The Age of Irresponsibility

I regret to announce to those who have missed the calls of the harbingers, the omens written in their day-to-day lives, and the signs in every newspaper in the known world – The Age of Irresponsibility is upon us.

Don’t get me wrong – there have been irresponsible people in every era of human existence.  They have been called by many labels – lazy, entitled, promiscuous, spoiled, dead-beat, and many other names that separate them from the norm of responsibility.  But in the subjective age in which we now live, we have been invited to consider and have heartily accepted and gone overboard with the consideration for the “other side”.  Psychology has pointed to reasons in nature and nurture that lead to characters developing along irresponsible lines.  Because we now have reasons we find ourselves excusing the behaviours.  And with the words “lazy”, “dead-beat”, “irresponsible” and “promiscuous” being classified under the headling “judgmental”, the responsible among us avoid calling it like it is.  What follows is that those with latent tendencies toward – yup I’m calling it – laziness and disrespect see the stigma removed and sign up to the growing list of the irresponsible at a rate of thousands per minute.

But what, I hear you wonder, is irresponsibility?  What does it mean?  What does it look like?

Bushy’s definition is that irresponsibility is a failure to fulfill one’s obligations and to keep one’s word.  It comes from a selfish, unnecessary and reckless disregard for the needs and the feelings of others.

I hate to draw a sexist example, but guys you make it so damn easy.  Ladies.  When was the last time a guy in your life said to you “I’ll be there at 8” and showed up at 8:30 without a phone call?  Or how about the last time a guy in your life said “I’ll be there at 8” and didn’t show up at all?  If you say nothing, isn’t it remarkable how your next conversation (and there are questions in my mind as to whether or not there SHOULD be a next conversation) goes without any apology for your lost 30 minutes or your ruined evening?  That, my love, is irresponsibility.

Let’s take another example.  We all have at least one ditzy woman in our lives who consistently does stupid things.  For example, sleep around.  Yes… I could have used a guy example here as well but some things are just TOO easy.  She lets herself intervene over and over and over as the rebound (“But he said he was over it!”) or she may have a tendency to go for the ones who are already quite married to someone else (“But his wife is SUCH a b****).  What refrain do you hear from her as a reason (**cough-EXCUSE-cough***) for her behaviour?  “But Busy you don’t understand.  I LOVE him!”, “I can’t help it if his wife is a bitter old woman”, and most common and bloody irritating “You can’t control who you fall in love with.”

Well I’ma call it.  That is BULLSHIT.

Everyone has choices to make every single day of our lives.  We choose what we eat.  We choose how much we exercise.  We choose when to go to the bathroom.  We choose whether or not to pick up the phone and cancel an appointment we cannot make.  We choose whether or not we spread our legs to this man or that.  We choose whether we will go out and find a job.  We choose whether or not we complete our studies.  We choose what behaviours and what people we expose ourselves to and what feelings we allow ourselves to dwell on.  We choose where we are every minute of every day.

If I were to make a practice of irresponsibility my world would fall apart.  My staff would suffer, my family would suffer, I would lose the roof over my head and be dependent on someone else for the food on my plate.  How is it that others escape this fate?  Have I signed up for that much more responsibility?  Is there something wrong with me?  Maybe I should try this out and see if life is easier that way.

This is the thinking that has led to irresponsibility being the new normal.

I worry for the next generation.  Irresponsibility doesn’t travel like an STD, passing on from mother to child and with exchange of body fluids.  This bad boy catches like the flu.

Have you been immunized?

Classic irresponsible statements:

“She told me she was ok with just sex.”  She’s a woman dumbass.  And you knew this.

“I can’t help it!”  Then who the hell can?

“You don’t understand!  Marriage is very complicated.”  I didn’t tell you to sign up for it.  But you did.  So deal.

“I fell asleep.”  Don’t wake up next time.

“Ohhh… you were waiting?”  Oh yeah… but never again.

“But his wife treats him so badly!”  I’m sure she knows why.

“She’s just a friend.”  Uh huh…

“You just want to control me.”  Actually no… I don’t trust you to control yourself.

“You just don’t understand what I’m going through.”  You mean what you’re PUTTING YOURSELF through?  No.  You’re right.  I do not understand.

And my favourite.  One line that, if said too many times for the same offense makes the hearer want to carve the words in stone and shove them down an irresponsible throat.

“I’m sorry.”

So am I, luv.  So am I.

Opening old wounds

I can’t believe how raw this post today has made me… how naked it makes my heart feel.

But it turns out that the heart is still there, beating under layers and layers of scars.  Perhaps it is better to let sleeping dogs lie, let the scars be, and the fresh scabs become keloid.  It certainly would be easier.  Healing hurts too much!  And it isn’t guaranteed.  Is it?

A wise friend and I spoke recently about pain.  He has studied James with me and we have spoken at length about Considering it Joy.  He has found himself in a place of total brokenness – his body, his work, his family, his reputation, all broken.

But in it he has found peace.

I explained to him that I am completely unaware of any other way of dealing with pain other than attacking or running.  The fight or flight in me is strong when it comes to pain.  There is no middle ground.  Or is there?

He said to me embrace the pain.  Be with it.  Ride it out and let it take you to the lesson.

Hmmmm ok.  I kinda reacted with a flip mmm hmm.  But he didn’t move.  He meant it.  Savor every emotion.  Get to know it and let it know you.  He patiently waited for it to sink in to me.

Embrace it, eh?  Will give it a try before I trash the idea.

Today is a step in that direction.

INTRODUCING: My Book

My writing corner: Good view, good company, good coffee, and a funny pen that drives the dogs mad…

My dearest Readers, I am finally feeling able to talk about my book.  For followers of this blog from the very beginning, I must clarify this is not the same book that I began when we first met.  Late last year I tried my hand at some fiction writing and found myself writing more of my opinions on this blog to make up for what I REALLY wanted to say.  No, no, no it will not be fiction.  This year I began something else and have rolled down a hill like a snowball full of ideas.

Will give you my elevator speech and ask you kindly for some accountability, as I’m in a bit of a rut.  But a GOOD one.  You ever have something to write that you’ve worked out in your head and you can’t wait to start and then when you pick up the pen you don’t know where to start?  Well this happens to me EVERY TIME I pick up the pen.  I sit to write Chapter 1 and I end up spending 3,000 words worth of time down in Chapter 6.  I sit to finish Chapter 6 and instead find myself itching to be in Chapter 3.  It’s a bit insane and I’m so eager and in love with the subject matter I want to gobble it all up at once!

The result has been an overwhelm that stops me from picking up the pen because I don’t want the mind to play tug of war with 9 corners rooting for 9 separate chapters at once.  It’s tiring!  Can you imagine the little elves in my head pulling the strings on the brain fighting to win for their chapter?

 (Cue any advice from actually experienced writers – anything you can do to help me make sense of this?!)

But having actual material that I love so much means it will be getting the best of me.  Once I can quiet the elves and give them the talking stick to go one at a time.  It is something I believe in and something I have preached and had validated over and over up on my soapbox for years – the information contract.

The premise is that we are all owners and creators of information.  We are also generators of information.  But what information is mine?  And what information is yours?  And how do I handle what is mine and what you have given me that is still yours?  What are the terms of the agreements that we form about the handling of the information we share?  What should our boundaries be?  What terms should dominate the agreements of each context – the contexts of our relationships, our work places, our friendships?  How should we work with information in these places?  Very importantly, what should we do when our boundaries have been trespassed past?

In an age where information is a tool, a weapon, and the source of income for the largest magnates of the world, why would we not be conscious of our own information?

There.  Elevator speech.  Are you sold?  Is it something you would read?  Do you see anything I can do to help me get past the noise in my head?  I am SO EXCITED by this stuff!

Long weekend ahead – I have some extra time to dedicate to sorting out information – my information – for the book on information.

Have a great weekend all!

I AM NOT ASHAMED

You know… there have been times on this blog that I’ve choked on something I’ve written out of rum-soaked pain. I’ve regretted saying and writing the things that were destroying me inside.

Today I went back and un-protected the passworded bits of poison. The coin has two sides and I am not ashamed. There have been battles and bruises and bludgeoning in this war toward my authentic self and the opposition has been surprising – internal and external.  To disguise the wrong would be to hide who I really am and be just as much a hypocrite as I have fought hard not to be.

Welcome to the Singlestream. Home to a woman called Bushlings who accepts that she is flawed and is no longer ashamed to feel.

Have a wonderful day with yourself! I’ll be doing me right alongside you doing you. LOVE IT.

Breakup Checklist

Every single woman needs one.  In fact, every single human being needs one.  Because if you are operating in today’s world you will come across false starts.  And they will hurt.

A friend of mine going through a heart-rending divorce shared with me in a facebook conversation some years ago what he calls his Breakup Checklist.  I have asked his permission to share his insights.

THE CHECKLIST

“#1. Pull together your “support team” of family and friends who can help you deal with this crisis. These are the insiders who know you, know your Ex and can talk you through everything.  These are the people who will pick up the phone at all hours of the day to allow you to express your sorrow, remind you of your self worth. Put your team together and get their support.

#2 Find a counselor.  Your friends can be there for you, but they have lives of their own and they are not professionals. Hire a professional who can talk to you about the situation and help you sort things out clinically. Help you to understand yourself, your inner demons, and why the relationship fell apart. They can asses whether you are just sad or clinically “depressed” and in need of temporary medication (nothing wrong with that).  Note: counselors are great! But do your homework. find one that is highly recommended.  Sometimes the most expensive ones are the best. They can afford to charge those prices. The cheaper ones are desperate for clients.

#2b -Face your new reality – Part of the problem with not having these written down is that you forget some things.  Right around the time you are meeting with a counselor, that counselor should be helping you face your new reality. This bad situation is happening! Your worst fear is real. You can’t go back. you can’t change it. You have to face it head on and deal with it.  Stare the dragon in eye and let him know you are not afraid. For me, this was realizing that my wife IS cheating on me. It wasnt a one time thing. She made a conscious decision. There is no going back. It can’t be undone. Why am I hiding the truth from people? In hopes that I can keep it quiet and take her back after she is done with the other guy? Get real. “When someone takes an opportunity to show you who they really are….BELIEVE THEM!!!!!”

#3 Get Busy – Start filling your days with activities that will distract you from what is going on with you. You should “pre-schedule” these events.  Start planning trips, vacations, classes (art, martial arts, athletic related, etc), visits to friends, shopping trips. Fill up your schedule. Consider this the equivalent of a cast on a broken arm.  Distract yourself while your heart is healing.

Take care of YOU!!!! You will heal by LOVING YOURSELF and NOT HATING the other person.

#4 – Have you phoned God? – get your spiritual life together. Maybe all of this happened because God has been trying to get your attention and you haven’t been listening. Start spending more time in church, prayer, and meditation.

#5 – Do some emotional housecleaning. You need to conduct an emotional assessment of where you are. Are you angry? Hurt? Depressed?  There is a time for anger in the healing process, but Anger will only take you so far and it WON’T get you to the finish line. You need to start focusing on more positive emotions – FORGIVENESS, peace, calm, happiness (step #3 activities should bring smiles and happiness into your life). Ask God to help you release your anger. Ask God to help you forgive. You would be surprised how much forgiveness and releasing anger will help YOU feel better. Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die…… (think that will work?).

#6 Start Taking Care of Yourself – Focus on your new life – ALONE. And do what you need to do to move forward. Have you been talking about finding a new job? do it. Thinking about moving to a new country/state? do it.  Do it for yourself.  Treat yourself to the things you like. Spa day. Exercise. (Note: keep it healthy and positive. Don’t soothe yourself with sweets and dessert. You will only hate yourself later when you get fat) That flight to see your friends? Buy yourself an upgrade. Take care of YOU!!!! You will heal by LOVING YOURSELF and NOT HATING the other person.”

How do you handle breakups?  What would you add to this list?

The Science of Motivation

This video came to me through a CEO Training Workshop put on by a fascinating Business Coaching company called Shirlaws.  I don’t usually do free advertising but I must credit this company of coaches for helping me discovery amazing truths about myself and about how I manage myself in business.

 

Self-Esteem Meets Identity

Now we have covered some ground and formed some conclusions on Self-Esteem that take away from the value it is given in society as a theory that explains good and evil human behaviour.  And here comes a spanner that changes the course of our discussion – Identity.  What is it?  And what does it have to do with Self-Esteem?

You have gone to pay with a credit card and been asked for your ID.  You have travelled and had to present the picture page of your passport.  Before you can vote in many countries a card with your picture on it must identify to the authorities WHO YOU ARE.  But that picture only provides so much information – a snap shot of your facial features.  The concept of identity is about the whole of you – what is seen, what cannot be seen, what you see and what you cannot see.

Once upon about two years ago I came across a new perspective on the concept of identity in a most unlikely place.  I was helping a friend in the writing of his dissertation for a master’s degree in International Relations.  The central concept was national identity – the identity of one nation in particular.  By the end of the exercise I felt myself worthy of a master’s degree myself – one in Identity, so long did I analyze and so deeply did the concept of identity resonate within my mind.  I had come across Identity before in a different and seemingly unrelated place – my spiritual search – and had been chewing on the word and savouring the flavour for some time.  But for the purposes of a discussion in International Relations the concept was split into two main parts:

  1. How a nation sees itself; and
  2. How a nation is seen by other nations.

I have determined that both these elements are authentic pieces of identity – they are both real and true, even if one or both of them are outside of the control of the identified nation or person.

How You See Yourself

The internal element of identity is determined by the cultural mores, the rituals, the relationships that a nation has and values.  Think of the holidays you have where you live and how your own nation identifies with them.  Transferring that to our own human experience, internal identity is the thoughts and actions and – yup, Self-Esteem – of a person, their sense of self, their boundaries and their own image as it displays itself in their head.  It is determined by their own actions and their own judgment of those actions based on their belief system – always measuring up to the ruler they create for themselves.  This ruler set will be determined by their religion, their jealousies, their comparing themselves to people they admire or despise, and informed by their culture.  But in the end this is also part of their internal identity.  So they see their intelligence and measure it – 8 inches of intelligence makes me above average and I feel good about that.  Or they see their beauty – 3 inches of beauty doesn’t compare to Kim Kardashian and therefore I’m not good enough.  You can see the path here from Identity to Self-Esteem.  You can also see here that the internal identity is also informed in some ways by the opinions of others.

How You are Seen by Others

The external identity is the way that the rest of the world sees a nation, not with the vested interest of ownership or the fears of facing ones self but with objectivity – or at least a different subjectivity – of an outsider looking on.  And so, in our own lives, it is what our friends and enemies see, who they see us to be.  How they become sorted into friends and enemies will depend on their set of rulers, their values, their belief systems, and how closely they match up with yours.

CASE STUDY

Let’s take the USA as a case study.  Their internal identity has traditionally been informed by the values of their founding fathers – several freedoms enshrined in a constitution.  It is also informed in the outcome of the conflicts they have entered into like Vietnam and the Gulf War and World War II.  Their achievements in sports, their economic successes, all of these things inform their identity.  One would simply need to drive out of the airport in any US city to see bumper stickers screaming national pride and national identity and the love with which this nation sees itself.  Not to mention national holidays where the things that they value are celebrated like Thanksgiving and the 4th of July and even Martin Luther King’s holiday.

On the flip side there are other parts of their identity held deeper and less proudly that they choose not to make a part of national identity internally but inform they way they are seen by other nations.  The racism of their history, the brutal corruption of their politics, the stain of assassinations, espionage, and the hypocrisy of their international policies all inform their international identity.  The USA is not revered in France as it is in Wyoming, it isn’t seen as a nation that stands for freedom in Iran or in Cuba in the way it is seen in Virginia.

LESSONS

Two things can be learned from the identity of the United States.  Firstly, the vision one has of ones self can be completely at odds with, or at least very different from, ones external identity.  Secondly, identity is a fluid thing evolving as time changes and people grow.

Of course, how you esteem yourself will be heavily affected by who you see yourself to be.  You will measure that vision up against your value rulers and determine how much value you give to yourself and, voila, out comes your Self-Esteem!

But is how you see yourself the problem?  Or is it how you are BEING that makes you value yourself more or less?  And perhaps, most importantly of all, is who you are being something within your control?

Stay tuned for the answers in the next installment of the common-sense study of Self-Esteem.

Related Posts:

Self-Esteem: What is it?

This is a common sense study.  Not one based on Maslow, nor on Branden or Rosenberg.  But to rubbish the theory as we have committed to doing one must be able to define it.  What is Self-Esteem?  The common sense encyclopedia of our age has this to say:

“Self-esteem is a term in psychology to reflect a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of her or his own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, “I am competent”, “I am worthy”) and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame; some would distinguish how ‘the self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, the positive or negative evaluation of the self, is how we feel about it’. ” ~Wikipedia on Self-Esteem

For me to summarize, Self-Esteem as I see it is the amount of value one places on ones’ self or the amount of love one has for ones’ self.

Read the entire Wiki entry for what a low Self-Esteem looks like and what a high one looks like and we can easily see the theory:  Perfect balance and harmony are found in a high Self-Esteem and the root of all harmful human behaviours lies in a low one.

Enter the NARCISSIST:

Narcissus

Narcissus, who loved the look of his own image so much he drowned in the pool of his own reflection, has so much to teach us on Self-Esteem.  Our same common sense encyclopedia points to narcissism as being an unhealthy self-love, self-absorption, vanity and conceit.

Have you ever been around a conceited person?  Was it much fun?

I went to university with a greek (coincidence, I promise) named Nic.  I am in no danger of him reading this blog and seeing himself in it because 1. it would take away from the quality time spent in his mirror, 2. he could never see himself as a narcissist – that means something negative right? Nah.  Not me – and 3. there are so many Greeks named Nic you could recreate the Great Wall of China if you stood them on each other.  Nic was a narcissist.  Classic.  His body was more perfect than a greek god’s (even if it was a little short), his mind was more brilliant than any human being alive (about as bright as midnight), and anyone who disagreed was simply unenlightened.  He had a healthy self-esteem alright – was the life of the party, didn’t suffer from any doubts, and did not in any way appear to feel the need to over-compensate.

Now, the psychologists will say “Deep down he has an aching need to belong, has many layers hiding his true feelings, and doubts his own value.  He has something to prove.”

Hitler - Perhaps one of the most famous Narcissists in our recent history

Nah.  The guy was obnoxious, but going through Wiki’s list of symptoms of a low Self-Esteem he didn’t match up.  He had no care about what others thought, was no people pleaser, was not hyper-sensitive or hyper-critical of himself, had no guilt or perfectionism (how could you improve on perfect?), and even though he was entirely obnoxious, he had no floating hostility.  He was a complete and perfect descendent of Narcissus.  Along with Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Jim Jones, Stalin, Casanova and Marquis de Sade.

Yet he was capable, like many narcissists, of countless ills.  His conceit was nauseating and entertaining for its shock value all at once.  He was invited to parties and events just to see what he would have the balls to say next.  He was convinced that any woman who wasn’t swept off her feet by his hello was in denial, blind, stupid, and certainly not worth the rest of the conversation.  Yet his Self-Esteem – fed by ingratiating, enabling and wholly entertained friends – was not only intact but thriving.

Looking at the other end of the spectrum…

Someone with a low Self-Esteem isn’t hard to find.  Every tortured artist and troubled celebrity wears their low self-esteem on their shoulder.  There are many who have rocked the world with their goodness despite having something close to hatred for themselves.  Princess Diana is a classic example – not one biography of her life fails to capture her self-doubt, her self harm, depression, bulimia and low Self-Esteem.

Princess Diana, a life testimony to low Self-Esteem not preventing one from doing good

Whitney Houston, the idol of many and valiant champion of love and music also harmed herself, doubted herself, made a masochist of herself.  Did she have the Self-Esteem the match the level of esteem the world had for her?  She certainly did not.  But she is mourned with broken hearts all over the earth today, a few weeks from her death.

There is also the far more balanced sense of self in the vision of Mother Theresa’s humility.  Someone who made herself low, determined she was but a tool for the work of God, cannot necessarily be seen to have had heaping amounts of Self-Esteem.  By her own admission she was always plagued with doubt, feared not being good enough for the ministry she was called to.

And so… in the journey of making rubbish of the theory that high Self-Esteem leads one to perfection and low Self-Esteem is the root of all evil, we have made the first decisive step toward our destination on the Leer Jet of narcissism and the hard Hike of self harm.  But there is something in the smoke of the theory that leads us to another fire altogether.  Keep an eye out for the next leg of our journey – the Train to Identity.

Related links:

A journey to the rubbishing of Self-Esteem: INTRODUCTION

“In psychology, the term self-esteem is used to describe a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. Self-esteem is often seen as a personality trait, which means that it tends to be stable and enduring. Self-esteem can involve a variety of beliefs about the self, such as the appraisal of one’s own appearance, beliefs, emotions and behaviors.” ~Kendra Cherry, About.com’s resident psychologist

This is a topic so very heavily discussed that it has become cliché.  The therapy culture of the 90s and the new age movements coming out of that decade have taken the world by storm giving Self-Esteem so much air time that it has become a household name.  Having a low one is a diagnosis for all sorts of dysfunctions and criminal behaviours and there is an unreachable image of someone who has a high one.  Someone with the highest level of Self-Esteem is gorgeous, intelligent, powerful, gregarious, kind, utters no wry word and causes no harm.  There is no end to their power and no end to their perfection.  All because they hold their Self in high Esteem. 

In my opinion that is utter nonsense.  It’s a tidy little theory expounded upon over and over  in brilliantly inaccessible language by brilliant minds with PHDs and accolades.  But I must humbly disagree.  The love of self does not result in perfection.

Over the course of the next few entries I am going to do a layman’s exploration of Self-Esteem.  Because I am a layman.  The theories behind this stuff aside, my study is going to be one of common sense.  The topics I intend to explore are:

  1. Self-Esteem:  What is it?
  2. Self-Esteem meets Identity
  3. Killers of your Self-Esteem
  4. The source of Self
  5. The source of Love

Once again, a Bushlings caveat:  This is how I plan to cover it.  I might change my mind along the way.  I am inviting you to share in a journey I have not yet taken – travel with me not as a guide but as a companion.  Sure, I think my destination is going to be a place where the theory of and the importance placed on Self-Esteem is total rubbish.  But I might bump into something on the way that totally changes my mind. 

But while you wait in the departure lounge, please go and test your self-esteem so we know exactly what it is we’re rubbishing.

Have a good day!