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I'm Okay...You're An Asshole

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"The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face"

One day my youngest daughter, who is now eighteen, came home from daycare. She wanted to have her way about something or other. Usually she was fairly reasonable and if she had an objection was quite capable of voicing her opinion clearly yet politely. On this day she threw an all out temper tantrum. During the rest of the day, when things didn't go her way, she threw what we lovingly called her devil child performance. Finally I asked her what was going on. She told me that she was expressing her feelings. At her daycare center she had learned that she had the right to express her feelings. Well I said, "I got feelings. You got feelings. All God's children got feelings...Please stop throwing tantrums and talk to me." Later I had a transactional experience of a third kind with the director of the daycare. I told her that I understood the importance of expressing, rather than repressing feelings. I did not agree that how we felt warranted behaving like an asshole. We humans do not live in a vacuu m. We all have feelings, but our feelings should not be an excuse for bad behavior . Recipients of the bad behavior will want to behave back. Getting even! Setting up a loop that leads to endless fighting, rather than problem solving.

"I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it"

Amongst us humans there is a plethora of emotions. There is also a vast array of behavior that we use to display these emotions. We all, at one time or another, experience similar emotions. We hate we love. We feel guilt. We feel forgiveness. We despair. We are joyful. We feel discouraged. We feeloptimistic. During the seventies, a "selfish theory" emerged. Since we are each out for our own good, why shouldn't we behave any damn way we please. Survival of the fittest certainly seems to say we should look out for number one. However we are also endowed with social instincts that are essential to our survival. If we allow only our personal point of view, we achieve a false sense of ourselves. When we allow our anger to lead us into violent behavior, we must then deal with the consequences of that behavior. It is very tempting, when jealous, to toss a drink into the offenders face. But what are we really saying to that perso n?. Often people think that jealous actions prove that the person really loves you. Or perhaps that person is just say "I love you so much, you have to do what I say." By throwing a drink, we let off steam and get a modicum of satisfaction. In the long run, these possessive actions keep those you love away, rather than enhancing a loving relationship. A good way to get over the knee jerk reactions that cause us to act out violently is to walk around in someone else's shoes. Listening well and experiencing what others feel about us is a good start. Sayinig what you feel and assuring the recipients of your anger that you will not harm them is a better way to resolve interactive differences of opinion.

"I wonder if the polite thing to do is always the right thing to do. When I met the family from Japan, they all bowed. I pretended like I was going to bow, but the I just kept going and flipped over on my back. I did this five times. I think they got the point"

When I first started going to the gym, the only rules that were posted were: WEAR SHOES and PUT AWAY YOUR WEIGHTS AFTER USING THEM. The first rule was based on an individual's own safety. The second rule was for the general gym community. Fairly quickly, I noted there were unspoken rules. You didn't gawk at people. You didn't turn up the music so loud that it interfered with instruction and other people's listening apparatus. Being polite with please, thank you, excuse me and I'm sorry were common prefaces when dealing with other lifters. When working in, a term used for sharing a machine or station with someone else, you went along with the protocol of who was there first. Los Campeones, the gym I go to, discourages steroid use. Steroids increase aggressive behavior in both men and women. Steroid users have become violent and the abuse of steroids has led to the type of behavior that break up families and friendships. However to blame violent behavior on steroids or any other dru g is dismissing our own individual responsibility for such behavior. Steroids taken for brief periods of time and with informed understanding of cautions and counter-indications are not harmful. Steroids are used for recovering cancer patients. There are athletes that take steroids and they do not commit crimes, beat up others or fly off the handle when things go wrong. By knowing ourselves, our proclivities and our limitations, we take the first step in dealing with our anger. By acting out our aggressions with violent actions we must be ready to deal with the residual effects of distaste that linger in memories of our victims.

"I think when you go on trial they should have a parrot there that says guilty or not guilty for you, as sort of a courtesy"

We often feel guilty for the "bad" things we've done. Sometimes we feel guilty because of the "good" things we've neglected to do. My son often chides me for guilt tripping him. You know the drill: I carried you for nine months, raised you, fed and clothed you and what do I get for my efforts. I have long gotten over feeling guilty about my children's guilt tripping me over my guilt tripping them. Guilt is simply our consciences questioning our behavior. Generally feeling guilty is a useless emotion, unless we can act positively and change our behavior appropriately. Guilt emits feelings of unworthiness.

After about six months of steadily going to the gym and industriously working out, the day came when I woke up one morning and did not want to go to the gym. I thought if I didn't go I would be perceived, by others and myself, as a lazy no good. This led me to drag myself to the gym. I lost all the joy I used to have when I was pumping. I overworked to make up for my "sins". I was lucky to have a good friend and mentor at the gym who recognized what was happening to me. She assured me that it was okay not to want to come to the gym when I felt burnt out. She said I didn't have to prove myself to anyone, including myself, if once in a while I felt I wanted some time off. I took her advice and was able to enjoy going to workout again. This feeling of unworthiness causes us to indulge in forms of self flagellation. We feel shame to the point that sometimes we keep ourselves from doing what we want to be doing and punish ourselves instead of meeting the challenges that will allow us to feel good about ourselves.

"The first thing was, I learned to forgive myself. Then, I told myself, 'Go ahead and do whatever you want, it's okay with me.'"

Guilt makes us feel helpless frustrated and full of blame. We often blame others and desire to punish those who we feel contributed to our feelings of guilt. By accusing others or ourselves, because we may have used poor judgement, we can paralyze our ability to function in our community. By forgiving ourselves and others, we can go about doing the necessary acts and making the necessary commitments that will lead to our own self-satisfaction. By letting go of blame, we free ourselves and the people we love from the chains of our own bitterness.

"Despair is like a cable that is buried just under the surface of the ground. You pull it up and pull it up, but that cable just keeps right on going, clear across a field, until you come to a bunch of guys who are burying the cable. Then just walk up to them and go, 'Hey, have you seen Fred?' And they'll say, 'Fred who?' And you say, 'Fred of snakes?' Then cover your ears, because big laughs are coming."

Despair surfaces due to feelings of loss. When we feel grief we behave by running away, fighting or numbing ourselves. There are those of us who, in the face of utter disaster or severe illness, have risen out of our despair and behaved with the courage of a seasoned warrior. Refusing to give in to despair,we struggle until we find the most comforting solution. Others of us run around here and there, hoping to escape ourselves and the gray cloud that follows us. A friend of mine used to say to me, "Gypsy wherever you go in life, there you are." There were those of us who descended to the depths of depression, sinking into discomfort and fearing the bleak world into which we have fallen.

"I wish I would have a real tragic love affair and get so bummed out that I'd quit my job and become a bum for a few years, because I was thinking about doing that anyway"

In despair, we push people away who love us and try to help us. Instead of expressing what we perceive as our dark secrets, we deny we have any feelings at all. We keep a lid on the kettle, even if the cauldron is about to boil over. We keep a stiff upper lip, even though we can barely stand the pain. In weightlifting as with most athletic endeavors, there is a macho trip of never letting on you're hurt. Many athletes go into heavy denial about their injuries. They wind up overworking, injuring themselves and burning out on the very sport they used to love. Learning to moderate our behavior in a conscious pattern, will contribute to our own health and well-being and the health and welfare of our community.

When you're bummed out acknowledging feelings is only a first step. Then it's time to do something. Include people in our lives, rather than push them away. Find something funny to laugh about. Go for walks. Take a run around the block. Do something you've always wanted to do. If you're lonely, make a friend or a lover or even an interesting enemy. Create your own recipe for the Joy of Living Cook Book. Get into a weightlifting program. There is a Japanese proverb that says, "Fall seven times, stand up eight."

"If someone told me it wasn't 'fashionable' to talk about being discouraged, I think I'd just have to look that person square in the eye and say, 'Okay, you tell me what's 'fashionable'. But they won't. And you know why? Because you can't ask someone what's fashionable in a smart-alecky way like that. You have to be friendly and say, 'By the way, what's fashionable?'"

We humans strive to survive and along the way we get bumped and bruised, battered an scattered and endure all sorts of shifts in the winds of life. We try to establish a place for ourselves within our society. The world wide panorama engulfs us more and more. New technologies such as the Internet bring us closer together than ever. Our modern communication services give us greater access to our world community than our foremothers and fathers ever dreamed possible. With this growing awareness of the world as an extension of oneself, new perceptions of our functional place in our society are surfacing. The New Age with its new styles of morals and behaviors is still subject to human nature. By denying the dark side of that nature, we limit the information flow that will allow us to guide that nature towards productive future goals. It is becoming more obvious that encouraging the health of the social whole is essential to encouraging our individual growth.

"If life deals you lemons, why not go kill someone with the lemons (maybe by shoving them down his throat)?"

There are people who blame and use their environment to excuse their "bad" behavior and then there are people who wake up in the morning, contemplate the environment they want and set about to productively create it. Instead of fighting one another, we could seek each others aid and encouragement. We could put aside false pride and enlist the aid of our fellow humans. We all need help sometimes. We could teach each other to visualize a more equitable society, which gives more and more of us opportunities to cooperate in creating a healthier environment for all of us. We could engage in and encourage others to engage in activities that are empowerment and confidence builders. I myself discovered weightlifting and kickboxing to be very emancipating. As I get stronger, I feel less helpless and more confident, more capable and more in control of my behavior. We could learn to encourage individual abilities, without destroying the fiber of our communal fabric. We can talk to our children and encourage t hem to take responsibility for their behavior. My youngest son, when he was just entering puberty asked me if I would still love him if he were Jeffrey Dahmer. I told him how unhappy and disappointed I would feel if this were the case, but I would still love him. I purchased a children's book, much to his chagrin, called Mama, Do You Love Me?. The child after many questions asks: "What if I turned into a polar bear and I was the meanest bear you ever saw and I had sharp, shiny teeth, and I chased you into your tent and you cried?" And Mama answers: "Then I would be very surprised and very scared. But still, inside the bear you would be you, and I would love you. I will love you, forever and for always, because you are my Dear One."

Often when we use the tough love method in the attempt to control our children's behavior, we neglect the love due to our own anger.

"I guess I kinda lost control, because in the middle of the play I ran up and lit the evil puppet villain on fire. No, I didn't. Just kidding. I just said that to illustrate one of the human emotions, which is freaking out. Another emotion is greed, as when someone kills someone for money, or something like that. Another emotion is generosity, as when you pay some one double what he paid for his stupid puppet."

A word about controlling other people's behavior. We would do best to look at our own behavior and take responsibility for it. Continually starting wars, battering our partners or beating our children, leads in the long run to more wars, more domestic brutality and more children feeling defeated and angry.

Well I'll behave, if you behave. Love and Peace.

"Give me strength to refrain from the unkind silence
that is born of hardness of heart; the unkind silence
that clouds the serenity of understanding and is the
enemy of peace.
Give me strength to be the first to tender
healing word and the renewal of friendship, that
the bonds of amity and the flow of charity may be

-Cecil Hunt-

My quotations are from a calendar one of my children gave me called Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy. I believe it is a compilation of many people's input.

For more behavior talk please feel free to contact me:
gypsy@dreamagic.com (Gypsy)(Info)

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