Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Emotional Balance — Make it More Realistic

In the intelligentwomenonly 9/22/2010 blog about science support for gender stereotypes, women's greater (than men's) emotional expressiveness was mentioned as a research supported fact. In and of itself, emotional expressiveness isn't good or bad, productive or useless, it just is. It can increase our own self-awareness as we speak our inner thoughts out loud — or reduce our sense of emotional balance as we hear ouselves express "all over the place" emotion. Men can flee to safety from our emotional intensity (verbally or physically) or see it as a different and interesting take on us or the situation under discussion.

If you're happy with how you vent, state, express your feelings outwardly to women, men, and children, read this new blog no more. If you're not, start to think about realistic thinking/talking, pulling away from the negative or positive evaluative approach.

 For example, you give an informative speech to a small group. When it is over you realize that it wasn’t as good as usual because you were not well prepared and felt rushed. If you want to maintain or attain emotional balance, you reduce the overly negative and positive self-talk and increase realistic self-talk.

• Realistic — “That speech wasn’t my best, but it was fine.”
• Negative — “I blew it again. I should give up speaking.”
• Positive — “I’ve got a talent for speaking! They loved it.”

Negative self-talk, translated often into external talk,  keeps us down. Positive self-talk can put us in a dicey stance. I'm suggesting women alter the ratio of their thinking styles: more of the realistic, less of the negative or positive. The following poem says it best.

“Success is as dangerous as failure.
 Hope is as hollow as fear.
What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
your position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
you will always keep your balance.”
(From Poem 13 of The Tao Te Ching)
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Intelligent Women — Why Are You Reading The Secret and The Power?

I might be strenuously dinged for criticizing The Power since I haven't read it. But I was (and am) so disgusted with the major BS (which doesn't stand for Brainy Science) of The Secret that I can't stand to immerse myself deeply in the "power of love" as it relates to the law of attraction. Consequently I will quote from an article in the NY Times Book Review, Sept 27th. The authors, both men, are psychology professors. According to both books,  ". . . your thoughts and feelings have magnetic properties and 'frequencies'. They 'vibrate' and resonate with the 'universe', somehow attracting events that share those frequencies back to their thinker." What?

The professors comment on a few mind tricks involved in getting both books to the top of the bestseller list.

• social proof — if other people are "buying" the concept, or have stated a similar concept in the past, (celebrities (Oprah), theologians, historical sages) then an idea or action gains credibility by association with admired others. By joining, individuals feel similar to and therefore enhanced as they become part of a "movement" populated by intelligent, respected others.

• the illusion of potential — "A readiness to believe that we have a vast reservoir of untapped abilities just waiting to be released." We may all have untapped abilities, but in general we have to do a lot more than sending our wishes out to the universe in order to produce results.

The article authors note, "The powerful psychology behind these rhetorical tricks can distract readers from the larger illogic of Byrne's book. What if a thousand people started sincerely visualizing winning the entire $200 million prize in this week's Lotto? How would the universe sort out that mess?"

I ask, "Why are thousands of women reading these nonsensical books?" Both books can be labeled as self-help books. Women purchased 74% of books sold in the relationship and family category (of self-help books) according to book consumer trends tracker R.R. Bowker. Therefore, it's not a huge leap to think that women are buying most of the far-out, unscientific, untrue, illogical books that I'm talking about.

I would really like to understand some good, solid, logical reasons for buying a book that is based on fantasy, while pretending to be based on science and reality. To me there are sad reasons —

• women are hopeless about getting what they want through their own abilities
• hype and dreams are easier to live with in the short term than despair
• a low self-esteem epidemic
• waiting takes less effort than working toward a goal
• inability to accept that you may not be able to have everything you want, even if you're smart and capable

I'd love some answers. I look forward to push back. I'd be happy for someone to tell me I'm all wrong.
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Women ARE More Emotionally Expressive and Cleaner Too. So Says Science.

10 Gender Stereotypes That Science Supports

by admin on September 7, 2010
  1. Men are better than women at driving. While female drivers might not be the dangerous, fender bending, crazies they are depicted in movies as being, there is some scientific evidence to support that men are better when it comes to driving than women. Why is this? Studies have shown that men are better at navigation and at orienting themselves in three-dimensional space. Some researchers think this is due to early man having to go out to hunt and return home again with dinner and is related to testosterone levels in the body. And it isn’t just women, the study also found that homosexual men were less likely to excel at driving as well. Despite the stereotype, and the science that supports it, that same testosterone can lead to men taking more risks and driving more aggressively, the reason insurance premiums are so much higher for males than females.
  2. Women are cleaner than men. This holds true for personal as well as household cleanliness but it might not just be due to laziness or housekeeping ineptness in men. In fact, researchers think that it has to do with women simply having a better sense of smell than men. While structurally male and female olfactory senses are the same, the way that smells are processed in the brain differs. Women actually use a larger part of their brain to process smells, making them better able to pick up on things like stinky socks, body odor and rotting take out containers that might fly under the radar of men. It is this ability to pick up on body odor in particular that researchers think is the reason for the difference, allowing cro-magon women to better tell when males were ready to mate. Think that sounds silly? A woman’s sense of smell peaks in sensitivity when she’s ovulating.
  3. Men feel less pain than women. This isn’t to suggest that it’s impossible to cripple a man with pain (try aiming for the family jewels and you’ll see just how much pain a man really can feel) or that women are huge wimps when it comes to pain. It’s just that men and women’s bodies are set up differently when it comes to sensing and processing pain information. Women actually have more pain receptors in their skin, making even small bumps and bruises more painful for them than their male counterparts. And when men do get hurt? They just don’t feel it as much due in part to a small protein that men have in greater supply than women. This protein affects both the pain threshold and the ability of painkillers to work on the body, causing women to sometimes need double the amount of painkiller to get the same amount of relief. Of course, there is one instance where the situation is reversed: childbirth. During childbirth, a woman’s body is hopped up on enough endorphins and natural painkillers to dull (at least a little bit, as any woman will tell you it still hurts like the dickens) the intense pain of the process.
  4. Women are more intuitive. Ever felt like your mom, girlfriend or best friend could read your mind? While women might not be mind readers studies have shown that they are better at picking up on subtle cues that are often nonverbal and unconscious. Research has documented that women consistently score better than men at both remembering the physical characteristics of others and correctly identifying the information being transmitted through facial expressions, tones of voices and body posture. Scientists think it is an evolutionary trait related to having to guess whether a fussy child is hungry, cold or in need of closeness. Moms better at reading cues had better luck at keeping offspring alive, passing on the skill to the next generation. Men in multiple studies were found to be less adept at guessing at the emotions of others, though both sexes have a hard time seeing through perfidious emotions, such as a fake smile.
  5. Men can drink women under the table. Men have an advantage when it comes to drinking more than women in that they’re simply often larger and bulkier than their female counterparts. Of course, the ability of men to pound down beer after beer and feel little effect has deeper roots than just body size. The reason behind the difference is due to the water to fat ratios in male and female bodies. Men have more water in their bodies, helping dilute their alcohol intake naturally. And women don’t just have a disadvantage at this stage either, but as the alcohol moves to their liver they have less of the enzyme that helps them to kill the intoxicating effects of liquor, making them get drunk more quickly and more thoroughly than men. Of course, there are always differences among individuals as some women can out drink men and some men can only handle a few beers before falling over.
  6. Women talk more than men. The stereotype that women like to talk, talk, talk and then talk some more might hold some weight when it comes to science. It seems that the part of the brain that processes language and helps support verbal ability is proportionally larger in the female brain than the male. This may mean that females have superior language skills to men. And since they’re better at talking and communicating what they want through verbal cues, women tend to talk more than men. How much more? One study stated that women use around 20,000 words a day, 13,000 more than the average man. Additionally, some research suggests that women speak more quickly and that communication gives women a natural high, making talk a much more satisfying activity for them than men. Does this mean men don’t talk? It’s simply not the case. Other studies have shown that men can be pretty chatty too, but more keen on focusing their talk on sports and gadgets than on relationships and everyday occurrences.
  7. Men are more aggressive and more likely to act out in anger. It’s not that women don’t get angry or really want to yell, scream and kick something, but that their brains are just better at dealing with anger than men. Research indicates that men are often more aggressive and act out in anger because the part of the brain that modulates aggression is smaller in men than it is in women. Both genders can produce anger and aggression with equal aplomb, but it is women that can better reign it in and cool down. This isn’t to suggest that men aren’t able to control their emotions, specifically anger, but that they have a much harder time in general doing so because they have been genetically shortchanged. Studies have also pinpointed the genetic origins of aggression to two genes, both creating individuals who are more prone to belligerent and sometimes violent outbursts The anger reducing power of women was found to carry over to controlling these genes as well, and men carrying them who grew up in nurturing loving homes were found to be more docile and less aggressive than those who did not.
  8. Women are more emotional than men. Movies and TV would have you believe that women cry at the drop of the hat and can’t handle even a simple crisis without freaking out. Female hysteria has been a stereotype that has dogged women for ages, causing men and women alike to question their ability to lead companies, governments and even their own families. Are women really more emotional than men? Well, sort of. Women and men have been found to be equally emotional, experiencing the same levels of sadness when exposed to a sad external stimulus. The difference is not in the feeling of emotion it is in the expression of emotion, with women being much more likely to show sadness and pain than men. However, women are much more prone to emotional stress than men, due to a stress hormone that can send their emotional state spiraling. Men, accordingly, had little reaction to the hormone, helping them keep their cool in situations the women found quite stressful. Both studies show that women are not really more emotional than men but that they have a harder time dealing with emotional stress (due to medical reasons outside of their control — "and due to psychological reasons within their control" **) and feel more socially comfortable expressing how they feel.
  9. Men have no savvy for color. We’re all familiar with the stereotypical situation where a woman holds up several very similar paint swatches and asks a man to help her choose between toffee, cappuccino, taupe and beige. Of course, the man can’t tell the difference and audiences laugh at the frivolousness of the woman or the seeming stupidity of the man, depending on their sex. Research shows that this inability to see subtle color differences isn’t a product of a male indifference to design or fashion. It’s actually biological. The gene for seeing red is only carried on the X chromosome, leaving men at a serious disadvantage when it comes to inheriting the ability to see the full color spectrum. it’s also the reason that pretty much no females are color blind. Women also have the ability to be tetrachromats, seeing more colors than the average person, sometimes up to a hundred million different shades. Researchers think the color seeing advantages of women date back to when they were the primary gatherers for the family. Being able to tell poisonous foods apart from similar looking non-poisonous ones was key to survival.
  10. Women have less of a sex drive than men. It’s been ingrained into our culture that men are the sexual ones and women just put up with it. Of course, the reality is far more nuanced than that and many women are extremely sexual and want to have sex with men as much as men want to have sex with females. The difference between the sexes lies in that, for women, sex is more than just physical. Research has shown that the male libido is strong and that male sexual desires are pretty straightforward, meaning they can become aroused easily and what arouses them isn’t too hard to pin down. Women, on the other hand, are much more sensitive to environment, context, emotional state and social and cultural factors. Women are often unsure of just what turns them on and are much more likely to be fluid in their sexual preferences than men. And if you don’t know what you want, or who you want it with, you can be less likely to actively seek it out. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and rates of infidelity between spouses that hover at around the same percentage for both men and women are enough to demonstrate that both sexes are interested in sex and sex with different partners.                                                   ** Added by jt

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    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Thinking Under Pressure: Do you Clutch or Choke?

    "What does it mean to be clutch?" Paul Sullivan asks in the Introduction to his 2010 book, Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't. I was delighted that he asked, because I was clueless. I do practice what I preach in my book Genderflex — women need to know something about sports to survive in the world of work.  Workplace conversations, still rife with sports analogies, and "wealth acquisition" stories keep women thinking "Huh?" at times. And I was still saying "Huh?" to myself after reading Sullivan's stories about John Havlicek, Tommy LaSorda, Eli Manning and Roger Federer. Even though I know who these men are, I still didn't get it about clutch.

    My second problem with the clutch thing was that the author uses the word as an adjective. e.g. "being a clutch performer", or a noun, "He proved himself in the clutch." Maybe this is a male thing. I  think of clutch as a verb, e.g. grab, grasp. Nonetheless, I ultimately understood. Clutch means to be good under pressure. Choke means NOT being good under pressure.

    OK, so what you're maybe wondering, given all my opposition, why didn't I just shut the book and shut up about clutch? Chapter 8, which is called "The Perils of Overthinking," notes the connection between clutch and the "empowerment of being realistic." Wow! That's what I'm talking about too. Not freaking out with the negative. Not faking out with the positive. Just plain old realistic thinking. "What it certainly is not is overthinking," the author says about clutch.

    The final sentence in Chapter 8 notes, "To avoid the perils of overthinking, a person needs to just do what he does — and not think of what he could, would, should do in that situation." Hm-m-m-m. I'm still mumbling to myself. I think Paul Sullivan, in a very lengthy, sports analolgy, male-targeted way is saying something to men that I'm saying to women. Dump the negative — dump the positive — get real and focus on solving the problem! Men and women do speak different languages, with different tones, analogies, stories and points, but yes, there are underlying similarities.

    I'm taking the book back to the library tomorrow before it sends me to sleep, albeit with a renewed appreciation for the fact that men also overthink, negative think, and often are overconfident thinkers!
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    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    What Does it Mean to Grow Up?

    The title of today's post is is taken from Dr. Gerald Stein's article, "Signs of Maturity: What Does It Mean to Grow Up?"  http://tinyurl.com/2bhvcol

    Here are a couple of paragraphs about men and maturity.

    "Let the last words on the subject of being a grown-up (and much more) go to Adlai Stevenson II, in his 1954 speech at the senior class dinner of his Alma Mater, Princeton University. These 55-year-old words spoken by the 54-year-old Stevenson are as appropriate now as then:
    "…What a man knows at fifty that he did not know at twenty is, for the most part, incommunicable. The laws, the aphorisms, the generalizations, the universal truths, the parables and the old saws—all of the observations about life which can be communicated handily in ready, verbal packages—are as well-known to a man at twenty who has been attentive as to a man at fifty. He has been told them all, he has read them all, and he has probably repeated them all before he graduates from college; but he has not lived them all.
    What he knows at fifty that he did not know at twenty boils down to something like this: The knowledge he has acquired with age is not the knowledge of formulas, or forms of words, but of people, places, actions—a knowledge not gained by words but by touch, sight, sound, victories, failures, sleeplessness, devotion, love—the human experiences and emotions of this earth and of oneself and other men; and perhaps, too, a little faith, and a little reverence for things you cannot see…"
    Yes, that was a long time ago when "men" was retroactively said to mean men and women, but this particular quote does not seem so much applicable to men as to women. We do people best, faith more, and reverence for things you cannot see, a lot.

    With no specific gender recognition of his advice , Gerald Stein makes a pertinent comment more specific to women than Stevenson's comment was to men — at least from my viewpoint.

    "Accepting and liking oneself is a part of being a grown-up. Not that you don’t need to or want to change, but to appreciate what is good about yourself and to accept some of the inevitable limitations to which all of us are prone. Not to avoid self-improvement, but to avoid self-denigration."

    We learned negative self-talk at 11 or 12. Let's unlearn it at 21 or 22, not 61 or 62.

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