.

There are a number of black and whites in life, but there are also many shades of grey with regard to motivation.  To wit: one's motivation(s) may be off, but their actions (or inactions) might be appropriate.  In politics, that can lead to what we call strange bedfellows or people who arrive at the same point coming from a different motivation.  Similarly, people often have mixed motivations that is to say, they may have a more altruist motive for an action, but they also may have a selfish motivation for the same action.  For example, setting up a play date for your kid with a neighborhood kid.  On the one hand, you are giving him or her a great opportunity to socialize.  On the other hand, it can free you up to catch up on your sleep or run an errand just for yourself.


I guess my takeaway from this whole post would be:
  • For people to make sure their motivations are healthy.
  • For people to be honest--especially to themselves--about their motivations.  
  • For people to accept that selfish motivations can be okay from time to time, especially if it doesn't infringe on others and/or if there is a non-selfish motivation tied to their actions as well.
  • For people to not let their hangups guide their motivations, especially if their motivations impose their one-sided view on others.
  • For people to understand that it's okay to have mixed motivations such as trying to help others while feeling good about yourself in the process.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Fear of losing or failure that keeps us in bondage.

When I wrote this on 8/10/15, I was reading an article online about a guy who got fed up with Michael Brown first anniversary protesters  who were blocking the highway on I70 into St. Charles, MO.  He just slowly drove through, carrying a few protesters with him until they were sensible enough to jump off the car and get out of the way.  I said that if a few more people would do that, that traffic would quickly clear.   Regarding that story, one commentator said, "One tried[to push through]. They kicked in his van doors. He made it through. Probably not worth the cost."  Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't?  However, the driver had a conviction in his heart.  He wasn't trying to mow down the protesters.  I sincerely doubt it.  I believe he was like why are you mistreating me, disrespecting my need to go home to my family and take care of my needs at home?  I believe it was a move of disgust.  More or less he was saying, look, you are aiming at the wrong target.  If you do not like policies, do not attack the people who are just trying to earn a living and get by,  Instead protest those who are responsible for deciding/enforcing policies.

My thought was the protesters were purposely creating an injustice to protest what they saw as an injustice.  I thought, you know, the guy who moved through the protesters, whether wise or not, had taken a stand.  He was brave.  He could have just accepted the disrespect of blocking him and his need to get where he was going, but he choose not to.  It got me to thinking that perhaps most people aren't willing to take a chance, accept a risk as they feel like they have 'too much to lose'.


Most people spend their lives working hard to build up things for ourselves.
  • Career
  • Savings/Investments
  • Property - Auto/Home/Electronics/Other Items
  • Family relationships
  • Friendships
We remember how long and how much effort it takes to build each of those.  Though we don't like to admit it, we know on a certain level how hard it is to keep what we've build.  They take plenty of time, plenty of nurturing, plenty of devotion.

For most people, there is a time in their life in which one or more of these things are threatened.   We react in what we perceive is the rationale or 'sensible' way to protect that which we have built.  Most of the time, we are probably right.   However, there is a time and a place to let go.

A few examples:
  • Letting go of unhealthy relationships that are there out of convenience or just for show.
  • Letting go of property you can't maintain.
  • Letting go of a job or career which is causing you to sacrifice too much of yourself--up to and including your principles.
  • Letting go of a little bit of money to help another in need.
  • Letting go of a fear of being criticized/ostracized/harmed for standing up for your principles.
I think there are times in which we are so afraid to lose too much or even everything, that we do not do or say what we need to do.  That is out of fear, we stay silent and don't stand up for what is right.  I haven't conquered fear completely, but I used to live in fear.  Fear of losing everything.  When I did actually lost everything, I realized that I didn't die.  I realized that it was actually freeing.  I was free of the bondage of trying to hold onto everything.  I started speaking my mind more freely.  I started to think outside the box more, I started to consider things more from a point of what is the best or right thing to do vs. what is best for me.

I still have points in which I wish I could be more brave, but it's a process.  It's a process that requires a strengthening and reaffirmation of faith.  It requires us to see things through His eyes, not our own.  I am far from that point and God never expects us to be perfect, but He wants us to strive to be more like he is more Christlike.  I obviously speak of this from a Christian faith, but my brethren of different faith can adapt this same idea to their own I think.

I'm not suggesting that we just recklessly stand up for what is important to us.  Just like you don't take a butcher's knife out to make a make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you don't make a big stand at the wrong time.  From what I see, it is more of a mindset.  The mindset that when the time is right, you have to be willing to let go and put what is right over what is convenient even when the cost seems prohibitive.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why do we do hurt each other?

Last Sunday as part of Pastor Wedel's service, he made a really simple, but often overlooked point. HURTING PEOPLE HURT OTHERS.          *(This was written when Harold Wedel was the head pastor of Harvester Church of the Nazarene in early 2015. It was also written as my dad was dying.  I only hope he finds the peace that eluded him in life.  He passed away May 1, 2015).

Sometimes, we are so caught up in our own lives, our own fears, our own addictions, our own demons that we fail to see how we are affecting those around us.   The story I tell below is not to cry over spilled milk, bash my dad or ask for pity.  Instead it is a cautionary tale about how we hurt each other when we are hurting and how if we don't deal with our own demons, they can and will affect others.  So, please read it in that regard.

With my daughter, every dollar I spend on myself, friends or someone whom I'm dating, I have to weigh it in my heart: is that a dollar that I am depriving Olivia (or some other deserving soul) the benefit of?   My focus here will be my dad's alcoholism as that is the closest example to home, but in another it could be drugs, things, food, etc.


My dad apparently had/has demons that he has never really shared with his children. I only know this as I have heard bits and pieces from family members over the years of his early years. I don't know much about his foster family and I know even less about his family of origin. However, I do know this, whatever demons he had/has, he took them into a marriage with my mom and into his marriage family.

When he was sober, he could be mean, resentful, controlling. I think this was out of fear largely.  When he was drunk, he was much more friendly, but also less reliable. His sickness lead to the following:

  1.  Proceeds from his paychecks going to watering holes and 'friends' of different sorts at those places.  This meant that his kids often went without.  I'm not talking about not being able to do little league or other activities,  I'm talking even more basic: eating not as healthy food, wearing beat up or torn clothes, birthdays and Christmas being generally disappointing (and embarrassing) and being promised all nature of things and rarely getting any of them.
  2. He would disappear for hours and on one occasion that I remember for days.  I would at first be glad that he was not there to fight with my mom, but then I got scared he wasn't going to come back.
  3. His kids being open to predatory types.  I think you know what I mean, so I won't elaborate.
  4. Verbal and physical abuse of my mom and his kids.
He's never owned up to his alcoholism except to say, "I went to the bars so I wouldn't have to deal with your mother.  He never has come clean on much.  He never really has opened up about his family of origin, why he was in foster care, etc.  He is a shell of his former self today and God has given me the grace to forgive him and the willingness the see him in his later days despite it all.  I look at him and see a pitiful soul.  I think to myself, I need to share the Gospel with him, but there is a part of me that thinks he'll just be ignorant about it and what's the use?

On some level, I think he might have known that he was hurting my mom and his kids, but on some level he was in a deep state of denial.  He drank, justified it by a 'tough home life' and seem to think he could control it.  From what little I know instead of dealing with his early and pervasive demons/hurts, he decided to try to medicate them away daily and when he couldn't do that he was a difficult/controlling person to be around.  Even to the point of putting his others and his kids down, to elevate himself comparatively.

In other words, he was a hurting person, who hurt others.   Sometimes purposefully and sometimes just unwittingly selfishly.  He only stopped drinking at a later point when the Dr. told him in no uncertain terms that if he continued that way he'd be headed to the grave.  But, that's another point.

My brother Bill, God rest his soul, never overcame the hurt/demons that he endured in his childhood.  His passing was a wakeup call to me, that hurts do not go away on their own.  God used a terrible circumstance to give me a new life.  In other words, HOPE.

The takeaway from this post is this: 
  1. What are we doing to deal with our fears, concerns, angst, worries?
  2. Are we dealing with them in a healthy way: talking with our Heavenly Father aka prayer, venting to friends, journaling, counseling, talking to our ministers, support groups, 
  3. Are we dealing with them in an unhealthy way: drinking, drugs, gambling, compulsive overeating/shopping, etc?
  4. How are we treating those around us?  Not how we think we are, but how actually we are.
  5. As long as we have air to breath, there is always hope.  Just as lungs can repair themselves from years of abuse smoking, God can help us repair broken lives and broken relationships.

This video below is more profound since he passed away in May 1, 2015.  Even if a parent is not the 'perfect' parent, they are your parent.