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Thursday, July 26, 2012


Osama Bin Laden was a very successful hater. He managed to turn our free country into a prison camp. As a country, we have never recovered. I am reminded of that every time I see TSA workers at the airport. OBL won, we lost.

A few days ago, a mentally ill man in Colorado walked into a movie theater and began shooting and killing people. That is pretty sad. It's sad on a lot of fronts, not the least of which is our society's terrible response to the mentally ill. Our country thinks nothing of fueling the costs of war everywhere- but spends nothing on our own people. I have to ask...

Are we so incompetent as human beings that we think these things are completely unpreventable?

The truth is- is that as a culture we probably have staved off a number of shootings. People do intervene. Community members often recognize mentally ill people and help out when they can. There is a lot of good in people- good that we most likely will never hear or read about. So it stands to reason that every once in awhile- the mentally ill fall through the cracks. A few of them get by us.

Could the movie theater shootings have been prevented? Possibly. It is unclear at this point who if anyone- had access to this mentally ill person. Who could have intervened? We don't know. The media doesn't relay that information to us. We never seem to learn much about ourselves from these incidents. It's as though they are presented to us in a vacuum- completely unpreventable- until the next one.

Real emotional freedom is centered on a couple of principles. These are non negotiable principles. One of those principles is refusing to be a victim. Ever. Even if someone shoots you in a Colorado movie theater.

By refusing to be a victim, even when you are a victim, you take away the power of your attackers. You do not wallow in self pity. You do not wallow in anger. You are emotionally free.

I will leave you with a news story about two victims of the recent Colorado shooting. One has a spiritual solution- the other has nothing. The difference, who recovers and who does not, will be quite clear to you as you read the piece.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Great Lie of the Morbidly Optimistic

Several years ago, I was able to find a solution and embrace the concept of living every day without any negative feelings. Gone were those giant downer mood swings which would happen when things didn't go my way. Every day became a good day. Even the bad ones. Does that make sense? If I can convey this thought with a little precision- it should. 

In my past life, the one that occurred prior to 2007, I can only describe my life as depressed. Moody at the very best. I could not see the good in anything. I actually had a co-worker call me Chief Black Cloud. In as much as I was depressed- and my co-worker had given me an accurate description- I simply had no solution. None.

My solution, as it came about, was divinely inspired. It did not come via a therapist or a prescription bottle. It did not come because people pointed out flaws or teased me. To say that I am responsible for it is simply ridiculous. And while I was evolving out of that dark place...there were the antagonists.

Over the years I have met a small class of people which I refer to as the morbidly optimistic. That class of people who refuse to discuss anything so long as they deem it potentially threatening to their eternal optimism. Everything is measured and weighed according to their internal controls.

Here is the key. The morbidly optimistic believe that if they remain focused on positive things or outcomes- that only positive things will happen to them. They want the whole world to see them as happy people. Spreading joy and goodwill wherever they go. It is incredibly important to them that others recognize this. They worship the day and refuse to acknowledge the night.

The great lie of the morbidly optimistic is that if they simply ignore bad things- the bad things will go away. Only good things will happen to them. When those bad things come, they gloss over it. Pretend it doesn't bother them and tell others that they are are fine when they are not.  Part of that I think comes from a cultural or emotional dishonesty that we practice.

Honestly, I find the morbidly optimistic incredibly annoying. I agree with their goals- I simply disagree with their methodology which tends to involve labeling things as bad, denying the existence of bad things, or both. So if I want emotional calm and happiness in my life without coming off like some optimistic crusader in denial- how do I do that? 

Many years ago, I realized that my denial of the damaging or bad events in life- led to my emotional unpreparedness when adverse things happened. When bad things happen- the damage was made worse because I had not prepared for it nor did I have the means of managing it. The other problem, the real issue, was labeling things as bad to begin with. Why does everything have to be good or bad? Can't things just be?

So I embarked on a two part mission. I would never deny the bad things in life. I would realize and accept that things go bad. That illnesses occur. That people and pets die. That pipes clog and break and the neighbor's dog poops in my yard. That people are depressed and hurting. They have not found the way out yet. That is life. None of it is a mystery nor does my denial of it make it go away. I am prepared. I fix the pipes and pick up the poop. But the most important thing I have done- was that I quit labeling life as good or bad. Life just is. Every day is enjoyable not because I deny bad things- but because I embrace them. I am prepared for them. 

I am as perfectly comfortable talking about any of the "depressing" things in life as I am talking about all of the good and uplifting things. I see optimism and pessimism as valid perspectives. I attach no more credibility to one than the other. I don't label life that way- although I have to use traditional labels- to convey that point here. When we prepare for all outcomes- good or bad- we no longer see life the same way. We are embracing and practicing emotional honesty; optimism becomes a side effect of the way we view things.

I still have a few morbidly optimistic people in my life who seem to be more than happy to tell me how I should be living. Very often, I simply giggle at the nauseating promotion and positive spin they put on everything. I am ok with it and I find that the morbidly optimistic are not as annoying as they once were. My days are all enjoyable now- not because I label them good or bad- but because I see them in a different way. They are just days.



Friday, July 6, 2012

Understanding Lies

Earlier this week, I was having a conversation with a friend who was upset that she had been deceived or "lied" to. The problem was compounded, in her mind, because the deception had occurred via people that were near and dear to her.

Very often, dominant type people, fear being taken advantage of more than any other personality type. While a social butterfly fears exclusion...or a controlled personality fears criticism of their work...a dominant personality type fears being taken advantage of. Very often, ego driven dominant types think that they are intellectually and morally superior to others. Therefore it stands to reason that dominant types hate being lied to. 

I understand dominant types well. I number among them. There was a day when being lied to bothered me immensely. I took things personally. I played the victim and believed I was morally superior and honest. I realize now that I was wrong. In fact, understanding that I was wrong was key to becoming well. There is one other problem with trying to get through to dominant types who are looking for understanding.

Dominant types tend to think they are smarter than you. This becomes a major hurdle for them to overcome because they practice an unconscious ritual we call "contempt prior to investigation." They think they already know every thing. The problem with that mindset is obvious. If they knew everything already- why then would someone lying to them- still hurt and bother them? Wouldn't they know the solution? The truth is- dominant types don't think there is a solution because they believe they would have already discovered it. It isn't until dominant people become humble- that they become teachable. 

For a quarter century as a police officer, people lied to me everyday. I was not able to process that effectively at the time. I took their lies personally as though every one of them- thought I was so dumb that I believed their ridiculous stories and alibis. Emotionally I was never really able to find a solution and I have to say- all of those lies had a compounding and depressing effect on me. I viewed liars with contempt. Because I dealt with thousands of them, I began to think that I was the last honest guy on the planet. Of course I was wrong. In a fit of humility and irony, I realized that I was just lying to myself. The emotional solution to all of this came to me through a series of events in New Orleans. I cannot recap that bizarre history- but what I will offer up is a basic understanding for why we ALL lie and how I was able to deal with that effectively.

In the beginning, each of us are raised and taught like animals. We are taught using a series of rewards and punishment themes. When we do good we are rewarded with kind and gentle gestures, smiles, positive attention, maybe even some candy. When we make mistakes we are punished. Punishment is painful. We are scolded, abandoned, yelled at. Any affection is withdrawn. There are angry looks and words. Sometimes we are isolated or hit. We learn to cry and we learn shame and guilt. It is emotionally and physically painful.

Thus, we learn to lie. We can't possibly measure up to the world's expectations of perfection. So as we grow, when we screw up, we fear the consequences. And very often- lying works. It allows us to escape punishment.

So we live our lives seeking rewards and avoiding punishment at all costs. And of course, we are confronted with choices. Choices that ultimately will lead us to lie or to omit items that are part of the truth. The only thing that changes- is the amount and degree to which we lie. Some people tell a few lies...for others...everything is a lie.

Understanding why people lie is no longer a big mystery to me. In fact, it doesn't even grab that much attention any more. People are not trying to damage each other- they are simply trying to avoid punishment. Lying is not some malicious or personal attack that we are required to get upset about. People have been lying since the dawn of time. That's what people do. People lie to avoid punishment. People fail- time and time again. But they don't lie to hurt us. Hurting me has never been the motive of any of the lies told to me by liars during the course of my life. People are just being people. The difference for me now is that I understand all of that. But most importantly, I am ok with that. In fact, I don't take it personally nor do I let it get to me. It all seems like a giant waste of energy to me.

One other thing. When I became humble- I became teachable. When I quit thinking I knew everything, when I quit practicing contempt prior to investigation, when I actually started listening to wise people instead of talking, my life improved dramatically. That's how I got ok with all of this. So it is...

I have never learned one thing while talking. This is no exception. It's a damn shame that we learn these things and can't pass them along.