It did not start with the current, constant social media bantering. Discrediting other people has existed in our culture for as long as I have lived. Here are three insights as to why.
LOGIC REQUIRES CATEGORIZATION
From our earliest years we have played games where we sort out what’s different, what’s the same, what belongs, what does not belong, find the things that match. These were (and continue to be) little puzzle books, pre-readers, and children’s magazines. It was and is thought to be the foundational activity for preparing youngsters to read.
But have we thought about the behavioral impact these activities instill into our little child’s psyche? What is on the paper, can also be played in real life. Have you ever heard kids play question games, like who’s your favorite teacher so far? Who do you like best, your brother or me? Who runs the fastest, Tommy or Susie? Who do you like in our classroom? Who do you think is smart? Who do you think is stupid? …and so it begins.
It is obvious why categories play an intrinsic part in the structure and order to our lives: to sort, pick and choose, move forward with new entries into categories. If we are not conscious of the impact of our choices, however, we can stagnate into an imploding rather than expanding lifestyle.
Have you ever started a new job and given a tour of the office? As you are introduced to your future co-workers, are you somewhat surprised to be taken aside to hear negative tidbits about the person you are going to meet? It usually goes something like this, “Betty is our accountant, She is a real rule keeper, so be careful of her. She takes no prisoners!” (…And then a knowing laugh). Betty’s reputation begins before every meeting her in person. Or, “Now let’s meet Tom, he’s just broke up with his girlfriend. I think it was because she thought he was cheating on her.” Tom will be categorized by you with this information.
It just seems we have a tolerance for putting things, places and, yes, people in categories, even items to discredit another. Why would we do this? Well, this leads to my next observation..
WE CARRY AN URGE TO BE IN THE KNOW.
We like to feel important. In first grade, the teacher would say to the class, “Look how Barbara is sitting up straight with her hands folded on her desk. This is the perfect way to be attentive in our class.” I would feel so important … and smart. It only took sitting up straight and putting my hands together to get her attention. School is going to be easy! My second grade teacher seemed to be on the same track, because from time to time she liked to point out the fact that I was a great student who knew how to sit up straight. But by the third grade, I was totally ignored and the students who knew answers were pointed out as the perfect ones! I lost the spotlight, but I did not lose my graving for the spotlight!
I changed my direction because I liked being the center of praise. I liked being in the know. And, sometimes being in the know is demonstrated by talking about other people. We talk about people like we are the ones who have a special inside track. We feel more importance when we can talk about people. As we speak, though, we begin to notice speaking in with negative connotations receives a bigger audience.
NEGATIVE TALK GETS THE MOST ATTENTION
There used to be a thing called newspapers. (…they still quietly thrive but you might not be aware of them.) And, within our San Francisco Chronicle or Berkeley Gazette, (or both) was found Ann Landers. She answered and offered solutions for her readers. In high school I wrote to her and asked why news articles were always focused on death, murder, robberies, all bad things that happened to people If we teens weren’t allowed to see them in movies, why did we have news stories on television. I asked her to please write about this and offer suggestions for writing more uplifting and inspiring news that I was sure was being actuated on the same day as current news horror stories. She sent a letter back to me. It was so many years ago, but I remember being delighted to receive a letter from Ann Landers. In a nutshell, I interpreted the letter as an explanation: unfortunately people like to read about what surprises them.
So, negative talk is what gets our attention, isn’t it. I may be thought of as a more powerful person if I can talk definitively in negative terms. I really know this person and I can protect you from them. I am the patriarch! I am the matriarch!
It may be the old stand on the heads of others to get ahead syndrome. Yet, when I tell you that this person is an idiot, or psychopath, or lazy, or ugly, or a number of other senseless things, I project my disavowed traits and actually am talking about myself.
It will take some time to change the culture of discrediting people, if in fact, we even wish to change. It’s something to consider. The only real power we have is to locate and accept ourselves. …all that is within. It may be time for a change..
I am reminded of early writings by Gary Zukav:
Authentic power requires that we choose:
* Harmony over Discord
* Cooperation over Competition
* Sharing over Hoarding
* Reverence for life over Exploitation
Addendum: There is lots to say about this topic. I’ll save my thoughts for another day, but I’d love to hear what you think. Smile whenever you think of it!
Ways to Change Defective Thinking!
INTRODUCTION: Our thoughts change from event to event. You probably are not even aware of what is taking place. Whatever you choose to think about changes your perspective. You look at your phone, hear a song streaming in the distance, answer a question from your mate, hear the dryer beep in the distance, all in a matter of moments. Depending how many thoughts are unknowingly passing through, you may sense a range and intensity of emotions. When emotions are on the less-desirable side, it you have the power to change the direction of your thoughts.
Little do you realize the thoughts you entertain become the limiting force for your vision. You are fine tuning conditions to reflect the kind of struggles in which you focus. These are thoughts about outcomes you don’t want. Even though you may use the word wish in your internal dialogue, you are thinking about all the dangers the future can hold, like too much stress and too little financial security. I know this is hard to believe, but once you see it you will know it is true. You create your reality. No one else.A book I’m working on, a Personal Growth Non-Fiction Book: YOU THINK IT! YOU GET IT!
Consider this. We flip a light switch on and we expect a room to flood with light. When we do not receive the expected effect, we look for what is blocking the light. We may change a light bulb or replace a defective switch. We may ask an electrical device to turn on the lights with our voices. When a light system is defective, we replace the defective part. The electrical energy is no longer blocked, and the light is again flooding our room.
Think of happiness as light flooding our life. Our attitudes can be like defective switches. We can block the energy of happiness creating the light of ease, of things working out. When things are not working out for us, replace the thought with a working thought. We can be clever and replace our defective thoughts with thoughts to support our desires.
I don’t always see my thoughts as defective. I begin a complaint and think of it as sharing my life. Negative thinking is the normal way of living. … When we have defective lives, (lack of health, lack of money, lack of friends and family, etc.), the negative situations create feelings of helplessness, guilt, fear and regret, and, oh yes, a lack of what we think makes us happy. What if we were to interpret the feelings of defective lives as stop signals telling us to change the way we are thinking. Just as changing a lightbulb, we could change our negative attitudes toward living. What if we changed the defective thought and connected with the ever-present happiness?
Look for the similarity between the light switch and your attitudes. Keep the flow of happy juices flowing and you will be working just fine!A quote from GETTING TO HAPPY: Learning to Read Emotional Messages
- Become aware of your feelings. It is so important to know how you feel, our culture incorporates a reminder to check whenever we greet one another. How are you? How are you doing? has become an unconscious greeting. Whether we feel well or sick, we try to smile and say, Good, or Fine, or Doing good so far. I will bet there are very few of us who consciously scan their range of emotions each time they are greeted. This is a great way to become aware of your feelings. You don’t necessarily need to share your feelings with anyone but yourself. So, How are you today? Each time you feel poorly, congratulate yourself for noticing and find something feeling good to you. Perhaps chat with the person in front of you a few moments! Remember to STOP and heed the uncomfortable emotion.
- When you ignore, flee, or fight against your emotions, what happens? The uncomfortable feeling persists. Emotions can be thought of as navigational systems. The dashboard of your car will remind you, Your battery needs changing or You need gas or Make a U-turn at the next intersection. Feelings tell you You are tired and need rest or You need to eat something healthy or You are not looking at things in a way that will serve you! The feeling is not going to go away until you heed its warning. With no judgement, no decision, emotions send warnings of recommendations so you can achieve your personal goals. As you recognize emotions are your friends, your loyal servants, you become more familiar with their messages and you widen your options for heading to your personal destination. Amazing discovery!
Explore how you think about your life and find better-feeling statements.
Think of your attitudes as a dimmer light switch. The new statement may allow you to feel happier. A little light comes in. Create an even better statement and you may feel even better and more light comes in. It is a process of changing the feelings you don’t want, for feelings easier to take.
A quote from GETTING TO HAPPY: Learning to Read Emotional Messages
As you continue on this journey, you will see a change in the people and environment around you. You will have more energy. You may even notice people are changing — like, they are so nice now! But your perception has changed. This is a really, really good thing
There are infinite paths to take at any moment. Your thoughts are the scope of your personal reality. What do you see? What is your experience? How do you feel? The answers to these questions show us where our thoughts take us at any moment. After sharing my thoughts with you, I am deeply satisfied. I look out the window and see the trees covered with snow. Ice and layers of snow outline the exquisite branches of our Thunder Plum trees. I am enjoying piano music in the background. The house plants are blooming inside. It is cozy. I am confident my thoughts are leading me to my personal life goals. Beautiful, beautiful, peaceful invisible spirit within and visibly demonstrated in my physical self at this moment. Thank you for asking, I am fine!
Be your best, happy friend. That may sound a bit funny to you, but it holds some great advice. We all know that deep, quiet satisfaction is the very stuff we are made of.
Peaceful happiness is available to us at all times. There is never a moment that it is not available. Everything you need is in the quiet of you.
One of the tools for locating the happiness within is to listen to the sound of each breath, become aware of your heartbeat. What a loyal friend is your heart! Consider your age. How many years has your heart been beating? It is estimated that over an average of a 66-year-lifespan the heart beats 2.5 billion times.
The heart beats and your lungs exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen to nourish your blood supply whether or not you think about it. These systems are available to you free-of-charge throughout your lifetime. So is peace, joy and happiness. Happiness is always available to you, free-of-charge. There is no external thing, like a new house, a new job, new clothes, a new friend or loved-one, that can bring you happiness because you already own an unlimited supply of happiness. It is the fabric of who you are. You are the energy of happiness!
You can restrict your flow of happiness with negative thoughts just like you can cover your airways to prevent oxygen to enter your body. If you cannot experience happiness simple remove the clamps of negative thinking. Pay attention to each breath and realize there is more to you than you ever imagined. Take a moment to still all thoughts and reach inward to your best friend, you.
Let go of the negative concerns, strategies, pseudo-defences that restrict your happiness. Let go, become aware of your breathing until you can sense the happy energy that wishes to bubble up into your day’s reality. Ask yourself often today, “How do you feel?” . As you practice each day, you will become aware of the negative impediments you have placed on your well-being. Little by little, remove these restrictions and get to “Happy” in “Real Time.”
Even a child now understands that to be president you need enough money to publically slander your opposing candidate in order to win the election. Here are my observations:
- The United States has a great, 3-way, check-and-balance system. It works when each appreciate and respect the purpose of the other.
- Children who bully and lie about their classmates in the same manner that we witness nightly between candidates are disciplined. Yet our children are watching these demonstrations nightly on TV.
- Those of us who are smart enough to refrain from watching only commercial-free TV and no news during this year of presidential election will be safe from political pollutants. Thoughts and words that cover our natural ability for happiness are recognized and carefully discarded.
- Our Declaration of Independence assures us the right to pursue happiness. How are we to achieve a government in pursuit of happiness when we are caught up in gossip. It was interesting to see that candidates put a moratorium on negative campaigning during the Christmas season. Is the message here saying that negative campaigning is a necessary evil; at whose expense? Should not our government prohibit unhappy, disrespectful, and angry political campaigns and potential leaders?
- When we tolerate the irritation of nightly commercials that all but yell at us about the evils and weaknesses of the other, we, ourselves, are worn down. We ask ourselves: Are these our intended leaders? How will we be inspired by them once they are elected? How will they create an environment that will allow us to pursue happiness?
- People actually take on one ugly side or the other, and retell the angry stories they have heard on talk-shows, news, or advertisements. Emails and blogs are written to persuade others to see how the “other” candidate is a creep and their candidate is the only one who can make things better.
Even writing about politics makes me leave my happy zone and enter the craziness. So, I’m going to breathe and remember a few things.
- Respect is an attitude that always gives me happiness. Respect begins with respecting myself.
- Anytime I hear angry and bullying lies, I must breath and speak freely that there is no love or happiness within negative intentions and only negative outcomes can come from negative words. When I refuse to feed the fire, the fire dies. When I refuse to give energy to arguments, the arguments die.
- TV is not the only recreation in this world. No matter what we may think, we are not more intelligent because we watch the news. It is possible to watch commercial-free TV via a computer. There is a way to tape programs so that you can bypass all commercials and as long as commercials contain negative, hard-sell and degrading emotions, the advertising market will “feel” the impact.
- We do have a right to be who we are: happy, loving beings. We are! We do not need to be afraid of anything or anyone! We have all we need! We do not need to beware of any government or government official. They are of the same substance as us. There is nothing to war about, my friends.
- Effective leaders are mirrors of our best self, our true self. Effective leaders radiate our happy, loving us.
- I was first taught the art of debating in fifth grade. It was taught as a method to help students grow intellectually. Respect for your opponent was key. It was understood that all sides would have valid points. Debates were a way for students to flush out all the facets of a particular subject for the good of the class. The class would then have a better understanding of the subject and decide their course of action based on the fine presentation of the debators. It was considered ineffectual and lazy debating for students to rely on disparaging remarks about the other side. The debater who won was the one who was most clever about producing a clear statement and roadmap for its achievement. It held humor that was humorous never remarks that were hurtful to the other. Well, that is my memory of a long-passed art.
I have a favorite cup that has my painting called, Community by Another Angle. I am happy to hold it and so happy to be living this Saturday with my husband and my dog. I have happy thoughts of my son and his family visiting the beach. I am going to clean up our house a bit and I am going to write more on my next book. I am close to who I am. That is the challenge of life. As I keep saying, “All You Need Is Love.”