*Moment of Silence*
Let’s take a moment of silence. For the 9 who lost their lives in Dayton, Ohio and the 22 who lost their lives in El Paso, Texas over one weekend.
What We Avoid: The Alpha Male
“I don’t really like dealing with alpha males. I have 2 out of 4 of them on my team. Because I’m not an alpha male, it’s hard for me to deal with them. I just usually shut down and get really frustrated. Then they say, ‘Oh why are you in a bad mood?’” My male client who happened to be in Texas –not El Paso thank goodness—was relaying what he wanted to work on during our session. I couldn’t help but wonder if others had been as forthcoming as my client, would we have any carnage to reckon with at all after this past weekend? I mean, would we be able to better deal with alpha males like the shooters? Or would we just steer clear of them, stepping aside so they could purchase yet another gun?
What We Have Become: How We Treat the Other
With fresh updates of the number of victims coming from CNN just two days after the weekend massacres on the TV screen, at a Peet’s Coffee and tea, I lined up eagerly awaiting my SFO routine: picking up a soy matcha latte before boarding my flight. “What is this? Is there soy in this? Just tell me what this is. Is there soy in this? I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHAT THIS IS? IS THERE SOY IN THIS?!” The Caucasian man’s voice escalated with each question he repeated. The Filipino staff looked inquisitively at each other and repeated that there was indeed no soy milk in his coffee. I was mortified. When did it become ok to talk to someone like this? Was it ok because they were Filipino? If they looked more like him, would he have treated them with more respect?
What We Justify: Blame -> Complain -> Justification
It’s mental illness. It’s video games. It’s our 2nd amendment right. It’s hunting. It’s the NRA. And the list goes on. We are in the endless cycle of looking for someone—anyone to blame. Then we complain about them, and we justify what they did. Then the vicious cycle begins again. We blame/complain/justify a certain leader’s complicit hate speech towards certain minority groups as the reason behind the gun violence; yet it is what we do when we talk about the very same leader. We use the same hate speech to talk about him that we abhor. I know, that’s a hard one to hear. Just take a moment to let that sink in.
What We Need To Move Forward: Avoidance -> Survival -> Growth
Ok, so we avoid certain alpha males like the plague. I mean, who wouldn’t?! Some of us even survive them or put up with them. We nod our heads, roll our eyes, fold our arms as we listen to them drone on. The harder thing is to look within and figure out what it is we can do to help them. Here’s a great story a friend of mine told me recently. She would take her dog out along the same road every morning. Every morning she would notice how people would litter. She would then blame the people who did it, complain about it and them to friends, and justify not doing anything about it because she wasn’t the one at fault. One day, she realized how judgmental she had been and that all of that BCJ (blame/complain/justification) wasn’t going to pick up that trash. So she started bringing not just her dog out, but a trash bag as well. She posted pics of her new-found trash collecting activity on Instagram. Her neighbors saw the post, got inspired and realized that they too had been judgmental and in BCJ mode. They started picking up trash along the same road as well. That’s the thing about growth mode: growth begets growth.
What We Need To Understand: They Are Us
At a retreat in California by the beach, I first learned about the theory of oneness: basically you are me and I am you. As a child, I had grown up super empathetic. I would look at homeless people and think: that could be me. Well, the theory of oneness takes that statement to a whole new level: it’s not that could be me, it’s that is me. Let that sink in for a second or take a few minutes. Yeah, it’s easier when you have the calm waves of the ocean rolling in like I did on retreat. So the shooters are us. Certain leaders are us. Yup, that’s right. We are all one.
What Friendship Benches Can Do For Us—All of US
I watched a story in the news about how a group of thoughtful citizens in New York who wanted to replicate a program that had been created in Zimbabwe: All you have to do is invite people to just sit and talk with you on a bench. No payment necessary, no judgments, no stigma. You had an unbiased ear to listen to you. As someone who has researched happiness and survived a 2-year bout with depression, I can tell you this much: as humans we crave connection—real life physical connection—not the how-many-likes-can-I-get-on-social-media kind of connection. Happiness is really just that simple. So next time you see an Alpha Male, why not invite him to sit on a bench with you?
SpeakHER. InsipireHER. TraveleHER.