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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Don't Be A Groundhog

Hey All - looks like January is all but over.  So coming up next in February, in addition to this being a Leap Year, we've got love in bloom on Valentine's Day and patriotism to spare on President's Day. But even sooner than that is Groundhog Day.

Remember that movie from 1993?  Bill Murray's character is inexplicably caught in a day that repeats itself over and over.  He uses it to his advantage to avoid things that he knows will happen, and eventually, given enough opportunities to correct the mistakes he made the first "day," eventually "gets it right."

Believe it or not, even if the same day is not repeated, we still have the same opportunities to "get it right" that Bill Murray's character did with the repeating day in the movie.  We already know, most likely, what to expect from our usual affairs.  Accordingly, we know what we can do to improve them when that is warranted.

As Betas, we are often end fooled into believing that every day we live is identical and meaningless, and that each one will remain the same until we disappear.  Or as the more cynical among us say, work, work, work, and then you die, and there's nothing else to it.


Every single day we live is an opportunity to change the game.  A chance to avoid the pitfall we might have stepped in yesterday.  A chance to talk to whomever it was we passed by without noticing last week.  A chance to do our job even better than we were already doing it to begin with.  Yes, the date on the calendar is changing, instead of trapping us in a time loop, but we can choose to learn and improve tenfold before each individual day ends.

Don't wait for Punxsatawney Phil to tell you whether or not winter is getting sliced in half.  Decide to let your seasons of learning continue through spring and beyond!



Sunday, January 24, 2016

When To Let It Go.

Hey All - Hope you're enjoying the AFC/NFC Championship games -- sometimes they're more exciting than the Super Bowl itself!

One weakness that we as Betas have that makes us less Bold is our propensity to dwell on things.  We make mistakes and beat ourselves up for it.  We get so nervous and upset when being confronted that we don't come up with the good idea, or the crushing comeback, or the winning argument, until after the window to do so has closed.  We relieve negative experiences so many times that we don't actually realize they're over.

We assail and curse the misdeeds of the alpholes because they have no moral compass whatsoever.  Unfortunately, this deplorable trait enables them to get over their mistakes and transgressions lightning-fast. So fast, in fact, that they already have an excuse, alibi, or beyss story to cover themselves without a thought.  As much as it pains me to say it, this is something it pays to do because no amount of guilt, second-guessing, or self-flagellation ever solves a problem.

So how do we do it?  

(1).  If you know that someone has been hurt or wronged by something you did, apologize, once and only once, as soon as possible.  If you can, make it right.  Then, it's over.  If they don't accept your apology, or they start haranguing you, guilt tripping you, or go on an all-out critic-fest, walk away.  Some people are too self-righteous for their own good and have a sorry need to bash others to make themselves feel good, and are quick to justify it as "only being honest."  Their need to run their mouths is not a directive to self-immolate.  Shut it out and leave them with their grudges.
(2).  If you made a mistake, even a painful one, learn from it.  It's ok to stop feeling bad about it, provided you find ways to prevent it from happening again.  And guess what - the more exposure you have to whatever caused that mistake, the more opportunities you have to get better.  And better.  And even better than that!  But if you beat yourself up, you're condemned to screw it up again every time because your confidence is shot.
(3).  If someone else did you wrong, think about the example of the unforgiving type in Example (1).  Is that how a Bold Beta acts?  Nasty and critical?  Stuck up and self-righteous?  Mouthy and moronic?  That's not our way.  I'm not saying you should shake their hand and say all is forgiven - they might think you're "cool with it" and keep doing it all the time.  But I am saying that we need to be the opposite of those high-conflict types who need to give you a dressing down.  Control the anger.  Armor your heart.  Detach yourself.  And consider either removing the individual who wronged you from your life, or taking actions to minimize your exposure to their future wrongdoing.  Chances are, they may be just as inhuman and imperfect as you are, and are unlikely to make that mistake again.  If not, boot 'em.
(4). If you really are that unhappy with someone else, find a way to tell them when it's actually happening.  If they're decent at all, they'll apologize and it'll end.  If they're not, they'll give you a million excuses, and you'll dismiss them.  And instead of giving them unlimited free passes, start telling them that it's not ok.  That way you won't have to "tolerate" them, or feel bad about missing your chance to set a boundary.

Yes, it's ok to stop feeling bad, angry, resentful, guilty, or stupid.  If it's your bad, try to make it good.  If others think they're better than you and keep pointing fingers, forget them.  If it's their bad, make them see why.  If they can't own it, then own your dignity and dismiss them.  Bottom line, take actions to prevent negative feelings from remaining.  And most importantly, if they do remain, dispose of them.  Feeling bad solves nothing.



Friday, December 25, 2015

The "Little Buddy" Problem.

Hey All - Happy New Year!

I've sung the praises of booting people who bash you, try to silence you, minimize you, and disrespect you.  But I've also advocated respecting those who disagree with you, but aren't doing it to put you down.  They do exist, believe it or not.

But then there's another category:  The protectors.  The fake friends.  The pseudo-bullies. The beyss artists.  The token collectors.  It requires extra scrutiny to weed them out.

Recently, I shared a story on Facebook about high school athletes who befriend and mentor elementary school children who are being bullied.  I applaud this wholeheartedly.  While it is still sad that the bullies' belief that might makes right is once again validated, it is very encouraging that there are those who are ready, willing, and able to support those who are bullied.

It's certainly comfortable to have a protector.  Someone who can deter bullies from attacking you.  Someone who can remind the bullies that they're not the juggernauts they think they are.  Someone who can reinforce boundaries of respect.  

However, the question remains - what happens if the protectors get bored?  If they become cynical of protecting those physically weaker than they are?  What if they turn on their little buddies . . . Just because they can?  Who gets protected then?

Well, I'll share with you a story from my past:

Between college and law school, I re-connected with an old friend.  It's not his real name, but I'll call him Bobby.  Bobby's parents and mine were friends for years.  He was several years older than me, so when I was in elementary school, I liked hanging out with him.  He felt like the older brother I never had.  I really trusted him.  While we had grown apart, but then started hanging out again.

So it seemed like it would be like old times again.  He'd show me a few things, and he'd have my back.  However, he had a few problems of his own.  He had a rocky relationship with his fiancée.  He ran into a patch of bad luck and was having trouble keeping a job.  And despite his outgoing nature, he had very few friends.

So how did he deal with these hard times?  By making life unpleasant for his "little buddy," who was such a goody two-shoes for getting into law school, such an inferior little man because he wasn't so outgoing, and such a pathetically easy target for non-stop criticism because just wasn't "cool."  Every time I told him it wasn't ok for him to keep doing that, he always had another excuse.

He alleged that we were just two guys going out and having a good time. In reality, it was a loudmouth who became the center of attention, and his permanent wingman who never seemed to get a word in edgewise.  Robin Hood and Little John.   Batman and Robin.   Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.  And Bobby had no problem teaching, advising, correcting, and minimizing his "little buddy" in front of everyone.  Not a single thought to how embarrassing that might have felt.

Hated.  It.   Immensely.  Once it got so bad that the woman that he was talking to waited until he went to the bathroom and asked me why I was putting up with it.   When I confronted him with it later, he said it was because I was like his "widdle bwuddah" and he "had to look out" for me, and the woman was "stupid anyway."

Somewhere in a barn, a male bovine was relieving himself the moment Bobby said this.  And I could smell it.

This was the straw that broke the camel's back.  While homeboy kept talking, I kept listening.  Every time he bashed lawyers out of jealousy.   Every time he talked about blue-collar workers being "real men" and white-collar workers being "not interested in the little guy."  Every time he boasted about his numerous female conquests (both before and after he got engaged), and put me down for not equaling them (despite the fact that he overtook every conversation with a woman I tried to have).  I took notes and went to work.

I emailed him out of the blue about how much I learned from his example.  So much so that I was going to withdraw from law school and work at the local junkyard.  So much that I was going to start smoking just like he did.  So much that I figured out how to talk to "the chicks," and that one of them was making breakfast for me as I was writing that email.

Then I didn't talk to him for a week.  He could not stop calling me and emailing me, but I was going to let it marinate for a while.   Finally, I got him on the phone and let him babble for a solid half hour about how proud he was of me, and that he would support "whatever choice I made."  When he stopped to take a breath, I explained to him that none of it was true, and that I emailed him this story because I got sick and tired of him judging me.   After about two minutes of shocked silence, I was treated to another half hour monologue filled with disappointment that I did not rearrange my life to mirror his, justification for his continued unacceptable behavior, and repeated assurance that he was asking "forgiveness for my sins."

I stopped talking to him on a regular basis after that.  Especially after he had to move back in with his parents who lived out of state.  

Yes, I could have told him flat out that he could either stop treating me like a child or I'd stop talking to him.  But with thanks to Lady Kharma, there was no need to do so.   Every time he bashed my career choice, he would usually get fired.  After making me look less-than in front of the opposite sex enough times, his fiancée called off the wedding.  After babbling non-stop about how he knew everything about life when he was 12, he was moving back in with his parents at 30.  As I've said before, G-D is even angrier at these people than you are, and He has better tools at His disposal.


As betas, we are sometimes lucky to have someone who can help us in areas where we are lacking. But having that extra protection DOES NOT MEAN that we shouldn't be aware of our own limitations.  We can stop worrying about things beyond our control and trust in G-D, but we can NOT put that much faith in other people, even if they are genuinely trying to "look out for us."  Because they are also looking out for themselves, and so should we.  Even if they're doing the right thing, they won't be around forever.

When we are Bold and Bulletproof, the need for someone to "look out for us" and keep us safe gets much less.  While it's good to have some assistance at first, we should strive to eventually become self-actualized enough that we no longer need someone to follow.  Quite frankly, at the level, it's actually a little condescending to think you still are thought of as a "little buddy."  It's very unsatisfying to play that role for a lifetime.

And if you really want protection, look above.  It's not exactly a guarantee, but there are times when you ask and He delivers.



Sunday, December 13, 2015

So How Did You Do?

Hey All - Kind of a warm day for December, isn't it?

Every year, as New Year's Eve approaches, we like to make a lot of promises to ourselves, but we often fail to follow through on them by the time MLK Day rolls around.  The main reason why this happens is that we think our transgressions of the prior year were minor, irrelevant, or tolerable.  We got so comfortable with them that we didn't seriously feel like changing them.

So how do we overcome this?  A good old fashioned performance review:

(1).  What mistakes did we make?
    (A).   Why did they happen?  Be honest!
    (B).   Did we learn from them?   If so, what did we learn?
    (C).   Is it possible to prevent them?   If so, what?

(2).   Did we disrespect someone?
    (A).   Why?   
          (i).    Would they have irreparably harmed themselves if we stayed silent?  Were they lost, blind, and oblivious to their own mistakes before we stepped in?  If so, please move along,
          (ii).   Were you angry?  In a bad mood?  Did  you let something get under your skin?  If so, how did that happen?
          (iii).   Were they alpholes?  If so, were you still Bold and Bulletproof?   Meaning, did you fire back at them only after they had tried to provoke you more than enough times?   And did they leave themselves wide open?
     (B).   What can we do to prevent reoccurrences of (i) and (ii)?  And not punish ourseives for (iii)?

(3).  Were we disrespected?
    (A).   Why?
         (i).    Did we instigate something?  See 2.A.1 and 2.   If so, was the retaliation justified?
         (ii).    Did we just show up somewhere?   See 2.A.3.  Did we respond as recommended by this very blog?
    (B).   Were we Bold and Bulletproof in the face of disrespect and bullying?  If not, why?

(4)   Who was in our lives?
    (A).   People who respected us?  And vice versa?   If not, why?
    (B).   Hangers-on?  Friends-of-friends?   People we had to tolerate because they "don't bother" someone else?   Were we able to repel their repulsiveness?  If not, why?

Yes, as you can see, I'm not the answer man this time around.  You are.  Use this checklist, which is by no means exhaustive, to evaluate your social interactions of 2015.  Feel free to expand the situations to school or work.  Take a good look at why you made the choices you did.  Detach from your review any and all negative emotional responses.  Remember your choices from 2015 only so you can make better choices in 2016.



Saturday, December 5, 2015

How Would You Like To Feel If You Had A Choice?

Hi All!  I have a separate blog for the younger folks.  But for the rest of us Generation X'ers, here's another reality check.

It's a very human thing to experience feelings and emotions, and it's also very human to react in response to something that happens to you.  The only problem is, we forget that we actually have the ability to control these reactions, regardless of what our feelings and emotions are.  And even more than that, we actually have the power to control those feelings and emotions too!


Life is not a steady stream of being provided with what we want, exactly when we want, and precisely how we want it.  Trains and traffic delay us.  Other people rub us the wrong way.  People ignore us, or don't give us their full attention.

People tell us we're wrong, and spend painfully long periods of time telling us why.  Better yet, people get silent when we're right and speak into a megaphone when we're wrong!  People annoy us.

People make mistakes.  We make mistakes.  People tell us we make mistakes, every single time we make a mistake, and then tell you you're mistaken in pointing out their mistakes.  The mistakes lead to even more mistakes and mistakes on top of mistakes!

As aggravating as they are, we don't actually have to get angry when these things happen.  We can choose to keep our cool.  If it's something that someone else did, we can relax with the knowledge that it's out of our control.  And if it's something that we did, we can remedy the situation first and react when it's all done.  That way we're never in the heat of the moment.


Nothing seems more natural then psychological self-flagellation over the mistakes we make.  Nothing seems more normal than worrying about what may or may not happen.  How sad that really is.

Like I said above, when a mistake is made, we act first and react later.  That way, the act of correcting the mistake is not emotionally compromised, and the reaction will not be an overreaction because everything that could have been done already has been.

Worrying is the most destructive thing you can do.  Instead, the same way that a criminal defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, presume that there is no reason to worry unless proven otherwise!

That doesn't mean be irresponsible, of course.  Preparation and intelligence are not the same as worrying.  Rather, they eliminate the need to worry to begin with!

The point of this post is that our feelings and reactions are not automatically generated by what happens to us, even if it is unpleasant.  We have the unchallenged power to hold our reactions in check, and to render our moments or regret and worry nonexistent.

Well that's my thing for tonight -- let's put it all into practice!



Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Opposition's Weaknesses

Hi All - Halloween is behind us, Thanksgiving may or may not be glossed over, and the Winter Holidays are just around the corner.  So what's on the docket for today?

Often times, people try to intimidate us when we say things that we're proud of or happy about.  If they're toxic enough, they'll try to say that what we like is stupid or useless, and they'll say it in the loudest, longest, and most obnoxious way.  And because they know that we're basically nicer, and are less likely to fight back, they sometimes also will say it in front of a crowd of followers and sycophants, since they need continuous reinforcement through enabling to continue living off this toxicity.

Why they do that is not as important as how to handle it.  However, some insight into their quest to silence you might reveal a few tips and pointers:

(Reason 1)  They're not secure enough to handle someone who thinks differently than they do, and can't share the floor with other voices.  
(Solution 1)   Keep voicing your opinion anyway.  The more they try to silence you, make yourself better, wiser, and more thick-skinned.  No matter how loud they get, they'll be forced to reckon with you.

(Reason 2)  They have weaknesses to protect, and the longer they allow you to talk, they're afraid you'll touch a nerve.
(Solution 2)  Keep it in your back pocket.  Don't hit them over the head out of nowhere with it, that's their game plan, and not ours.  Once they cross a line, which they always do, lock on the target and pull the trigger.  You didn't start that conflict, and they sure as heck asked for it.

(Reason 3)  They have been enabled, spoiled, and protected for so long they don't understand how it feels to be wrong, incorrect, or behind the times.  And it shakes the very foundations upon which they stand.
(Solution 3)  Keep it in lower in your back pocket.  It's not our way to fight arrogance with arrogance.  But whenever they make it a personal attack, yes you can hit them over the head with this.  The very concept of choosing not to say something, even though you can, was obviously never taught to them earlier, so teach them now.  

As I've stated before, the way for us Betas to improve our lives, be happier, and attain greater successes is to be Bold and Bulletproof.  That means not letting people bully us into silence just because they don't know how to respectfully disagree.  That means shoring up our feelings airtight so nothing they say can wound us, stun us, or make us feel ashamed of ourselves.  And yes, when warranted, that means take a shot at them to show them what is acceptable and what is not.

Unfortunately, there are still more alpholes out there than there are of us.  For now.



Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Fresh Start Every Day!

Hey All - about that time.

Part of the reason why we feel stressed, overwhelmed, or hopeless is because we think that every day is the same old thing.  We lament that which we are powerless to change, claim that our exhaustion prohibits us from putting forth the extra effort needed, and throw up our hands in despair.

I'm not going to say, never feel or think this.  We're human, flesh and blood, warts and all.  There is nothing wrong with thinking this, or even verbalizing it if you must.  For goodness' sake, we're not Mother Teresa!

But once you start thinking it, get ready to stop, and stop hard.  If you're not careful, the Two Minute Hate can easily become the Two Hour Quit.  It'll burn you out, sap your strength, and leave you as a shadow of your former self.  Discipline your thoughts to allow yourself no more than one or two paragraphs of "what sucks," and then, stop sucking!

This can be done any time of the day, of course, but the morning is most preferable.  If you can get your head on straight right when you wake up, when you first get in the shower, when you get dressed, and especially when you bust out the door to go out into the world, you're already miles ahead of where you'd otherwise be.  And of course, as a runner, I strongly recommend some kind of vigorous exercise once you wake up, too.  That's the best way to reduce the worry, stress, despair, or anxiety that would otherwise start you off on the wrong foot.

It's obvious that until your problems are resolved, they'll still be there after you've gotten yourself ready for the day.  However, giving yourself that fresh start every morning will allow you to realize that they're not insurmountable. 

As Betas, we sometimes think that "we're made to suffer," like C3PO said in Star Wars Episode IV; A New Hope.  It's cute and funny when a fictional protocol droid says it, but it's horrible when we do.  It's not our lot in life to suffer!  It's NOT our place to cry out to the gods to be saved from injustice.  It is our job to make it better, and make ourselves better!!!  Every day, no coasting, no squatting!