Woman School

Today let’s imagine Woman School. We’ll be in the same house as when the Boy learned to become the Man. Input comes through a screen and some speakers. All the parts of the brain and body are present and ready to learn. The Brain at the front of the class narrates for the other body parts.

941 Relax and Succeed - She took the leapBrain: Okay everyone, ready? Remember, we’ll be spending most of our time with and we’ll get most of our guidance from The Mother, so watch her closely. She’s making breakfast on a weekend. We didn’t sleep well, sorry guys.

Memory: Sorry. I babbled a bit last night.

Imagination: Yeah, I wasn’t exactly quiet either, sorry.

Brain: Okay I think everyone’s been served. She has a list she’s written out. See that Hand? You give lists to him.

Hand: Got it.

Eyes: Oh oh. I don’t think he wanted a list. He does not look happy.

Brain: She’s tired of him not being happy with any lists.

Mouth: To talk to a future husband like that I’ll need some help from the diaphragm. She got a bit stern there.

Memory: Meet unhappiness with increased pressure. Got it.

Ears: Oh oh. He’s yelling.

Eyes: He’s mad. He’s coming toward her.

Self (silently): I enjoy my connection to others and prefer that those connections continue.

941 Relax and Succeed - Children learn moreEars: Hear that Mouth? She starts to offer apologies.

Eyelids: She’s starting to flutter in case he swings.

Eyes: I’m scared for her.

Legs: Should we go over and help?

Brain: NO!

Head: That did not work out well for me last time.

Ears: Those are terrible names he’s calling her.

Memory: We hear them a lot. I’ve already got them down as ‘normal.’

Nerves: Yeah it’s been a while since we’ve reacted to harsh names.

Ears: That feels weird to me.

Eyes: If my hair ever gets grabbed like that I’ll need some tears ready.

Brain: I’m confused. Why doesn’t her fight or flight chemistry come on? Ours is.

Self (silently): I enjoy my connection to others and prefer that those connections continue.

941 Relax and Succeed - People have a hard timeHeart: I don’t think anyone taught her to love her own heart enough to know she deserves to be defended.

Brain: That’s crazy! Why not!?

Ears: We have overheard her say a lot of negative things about herself.

Memory: Yeah we have a lot of those stored and we do hear her replaying them a lot to herself.

Eyes: Thank goodness he’s letting go!! He’s storming away!

Legs: Let’s get over there and comfort her.

Arms: I agree. It’s time for a hug.

Self (silently): I enjoy my connection to others and prefer that those connections continue.

Eyes: Why did we have to see that?

Nerves: Yeah. Sorry guys. I got overloaded. It’s gonna take me a day or two to fully settle down so let’s keep things calm. That’s hard on me.

Memory: Do I really want to just store this?

941 Relax and Succeed - Learning is a giftHeart: It feels wrong.

Legs: She’s headed to the bathroom to cry again.

Eyes: If you’re this sad apparently it’s important to see yourself in a mirror.

Brain: I wonder what she’s thinking?

Ears: Sounds like she might be replaying those words; the mean ones.

Brain: Why? Ouch! Those would hurt. Why would she hurt herself because he lost control and hurt her?

Ears: Mouth, why are we saying we’re fat when she looks fine?

Mouth: I don’t know. Memory’s just supposed to write it down.

Memory: Brain, can’t you get her to pick some other thoughts? I don’t want to record those.

Brain: I agree. I’m okay with meditating around a lot of things away but this is not something that should be meditated away. This is a guy a woman should not be around.

Memory: So are we saying we’re not going to do what the Mother did?

941 Relax and Succeed - Parents can only give good adviceBrain: I don’t know when when it’s so obvious but she must not feel worthy. I think that’s why she thinks his behaviour is in alignment with who she is when it doesn’t feel right to any of us.

Self (silently): I enjoy my connection to others and prefer that those connections continue.

Memory: If it doesn’t feel good why are we storing it for future use?

Brain: I don’t know. I’m designed to copy everything.

Memory: But we all get a say. And it’s mostly Face and Arms and Back that get the punishment. What do they think we should do?

Face and Arms and Back: We’re not interested in being hurt like that.

Brain: Okay fine, but then what do we do?

Legs: I don’t think it’s a good idea but she can stay if she wants to. But if most of us still feel worthy we could just leave if it was us.

Brain: I suppose it’s true. We could just decide and leave if it was us.

Face: I know I’d appreciate that.

Brain: Okay, we’ll stay and help her as much as we can but we do not want to copy the parts about men. On those we’ll do the opposite. Sound good?

Heart: Yes. I’d rather be alone that put up with what she’s putting up with. We’re worth more than that.

941 Relax and Succeed - The most difficult thingBrain: Got that everyone? So we have some tolerance for when people are struggling but from now on there’s certain things we won’t put up with. We’re worth more than that. Everyone comfortable with respecting ourselves?

Legs: So we’d walk out if it was us?

Brain: Let’s still do our best to protect The Mother.

Face: Isn’t it up to her to do that?

Brain: I suppose you’re right.

Face: Let’s hope she does.

Brain: Okay. Everyone’s in? We’d leave if it was us?

The Body: Yes!

Brain: That does feel like a good answer.

Ears: Indeed. That sounds like love.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

2014’s Other Perspectives of the Year

587 Relax and Succeed - Selfishness is not living*

This blog is based on interpreting quotes and memes I’ll witness people interpreting or misunderstanding as they move around the web. The Other Perspectives series is a collection of quotes that are so far off-target that they’re actually dangerous and teach ego rather than health. There were a lot of popular OP’s this year, but I think this one really hit home with a lot of people because it discusses unhealthy approaches to relationships and a lot of us have been there. I know it was probably the central mistake I made in my own marriage. So in the hopes that learning this is as valuable to you as it was to the rest of us, I happily bring you this year’s most popular Other Perspectives:


2014’s Other Perspectives of the Year

peace. s

Married Sex

I’m not sure if you will want to blog about this so I’ll completely understand if I don’t see this question posted but I really would like an answer to this question and so far no one has come up with anything very appealing. My husband is really terrible in bed. He completely sucks. Pretty much every time we do it he acts like we both had some amazing time but when we’re doing it he barely even seems to recognize the fact that I’m there with anything other than my body and even then only parts of that! I’m 38 years old and I’m terrified I’m going to die without ever having another orgasm with a man. I’ve tried dressing up, role playing, I’ve asked him questions, I’ve really done everything I can think of. Please tell me you can help me. I really want that orgasm.


Dear Horny,

Allow me to apologize for my gender. This is an extremely common issue and I’ve been hired more than a few times to explain to a husband or boyfriend that their wife or girlfriend really isn’t kidding—they really are bad in bed. But try not to take his behaviour too personally. The average man can be very nurturing but in general they would be less-so than the average woman. As a result, when infant parenting gets to be its toughest it will most-often be the female who steps in to resolve things. This ability comes largely from another ability343 Relax and Succeed - You should be kissed and often—which is a deeper sense of empathy.

What makes a sexual partner good in a mature relationship is their ability to connect. Can they read the signals you naturally give off? Or are they even paying attention? Because in most cases most men simply won’t sexually evolve much past adolescence. When we’re young we’re flooded with hormones. We’re entirely focused on actually rubbing our throbbing members against anything reasonable. And we’re so focused on what we’re experiencing that there’s never even a thought that maybe the girl would like to feel like that too.

Hey, I’m a very metro-sexual, open, sensitive artist who loves to touch, but even I started like that in puberty. And that felt like an uncontrollable explosion in my loins. I was suddenly interested in every woman who walked by. Like Portnoy in Philip Roth famous book, I remember suddenly realizing that every single woman who walked past me had a vagina. And at that point, with that early teen mindset, I wanted to be with as many of those vaginas as p0ssible. It seemed like the world’s greatest buffet. But of course it isn’t. Because 99.9% of those girls wouldn’t let just any guy near their vagina.

So we learn slowly. Experience by experience. But based on some casual research it seems that the vast majority of men reserve their focus for the hunting part, not the eating part. They’re great at strategizing how to get the girl into bed, but there is no discussion or thought put into what to do once they’re there 343 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes people don't want to hear the truthexcept for whatever his favourite positions or things-to-do are. The men generally won’t even inquire as to what might be desired or even needed by the woman. Like 98% of people, they’re too insecure to ask. Like most egos doing most things, they think they should know the answer not learn the answer.

Guys. Seriously. Come on. Yeah, your wife maybe had some kids and doesn’t look like an impossibly airbrushed teen pop star, but even the pop star can’t look Like that. And your wife certainly isn’t someone you should use to get off while you think of the pop star—it’s not like you’re Brad Pitt either. But you see her vagina like a target and home in. But she has a mind too. And it feels good when you lightly touch her legs, or face. Or brush her hair. She’s a living breathing human being with all sorts of sensitive naughty bits that like to be touched just as much as yours do. Try having sex thinking about her instead of you.

Let’s face it, most of you haven’t even considered the idea that your wife fakes every orgasm just to get you to stop. Men often cheat out of desire, women more often out of desperation. How would you as a guy feel if I told you you would never in your lifetime have another orgasm with a woman? For most of you that would be removing something significant from your life. Okay, well if that’s true, then adding it to hers will be just as important. It will have an extremely positive effect. But for that to happen you have to get out of your childish, selfish bubble and actually interact with your partner. Ask questions. Pay attention to the answers. Because to choose to do nothing is to do choose to do something. And there is always a consequence to every choice. So choose your consequences wisely.

343 Relax and Succeed - A good traveler has no fixed plansObviously you’re not my clients and I don’t know enough to provide any truly personalized guidance, but when it comes to helping you, I can say the one thing that men seem to universally respond to is competition. I did a piece earlier this month on the swinging lifestyle. Those women tend to not have this problem because the men are fully aware that they are in a competitive environment. They see their wives being satisfied by someone else and it spurs them into action (not literally—the spurs I mean). So I’m not in favour of threats or ultimatums but your partner should, in some form or other, raise their awareness that “married” is a title not a state of being. You still have your vagina.

If you have been faking it tell him that. Let him sit with it a bit and then see if he’ll participate in a discussion regarding how things might improve for both of you. Don’t blame. Don’t dwell in the past. Build a bright future by making choices appropriate to who you are now. But don’t think that just because someone’s a certain age that they’ll have ever really thought about how to make sex satisfying for their partner. Because most only know what works for them. But their sex will improve if yours improves. So don’t blame, argue or complain. Instead try clarity, sincerity and connection. Because that’s where the connections are formed that turn good sex into great sex.

peace. s

Sex and the Single Lady

I’m shocked at how shallow men really are. I don’t mean to be egotistical but I have always been considered far above average in the looks department. But now that I am over 40
I have noticed that men just get what they want and leave. Are there any mature
single men left out there or am I doomed to stay single?


Dear Uncertain,

If it makes you feel any better, I too am single and I certainly don’t feel “doomed” so you have that option open to you as well. I quite like my life. But on behalf of my entire gender you have my apologies for any poor behaviour you’ve endured as a result of a minority of men’s myopic interest in sex. It is fine for sex to be important—even very important—in a relationship, but it can never be the entire basis for one.

298 Relax and Succeed - The beginning of love is to let those we loveWithout knowing more about your situation I can’t say whether or not this may have been a factor but I can speak to a trend I’ve definitely noticed in my work. People may not like these facts, but if you remove the difficulties generated by child-rearing, I overwhelmingly see two basic situations in the struggling relationships I work with: the first is grossly inattentive men, and the second is blindly selfish women.

By 40 even the most jaded guy’s-guy will have done at least some introspection on the fundamental questions surrounding our existence. The few that haven’t will seem remarkably immature and undeveloped, but even for those that have—that still doesn’t mean they’ve also built the communication skills necessary to convey those personal discoveries and the resulting values. So it’s not that there isn’t depth there, it’s that there is no language to describe it. This can make many men very challenging to communicate deeply with.

Men are taught to become masters of their own destiny, so because they are busy advancing their own cause, in many cases they have greater challenges in becoming attuned to the needs of others around them. This is why it’s considered ridiculous for a man to have sex and not orgasm, whereas it’s all too common for women (and that’s largely because the guy really doesn’t even have her satisfaction on his radar). Most men never even consider the fact that their wives might be faking their orgasms every single time.

Again, removing powerful forces like addictions or violence, when men get left in midlife it will very often be because they are failing to connect with what’s going on around them. They fail to notice some of the more mundane but troublesome aspects of running a household. It’s common for men to come to me after being left and they are deeply embarrassed about the fact that their wives had quite pointedly described all of the things that they needed to see changed and yet it’s common for the men 298 Relax and Succeed - A sure sign of a man's strengthnot to have addressed any of those things. They will not have helped more with the kids or around the house, they will not have made even the slightest earnest effort to even try to control their tempers or temperaments. In short they weren’t very present within their relationships and that lead to challenges. That said, the ladies have their own version of these challenges and you may be running into that too.

Whereas men tend to be lacking in introspection and general awareness of needs outside their own, the ladies will also often inadvertently be just as selfish. But rather than being unaware of their selfishness, they will justify theirs with volumes of thought. Of course this thought is all self-talk inside her own head so of course it does tend to be overwhelmingly self-supporting and congratulatory. The net result is that a lot of women leave fairly good marriages because they have expectations of a strange kind of perfection.

Through their ruminations about men and love, many women will have imagined their ultimate relationship for some time. They will have imagined it for so long that it will become a hardened plan. They will have essentially pre-built their own version of a “good relationship” in their head. They will know how the couple should act in public, roughly what they should wear, and maybe what level of job the husband should achieve and how the kids should behave etc.. I’ve heard these get remarkably detailed. And they would be great if the man (and the kids) weren’t individuals themselves. Because in the case of the husband, just by being himself he will step outside of her script. Because it does not match her imagination it will be viewed as him being “wrong.” His personal choices will be viewed as being unsupportive of “the relationship” rather than as examples of him merely expressing who he really is. This leaves very little room for the natural growth or the desires of the man. As men age and the allure of sex appeal begins to fade, the desire for peaceful relations begins to increase.

So how this plays out is that middle-aged women are looking for complete, well-rounded, emotionally intelligent men, and the men are looking for women who smile easily and who need very little to be happy. On one side there’s a desire for a man who’s ambitious about nurturing his relationship, and on the other there’s a desire for a woman who’s easygoing about conducting her relationship.

If you’re considerably above average in the looks department then you’ve likely had men extending you kindnesses that a lot of women would never see. But as those men age many will have faced years of complaints about not meeting the expectations of their 298 Relax and Succeed - For beautiful eyes look for the goodpartner’s scripts. So far from seeking beauty or sex appeal, they begin to seek carefree happiness. They want more calmness and less wrongness.

Only you know your own situation. But when you’re on these dates, pay attention to when you find the men disengaging. It may in fact be when they’ve achieved their “goal” and gotten their sex. Or it might be when you start making demands, or if you start describing your definition of a “good” or “proper” relationship. Because at this stage in life, whatever you do will get compared to the rest of his life. And men mostly do one of three things together. They play a game or sport where they’re focused on the moment they’re in and what they’re doing; they discuss subjects that fascinate or entertain them; or they make fun of things or each other and they laugh. These are all very fun activities, so when that’s what’s waiting for them it becomes difficult to hold their attention with expectations and demands.

If you’re having to deal with guys who are just plain bad at commitment, or who are only seeing you as a sex object, then at least they’ll make a more dedicated man stand out by comparison. And if you find they’re disengaging when you apply any restrictions on their adult freedom, then it may have less to do with them rejecting you and more about them respecting their own freedom as an individual. Either way, as long as you’re enjoying your life I’m fine with you being attached or single. In fact, when you’re okay with either scenario is likely when the highest quality men would find you most attractive.

In the end a relationship never really is a commitment. It’s always a choice. And it doesn’t get made on a wedding day. It needs to happen every single day. So if we’re looking to have good relationships, we need to encourage good choices. If we’re generally consistent, open, loving people, then healthy people will find it easy to choose to spend time with us.

I’m certain there are many avenues to good fortune in your life, so keep your eyes peeled. I wish you every good fortune in finding a way to share your heart more often. And I hope you always remember to be kind to yourself in the process.

peace. s

An Open Letter to Women

Okay ladies. Yesterday the guys got an awareness-raising. Today it’s your turn. I’ll have to speak in the same broad generalities, but it will still be useful. Ready? 😉

282262_10151034556271518_108075051517_12150199_1714479472_nFirst off, yes we have feelings. It might surprise some of you to know that we have all of the ones you have. On top of many others, we feel sorrow, pain, guilt, regret, heartache, fear, insecurity, joy and love. We understand that you often don’t include our emotions in your deliberations because we don’t display them the same way you do, but they still are very much present.

Many of the men you may call “cold” are in fact badly wounded by their memories of past events. Because our culture does not encourage men to expose these aspects of themselves, when we do it is particular challenging when that trust is betrayed. In essence we are taught not to show that aspect of ourselves anymore. So please don’t talk and act like we’re not emotionally capable creatures just like yourself. That’s a common expression in the media but we’re human too. We just got male conditioning instead of female conditioning.

Speaking of conditioning, in the Western world (and in much of the rest of it too), men still feel the burden of providing for the household. Even if this isn’t literally true, the man will feel it. It’s why rich young inheritors will often want to build businesses. It’s not for the money—they simply don’t need it. Instead it’s for the value to their sense of themselves. So when a man loses his job he not only loses his income and worries for his family, but he loses a large amount of his capacity to successfully apply for a new job. With his confidence undermined he will appear less capable than he is. Remember, identity comes from thought. If the man is thinking insecure thoughts his performance will be insecure.

There are men who are more comfortable being bossed around by an aggressive woman, and there are men who prefer to have total control with a woman doing nothing more than following, and most men are in between. But there are some commonalities.

301824_416990401676818_617255966_nThe first is that many of us do not generally share your ambition many of you have to impress others with our home. Yeah, we can get into cars and toys, but we truly don’t get the concept of guest towels. Most of our competing comes from behaviours or accomplishments. Even a lot of liberated women still feel an impulse to feather a nest.

To man, a home is often a never-ending ever-expanding list of things for a couple to do. There are guys who see themselves as having worked their asses off to pay for and renovate a home, and as soon as it’s done the way his wife wants it, his wife will often shift to asking for the next change. There are men who have literally spent lifetimes in that crazy pursuit. But he will actually volunteer to do many of these things out of love, even though he personally sees zero value in doing them. This is important to remember.

When you say a guy doesn’t love you because he forgets your anniversary, be reminded that from his perspective, he may also have worked for 6 months to earn the money to pay for your engagement ring, or to pay a large portion of a wedding that wasn’t very important to him, or to buy some home renovation he has no interest in doing nor paying for. And yet he’ll surrender half of his year to it. Think about that. Why? Because he loves you and it’s important to you. The same reason you do things for your kids even though they can’t pay you back. That’s what love does. So no, most guys can’t write a very romantic birthday card. But a lot of them work way more hours for things their wife wants than for things they want. For a lot of guys their house is just that other building near their garage or in front of their deck.

Things guys really don’t like? Being talked to like children. I know you don’t mean to do it, but just listen in a grocery store or at the Farmer’s Market some time soon. Many women are shocked when I take them and have them listen in this way. If you closed your eyes you’d think a large percentage of the wives were talking to small children. The tone, the choice of words. Even slaps to the wrist! Men are not children. They have different priorities than you. It’s not frivolous to value fun or relaxation. It would do a relationship good if both genders spent more time trying to truly understand where the value comes from in each others choices.

283186_10151198281391117_1292430088_nIn conflict we are a different creature than you. While estrogen tips your emotions toward drama and pain, testosterone tips emotions us towards frustration and anger. So when a guy is really angry, it’s important to try to determine what he’s mad at. Because way more guys are mad at the situation than they are at the person. Sure, some will focus on the messenger. But men are fixers, so if they can’t solve a problem with their relationship they will become frustrated. And so their anger will not be about the woman, it will be frustration over not being able to solve the problem. Angry, frustrated yelling is more often the release of pent up chemistry, than it is a precursor to violence.

In divorce most women assume men are protecting money when they’re calculating their 50%. Again, much like when they spend their money on renos they often don’t really care about the amount; it’s not the money itself that’s the issue. It’s what it stands for. A man doesn’t have to be greedy to attach his masculinity to his ability to earn and purchase. This is the modern version of hunting.

If you get divorced and have to bring your dates to a tiny little crappy apartment, that’s like the caveman equivalent of bringing home too little food. You lose the girl that way. So after a guy’s already lost a relationship he’s really not motivated to surrender meat and pelts when he’s looking for another girl. (Not to say that there aren’t some upsides for divorced men. Whereas in most cases, a 40 year old divorced woman gets to date men 40-60, a 40 year old divorced man gets to date women 20-45.)

45300_491415984251928_678838547_nThe reason so many men turtle in later years—choosing to be single instead of dating—is often directly related to how women react when they’re angry. Sorry ladies, but the schoolyard taught you to fight socially. As you often self-report, some of you can be pretty vicious. I’ve seen men’s entire lives destroyed by lies spread with the purpose of making the man pay for something he’s done. And by “done” I mean, he lived his life and the woman didn’t approve of his choices. So for a lot of ladies, if he’s not going to follow her plan he will pay because his freedom of choice will be viewed as him letting his partner down. And his payment will often be to have his personal, social and professional life badly damaged or even completely destroyed.

Despite the common myth, you don’t hear a lot of men complaining about women much. Sure, bitter men in the midst of break-ups and comedians can do it, but most men avoid the subject. I’ve played on teams with men of all types for years, and I can’t say I’ve heard very much in terms of men complaining about wives. Even if they do it amounts to little more than shrugs or brief comments. But at the same time we are aware that women have meetings just to discuss our shortcomings. Do you really think it’s possible for us to succeed with you when you come home after hours of discussing our “failings” with your friends?

Ladies, as I wrote yesterday, men need to buck up in all kinds of ways. We need to hold other men more accountable for their violent or abusive behaviour. We need to honour your interests and pursuits more authentically. And we need to remember that you can have orgasms too. But we also do a lot of things that get taken for granted. Because this I know: of the people I work with that get divorced, 90% of the breakups are initiated by the woman, but way less than half of those women–by their own account–end up better off by ending the marriage. Most see their life get worse.

Most women only imagine what qualities of their husbands they want to get rid of. But very few calculate what qualities they would really hate to lose. So it’s not uncommon for me to have a female client contact me two years after I negotiate their divorce to see if her husband might still be single. So yes: leave violent or grossly unappreciative men and do it quickly. But be careful. Because most of us are trying really hard to be the best people we can and, in my practice, a lot more women regret having left their partner than the other way around. That’s just the facts ma’am. Use them as you will.

peace. s

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

PS: If you’re looking for tools to make things better, try reading An Open Letter to Men.

Being Beautiful

32 Relax and Succeed - To all you girls who think you're fatLadies. Allow me to clarify a few issues. You have mistaken capitalism for beauty. There is nothing wrong with you, it’s just that companies cannot sell you what you already are. Their customers are either people who don’t like how they look, or people who are afraid of losing how they look. That’s what motivates fashion. They need to make you feel ugly or worried each season so they can sell you a whole bunch of pants, tops, skirts and dresses to replace the pants, tops, skirts and dresses you already worked hard to pay for. Otherwise you’d be out having fun.

It’s no coincidence that advertising by clothing and cosmetics companies etc. presents models so heavily photo-shopped, with pore-less skin and lengthened legs, that it is entirely impossible for a woman to actually look like them. And while men are also influenced by those images (as well as ones targeted at them), the simple fact is that those aren’t intended as images of what men find attractive. They are very intentionally designed to be images of everything you’re not.

Yes most straight men take a good look at a woman who fits what’s advertised to them as pretty or sexy, but that still has little bearing on who a man truly values or wants to be with. I remember hearing a radio interview about a study that was done where men were asked to identify “hot” women from a series of thousands of photos. When they were asked to look again through the photos to identify who they would like to try dating, almost none of the “hot” girls were included.

32 Relax and Succeed - I have an everyday religionDuring interviews it came out that the men used “hot” as a holding space for the girls like the ones who are identified as sexy in media. But that did not mean they wanted to date them. They may genuinely like that look, or they may have wanted to sleep with them if they’re that type, but  overall the “hot” girls were not the ones they wanted to take home to introduce to Mom. They weren’t the girls the boys wanted to keep.

I love sexiness, but it’s become entirely over-valued. While sex is important in most relationships, even if you have it a lot it still only represents less than 1% of your time together, so it can’t be the basis of the relationship. Yes a younger man will put up with emotional agony for sex with a “hot” girl. But by the time he’s in his late twenties he knows that the more a girl works to be beautiful the less she will feel beautiful. And then feeling that way she’ll look to the guy to bolster her self-esteem and that eventually gets tired. In the end the guy wants the confident girl who’s at ease with herself and therefore easy to be around.

Advertising makes its money by hiding the truth from you. You don’t need men to tell you you’re beautiful. You just need to know there are tons of men who love chubby women more than skinny ones. Or funny girls more than pretty ones. Or trustworthy girls more than jealous ones. Or smart girls more than shallow ones. Or socially conscious girls more than selfish ones. Or friendly girls more than fashionable ones. Your “life” is made up of what is in your consciousness, so you can’t really live with skinny or fashionable. But your psychology can certainly live with funny, trustworthy, smart, social conscious or friendly.

Once people live long enough to realise that beauty really is just a social construct, then they can surrender their belief in it. When they do they also learn why a stretch-marked, confident forty year old woman is much sexier than a “hot” twenty year old with low self-esteem. By forty a wise woman knows life is short and she wants to have fun, so she asks for what she wants and she doesn’t care too much about the details of the guy’s opinions. She’s focused on what she would like from the experience rather than on how the guy will judge her.

32 Relax and Succeed - Audrey Hepburn was the granddaughterDon’t let your culture convince you to stop being you. Girls in Polynesia and parts of Africa had lovely Rubenesque figures. That was their version of sexy. That’s what they found natural and their men were attracted to. But then TV showed up and started pitching products. And of course they are always trying to do the impossible—that’s what keeps you on the treadmill buying them. It’s like a carrot on a stick. It’ll always be dangling in front of you. You’ll never get there. So now girls all over the world want to be just like Western girls. They want to be skinny, have whiter skin, whiter teeth, and no hair on their bodies. All because they got taught to be that way.

But do you want to know what a confident, clear-headed, truly desirable man finds attractive? I don’t know. Because it’s different for every man. Which is why a woman should be herself—an individual. Because otherwise the confident man won’t even be able to find her because she’ll be dressed like a mannequin.

Stop thinking about what’s acceptable. Start having a strong woman’s confidence. People thought Madame Curie should be a housewife instead of a female scientist, so she was a scientist anyway. People thought Betty White should be dignified in her old age, but she was ribald and funny anyway. And people thought you should be fashionable, but your fashion should be what you like and feel comfortable in.

Know that modern society is cruel, judgmental, greedy and selfish. It is a product of its primary forces, one of which is advertising. You are not ugly and you are not beautiful because there are no such things. There are only perspectives and it is only because of mass media that some perspectives were made to appear to be more valuable than others. The most important opinion about your life should come from you. The rest is just people talking.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.