Other Perspectives #90

811 OP Relax and Succeed - Mom what is marriageThis is funny. In my experience thus far, the vast majority of men get left for the same reason every time. Same with the ladies. The guys tend to be emotionally inattentive and they keep calling their decisions the couple’s decisions. The ladies get it wrong when they do what this quote suggests: when they assume that their way of doing things is the correct way and that their spouse’s way is stupid, as opposed to just being another way of approaching something. Both the inattentiveness of the men and the certainty of the women lead to them usually being completely blindsided when their spouses leave them. Speak respectfully of those you love. Because you could flip this quote around to read, Dad, what is marriage? It’s a fancy word for having to put up with a bossy arrogant person who will constantly try to treat you like a child. Doesn’t sound nice, does it? Respect. If you’re going to be in a relationship with someone then make sure your commitment to love them is a verb that you practice daily and not just something you claim out of obligation or habit. Because whether they’re talking to other people or talking to their spouse, healthy people in healthy marriages talk about their partner’s qualities a lot more than the challenges they present.

peace, s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

2014’s Blog of the Year #4

583 Relax and Succeed - In the end

My apologies.

I had wondered why so many people went to the page listing the Blog of the Year but relatively few followed the link through to the actual winning blog. And you guys picked good blogs this year, so they’re worth reading. But I didn’t realize until yesterday’s version that the links to the winning blogs were only working for some of you. That should be fixed now. Again, my sincere apologies for accidentally making them harder to reach than necessary. Today should go better. 🙂

This winner proves a few different things. First it underlines the fact that my readership is far more female than male, it demonstrates that many women are having the same challenges, and that the men aren’t failing to respond personally, it’s that they honestly don’t get it because they’re all behaving that way as an unconcious group. This blog was an attempt to offer some solace to women, and to give men a really big and important heads up. All of this year’s blog winners are great, but along with the Blog of the Year #9, reading this one might just save you a ton of pain, heartache and money:

CLICK BELOW TO READ:

2014’s Blog of the Year #4

peace. s

2014’s Blog of the Year #9

578 Relax and Succeed - The greatest compliment*

The first half of 2014 saw me experimenting with a Dear Abby style of question and response. While many of you found the postings extremely valuable in their focus, overall people found fewer of the postings related to them personally. For that reason half way through the year (on July 1st), I switched back to the original format. I’ll maintain it again next year, although I will likely spend more time addressing healthy spiritual and psychological responses to current events.

While I was answering questions the number one thing I got written and called about was men. Men. Meh. You can’t really live with us the way you’d like to, and in most places it’s illegal to shoot us. Please don’t take too much of what happens personally. If you’re heterosexual part of it is that his brain is different from yours. (Like I’m telling you something you don’t know!) Plus he has had training from a different cultural time. That’s the problem with the pace everything’s moving at now, by the time a son becomes a dad and husband, what it is to be a dad and husband has changed entirely and he has to make it up as he goes. Still, many men can be made aware of the value of better attentiveness and it definitely can lead to significantly improved relationships. For that reason I am happy to bring you:

CLICK BELOW TO READ:

2014’s Blog of the Year #9

peace. s

Understanding Sports Fans

Through the links you’ve shared on your blog I’ve begun to listen to a lot of the same CBC radio programs you sometimes refer to. One of those very programs recently had quite an interesting documentary on the psychology behind being a fan of a sports team. I am not really a big sports guy but the documentary was excellent except that I do not feel that it succeeded at truly explaining the psychology behind what I would call the truly rabid sports fan. Watching people reacting to the Olympics exposes the fact that this behaviour seems almost primitive to me. My hope is that you can provide me with more positive ways to
look at the antics of some of these people who otherwise look slightly insane from my perspective. Thank you very much Scott. I appreciate your assistance on this matter.

signed,
Confused by Sports

Dear Confused,

Thanks for the question. Hey, you’re from Jamaica or Guyana or somewhere in that region, aren’t you? If I guessed right then I’m pretty sure you know what group of accents I’m talking about. They’re all quite unique, but they have certain qualities in common. You guys mix the precision of proper English speech with a reggae meter—I absolutely love your writing. Sorry—I digress. I love accents and words and anything “languagey.”

325 Relax and Succeed - Shout out to the loversYes—I heard part of the documentary you’re referring to. It was on the program Ideas, on CBC One—one of my favourites. It was very interesting and well done, but I didn’t hear all of it so I don’t know what sort of explanations they provided. Regardless, I can definitely find something very positive in the behaviour of sports fans for you.

The basis of the documentary’s premise was: why do people volunteer to be fans of teams even though on average they’ll lose and suffer about 50% or more of the time? (A lot more in some cities… ahemo.0) Because this idea was at the core of the premise of the show I’m going to presume that’s the part you didn’t feel was explained. I’m glad you asked, because after considering it for a while I came to realize that it’s actually as heartwarming as it is interesting.

To start with let’s consider our nature. Before we lived alone or in very small groups in houses, we were collections of people. We were tribes and clans and bands. We were together. 80% of the world still group sleeps. Before that we were somehow contained in the unified, ethereal energy of the universe. We were united in our Oneness. And there are aspects of us that know and remember that. It’s just our conscious minds keep blabbing about our separateness so we can’t hear our own knowing. (If this all seems too abstract, stick with me.)

People pair off. They have friends. The vast majority would rather work in groups, people consider loneliness something unpleasant, and around the world solitary confinement is the worst possible prison to be in. So we naturally fit together. We’re a pack animal. But in a world with no packs—in a world with no tribes or clans, we opt instead for teams. We voluntarily 325 Relax and Succeed - Life is like a roller coastercombine our interests with those of others. And why? In the hopes of winning? Maybe our egos think that. But the centre of us—the part that’s still plugged in—knows that we’re not there to winwe’re there to play.

In the confines of the arena of play we will very informatively allow and surrender to the vagaries of sports. We’ll love it even though the outfield is uneven, or the court is slippery, or there’s the uncertainty of injuries etc. It is so easy for a good guy to lose—but that’s precisely what makes it exciting. Like we do with movies we choose to engage in a roller coaster ride. We ride the downs because we accept that they are a fundamental aspect of the ups. Andy Kaufman knew that the more you hated his character the happier you would be when he got beat up (The Man In the Moon). The fact that we volunteer for those experiences represents an enormous lesson if we choose to meditate on it closely.

Now, can an ego get this all muddled? Absolutely. They won’t be participating in this spiritual way, they will be participating in an egotistical one. They won’t want an exciting interesting game, they’ll want to win. They won’t want to share your pain, they’ll want to unload all of theirs onto you. They will feel separate and in opposition. For them the game is a mask—an excuse to indulge in tantrums. For the average person and the spiritually wise alike, fandom is merely a form of remembrance of who we really are and that’s why it feels so invigorating to us no matter what direction things are going. Whether we are cheering happily together or wailing in agony, the point is that it’s a collective experience. That’s what we like about it.  Not the winning or losing.

This surrender into co-experience allows us to join and meld with others. We melt into stupendous cheers, we get chills up our spines together, we become one with the entire experience. We forget there is an us. We do not use our thoughts to create an ego—instead we are simply Being. This is no small thing. This is why people say things like we won,” or “I can’t believe how terrible we’re playing.” There is no separation between us and the group. And the 325 Relax and Succeed - Be thankful for the things you don't enjoyathletes themselves are more like the elders around which the tribe convenes. But everyone is an equal part. Everyone feels the sting of defeat and—by contrast—the elation of victory.

This is actually an excellent lesson in what enlightenment truly is. Enlightenment is not being happy all the time. Enlightenment is being okay with anything. Even death. Because the real you knows that this game goes on long after time appears to run out. So actually comprehend the fact that you choose to suffer when you engage as fan. But because you chose it with your free will you have no resistant thoughts and the result is that you enjoy the experience not for its result, but for the experience itself. Because your spirit is not an ego. An ego does things, but a spirit has experiences. And as long as the experiences are intense and amazing and rewarding then you’ve done the only kind of winning that anyone can ever really do. Have fun playing. 😉

peace. Scott “Slap-Shot” McPherson 😉

PS Here’s the link to the documentary if anyone’s interested:

A CBC Ideas Documentary on Sports Fans: Catching the Game

The Listening Man

Winner: 2014’s Blog of the Year #9

How do I get my husband to listen to me? Every time we “talk,” before I’ve even finished my thought he’s interrupting me guessing what I mean (and he’s usually wrong). And then every single time he tells me that the way I feel about something is wrong. I’m tired of being wrong and now I’m finding myself attracted to a guy at work. He’s overweight he’s not very good looking but he listens to me. My co-workers think I’m crazy to be attracted to this other guy because my husband is a very good-looking successful guy but I don’t even feel like my husband even really sees me. Am I crazy? What should I do?

signed,
Unheard

319 Relax and Succeed - A woman can't change a manDear Unheard,

Let’s start off with this: no. You’re not crazy. But you’re also not alone. When it comes to women’s concerns about their marriages this would be one of the top three complaints I hear in my practice. If it makes you feel any better for his prospects for change; I myself was this husband at one time. Here’s hoping yours doesn’t need the divorce I did before he clues in.

I can tell you that he’s not working against you from his perspective. There is an innocence in your husband’s actions, as frustrating as they might be. Men are solvers. We’re task-oriented. We see a challenge, overcome it and move on to the next one. So when a wife brings up a concern, a male ego will interpret this as a request for help—even if you explicitly state it is not.

I’m speaking in generalities here but most men will only listen to the “problem” up until they feel like they understand it and then they do one of two things: in the first they’ll conclude that from their perspective you are wrong and then they’ll think they can debate you out of your feelings. They might actually have some success at that if they were leading you in a good direction, but to be successful at that they would have to listen and since not-listening is why we’re here….

319 Relax and Succeed - Most people do not listenIn the second case the man does agree there’s an issue, but their response will be to immediately begin to apply their own problem-solving techniques to the task. These involve using their skills and working around their dislikes or their fears and the end they seek will be weighed by their values. If you’re married a lot of those things will overlap. But never all of them. And so your feeling of being crushed or having no space is common because you’re not actually in your marriage, your husband is married to himself and you’re a stand-in.

It gets to the point where many women’s views are routinely dismissed to the point where the women are passengers in a relationship bus driven by their partner. His passengers might suggest another route, but he won’t take those suggestions seriously simply because—from his perspective—he’s the driver and he’s on a route. Where to go is obvious and logical from his perspective. That’s why he’s so dismissive of your views. He earnestly doesn’t see them as valid when applied against his logic.

The only part he’s forgetting is that there’s also a logic to your psyche. That his views aren’t right–they’re just his. He’s not aware that we’re all psycho-logical beings with our own set of perspectives, values and insights, so he’s not taking your values into proper account. He’ll believe in an external, objective reality.

319 Relax and Succeed - The art of listeningYour attraction to the man at work is entirely logical. If you’re psychologically crushed by your husbands inability to permit and respect your opinions, then anyone who makes room for them will almost draw you toward them like a vacuum. You have pressure in your relationship and the guy at work is offering space. Space for you to be. Not be a part of what he’s doing. Just room to be yourself. If your opinion is always seen as invalid or wrong you can’t be yourself.

I’m not sure how old you are but there are pretty common patterns of this throughout the western world. Women are taught by advertising and past culture to beg for acceptance and to base that on their appearance and their charm but only recently on their capability. So even strong women will have been raised in an environment which strongly encourages them to be more passive peacemakers. Men on the other hand are taught to take charge, analyze and respond. A good example of this is coaching.

I heard an interview years ago with four Olympic level coaches who also worked in professional sports leagues. All had coached men and women at the highest levels. Two of the coaches were women and two were men. What all four agreed on was that there exists a key difference in male and female dressing rooms.

319 Relax and Succeed - You can lead a manAll of them agreed that for a woman to call another woman out in the dressing room would almost certainly undo the entire team. It would create so many hurt feelings, so much politics, and worse it would create “sides” to the issue which means half the team is actively working against their own team.

In a male dressing room, again all four coaches agreed it was common and expected that players were seen as having direct control over their own play even in a team situation. So if a defenseman feels his winger isn’t checking his man, then he’ll yell at him in the dressing room and tell him to do so. And that generally won’t disrupt the dressing room, it will make it tighter. People will feel that each individual is being held to account and because they see their play as theirs and not the teams, they’re comfortable with that. The problem in your marriage is that your husband is attempting to coach you rather than being on a team with you.

Men are particularly worse for this when they’re young. I remember seeing a younger friend and her boyfriend at a Farmer’s Market. She would gleefully approach a piece of art and want to discuss its qualities and her boyfriend would break her heart by dismissing the entire experience with his opinion as to its dollar value. Obviously curators don’t organize art galleries by price or value-for-dollar but he couldn’t see that. He thought the value is what should be analyzed, not the beauty. And in doing that calculation his girlfriend found him a little less interesting and attractive.

319 Relax and Succeed - I have learned a great dealI wish I had better news for you, but how this usually goes is that you quietly build up resentment-arguments in your head until you start actually imagining yourself being with the guy at work instead. Even if he would end up doing the same male thing, he would at least initially appear better because when he’s courting he needs to listen so he can learn what to do. Once he feels he’s sure of what to do, that’s when things turn bad.

You don’t want to be changing your partner into what you want or you’re just doing the same thing he is. The women that succeed at this are those who are in some way able to communicate the issue to their partner in a profound way. Many times it’s someone like me that gets hired to make this clarification and to communicate the gravitas of it all.

If the man can grasp this subtle difference in perspectives then many are actually quite quick and responsive because they really do love their wives. But he can’t get yelled or cried into that state. Men largely work with logic, so you need a way to communicate the idea so that he can appreciate its value to him personally.

319 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes we need someoneEither you or someone you hire will get this idea across, or you’ll slowly drift toward a listener somewhere in your life, or you will try a separation or go straight to divorce. But until there is some upside or downside that will suitably motivate your husband to look more closely at how his assumptions are crushing his spouse, I’m afraid you shouldn’t expect this situation to change.

I hope he’s not like me and that he doesn’t need to get divorced to learn. But even if you have to do that, it’s not like there’s only one road to happiness in life. My ex wife is now married to the ex of a woman I know and she speaks very highly of him and they apparently have a wonderful family.

For my part, I’m thrilled she found someone who’s behaved more respectfully and that she’s happy. And it’s not like my life’s been bad either—I can’t even find a life I’d trade for I like my own so much. And if it makes you feel any better, I’m truly grateful to my wife for leaving me. I’m so sorry I put her through certain anguish before she had to make that decision, but in the end it lead to better things for both of us and every woman after her benefitted greatly. However it unfolds, I wish you the very same good fortune.

peace and a hug. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.