Happy Retrograde! Yes, a Mercury Retrograde began this Friday, and this aspect will continue until December 16th. Have you noticed that traffic is “jammin’?” Or that communications are “twisten?” That’s OK, just blame it on the retrograde! That’s what I like to do! LOL.
Speaking of blame! I have been thinking a lot about the different forms of that term, and I would like to share them. –I know, it’s Thanksgiving. I should be writing about something more positive. But in the end, you will notice that I am indirectly, and directly at the end, expressing gratitude for my education and educators: Read on, and I hope you find this “educational.” Happy Thanksgiving!
Blame: justified or unjustified? Well, I think the unjustified form of it has other terms, and those are denigration and stereotyping. (Here, by the way, are some definitions, from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. I learned these terms at university, when studying Sociology and Psychology in the 1980’s, and I am so grateful for having learned these concepts.)
Definition of denigrate
1 : to attack the reputation of : defame denigrate one’s opponents
2 : to deny the importance or validity of : belittle denigrate their achievements
Definition of stereotype
a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment
Hmmm.., too, I see blame as another way of not taking responsibility for one’s actions, which is another “twist” on that term.
And also very importantly, how do we react, when we are falsely blamed, or stereotyped and denigrated?
Well, I think our first reaction is to get emotional, and then to react, likely in hurt, anger and outrage.
So, what would Jann Timmreck, my favorite educator and List author say about that? “Ye who goes emotional, looses!” Another way she would have expressed it, would be, “Don’t go beta!”
Also, there is a lot of research that shows that if a person gets very emotional, they actually don’t think as clearly or as rationally as they would if they were calm.
Thus fear, anger and hate are also intense emotions, that can be manipulated to the manipulator’s advantage (whether they are consciously aware of this or not.)
Unfortunately, all these emotions can be very intense, beta energies: and another important very important thought or dynamic comes to mind, which I also learned from Jann and Joe Timmreck.
People almost always “harmonize” with, or go into rapport with, the most intense energies.
IE, anger begets more anger, fear begets more fear: and hate begets more hate.
It spreads, or generalizes, likely without rational thought, and all of a sudden people are fearing and hating and being angry at whatever it is convenient for them to be angry at: perhaps some childhood beef, or some unjust and historical prejudice. It may not be what first started the intense emotional energies: but hey, it’s the next best thing.
In the extreme, all of a sudden you have a society where people feel unsafe, people are attacking each other, and conflicts continue to generalize and grow.
OK, I’m rambling a bit, but these are some of my thoughts.
Another interesting piece of psychological research that came to my attention recently is this; men are more likely to form alliances based on bias. (Well, let’s not get “biased” against men.)
Bias! There’s another word that can be thrown into the same categories as blame, denigration and stereotyping.
And remember, all this may not be based on the truth.
The truth: what is that, in this day and age? Well, for me, the most significant truth for people to remember is that all energy flows in a circle (again, Jann and Joe Timmreck and List theory.) Whatever we do and say, always returns to us in like kind: hence, for me, the validity and power of the List, and it’s focus on positive words and expressions.
Not to say that all anger and fear are always negative.
Some things it’s right to be fearful of: and some things it’s right to be angry about. It’s just please let’s try to keep it under control. For example, don’t let it get you to the point that it causes you to do something illegal! Especially like hitting someone or causing someone’s death.
Also, try to keep it based on truth. Ask questions. Research. Make sure, for example, that the person you are angry with really meant what you are thinking they meant! Often, from my experience, it is something different.
The positive aspects of fear is that it can protect us from danger: we just need to figure out if the danger is real or not.
And the positive aspect of anger according to Jann and Joe Timmreck’s Mind Frames theory is that anger can be used to get someone or some organization unstuck. Again, though, it needs to be kept within “controllable limits.”
When I was a teacher, I remember we taught the students not to go too high up anger mountain. There were strategies to employ before one got up to say 10 out of 10 on the anger scale: breathe, was one of them. Take a deep breath.
Next, walk away. Think about it, before you act. (In List theory terminology, let the Right Brain insights have time to come in: take time to get unstuck from Left, where the beta emotions occur.)
Then, we often taught students, make an I message. For example, “I don’t like it when you____, and I don’t want you to do it anymore.”
Believe it or not, that works. (Jann Timmreck always taught that an internal person will always give in to an external person. And an I message is very external. In Mind Frame terminology, Left External, to be exact.)
Too, I always taught my students that we needed to stay calm when we were discussing problems, we needed to use nice words, and we needed to use nice body language, including a nice tone of voice.
Next, when there was a problem or a dispute, I would also often have children act out what happened. (Somewhere in there, questions were asked, feelings were shared, and empathy was created.) Usually, doing this, problems were resolved easily, and oftentimes the children came to realize the problems were not caused on purpose: they were usually an accidental bump, say, misunderstood as deliberate. (IE, understanding the intention was important.) Next, I encouraged both children to apologize, and in the end, they were often friends again. –And until I did this? The battle usually continued.
Very few students were actually bullies–or racists or bigots: whatever you want to call them. These children were often kids who had been bullied or seen bullying themselves; or they had not been taught the social limits to their behavior.
But I am digressing. I guess by now you’ve figured out that I’m talking indirectly about the current political and societal situation (and even, comments on the internet.)
While I see some anger as valid, I see a lot of denigration happening; denigration that is not based on truth, on either side, and on some sides more than others. I guess I’m a little bit afraid that as whole society is heading way too far up anger mountain! Really, mostly, I am just observing. I am trying not to judge.
I see problems on both sides of the political spectrum. I do sometimes see the liberal media twisting leaders’ statements to sensationalize what’s happening. (What, does this increase ratings?) On the opposite side, I do see leaders using denigration, or what I used to call “put downs,” to their advantage. (If I put someone down, others will follow.) And all this rage and anger that this generates will give me the leverage to get what I want done and weaken my opponents– whether either side is consciously aware of this dynamic or not.)
By the way, in my classroom, I had a rule, “No putdowns!”
Truly, some institutions are stuck, and they do need change. But doing it this way? Hmm….
What I see mostly that concerns me is that much of what is said and done is not based on the, or my, personal truth.
I sit back and I wonder, don’t people know that much of this “mud slinging” is wrong? Why aren’t they acting more intelligently? Why aren’t they acting more wisely? Why aren’t they discussing things more intelligently, calmly, positively: just like I taught the children who had a difficulty in the sandbox. (Then I remember, I actually only learned many of these problem solving techniques about half way through my teaching career, from a program we used called Second Step and another teacher. And the Timmreck information, I learned in my late 20’s. Thank you Second Step, Laura W., and thank you Jann and Joe.)
Well, I guess I am lucky in that I had the education and teachers that I did. I wish that Psychology and Sociology, and positive parenting and discipline strategies, and yes the List and Mind Frames, were all taught more in schools, and not just left to the educational elite: people who can afford to send their children to college and university, say, to learn the “humanities.”
Because I often think that it’s the uneducated that take out a gun and want to shoot their neighbor, over say a fence dispute. They don’t take the time to stop themselves, and to not go up that anger mountain.
Humanities: yup, I think we all need to learn to be more human. To be better at taking care of each other, and our society: and to try the best we can to be more positive, in everything we do and say, so that positivity returns to each one of us in like kind, and thus to our society as a whole.
Let’s crawl back off anger mountain and try to talk more positively, calmly and intelligently to each other. Too, let’s look at the whole picture, and not just one or two of the parts. And please don’t get angry with me, for trying to talk about politics or what we say on the internet: let’s stay calm, and use positive, respectful words: because it all comes back to each and every one of us in the end, because it really is—our very own society—that we’re talking about.
Thanks for listening.
Marnie Hancock, B. Ed & List Teacher, @ www.therealitydynamicslist.com