It Could Get Ugly

Picture of an ugly manYes, it could get ugly.  I was thinking about the content of my blog posts and came to the conclusion that there was something missing.  I’ve been doing a lot of teaching about how we all became who we are and that understanding the beliefs and meanings of others with whom we associate would be  beneficial when we have disagreements.

I’ve thrown in a couple of “safe” posts about cultural things, but being safe is boring.  I’ve been told a million times, since my youth, that we shouldn’t talk about religion or politics.  As I ponder that admonition, it occurs to me that there are no other more influential aspects of our lives than government and spirituality.  The government is reaching deeper and deeper into our lives and our spirituality or lack thereof has a huge influence on how we live our lives and how we interact with others.

I just wrote a blog post about being offended.  When I open up the possibilities for new blog content, I guess we’ll see if my readers will get offended and leave or join in a debate.    So, “There’s a new Sheriff in town”.  We’ll be talking about new stuff – guns, prejudice, race, politics, religion, “rights” and responsibilities, white privilege, and the American Dream.  I think the next post will be call “Babies and Patriotism”.

Are you up for it?  I hope you are.


What’s The Matter With People? Pt. 1

What’s the matter with people? Part 1Pidture of a couple back to back

I was talking with a client of mine about the last blog (Just Doesn’t Matter 10/12) and he mentioned that he and his spouse had been bickering more than normal the last couple of weeks and that the last blog post was helpful.

Well, that’s a good thing – BUT… Knowing why the conflicts generally occur would be even more beneficial.  Then, we would understand other people and possibly avoid most of the conflicts ahead of time.  When I use the word partner in this post, that could include any kind of relationships you might have.

You may have picked up on an underlying desire of mine to have you all experience peace and joy more often than you do now.  I find that the more I learn about people, the more I can coexist with them in peace.

So, now we’re going to learn about “Sorting Systems”.  I won’t try to explain the origin of the term. We’ll have to let it go and just know that Sorting Systems define how we do life in some specific contexts.  I’ll talk about one Sorting System in this blog and continue with others in the next few blogs.

The first Sorting System is:

Sort by Self – Sort by Others

In each of these Sorting Systems there is a continuum that goes from one extreme to the other.  Keep in mind that most of the time we will fit somewhere in between the two extremes.  I’ll give examples at the extremes, because the concept is more vivid when you present a marked contrast from one side to the other.  Every area of every Sorting System can and should be managed so that we have balance in our lives.  Even though we can’t change our orientation in any give Sorting System, we can move away from the extremes of the continuum which will improve our relationships and reduce our personal struggles, as well. Continue reading

Say What ?

Picture of child with multiple languages in his mind

Sometimes – maybe most of the time – we’ll look at our partner in the middle of a conversation and ask, “WHAT?  What did you just say?”.  It’s like they’re speaking in a foreign language.

With all the practice we have communicating with everyone around us, it’s stunning how ineffective our communication can sometimes be. As I’ve pointed out in a previous blog, the meaning attached to words we use doesn’t necessarily match the meaning that someone else has attached to the same word. So, we can’t assume that the listener is really grasping the meaning of the words we’re using.

We have two levels of language that we use. One is Surface Structure Language, which is comprised of the words we actually say. The other is Deep Structure Language, which is the meaning of the words we use. Let me give you an example.

A young man, Charles, comes home one day and instantly notices that his wife is a little upset. Before he gets too far into the room, he hears the four words that few men ever want to hear – “We have to talk”. Well, Charley feels pretty secure at the time and, after all, he’s quite a bit bigger than she is, so he replies, “OK. What do you want to talk about?” His wife says, “Charley, you’re just not there for me.” In reality, that statement has no meaning to anyone except the one who uses it. As a man, Charley definitely doesn’t have a clue. So in the absence of clarity about the Deep Structure of those words, Charley is going to put his own Deep Structure to those words and defend himself. Remember, Deep Structure is meaning. So Charley stands up tall and says, “Of course I’m there for you. Every night I come home, I grab a beer, turn on the TV and sit right there in the lazy boy. I’m there for you every night”. Well, as you can imagine the poor wife goes running off to the bedroom, sobbing, and Charley just learned to never again say “OK” if those four deadly words are spoken again. Of course, that’s a humorous exaggeration of a possible disconnect in this couple’s communication. But, that’s the way it really works. Continue reading