Women, Men and Relations(hips) – or: “Men for Dessert”

drawing of two cupids, one shooting his arrow, one hugging a heart
Image freepik.com – licensed

The traditional, age old approach, not to say unwritten law, is this:

    • Woman is decorative, enticing, alluring and eventually going out of her way to please a man/men.
    • Men look at women and judge them (sometimes harshly) by their looks.
    • When somebody decides in this ‘game’, it’s the man, who takes the steps, makes the move.
    • The woman is supposed to show her utter delight with the fact that the man actually ‘deigns’ to take notice of her and perhaps even is willing to have sex or – God forbid – a relationship with her…
    • Behind it is the yet strong but older concept of women being dependent on men, for provision and – protection.

The idea that women live for themselves, depending on each other rather than men is even older, though.

This is another aspect of love and (power) relationships I have posted more than once about… a central subject in human art forms, apart perhaps from war…

Another not so pretty example is what can happen in business and has been even subject of major Hollywood feature movies such as “Disclosure”, 1994, starring Demi Moore and Michael Douglas: The power relation traditionally being the man in power and the woman almost forced to have sex with him in order to stay safe, in place – or get promoted.
It’s been reversed for this movie – and at the time caused a heated discussion as to how realistic the movie was – or if it wasn’t rather making the story too voyeuristic to be of any real value…

I am personally lucky to never actually have been subject to such treatment.
Partly due to my personal preference I believe to choose rather than be chosen…

Yet, my heart goes out to all of those women who still for one reason or another feel compelled or even forced into relations – rather than relationships – because they fear to be alone; to be without a man; and be ultimately judged by that fact by the community or their surroundings.

Finally, one point I’d like to raise too is another craze I seem to have observed in the course of a rather long life:
The idea that as a woman, indeed a human being, you would naturally be inclined to have sex on any occasion presenting itself because in modern times we’ve learned it’s natural…? The more the better…?

I’d like to point out that there is ample proof of man (and woman) being in possession of what has been called a soul 😉 – as well as a body – and that a human body is more than the sum of its parts…
I am, simply put, for that equation:
Every man and woman ‘their way’ – as long as we are talking about consenting adults.

I like too, how it was put in that fine scene from the movie “Harry and Sally”, considered to be a classic these days:

Life’s Quintessentials…

I see and read and observe a lot and I heard about such people a long time ago: The bored, disoriented or even stricken with a heavy midlife crisis… Baz Lurhmann is not only an award-winning director of striking and unusual movies. He also at some point made this speech into a ‘sprechgesang’ (recitative), summarizing a lifetime’s experience regarding the really important things in life – for a young audience; which explains the point of view. And he’s got some points here….

I see people looking around for some kind of happiness, wondering if they missed out on something while pursuing a career; in the meantime perhaps looking for passion that is supposed to fulfill that void… or falling in love all the time because that seems to promise a sort of relieve from frustration or just plain boredom…

I am lucky in many respects: I was raised to the idea that there are morals and ethics and rules in the shape of laws we need for a large(r) community to work. But that regarding my own life it’s about taking responsibility – and know yourself and true needs better day by day. One adage being: “If you are bored it’s your own fault.”

Feeling fulfilled and happy is not a constant state of mind – or a life. But being content is.

The Three Wise Monkeys Revisited – The Art of Focusing

Image licensed adobe.com

“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” The three wise monkeys are a concept, an idea, that stems from the Japanese culture. They are a proverbial idea of how to deal with bad or evil matters in human life. When you are raised on the idea that one should be truthful, that denial can be bad for you, you may be apt to wonder.

How is such an idea a good thing?

To my mind it’s two very important points to be considered here:

    • Words are powerful, they create images in our minds.
    • It’s not about denial – it’s about focus.

Images in our minds are powerful, as has been since established in scientific research too: They help us keep focus, they can drive our actions that way – and make us feel weak and insecure – or confident and strong.

One technique that also has been advocated for business negotiations and even marketing – is to ‘visualize‘:

Start using what you have learned in terms of ideas and words to actively make up the image of what you are aiming at.

Your next project, a higher level of health  – or understanding, in short, some measure of self-awareness or efficacy different from before.

That’s why the idea of the three wise monkeys can help not only focus – they help us focus on all the things that make us strong, confident and positive about reaching the goal. Which does not necessarily mean wealth or power.

The community at large will benefit from such views:

    • From the idea that you will not listen to rumours which may be even false.
    • From the idea that you will not direct your gaze onto the bad or worse matters, not focus on the bad things.
    • From the idea that you yourself will not help either creating rumours or bad ideas – or spread those images.

Words are powerful, in all ways. That’s why focusing on the good is important.

Not because one would deny problems or difficulties or the downright evil – but because they can help to make it better, again.

1 Among a 100 People – The Iceberg Phenomenon – How to See with Your Heart

drawing of a heart and a brain connected by two lines and a knot
Image courtesy pixabay.com – Free license

If we want to understand our peers better, it is vital to be able to relate to others: The basics of human existence, the basic needs and sorrows and joys. Knowing about them in yourself makes your ‘heart’ ‘clairvoyant’: You start to see the other’s pain, their need, you understand – and you can relate to them in new ways and find new solutions to old problems.

People are like icebergs, rarely is everything visible at once. It’s a fact that we all know to be true, at least more or less: Especially in business it’s a common idea that one should be always competent, never make mistakes…, always be fit and never lack enthusiasm. Perhaps even smile, if you can, to show that you are happy.

That means many people, even if half-consciously, behave that way; because we learn early in life from our surroundings, namely parents, family, friends and later kindergarten and school, and so on.

But sometimes people start realizing at some point that there is “more to it than meets the eye”.

Human beings have fine sensors especially as children about what is accepted behaviour and what is not. Therefore starting with early childhood they adapt to what is expected. The culture and personal background therefore are decisive aspects of what makes for the personality you meet one day around your workplace. And the personality you are.

The hidden emotions and less accepted tendencies and urges and wishes and the yearning sometimes to fulfill an inner need for something else – love perhaps, passion, adventure, or just true self-confidence because sadness and fear and childlike joy have a place again – can be strong. The self-control usually is too.

If we take into account that any culture in this world has these limitations imposed on people’s behaviour and even their thoughts and ideas that are basics for that self-control preventing them from speaking up – we will start to be able to look beyond the image. Relate to the true human being behind the business personality.

Daniel Goleman in his bestselling book called it “EQ”: Emotional Intelligence, the ability to realize the emotional side to any human thought and reaction. He states it clearly that science did eventually prove what has been part of literature, music and stories for as long as mankind exists: Emotions are the basics and central. Without them we become incapable to decide – anything.

That’s how heart and brain are connected – in a nutshell.

Statistics show too that 1 among a 100 people will speak up or contact someone when they have a problem or an issue. Therefore, looking at the small numbers in this respect can be crucial.

That’s why I use this blog to post about perhaps unusual subjects – to some of my readers. In the hopes that one or the other of them finds realization and perhaps even consolation in the fact that they are not alone with those thoughts, ideas or puzzles of human existence.

Understanding our emotions and relate to others better that way, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry put this way in “The Little Prince”:

“Here is my secret. It is very simple: you only truly see with your heart.
What is essential is invisible to the eyes.”

To Tame A Friend…

painting of 5 birds sitting on a branch
©Stacy Zimmerman

“I am looking for friends. What does that mean — tame?”
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”
“To establish ties?”
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince)

A Snake or a Rope? – Perspective is Key

drawing of a manikin at a little clearing, looking at a speckled band moving
(Image courtesy giphy.com – public domain)

The image makes it as clear as daylight: What we see is what we think it to be. In many cases. But it’s not always clear right at first what it is we see, exactly.

So, one thing are the facts of the matter.

How we interpret them is the next step. Not only in regard to the actual being: Is it a snake in the grass – or just a bubbling brook?

In general: Appearances can be deceptive.

It is a wise man – or woman – who takes time for judgement. And checks their (assumed) facts before acting.

Of course, in simple cases – let’s say, asking yourself if that egg is really fresh – nothing much is needed to make sure. Yet, better to do so. Or the whole dish will go to waste.

But in terms of situations and people? How easy is it to be mistaken? And to be taken for something you aren’t?

The most tragic occurrences of such grave mistakes are miscarriages of justice. People sentenced to years of prison, yet proven innocent years or even decades later. Or sentenced to death and executed. The newspaper reports and movies on the subject run to hundreds if not thousands.

In everyday life just as well things can easily become tragic, if we are not careful with either our facts – or their interpretation.

So, next time around, check your perspective, your facts – and your sources.

Pushed to Extremes – What’s Life All About?

image of a far-away tower against a blue sky and a tiny human figure at the end of a rope
Image courtesy pixabay.com – free license

Bungee jumping: Jump down extreme heights and be just kept back by an elastic, suspended in mid-air: Most people just do it to feel they are capable of going through extremes.

Perhaps the ‘going through hardship’ is at the ‘end of such a line’: Prove to yourself, especially, that you are capable of doing it – and perhaps find out about life…?

Growing up in protected surroundings can make you feel restless – at some point – to some it can happen sooner, to some, later in life:

What is life really all about? Why and how to live? Even with a lot of rules to your education, especially when imposed more or less authoritatively by parents and family – it’s like:
Grow up – and start breaking the rules in order to have fun…? Because grown-ups have fun they deny their kids…?
And still later, it turns out that you perhaps acquired wealth and fame and broke quite a number of rules – but sublime happiness is still denied you?

For all the promises and stories and rumours about the most exciting things you can do – and that could be all manner of things – what in some contexts is called ‘naughty’ – still something is missing?

How do I know?
Well, I know about these things partly from experience, but even more so from observation, talks and probably ten thousands of stories I read and watched.
But also from reading other kinds of literature, books, history too, but also psychology, philosophy and politics. Sociology. I also know because my parents weren’t of the authoritative kind: They reflected on rules, traditions, behaviour and language – and they explained why we would follow rules – or not.
They made us aware of what is at the bottom of human existence.

The classical free thinking: Know about ethics and why they are there and decide when you are of age, at the latest – responsibly. Responsible for mind and body – and the community, ‘neighbourly love’ -> ‘love your neighbour as you love thyself’. Sounds easy, but isn’t really, when you think about it.

Since then I did all those things, think of the consequences before I act…and decide, responsibly:
Although, I didn’t break rules just for the sake of it. Does not mean I did not make mistakes, or never hurt a soul.

But the questions of – ‘what is a human being, why is human existence what it is and what can we do to make it bearable?’
I can answer.

The main thing to me is that many people who have gone through hard times know too, what it is that keeps you going, when all is said and done:

It’s human kindness, understanding, love in all it’s manifestations, such as friendship.
To know that there are a few people who care makes all the difference.

I think, in some ways I am lucky that I’ve seen hard times, because I know for myself, for sure.

The basics in life that make us feel fulfilled and happy are also those that come with self-esteem and neighbourly love. Maslow’s pyramid of needs after that.

And the eternal Buddhist concept: Avoid pain.

Light Talk – Light ‘Understanding’?

image of resting dog and cat
It’s interesting to note how ways to communicate – to talk – differ. Even inside one country, differ by region. Where I come from history had people be in touch with half the world – trading through the international society called “Hanse” was everywhere. The ‘world came into town’, you might say.

From those times it seems the tradition of light banter, light talk to any stranger, even a short, light conversation, a few jokes, is common. They are famous in other parts of the country for chatting at the supermarket checkout for a few minutes, just like that…

Yet, real friendship takes the same time as anywhere else in the world: Know your ‘peer’ – and perhaps go through some hard times together; learn whom to trust.

In other places I found that people sometimes tend to be glum, even irritable at first contacts. Only after a while they ‘thaw’ to strangers. And the aforementioned light-hearted banter is even considered flimsy.

From a lot of ‘sighting of strangers’ from all around the world in business and studies I can say and encourage: Take your time and know: Not every smile ‘wells’ from light sources – not every gloomy person is faithful…

Relativity and Perspective in Business – The Two World Views

London slum interior, 25th Nov. 1913, photo A. Goss (image in the public domain)

Uriah, with his long hands slowly twining over one another, made a ghastly writhe from the waist upwards, to express his concurrence in this estimation of me.

Uriah Heep is a character in Charles Dickens’ novel “David Copperfield”. I think he is one of the most disgusting persons as a character in a book you can think of. He is vile, scheming behind people’s backs – all the while pretending to be ‘humble’, submissive and grateful. In the story’s reality he is practically the opposite. He makes use of secrets to his own advantage, using blackmail to gain power over others. But in that story it takes almost a decade until his true character and his deeds are known – and redeemed.

Although in English literature many of Dickens’ novels are counted among the romances to some extent due to the highly emotional parts – they are very realistic in the depiction of living conditions in the first half of the 19th century. The extreme poverty and starvation that included dreadful living conditions in London slums are the locations Dickens’ uses for famous and most influential stories such as “Great Expectations”, “David Copperfield” or “Oliver Twist”. Dickens was a wonderful master of the language, of dramatic point and counterpoint – and the plot as such, clear, including dramatic twists and turns as well as a true feeling for the unfortunate that make his books great examples of the rising civil societies’ best values: Empathy and social security as well as justice.

I was raised on firm principles: I do not believe that business and its representatives are the ruling powers of this world. So many people writhe and grovel for the sake of a favour, even if only inwardly, of a job, their character becoming so warped and twisted that its original quality becomes invisible. It’s sad to watch when you meet them.

I was raised to the idea that trade unions had been created for a reason. That every human being as such is what is called ‘a small universe’ in some contexts. That the capital in the hands of the few will not stay there or be ‘multiplied’ if the many ‘little people’ do not work for that.

Additionally, I was raised on an explicit work ethic: And an understanding of the many connections as well as relations that make human life what it is – and that make it necessary and desirable in a reasonably sensible business to do the best in my ability to make that business thrive – and keep mine as well as others’ jobs – to an advantage.

My approach is not always clear and easy to everyone around I know. There are still parts of this world where the belief in the ultimate authority of anyone superior in a hierarchy make it crucial to be subdued, even servile, in everyday behaviour. Anyone deviating from that kind of behaviour may be subjected to suspicions of disloyalty.

For me these two views are worlds apart:

    • Be ‘a humble servant’. Or

    • be a proud, self-contained and yet reliable employee and/or colleague in an honourable trade.

 

Falsehood – or Self-Control? “The King’s Speech”

Young businesswoman walking with umbrella with skyline behind her to make her appear flying

“The King’s Speech” is a movie title, rather famous: About King George VI. of England who followed his brother onto the throne in 1936. He had been Duke of York before that and no expectation to be king one day since he was the second son. And: He stammered.
A childhood impediment he had to overcome in years of training to lose some of the self-control and severe restraint he had learned during childhood.

Today we have progressed a little to understand that too much restraint can be harmful. In all directions.
It can lead to suppressed and thus half-realized emotions that can become much more harmful, if they ‘break through’ at the wrong time and in the wrong way.

Extreme consequences can be murder among men – and women.

Luckily extremities did not occur anywhere near me – but look at crime statistics, movies and documentaries as well as literature, novels, poems, plays: They abound with such records.

But no restraint at all can be a problem as well.

From childhood onwards we learn that in kindergarten, in school and later in education, academic or otherwise,  our behaviour is crucial.

We ‘behave’ all the time really: At home, with kids we are a slightly different person than with a partner.
In an office again with colleagues and superiors or employees we ‘behave’ too, in the way our parents and our environment have trained us to think fit.

Sometimes, with a fiery temperament the self-control can get difficult:

    • Maybe we realize that temperament.
    • Maybe we do not. Passionate emotions are passing ‘to and fro’ unawares.

But however the case may be: At some point self-control is asked from us.

Tragically, severe self-restraint that is executed in full awareness at certain times and ‘let loose’ at other times can be mistaken for falsehood.

I’d like to make these two distinctions here as clearly as possible:

    • Falsehood is based on knowledge of one’s own and other people’s emotions and thoughts – to consciously behave differently according to situation – that way manipulating others and abusing that kind of behaviour.
    • Conscious self-restraint is a way to control impulses and passionate emotions to at least protect oneself – or others – from getting hurt in word or deed.

We should be careful to judge and keep things ‘in order’ that is: Tell the two apart.

Judging prematurely based on one’s own believes and habits can lead to tragic mistakes.