Feminism and its foe, KellyAnne Conway

Just read a bit by a famous “feminist” trashing KellyAnne Conway’s appearance and minimizing her skills.

In 1980’s in social studies, I had an assignment to predict the impacts of the (then) emergence of nuclear family as the family unit.

If I am writing that paper today, I’d say “We don’t have aunts and grandmas that slap us upside the head and tell us we are being idiots. So kids grow up and become adults without having their hypocrisy and lack of fact-checking corrected.”

Empathy for neighbors – in the Trump era

Story 1:
Say I’m drowning, and I saw a big strong guy as I was falling in. But he doesn’t come to my rescue. I’m so angry and cursing that he is heartless. Does he hate me because I’m a woman, gay, visible minority, uneducated, or immigrant?  What is your problem, you effing racist, xenophobic homophobe!, I scream with every desperate breath.

Story 2:
Say I’m drowning, and I saw a big strong guy as I was falling in. But he doesn’t come to my rescue. I’m so angry, and I notice he’s in the water. He’s helping another person get to the shore. I’m upset that he chose to help that other person because I have ___ and that other person probably doesn’t and I surely deserve more help than that person.

Story 3:
Say I’m drowning, and I saw a big strong guy as I was falling in. But he doesn’t come to my rescue. Then I notice that he is helping a small child get to the shore.

Story 4:
Say I’m drowning, and I saw a big strong guy as I was falling in. But he doesn’t come to my rescue. I’m so angry and cursing that he is heartless. Does he hate me because I’m a woman, gay, visible minority, uneducated, or immigrant?  What is your problem, you effing racist, xenophobic homophobe!, I scream with every desperate breath. What I don’t realize is that he doesn’t know how to swim, and he has a wife in a wheelchair, four kids all underage, one kid with autism, and ageing parents, all of who rely on his ability to make income.

I call on your empathy because that is the only thing that can heal us from here.

I’m very alarmed that the answer to President Trump was Women’s March, which called for division by banning pro-life anti-Trump citizens and, in some cities, creating riff with Black Lives Matter.

I’m concerned that the answer to President Trump commenting on women’s bodies is to make fun of the size of his hands.

 

Accusing President Trump of being divisive and engaging with hate of Trump supporters is hypocritical. Calling them bigots, sexists, racists, and xenophobes only divide.

Empathy does not have limits. If you first judge someone is deserving of your empathy or not before you grant them of your empathy, that’s not true empathy. Especially if you call the opposition uneducated and unaware, you must realize it is on you to exercise and advocate for empathy to bring everyone back together.

President Trump Inauguration – what helps America prevail

​It’s a strange custom that Americans pledge their love *to* their country. 

When other people say “I love my country,” I feel like they refer to the land, the nature, the people, the history, the policies, and the culture – the tangibles. But when Americans say they love their country, I feel like they love the “country,” the intangible. The former being akin to protecting your family, and the latter being similar to worshipping and protecting a deity. 

And it’s giving me a sense of comfort. Because it means Americans only answer to America, the country. 

You Are Not a Good Listener.

You’re not a good listener. You’re just not. 

If you thought “You’re right. I try, but I have a long way to go,” you are probably right. If you thought “How dare you! I too am a great listener!,” you absolutely aren’t.

If you want to prove to us that you are in fact a good listener, complete this challenge and let us know the results.

 

Why is it so important?

A bunch of my friends are frustrated with their spouses, and I know the reason is that they don’t listen to each other. But it is very difficult for them to put a finger on why they feel like they are constantly being interrupted? Why do they feel like, at the end of the day, they go to bed with a lung-full of stories that didn’t get a chance to get out?

Because they can’t identify a not-good listener if they don’t know what a good listener looks like. And a lot of us don’t.

Say I come home from work, completely frustrated by the absentee manager. My friend asks me how my day was, and I say “Ugh. My boss! I can never find her when I need her the most.” Most of my friends immediately launch into
an interview.
– “Did you try making an appointment?”
– “How do your coworkers say about it?”
– “If the work gets delayed because of her absenteeism, is the responsibility on you or on her?”
Or a lecture. 
– “You just have to be more assertive.”
– “Why haven’t you brought this to the attention of their boss?”
– “Suck it up! You’re lucky to have the job you have.”
– “Look on the positive side.”
Or some kind of faux “support” session.
– “Don’t worry! You can do it!”
– “I know it’s tough, but I have faith in you!”
– “I’ll bring over ice cream! We can watch a movie and forget about that jerky boss.”

None of the above is a good listener response.
Why are they not good listener responses? Let me ask you – how much listening did they do after the first sentence? Zero.

 

The Ichiban Challenge:

This challenge gives you the entire basis of a good listener, and it is very very simple.  The next time someone is telling you something about them, make the moment ALL about them for 3 minutes.

There will be
– no “I,”
– no thoughts about how you feel about the topic,
– no judgement about how they feel about the topic, grammar, word choices, or tone,
– no opinions about the story,
– no reflections about you like “Oh I too have a story,” and
– no thoughts about doing this challenge or wondering when the 3 minutes are up.
And, most importantly,
– no taking anything personally, e.g. feeling offended, insulted, or minimized.

Basically, no “you” or your story. 100 % about them and their story. It’s the amount of time to make an ichiban noodle. It’s half as long as a hard-boiled egg. But it’s not an easy challenge.

If you make a mistake, you can either reset the 3-minute timer or pick another conversation to try the challenge.
For instance, if you’re a staunch Ms. Clinton supporter and the other person is praising Mr. Trump, that presents a particularly challenging situation for you to commit to being a good listener. This challenge is hard enough without making it harder; Pick an easy one like when your friend is complaining about bad drivers.

A very friendly heads-up and tough love.

I’d like to give you a heads-up that everyone struggles with this challenge. Please do not be discouraged if you make mistakes.

There are two types of responses to making mistakes.

1. “Ugh! So hard! I’m so frustrated and upset. This challenge makes me feel so bad about myself.
But let’s just keep going. To bring greater peace and support to my spouse/friends is worth the trouble.”
– This is SO HARD to do. If you can say this to yourself, you’ve basically bagged this.

2. “Ugh! So hard! I’m so frustrated and upset. This challenge makes me feel so bad about myself.
I did talk about myself for a bit there, but I had a good reason. It was relevant, and I know they enjoyed hearing about my experience. [Or I didn’t really talk about myself. I talked about how I related to them!]”
– This is ok, but if you are in this space, I’d recommend you stop with this challenge. It’ll be nothing but frustration for you.

 

What Good Listeners look like.

They won’t be fazed by this hypothetical Trump/Clinton conversation. Let’s talk about why.

Good listeners can handle the Trump/Clinton conversation because being a good listener does not require you to agree on or validate what she is saying about Mr. Trump or Ms. Clinton. Not because that’s not your role as the listener in the conversation but because the word “agree” does not belong in this conversation.

“Agree” (and “not agree”/”disagree”) takes the subject “I.” It is a verb spoken to describe your opinion. The 3-minute clock on the Ichiban Challenge gets reset as soon as you start talking about yourself.

Once you do the Ichiban Challenge a few times, the first thing you learn is that the topic of the conversation is always the speaker, not what she is talking about. It is the story told from her perspective. It’s about how he experienced it. It’s not about the “it.”

 

If I want to learn to be a good listener?: Examples

Simple: Focus on the person in front of you and talk only about him/her. S/he is the topic of the conversation. What s/he is talking about is not the topic.

 

Some examples.

“I love skiing.”
“Me too.” = You changed the topic either to skiing or to yourself.

“I love skiing.”
“Skiing is so much fun.” = You changed the topic to skiing.

“I love skiing.”
“Have you been getting a chance to ski lots this year?” = Way to go! She is still the topic of the conversation.

“It’s been way too hot this year.”
“I love the heat!” = You changed the topic to yourself.

“It’s been way too hot this year.”
“Climate change. tsk tsk. Did you watch that documentary about the pollution from China?” = You changed the topic to weather.

If I want to learn to be a good listener?: The MANTRA

What worked for me was just saying “It’s not about me!” like every 10 seconds of my life.

It is not about you. Not every conversation is about you, and a great majority of the conversations are in fact not about you.

It’s not about you. The fact you have an opinion on the matter, as valid as the opinions may be, probably does not justify you speaking up right here right now.

It’s not about you. The fact that person’s opinion on the matter is so wrong does not justify for you to speak out right here right now.

It’s not about you. You being offended does not mean they offended you.

It’s not about you. The celebration of your friend’s graduation has no room at all for your sharing of your university experience. It is 100 % your friend’s stage.

 

Now some tricks to keep in your back pocket:

“It’s been way too hot.”
“No way. This isn’t even top 10 hot summers.” = well, this is not great on so many levels. So… what can you do if you didn’t think it was too hot at all?

“It’s been way too hot.”
“Just too much for you, hey?” = This is fine! What you did here is the same as “uh huh” but without agreeing. This example is important because…

“Trump is too loud.”
“Just too much for you, hey?” = “uh huh” or nodding here may be unsuitable for people who are Trump supporters because it may imply you agree with the statement. By repeating the statement right back, you’re moving the conversation right along without agreeing with the statement.

“I love skiing. Do you ski?”
“Yes, I do. I did a great ski trip last year where… [starts telling a story]” = you changed the topic to yourself. When the other person appears to pass the baton to you, it requires an advanced skill.

“I love skiing. Do you ski?”
“Yes, I do. Are you looking for someone to go with?” = you passed the baton right back.

Now, in that last example, wasn’t the person giving you the baton? Wasn’t it your turn to tell a story? Maybe. Possibly. I personally always give the baton back at least once to see if they meant to give me the stage or it was just something they said to be polite.

A special message to people who are passionate

Do you start making a point as soon as someone says “Clinton” or “Trump” or “Bernie”?
Do you have a hard time restraining yourself from talking politics when someone tells a cute, not-disrespectful joke about the candidate you supported?
Have you made more than 2 posts per week about your cause, like veganism, animal cruelty, or homeless?

Then this chapter is for you.

Even when a Trump supporter and a Clinton supporter may clash so emotionally on the political topic and get into a 3-hour debate, they are two human beings. Even if they spend 10 % of their life talking politics (which is a massive amount), they should spend the rest of the time knowing that the other person is a human first. In other words, not every time someone says “Trump,” is it meant to be turned into a political debate.  A soldier risks his/her life for people without first asking which candidate they support. If we do not treat each other with respect as human beings, we spit in the face of those soldiers.

 

 

Please post your experience below.

The INAM Challenge – backgrounder

The INAM Challenge is simply saying “It’s not about me” in your head before you respond. This helps you become a good listener and enjoy true and deep relationships with those you love.

Because our very first reaction to anything – everything – is self-centered, and that stops us from being a good friend, a good listener, a supportive partner. Don’t feel bad – everyone does it. That’s just what humans do by nature.

This challenge in theory is not hard at all. We all already do the “It’s not about me” challenge in some situations. We just have to do it consistently and all the time.
For instance, someone says “There was a huge earthquake in New Zealand.” Our first reaction to it is “I was just there last year!” or “I should check my earthquake kit.” But we check it, and the first thing we actually say out loud is “Oh my gosh! I hope everyone is ok!” That’s basically what we need to do more often.

Being a good listener is the skill to keep the focus on the person in front of you, and we have to fight all of our biological instincts to make that happen. 

Our biological instincts want to insert ourselves 1. by literally making a reference to ourselves or 2. by emotionally reacting to things that aren’t about us. 

Below are examples from social media of what that looks like:

Poster: My new puppy and I had a great time at the beach!
Commenter: My dog and I love the beach too!

Poster: I am so excited about my new fitness plan with my wonderful trainer!
Commenter: What you need to do is eat vegan. I have a book for you. <3

Poster: My mom who has Parkinson’s didn’t eat anything for a few days, but she finally got some creme brule down! She always loved dairy!
Commenter: My mom loves dairy too! We have so much in common.

Poster: My son is fighting cancer, and I feel so angry that some people don’t vaccinate their kids, exposing him to preventable diseases.
Commenter: Sorry about your child’s health issues, but it doesn’t give you the right to criticize my parenting. How dare you accuse me of making your son sick!

Poster: My new bride and I apologize that we could only invite very few friends to keep our wedding small and intimate.
Commenter: So honored to have made the cut!

Pretty obvious so far? Now, how about this advanced example:

Poster: I am so excited about my new fitness plan with my wonderful trainer!
Commenter: Have you made a list of goals?

Poster: My new bride and I apologize that we could only invite very few friends to keep our wedding small and intimate.
Commenter: It was so beautiful!

Poster: I am saddened to announce the passing of my beloved dog.
Commenter: What happened?

ALL of these commenters benefit from being told “It’s not about you!” 
Of course in this age of social media and social anxiety, no one says anything to other people any more. So it’s completely up to you to say it yourself to yourself: “It’s not about me.”

 

 

How long can you go without talking about yourself?

Contrary to popular belief, most often, “talking about yourself” is not about a narcissist bragging. It’s about someone inserting themselves in someone else’s moment. Like that “I too love the beach!” comment. All of those social media comments above brings “I, me, my” into a post that had nothing to do with the commenter at all.

“That’s what I’m supposed to do! Say something to relate me to their story to show we have things in common,” is what I hear most often. This is where it could be very painful for you, so hang in. You might get offended, but it’ll be worth it when you get to the other side… You can saying “That’s what I know!” and keep doing what you’re doing. But if you want change, you can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing.

You probably feel “Can I just finish my story?,” right? In other words, you feel like they changed the subject? They actually did.

 

Don’t change the subject.

This is called conversation hijacking, and it causes an instant disconnection. When you encounter this, you’re just waiting for your friend to take a pause so you can leave and talk to someone else who’s interested in hearing your story. You’re in the right to feel they changed the subject. Because the topic of all of these conversations is YOU: not Paris, not hockey, not cycling. “I’m trying to tell you that we have this in common and trying to connect you!” is just an excuse for talking about themselves unless they are like a teenager and still under the curse of the survival instinct.

What if the positions were reversed? Can you finish this conversation without saying “I too was in Paris last year” at all and just let her talk? Can you let her finish a 15-minute monologue about her excitement without you saying “I” at all?

Advanced Class:

They might throw you a curve ball by appearing to invite you in to take the stage, “Have you been there?” or “Do you know anyone else who cycles?” But, oh no, you’re an INAM listener, so you know to bring the topic right back to her. “I have, [say to yourself “It’s not about me”] and I am excited you’re going! What’s the first thing you want to do when you get there?”

We all want to think we are a good listener. We aren’t.

When we are babies, we are all very self-absorbed. We are supposed to be. We are the protagonist of our story, and everyone else is a supporting cast. When they leave our sight, they no longer exist. You might be a genius, but still nobody is above that.

In the process of growing up, we learn that if we hit people, they hurt. If I win a meet, someone lost. If I am comforted by a shoulder to cry on, it means someone gave up hours of their life just to sit there. We learn that everyone’s life is their own story in which they are the protagonist, and their stories overlap with our stories. We learn to let each other have “their moment.”

It’s fine to have your moment. I like having my moment. The most important thing is to not take a moment that should belong to someone else. It’s called “stealing” the spotlight or “hijacking” a conversation.

We react to these adulthood negotiations in two different ways. One, we sit comfortably with this idea and accept our role in their stories as a supporting cast or as a background extra. Two, we focus on justifying stealing the spotlight.

We all do both of these in varying degrees and depths. If you don’t think you do the latter, it doesn’t mean you’re an exceptional listener. It just means you lack introspection. What sets a good listener apart from the rest is their commitment to acknowledging these disconnecting habits and to practicing other pathways that override them. “It’s not about me” challenge is a quick and easy way to cultivate a pathway.

Don’t let your excuses win.

When we want something, we are very clever in coming up with excuses to convince ourselves it’s ok to succumb to our desires. And there is no bigger desires than our survival instincts. You have a battle on your hand, and there is no shame in that.

 

How often do you take things personally? FAR more often than you think, and it’s self-serving.

The other way we insert ourselves into the conversation is by responding emotionally, i.e. taking things personally.

The typical way people mean by “taking things personally” goes like this.

You’re officiating a recreational ball game. You call a strike. The bench erupts in anger, throwing insults at you. They shout to each other “Don’t move! Someone dropped a contact lens!” You feel insulted, offended, frustrated, and upset from this incredibly unfair treatment.

Your anger is justified…. or is it?

Let me ask you. You’re upset and frustrated because the intensity and expression of anger you received wasn’t justified by your involvement in the incident, yes? So, by definition, you know that you couldn’t have caused the anger. You have nothing to do with it. You’re not the cause, the target, or the victim of this anger. It’s actually not even happening in your life unless you allow yourself to react emotionally to it.

A man wakes up and realizes his partner left him. He roars in shock and rushes out the door to get some fresh air and some coffee. He bumps into you and spills coffee. He screams at you and berates you. You are upset “What the hell is wrong with him! He’s the one who bumped into me!”

Your anger is justified. You were just on the receiving end of a violent, unfair treatment… Were you, though?

The INAM Challenge

I don’t know a single person who doesn’t benefit from this. This challenge does not require effort, time, or money. Just do this one thing.

Say “It’s not about me” in your head before you respond. After a few days, you’ll notice that you can now say “It’s not about me” before you even form an emotional reaction.

As you repeat this, observe your relationships and ability to connect improve.

 

Why the INAM Challenge? – Backgrounder

Democracy ≠ Truth-seeking

Democracy and the Majority Rule are not the truth-seeking tools.

I was lucky to have had an elementary school teacher demonstrate it to us.
He asked a question, to which all but 2 of the students gave one answer. He asked the 46 kids why they are right and the other two are wrong. He let them go on for a while, long enough for the majority to get cocky.

Then he revealed to us that the majority answer was incorrect.

I wonder how different the world would be today if every child has this experience.
Because we confuse democracy with search of truth.