Posted in connections, ebb & flow, know better do better, marriage, mindset, parenting, podcasts, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Podcast quote: problem maintenance

As I mentioned a bit ago, I have been bingeing on Where Should We Begin? by Esther Perel.

The first episode of the second season (“You Need Help to Help Her”), she’s talking with a couple who has a young adult daughter with problems. Most of the details of the episode aren’t relevant to this post, but if you have a child with any sort of mental health issue, you might gain some insight from it.

Basically, there weren’t (known) problems, and suddenly, there were big problems, and the whole family dynamic and structure changed.

At the end, Esther is summing things up, and she says this (emphasis mine):

“When mom speaks of the holistic view, the way I would define it is this. I am a family therapist. I think systemically. I think about problems in context, problems in an ecology, not just what causes them but what maintains them. How is the relationship system, how is the family organized around the problem?”

Maybe you’ve thought about this before, but I’ve never thought specifically about problem maintenance (when the problem doesn’t start as a systemic one).

I’ve been thinking about this and am starting to apply it to my closest relationships.

  • What am I doing that maintains problems? (within my level of awareness)
  • How can I change that? (within my level of control)
  • Where can I connect disconnects to make life happier for everyone who lives here? (within my levels of awareness and control)

Hopefully, in time, we can all connect in to that, but I’m starting first, and we’ll go from there.

Blew my mind.

Problem maintenance.

Posted in audience participation

It’s beautiful outside!

May 20.

It’s in the 60s. Predicted high for today is in the 70s. The current temperature is cooler than the average low for May. Average high is in the 90s.

I could have used a jacket this morning.

People all over the Valley of the Sun are rejoicing in the beautiful weather today. But I encourage you: GO OUTSIDE!

Yesterday was an equally lovely day, and, unfortunately, I spent too much of it indoors. I will not make that mistake today!

Don’t just be glad when you walk to and from your car that it’s nice out–take advantage of it! (Even if that means the parks and trails are all crowded.)

(If the weather is not lovely by you today, save this message for a day when it’s beautiful outside. Especially if it’s a time of year when it’s not typically beautiful outside!)

Posted in know better do better, mindset, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Our culture of victim-blaming and shaming

Victim-blaming is almost a national past time.

My [expensive thing] was stolen from my [car/house/desk/anywhere]. “Was it locked?”

She was raped. “What was she wearing? Was she drinking?” (I could make a giant list of victim-blaming that applies just to women.)

My purse was stolen out of a shopping cart. “What did you expect?”

Kids at lunch were making fun of my hair. “I told you not to wear it like that.”

He was just diagnosed with lung cancer. “Does he smoke?” (Tidbit: diagnoses of lung cancer in non-smokers is on the rise and has been for a few years.)

In cases where we’re judging other adults, it seems to be a simple self-protective mechanism. If I can blame what happened to you on your actions, then I don’t have to worry about that thing happening to me, because I’m smart enough not to act how you do/did.

(I believe this is also why we ignore data on common things that are carcinogenic—because then we’d have to be responsible for not using them or for our diagnosis if/when it comes, and we would rather attribute it to bad luck, random chance, or a deity.)

In cases where we’re judging children, it’s either because they’re experiencing something painful that we did (or still do) and instead of dealing with that pain that brings up for us, we wall up and blame them. Or we’re judging their parents through the kids.

(Which is why so many of us are over-invested in what we think other people think about our kids. Sometimes shitty kid behavior is because of shitty parents, and sometimes it’s not. Often can’t tell by the snapshot you get.)

This is not to say that no one has personal responsibility for anything, contrary to what the current socio-political climate might suggest. (Or how some parents act regarding their kids.)

People are responsible for their actions. What they choose to do and say (or not do and not say).

That’s the thing—it’s not the owner’s fault that someone decided it was OK to open a car that didn’t belong to them and take things from inside. That is completely on the thief. No matter what is inside, no matter how much you can see or not see through the windows.

It’s not my fault that while drunk, a friend decided he could have sex with her. That is completely on the rapist.

“What did you expect?”

I expect that people will be decent to each other. I understand that this is not reality, possibly even most of the time. But I also know that often enough, people live up to or down to expectations.

I feel like … blaming the victim gives a pass to the perpetrator. And as soon as perpetrators get a pass, word spreads, and there are more of them.

Start to notice how often we blame the victim. Start to think about how much better off we’d be if we held the appropriate people accountable. Polish up your words and actions so as to have fewer victims. (None of us are never the perpetrator.) And see if we can spread that, instead.

Posted in mindset, vulnerability

Don’t ask the question unless…

…you actually want the answer.

This is a thing that makes me a little crazy.

If you ask for an opinion, you need to be able to receive the opinion.

If you ask to hear someone’s experience, you need to be open to hearing their experience.

So often, we ask a question and are open to one of the potential answers, and that’s all.

And, if possible, ask the question that you’re wanting the answer to.

There’s the stereotypical “Does this dress make me look fat?”

What does she really want to know?

Most likely, is this dress flattering to me? Regardless your size or shape, some styles are going to look better than others. Different colors look better with certain skin tones and hair colors. Some patterns suit your personality better than others.

Beyond that, the question is viewed as a trap, and for good reason.

Too often, she doesn’t actually want any answer; she wants the right answer.

(This example is a woman asking, but there are plenty of man-based examples as well. Don’t let yourself off the hook, gentlemen.)

If you are just looking for reassurance and a yes-man, tell your audience that you’re feeling a little bit uncomfortable in your skin and need some reassurance. It’s vulnerable, but it’s real.

(If you’ve never had a conversation that went anything like that, the first one might not go ideally, depending on who you’re having it with. Process it and try again.)

And if the answer is an honest, “That dress doesn’t make you look your best,” say thank you and get changed!

But in any case, don’t ask a question and then get mad that the question wasn’t answered the way you wanted.

Hurt maybe, sad maybe, happy maybe, mad at the circumstance perhaps, but mad at them for answering? No, please.

Worse than that, in my opinion, is asking someone their experience, and then telling them they’re wrong.

Whether you perceived it the same way or not, it’s their experience. Ask yourself what you have to lose by believing that it did happen to them that way.

So. If you want the answer—any answer (or any you can reasonably predict)—ask the question. Otherwise, shush.

Posted in meandering

Ah, baseball

We went to a baseball game tonight. Diamondbacks were playing the Giants.

I like baseball, but I completely understand why anyone would not like baseball.

As with most games, there were some plays with a lot of hustle and some plays without. (I have no patience for them being lazy or playing without hustle. The Tall Daddy laughs when I start anything with, “When I own a baseball team…”)

Regardless, there are many things that one doesn’t necessarily see (some rarer than others), and by that metric, tonight’s game was a good one. (Also, we won, which makes the evening a little happier.)

Quite a few double plays. All in favor of the visitors, so I hate to see them in that respect, but I do enjoy a well-turned double play. Even if one is off a bunt.

A few doubles, both regular and ground rule. A triple or two. A home run.

Bases loaded with one out; no runs scored. (That one in favor of the home team!)

Stolen base! (That’s the hustle I’m talking about!)

An ejection! (Sadly, we were already on our way home—way past The Kid’s bedtime—when this happened. Heard it on the radio.)

And, not particular to baseball, the wave went around the stadium three times! Weak on the first round, but solid on the second. Third go-round was interrupted by a broken bat RBI.

The Kid is not necessarily interested in watching the game (though he says he likes going to them), but whenever people cheer, he wants to know what happened. So I explained some of the rules—as many as he had patience for—and explained things as they were happening. Interested, but not captivated.

I hope baseball becomes a thing we can share and both enjoy as he gets older.

Regardless of any of that, it was a gorgeous evening. The roof was open on the stadium—in May! The perfect evening to sit in the cheap seats and watch some baseball.