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Group Think or a Polarized Society

The term “polarized” continues to permeate the land and, as I suspected, we would be in a new type of civil war. Many years ago, when I worked for social services I had the insight that soon we would be fighting a new type of civil war. I told my fellow co-workers it would be vastly different from the last one but equally deadly. Here we are, on the heels of the position being filled for the 45th president of the United States. Republicans and Democrats had been at each other’s throat even before then; as we saw in the election for President Bush. At that time, there were claims then that it had been rigged (and liberals would be moving to Canada). Now that we have another Republican who has succeeded, once again the charges of rigging the election have occurred. Only this time it has been taken to a new level. It cannot just be that the person won the election.

The Media has jumped on this bandwagon; of course they always do, and have terrorized the country with their “opinions.” Good journalism is really a testimony to people who actually work on finding the truth and presenting evidence, on both sides, so that people can come to their own opinions. Some newspapers are known for this. Some are known for being sensationalists.

 

“Group Think,” is a psychological phenomenon that is the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility. I would add to this that even intelligent, educated folks fall prey to this mindset just as easily as uneducated, naïve people. It happens on juries, though people are cautioned to not be persuaded by others, it can be hard not to; at the end of the day.

So many times this has happened in our history and though people have appeared to be in favor of doing the right thing for the majority of the people, someone (often large amounts of people) always gets killed. When they are killed, it will be argued that sometimes this has to happen in order to create change. This happens even though the ones being killed have no weapons. They probably would in defense, if they knew they were about to be killed but they don’t. Thus by the time people are killed and consequently become saints, it is too late to feel some remorse. The victors end up the enemies or the traitors and then over time, during a period of healing and quiet; people realize what they had done wrong.

 

Another unfortunate issue with “group think,” is that when it is over with, many people who conformed to this position will pretend they never did. It takes guts to take responsibility for your mistakes. By this time, there is too much fear that if they admit, they will be tortured or punished in some way. And many times they are.

How do we heal from such trying times? A holistic minded person would not conform but take a step back and view all the angles. They would reach into their history books for research on other such occasions and try to compare and contrast. They would look at the long term consequences of the decisions, (or orders) being expected and think for themselves. They would trust their instincts rather than following their ego.

It is important to have respect for the person in charge, whether you like them or not. Our country is based on a democratic mindset which means that sometimes Republicans will be in power and sometimes Democrats. Many of us would like to see more than two choices but at the moment; we can at least be glad there is more than one. I doubt anyone can say they have liked every single president because the world is not about you and what you want. I have found that for the most part, in our history, we have flip-flopped so obviously that you can always predict who will win the presidential race. This time it was the Republicans turn. Eventually it will be the Democrats turn. Instead of acting like gang leaders and forming red and blue teams, it would behoove the opposite side to focus on what went wrong and begin planning a strategy going forward. Generally this is what was done in the past.

It would also be important to figure out how to work with the person in charge. More happens with sugar than vinegar, as the saying goes. People are so angry right now, one side because they lost and the other side because their power is put into question. People stop being friends with those who don’t think like them, which causes some to conform. This is either out of fear of isolation or fear of being killed (metaphorically or realistically). It is a scary time now and not because of the person in the White House but because of the uprising all around him. It makes our country look very weak and of course vulnerable. When this is the case, it is so easy to take advantage. This is what concerns me right now. We are sitting ducks, due to our polarization. No one seems interested in ending the feud and trying to find balance. Meanwhile, both teams think they have the most power and that people are listening to them. They are blind, deaf and dumb. But they are Right!

Life is a rip off when you expect to get what you want. Life works when you choose what you got. Actually, what you got is what you chose. To move on, choose it. Werner Erhard

 

 

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Voice to Voice or Skin to Skin: Ritual of Connection

I have always loved Nicole Kidman and her ability to portray so many different types of people. She is a lot like Penelope Cruz, another favorite of mine; in that neither are afraid of experimenting and both have been involved in productions from different countries. This week I was reading an article on the Huffington Post, where she was being interviewed about her marriage which is celebrating its twelth anniversary. She mentioned that she and Keith [Urban] do not text to talk to one another, because of all the misunderstandings that were obvious to them from the onset. As she went on, she noted that they have a phrase “Voice to Voice or Skin to Skin,” is their only way of communication with each other. I thought this sounded very sweet and touching and something I wanted to share with the couples that I work with.

I have been taking continuing education with the Gottman couples trainings and use this method when working with my couples. We talk about Turning Towards Each Other, rather than away from one another when communicating is taking place. Voice to voice, you may not look at each other (except as Nicole noted when they do Facetime) but you are clearly hearing and participating in that moment. Of course, it is possible to Stonewall (and be on your computer at the same time) but then your partner would pick up on this very easily. When you are texting to someone it is very anti-social and disrespectful of someone (this is me not the Gottman trainings talking). The person is not there on the other end at the exact moment that you send the text. You can’t feel them, hear them, see them (other than a photo), or even sense them. You can misinterpret them and I have found that it is easy for my client’s to be stalked by their partners in this way. Usually this is noted when they tell me that he “blew up my phone.” When I first heard this, I have to confess, I thought maybe their battery had died from too much usage on the phone. But kidding aside, this is not an intimate form of communication. It is a cop out, when it comes to communication.

If you want your relationship to last, you can’t take it for granted and so you must value this investment and continue to work on it. The most important thing I have found is building an “Emotional Connection,” with your partner because A. Women are turned on by this and aren’t likely to stray, B. You begin to know each other more deeply, which causes you to feel you can trust and depend on the other person, and C. You are developing a “We” instead of an “I.” The last one always gets my goat. If I hear one partner saying “I am going away this weekend for vacation,” I will say “Aren’t you taken your wife/husband?” naturally they will say “Well, yeah,” so I say then I think you meant to say “We are going away…” and talk to them about the importance of respect in a relationship.

Look at the difference between Nicole Kidman’s marriage to Tom and now to Keith. I went through my young adult years with the first two (I don’t know much about Keith Urban) and always remembered how sad and detached Nicole and Tom looked in photos. I don’t think I ever saw them smile – together. Sure, Tom always had that Hollywood smile whenever taking photos and he pushed it out there even when he was next to Nicole on the carpet (though it never seemed quite as authentic as his Risky Business or Top Gun smile). Nicole never once, that I recall, ever really had more then a grin on her face. It was because of this that I was not at all surprised when they got a divorce. Now, I don’t think I have seen one photo of her and Keith, where they don’t look like they’ve just had “Skin to Skin” right before they walked out onto the carpet. I’ve heard Keith Urban interviewed saying that he feels like she is still his girlfriend after twelve years. This tells me that they keep their relationship fresh and are invested in a quality relationship. I once read Nicole stating in an interview that she thought it was romantic to see a cemetery plot with the couple buried next to each other and imagining what a delightful marriage they must have had. It seems morbid in a way but it shows the depth that she was hoping for in a man. Someone she would be with until the end. I don’t think there will be any question whether these two will last forever.

What type of play are your creating in your relationship? How are you keeping the marriage alive or exciting? Maybe you aren’t worth millions and globetrotting around the world (though this makes it way more difficult than balancing a budget and raising a couple of kids), you actually have an easier opportunity to make your relationship last. What can you do for fun? Riding bikes as a family (or couple), hiking together, praying together, cooking together, taking a bath together (as a couple of course), etc… These are what we call Rituals of Connection (or Creating Shared Meaning), one of the “The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work,” by Dr. Gottman. Rituals are those sacred moments in your family’s life that are created by the two of you for your relationship and for your kids. Having a motto such as “Voice to Voice or Skin to Skin” is a Ritual of Connection. It is an intimate boundary that this couple has created that they won’t steer away from because it has kept them together for twelve years.

Texting is not intimate and it was created for emergencies, not for relationships. There was a time when we did not have cellular technology, and even a time we didn’t have pagers (or telephones). We have taken advantage of texting and it has caused our world to become anti-social. People are out in the real world less and less and when they are there, they are on their phones. Another thing that gets my goat is seeing people at a natural park and they have their heads down, staring at their phones or are taking some darn “selfie” because they are not capable of “stopping to smell the roses.” Life is a challenge which you must undertake and if you make the choice to have someone by your side, respect them, love them, nourish them and for heaven sakes, communicate with them [LIVE]!

 

Stop and smell the roses,
taste the nectar of sweet.
Peel back the petals,
tickle your feet!

Take a walk amongst the flowers,
place blue bonnets in your hair,
Sing songs of he love’s me not,
two step with the air!

Stop and smell the roses,
Spend some time,
Tend to your bushes,
Pay no mind.

As you walk amongst the flowers,
peer down at your feet.
There’s no time to smell the roses
when you’re six feet deep. 

Hershe Moore

 

The Girl on the Train or The Wife of the Narcissist

“I am not the girl I used to be,” the beginning and the ending of the movie, somewhat like a poem. In between is the passion, frustration, and anger; all building toward self-awareness.

The Girl on the Train is about the lives of three women who are joined together directly and indirectly through one man. They are all involved with a narcissist. What is clever about this movie is that the director takes you on a long journey; giving you a chance to get to know these women but only their interpretations of what they believe is the truth. When you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you are made to believe that you are the one causing all the problems. The narcissist causes you to feel as if you are walking on eggshells, that you are going crazy. Your reality becomes distorted as a result. In this movie, the woman is an alcoholic so this of course makes it very easy to assume she is the bad person.

Naturally the movie shows us a bad therapist, which is sad, but in this case it is just continuing to lead us down a tunnel of wrong turns. In fact, two of the three men in the movie are false assumptions and the guilty party seems like a good guy at first. That is the makings of a good suspense. In reality though, the narcissistic man often seems like the good guy. He comes across as very appealing, sexy, responsible, a good provider. So in a sense the director was doing his/her job of turning the audience into a victim of the movie. When they finally present the truth, it is done through a scene where the alcoholic has the courage to humble herself in front of another. Meeting up with a woman on the train whose party she had attended, blacked out and created a scene. After making amends, the woman is able to tell her what really happened and suddenly she is able to wake up and trust her instincts (not her perceived reality) for the first time.

Armed with that small dose of reality, she begins to re-build her sense of self. She revisits other scenes from her life and is able to remember what actually happened, not what she was made to believe happened. Stupidly, but then we all are, she confronts her emotional tormentor with the truth. A narcissist confronted is a very dangerous thing to do because they are unable to confront the truth. Naturally, victims often believe that they are doing the right thing by standing up for themselves and trying to make sense of things with the abuser. This is the nice person wanting to give the bad person a chance to apologize, to come clean and admit to the truth. Make sense of your reality on your own, you can’t try to get them to make sense of things because their life is pathological. They get rid of what is in the way; they detach themselves so far from reality that they are incapable of self-awareness. Instead of trying to make sense of why they do the things they do, learn from the experience and become a stronger person. However, The Girl on the Train is a movie, not real life. As it is not a nice new age storyline, with Louise Hay giving us an affirmation at the end and everyone doing yoga, it has to end with something violent and more to the point.

It has to end with women cheering in the audience. The bad guy has been assaulted and we can all go home feeling relieved that justice was served. Of course, in real life, this doesn’t happen. In real life I doubt that the other woman would have stood up for her either but it is possible. I think what might have really happened is that the wife would have defended her husband. In reality, the alcoholic finally made peace with herself. The other woman was just beginning.

The ending of this film shows the alcoholic probably in recovery; for real this time. She has symbolically moved to the other side of the train because she is ready to move past her trauma and move forward in her life. We look at the ending but don’t realize that the truth is so easy. Taking that step forward by sitting in a different chair, looking out a different window, getting a new job and just letting go, which is what everyone wants us to do. It is simple for someone who is facing a small problem. When the victims psyche has been wounded at a depth such as this, they become glued to the chair and cannot get up. Thus they force themselves to try and make sense of reality because their instincts are telling them there is just something not right about what they assume is the truth. Trusting your instincts can become a task when you have begun to give your power to someone else.

Emotional abuse is ABUSE. Living in a nice neighborhood and being married to a man with money, does not make it okay to be emotionally abused. Emotional abuse is Domestic Violence. Domestic Violence does not mean you have to ALSO be physically or sexually attacked for it to be named as such. So many women are victims of emotional abuse alone and are surprised to hear they are living in a domestic violence type relationship. They often feel unworthy because they have not been hit. Unfortunately, the physical abuse can happen, the longer you stay and where there is emotional abuse, often there is sexual abuse as well. If you are being pushed into acts of sex that are unwelcome, uncomfortable, unwanted, than this would be sexual abuse.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.

Libs vs. Cons and Social Media

Our society has continued to go on a downward spiral as a result of Social Media. For all it is worth, it is mainly used to take advantage and destroy others. This is because anyone and everyone can make their opinions known and you can’t do anything about it. As a result of this groups of people are gaining more and more power and are using it to destroy rather than to help other people. Both the Liberals and Conservatives take this to mean that they can use Social Media as they wish. Whoever gets the most likes wins!

Sadly this has destroyed our country and no doubt has destroyed other countries as well. Instead of having intellectual discussions on the Internet, which it could certainly be used for one can be attacked for saying the nicest of things. Steve Martin, a comedian, known for making people laugh was destroyed by Social Media because he made a nice comment in regards to the memory of Carrie Fisher. When comedian Robin Williams died, his family was attacked because of their outrage over his choice of exit.

The Liberals are now on the attack, because a Republican is in the White House and this makes people feel threatened from all walks of life. If you don’t think like they think you are bad and should be shunned. Recently the Mexican-Americans decided to do a standoff, to show their outrage to President Trump in regard to his views about illegal immigration and the “Wall” on their border. Naturally they have a right to be scared and concerned about some of their fellow people. However they forced other Mexicans to close their restaurants whether they wanted to or not and this is gang mentality (I have also heard of this tactic used in communist countries). It is not an encouraging or empowering way to think. It certainly does not have anything to do with Freedom of Speech or living in a democracy and having the right to your opinion. Having been a patron to several local establishments, I learned that restaurants were being attacked on Facebook. The attackers went in search of establishments, taking photos of those who chose to remain open and then blacklisting them online and telling people not to eat at their restaurants. The people I spoke to said they felt afraid as did some of their compadres locally that they spoke to. They closed because they were forced to, not because they wanted to.

The fashion industry mavens now think they have a right to pull Trump clothing lines and avoid his daughter at a fashion show. Who listens to the fashion industry for political advice? When I look at Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar, I am looking at clothing and how to wear my scarf or part my hair. I am certainly not buying these magazines to challenge any philosophical views as they are about dressing women and men, that is all. The fashion industry has never really been about politics. They use the current events to determine fashion trends and how they will design clothing but not to tell people how to think outside of buttoning your coat. As my first degree is from FIDM, (aka The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) I never once studied anything about politics during my term there in Los Angeles. I did study current events though and how this effected change in fashion over the years.

I also read both of Stanley Marcus’s memoirs, the son of the founder of Neiman-Marcus and went on to head this elegant family business before selling out to Carter-Hawley Hale in the 80’s. Mr. Marcus (A Jewish businessman), was a huge fan of Coco Chanel because he knew that her clothing lines were going to be legendary and he had an eye for quality and taste. Perhaps he was disturbed to hear that she was known to collaborate with the Nazis, during WWII. I am sure he was also disturbed to hear that she underbid a Jewish businessman trying to flee the country, who had to take what he got for his building and store. Yet Mr. Marcus did not get his political feelings in the way of selling products in his store. He knew this was not good business sense. Just like you have separation of church and country, you also have to separate personal feelings from running a business. Otherwise, open a non-profit that is based on making change in the country. Unfortunately, Nordstrom and Burlington have decided that they should share their political views with the world and have pulled the Ivanka Trump lines. This shows that they are not about business; they have decided to put their own political views as the headliner to their store. Who made this decision? Did all executives and employees agree with this? It is a corporation not a one man show. Will they next tell employees how they should vote in an election or they will be fired?

My stepfather lived in a communist country and it is the reason he left in 1956. You can read many historical novels that talk about life in these countries and how people are treated. I saw a documentary about China once where there were “grandmothers” assigned to report people who had a second pregnancy (in their one child only policy), they were then forced to have abortions. My cousin fled Hungary in 1987 (via Germany) because he was tired of dealing with the communist regime and fighting for his rights to have a home and other essentials. He told me that life in a communist country means you have to hide behind closed doors to talk to one another and be very, very, careful whom you talk with. In Russia, people go to Siberia for speaking out openly, or they disappear. 

This is what we are turning into.

What is rather strange to me, more than anything is all this talk of moving to Canada, the same bark that was heard when President George W. Bush won the election in 2001. Moving to Canada is hardly the easiest place to “move to.” I myself looked into this years ago because I thought about living there. I was fascinated with the idea of living in another country and chose Canada or England. Both were extremely difficult places to just get up and move to and friends talked me out of it for various reasons. Yet, this seems to be the liberal motto whenever a Republican wins as president. It is hard to take it seriously when I have heard this before and they are still here. However, young people are ignorant of the past and become scared when they hear people say they are fleeing the country.

It is also very strange to hear that President Trump is a “narcissist” as if this is unusual for a CEO or a President or anyone in power at whatever type of organization or government agency. Someone asked me on Twitter if I was afraid of this. I asked him if he was afraid of people with Asperger’s. I explained that the boy who killed children at an elementary school in Newtown, CT had Asperger’s. People who have clinical depression are known to be more apt to do a death by suicide but this does not mean we should lock everyone up with this diagnosis because they might harm themselves.

Actually, if President  Trump were a narcissist than I ask myself why are they pandering to his ego by behaving so violently and antagonistically? This only makes a narcissist feel that they are justified in their beliefs and creates more self-righteousness. Narcissists never do anything wrong, it is always someone elses fault, so why have liberals decided to be the scapegoat? If I were wanting to get the attention of a narcissist, I would placate them and allow them to respect me first so that I could sit down to the table with them and talk. Having received this respect, I would then talk to them in a diplomatic way about my ideas and help them to see it is their idea too. This would be the clever tactic to choose. But this also takes a level of maturity and dignity. I can see that this is the way most political dignitaries are choosing to behave on their visits to the White House. It appears they are succeeding to create a partnership with our country, based on whatever it is they are coming here for. Of course who really is the narcissist here; the president or the liberals out on the streets? He actually has the power to run the country. He is doing exactly what he said he was going to do. Like it or not, he is in charge. The people on the streets are being disrespectful Americans and are pushing the limits of what is legal and ethical. They are expecting people to think like them or you are wrong and this is the definition of a narcissist. Should we all just sign a waiver saying the liberals are right and I pledge to follow behind whatever they say or do? It is calling a spade a spade, or the phrase “It takes one to no one.”

Some conservatives have gone against their own political ally publically and this is very interesting too. I firmly believe this has a lot to do with the fact that President Trump won and this destroyed the political system. It means that it is possible for anyone in this country to be a government official and this creates a challenge for the “career politician.” This has never been President Trump’s career. So even though what President Trump is saying would have been favored by many Republicans in our history because he is speaking like a conservative, their egos have been bruised. It is no different than hiring a manager from outside of the company and then employees hate this person because he/she has no experience and because they didn’t get the job.

The media has fallen by the wayside for many decades now. They have chosen to compete with the National Enquirers and People magazine types and have sensationalized their stories that are being eaten up by the masses of liberals. They pander to the liberals which is causing this faction to believe they have more power and pushes them to be more and more aggressive. I find it extremely difficult to find out what is going on at the White House because instead of behaving like Walter Cronkite and reporting the facts on national television, they are stating their opinions which often seem to be aggressive hateful headlines. I have been following Ivanka Trump on Twitter and have been impressed with how she handles herself publically by not talking about the negative publicity from Nordstrom and Burlington, instead focusing on the positive. She is continuing to work toward being an advocate of women and children and is highlighting women business owners, attending meetings with Canada in regard to women in the workplace and raising children at the same time.

The way I was raised is that you should have respect for your country. Even when Presidents have won that I have not liked, I had respect for them anyway. I do not vote Republican or Democrat, I vote for whom I think is the right choice for right now.  Locally, I have had concerns about term limits for mayors in this state but my plan is to go forward and talk to people about this and will be doing so very soon at the state level. This is a more intelligent way to get people to listen. Will I change the state? I have no idea because I don’t know if anyone else cares about this. I am standing up for my beliefs in a tactful way and realizing if I don’t “win” than I must accept this and keep trying again when I have the opportunity. I would never distance myself from my friends because they think differently than I do – unless I find them to be rude and disrespectful to me. It would never be because they are one political side or another or one religion or another. I have had friends who have distanced themselves from me for my political views because they apparently only liked me because I was thinking along the same lines as them. It showed me that they were never my friend in the first place because they were judging me for my thoughts, not loving me for my kindness and concern for them.

The buzzword of the day is to be “Mindful” of… This does not support antagonism, violence, or disturbing the peace. It is about being mindful of your actions and the effect they have on self and others. Whatever your political opinion, you have a right to this thought process because we live in a free country. Freedom of Speech does not mean forcing someone to think like you do. Our ancestors created this amendment to separate us from other countries that did not allow people the right to an opinion. The reason that we have liberals and conservatives is so that we may have a balanced system in politics. As we have two different ways of thinking; this gives way to ideas that are sometimes challenging our own thought processes. Whatever a president chooses to sign or whichever change he wishes to invoke, this cannot happen by him alone. It is the reason we have the House of Representatives and The Senate. We live in a democracy not a dictatorship and no President can become a dictator unless this is approved by the House and Senate.

For those wishing to make change in the world, this is wonderful. But first learn how politics work and educate yourself on getting laws passed and speaking in front of Congress, etc… Then get out there and become a politician on the local level so that you can impact the government in some way. Or, start a non-profit or get involved in a position with a company that will enable your vision. Getting on Social Media and forcing others to be like you is not creating healthy change in this world. It is actually making our country a very dangerous place to live. Take responsibility for your actions instead of placing the blame on someone else.

The Psych Show and Exposure Therapy

 

I met Dr. Ali Mattu recently at a workshop called “Social Media and Mental Health,” which he and local professional Dr. Ackerman were facilitating. Today I finally had the time to sit down and review some of his videos on YouTube. He has a “channel” called “The Psych Show,” where he covers a variety of mental health topics. The videos are quite entertaining and educational as well. This is an example of one of his videos. Go to YouTube and see what other interesting topics he covers. He makes psychology a fun topic rather than something to avoid.