Monday, August 30, 2010

Another Tough View on The Secret and the Law of Attraction

This week’s post borrows Tony Brenna's article, previously published in The Bainbridge Buzz, a local blog site that ran out of gas. Tony is a fellow Toastmaster, a journalist and writer. I agree completely with his viewpoint about The Secret, though I wasn’t at the town hall.

I’d love to hear what some of the intelligent women out there think about The Secret and The Law of Attraction — particularly your reasons for buying into the concept, other than personal anecdotes.

"The recent town hall meeting to discuss The Secret drew mostly wistful comments from an audience obviously besotted by the main idea that the Law of Attraction rules everything in life, i.e. if you want something strongly enough, if you think about it constantly, you can literally will it into your existence.
While Dr. Jennifer Manlowe (author and writer on the psychology of religion) did an excellent job pointing to failings in this philosophy, you could feel her running into resistance from those who preferred to embrace The Secret’s core message: you can get rich, find the perfect mate, in fact have everything you want simply by visualization.  This message advocates embracing Magical Thinking, telling yourself you’re at the center of the Universe, even believing you’re God, not merely made in the likeness of the Creator.
New Thought Minister LeeAnn Gibbs, leading the discussion, appeared to agree with the central premise of the best seller, that the law of attraction really works — although she did concede The Secret is overly directed to the self-centered, self-indulgent aspects of human nature. And as another New Thought follower pointed out: “Worse, it doesn’t really tell you how to do what it advocates.”

Listening to comments one couldn’t fail to be amazed at the naïveté and self-delusion that permeated most of what was said.  This brilliantly packaged product wasn’t seen as full of clever hocus pocus, but rather as weighted with meaningful messages promising abundance, love and good health — just by placing your order positively with the universe.
Since these thoughts have been expressed in writings going back centuries, one risks being burned at the stake as a heretic by arguing against positivity.  But one must counter the current trend to banish reality, to not face facts. As much as it disturbs those wishing to see only goodness and light, the negative still has a valid  place in our lives and should be examined closely, too. 
We live in a society bombarded by artfully crafted messages from those seeking to sell us products or ideas; TV and films are full of mythical characters, situations and creations.  We watch all this rather than deal with the grim realities of the modern world.  The Secret seems like an escape hatch out of collective disappointment and despair. But it isn’t. The Western world is facing a host of problems right now:  an unraveling economy; environmental degradation; disintegration of the family; wars spurred by greed, religious wackos, poverty and disease. The Secret tells us just to go on our merry metaphysical way, emitting magical signals that will attract to us larger homes, luxurious cars and perfect partners."

That process won't work for individuals, groups or nations. As Paul Sloane, a British expert on thinking said on Twitter, "The Law of Attraction is a Dangerous Delusion."
Another Tough View on The Secret and the Law of AttractionSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, August 23, 2010

Don't Take it Personally?

"Don't take it personally," is an oft-used disclaimer. What does that really mean when you receive that message?
To me, it generally means:
• Criticism will follow. e.g. "Your report isn't clearly worded." "Do you always wear those baggy jeans?"
• The person speaking is trying to avoid your being defensive or angry in response to criticism.
• Or the person may want to get into a conflict with you, after which they end the conversation with, "You always take things so personally. I can't talk to you about anything."

Maybe you don't mind that conversational opener or closer. I do. I think it's disingenuous — particularly when it comes from men. Many women and men know that women are more likely to be emotional, to have the inner NST critic chatting all the time, and thus to take things personally.

Here are a few ideas about combatting the "Don't Take it Personally," approach.

• Quickly say, "Please be cautious in your wording. I will take it personally." If the person has good motives they will be careful and rethink the wording. e.g. "I think the report would be clearer if you also state the three most important points in a sidebar."
• Quickly say, "I won't take it personally. I understand you're just telling me your opinion. I might agree or I might disagree." If the person's motives are to get you on the defensive, this may disarm them slightly. Plus it helps you to reframe the comment.
• Remind yourself in your head, "He/she is telling me something about him/herself, not about me."
• Detach. Don't get into it. Listen. Perhaps say, "Interesting comment," and nothing more. If the speaker keeps at you, "How are you planning to fix the report?" you say, "I'll give it some thought."

Any of these options require restraint and calm — both of which are hard to achieve when you're ticked off, your NST is going 100 mph and you're feeling vulnerable. Nonetheless, just about anything is better than biting the bait, getting into it, and ending up feeling worse than ever.
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Writers: Gender Differences and Stress — March 11, 2011

Here's a repeat early post about gender differences in dealing with stress — and focused on writers in particular.

Blogger and writer, Kelli Russell Agodon, speculated about gender differences as they show up in writers. See the complete post and her blog at www.ofkells.blogspot.com
I have borrowed with permission and shortened the sequence, but not changed wording.

"If an editor of our press rejects work from a male writer, but writes something like, "This came close.  We'd like to see more of your work in the future, please resubmit" - we will usually receive another submission from the male writer within a month (though sometimes two) after he receives his rejection.

When we send this same note to a woman writer, she will resubmit maybe in 3-6 months (if that) but more likely it will be later than 6 months and sometimes a year (or the next submission season later).  Sometimes she will not resubmit at all.

I do not know why this is, but as a woman writer who grew up in the age of not imposing on people or being a bother, here is my guess to why--

When we ask a woman to resubmit she thinks, "When would be the best time to resubmit?  I don't want to seem pushy, but I do want to get them my work.  Maybe I should wait a few months so I don't seem desperate or so I don't irritate them by submitting so fast.  Do they really want to see more work, or were they just being nice?  I'm sure they want to see more work, but I should probably wait a couple months, I wouldn't want to be an imposition and it would be better manners and more respectful to wait a bit.  Or should I?  Yes, I'll play it cool and wait a few months. I wouldn't want to impose."
And then the woman writer waits and either forgets or send her submission out a few months to a year later.  (The generalization of women over-thinking things is going through my head right now.)"

Kelli's speculation fits in with research on gender and stress.  From a study by P. Matud about gender differences in stress we find out that one of several reasons that women experience more stress than men. Women carry a larger burden of demands and limitations at work and in the family than men, related to gender role expectations. WOW! The more things change the more things stay the same — still and again. My 1994 book, Genderflex, Men and Women Speaking Each Others Language at Work, is fortunately and unfortunately not outdated yet!

A further finding of the study is that men cope better with stress. They use problem-solving and emotional detachment to cope. They act. We use emotionally focused techniques and avoidanceand we don't take action. We stew. I'm sure you can see the connection to not resubmitting as a writer, which is a relatively benign consequence of women experiencing more stress and coping with it less well as you know. Our overthinking, inner critic is a powerful stressor — a stressor that fewer men have to deal with.

Writers: Gender Differences and Stress — March 11, 2011SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Is Your Psychology a Performance?

Provocative article, "I Tweet, Therefore I am," http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/magazine/01wwln-lede-t.html

Peggy Orenstein has produced an original, insightful article about the effect of social media on "the self." Quoting MIT professor Sherry Turkle, Orenstein writes, "On Twitter or Facebook you're trying to express something real about who you are. But because you're also creating something for others' consumption, you find yourself imagining and playing to your audience more and more. So those moments in  which you're supposed to be showing your true self become a performance. Your psychology becomes a performance." YIKES. 

Orenstein asks,  "But when every thought is externalized, what becomes of insight? When we reflexively post each feeling, what becomes of reflection? When friends become fans, what happens to intimacy?" Lots more worth reading, and thought-provoking. Do you identify? Think it's way off? Only applicable to young people?
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Sunday, August 8, 2010

How Much Stress Do You Create with Negative Self-Talk?

OK. Now that you notice the negative self-talk, look at the effect that inner critic creates in terms of everyday stress.  I propose that for many women, inner stressors such as unrealistic demands and expectations of themselves, communicated through harsh negative self-talk, create greater and more frequent pressure than external stressors.

For example, you’re driving on an icy road, without chains or snow tires. You’re late for a meeting that you’re facilitating. You’re shoulders are up to your ears with tension as you focus intensely on the road, your speed, your vision. The voice in your head gets faster, loud and pushy, impossible to ignore. “Idiot. You should’ve started 30 minutes earlier. You knew it was going to be bad driving. You’re such a bad time manager. Oh, God, Harry’s going to be ticked off. I’ve messed up again.”

What’s the major cause of the stress? The external or the internal stressors? The icy road or the self-criticism?

Intelligent women have to wonder why they hang on to this useless, energy consuming, ineffective, self-talk, habit. Imagine if a friend were saying the same ugly things to you that you’re saying to yourself. Would it motivate you? Move you toward your goals? Make you feel good about yourself? Or would it instead send you spinning off into a stressed out funk? And, if you were smart, once you’d recovered from the second or third bout of nasty criticism from that same friend, you’d dump him or her. So why would you hang on to your own inner critic, year after year, when it doesn’t help you to feel better or do better? When the constant critiquing doesn’t increase self-esteem or improve performance? What’s keeping you from dumping the habit? I'd like to know what keeps you stuck in the rut. Do you know?
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