Category Archives: Just Thinking…

Why men treat some women differently than others

Value yourself. You show others how to treat you.

Value yourself. You show others how to treat you.

I’ve blogged about some of these things before, but a conversation I had with a friend the other day got me thinking some more. My friend mentioned that a man she knows, that she thought she was just friends with, started asking her very personal sexual questions and making sexually harassing comments to her. When she confided in another woman he knew, that other woman found it hard to believe because he had never treated her that way. My friend is not an especially flirty person, and is definitely not the type to lead people on, but she has been treated like a doormat pretty regularly because she is nicer to people than they are to her. So I got to thinking…why did that man treat my friend so disrespectfully while he is always respectful with the other woman they both know?

I have had similar problems in my life. Once when I was pregnant, a much older man who had children my age, told me that he wanted to make love to a pregnant woman his daughter’s age, and continued making gross comments to me. I did not initiate that type of conversation, but for some reason, he thought it was okay to turn the casual conversation that way and say creepy things to me. He would never dream of treating many other women that way. I did not want or deserve his nasty comments. I was appalled.

I’ve asked over time why this has happened to me, and why it has happened to my friend who is also very “mousy” like I have been. Part of it is, predators know how to target specific people who have been victimized before, and part of it is because people learn how to treat us the way we treat ourselves, but there’s more to it. I did not treat myself like a woman who wants to be sexually harassed, and neither did my friend, that’s for sure! But, these creepers saw in us women with poor boundaries, women who seemed unsure about themselves, women who were not very assertive and women who wouldn’t stand up to them. We were easy targets for cowards who wouldn’t dare say the same things to strong, loud women.

When I told one of my other friends about the older man’s yucky comments to me, she noted that men do not speak to her that way. And it’s not because I’m any prettier or younger; it’s because her body language and her personality show that she is NOT going to put up with hearing that crap! So much of this is related to boundaries. A woman with strong boundaries doesn’t let people blur the lines or test and push at the boundaries. She says “NO!” when the creeper even tries to be inappropriate. Me? (And my friend.) We are both very polite and try to joke or squirm our ways out of uncomfortable conversations.

Let me say now, that it is okay to put a stop to those conversations and be “rude” to someone who is sexually harassing us!

These skills aren’t based on being shy or outgoing, introverted or extroverted, or anything else. We can learn and enforce good boundaries no matter what our personality types…and that is what I am doing!

Recognizing that you are an introvert and making the most of it

“I restore myself when I’m alone.” Marilyn MonroeI’ve been thinking a lot lately about introversion, and how normal careers and life can be difficult for people who get overstimulated and need a lot of “me time” to recharge and replenish their emotional energy reserves. I used to say at my last few jobs that I felt emotionally drained and exhausted at the end of the day. The jobs were not physically challenging, but they demanded a lot of interaction and included frequent conflict. I would come home at the end of the day feeling like I’d been giving everything I had all day and I needed time to be alone. I am an introvert.

People who are introverted aren’t necessarily shy or anti-social. But we are people who “recharge” and gain our personal energy by being alone instead of being part of a group. I often enjoy socializing, but after a while, I need some quiet time to think and relax. There’s nothing wrong with that, but introversion is often considered a bit of a handicap when it comes to making friends,  climbing a career ladder, and networking.

Since I have become self-employed, I am spending my days home with my young children instead of in an office with adults, but I still recognize that need to have some quiet time alone at the end of the day. My doctor even encouraged me to take a part of a day every week to do something for myself because parents need to recuperate too. So today, I am doing that and reading some about introversion, because I want to learn to use it to my advantage.

I’ve come across some good links that are worth sharing:
10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With The World

I can relate to so many points in this article! For example, the writer points out that introverts can feel overwhelmed in a crowd, but might feel energized by a one-on-one conversation. Or, we are very good at giving public speeches, but we stumble when it’s time to converse with strangers. We are more likely to screen and/or avoid taking phone calls–partly because it pulls us away from other things we are doing. I think it is noteworthy that each of these comparisons has a strong point for introverts. We are different from extroverts, but our differences can work for good. The introvert can have long, stimulating conversations, can really focus on putting together a public speech and can stay on task with a current project. I think if we can focus on the positive aspects of introversion, we can thrive even in a primarily extroverted environment. It’s important to pay attention to your feelings and needs so you can nurture them.

And here’s another good article:
Introverts’ secrets of success

This writer discusses the reality that Western culture rewards extroversion, and that the large majority of managers and bosses are extroverts. So where does that leave us introverts?! Fortunately, the article gives some ideas! I really like this quote from a reporter/news correspondent named Tazeen Ahmad: “”The secret to any success I’ve had has been embracing my introversion….” That is an excellent point! One quality of introverts is that we are more likely to observe and think about things, so we can use that to our advantage by fostering good intrapersonal skills. As I mentioned before, if you get to know yourself, what energizes and relaxes you and how you react, you can learn to use your personal qualities to your advantage. There are more practical career tips for introverts in this article.

And here is another great article:
The Best Job for Introverts Is No Job (In Particular)

When you first see this title, you might think you are going to read a list of jobs that are best for introverts, but when you read on, it’s really about making the most of being an introvert no matter what job you are in. I think I like that idea better–thrive with your differences and use them instead of trying to hide them. The article also recommends a book that sounds pretty helpful. I just ordered it, so I’ll have to report back!

Wasting time keeps you from reaching your dreams!

Don't waste time on the wrong things. It will only keep you from getting to the right things.  Don't be afraid to let go of things that aren't right for you!I’ve been thinking today about wasting time. Not wasting time as in procrastinating, or being lazy, but wasting time as in staying in situations that are pointless. How many of us have stayed in a bad relationship, or an unsatisfying job, or continued doing things we didn’t really want to do just because we were used to doing them and didn’t know how to change…or worse, were afraid to face changes? I know I have!

I spent nearly all of my twenties dating someone who was perfectly nice–someone that I got along with really well…but I had no romantic feelings for him. I knew I wanted to get married and have kids one day, and I knew it would not be with him, but I just kept staying even though I knew I wanted more. We were extremely compatible and had all of the same hobbies, so I feared moving on and losing what I did have. I thought it was easier to keep dating that person and continue having a built-in partner for social occasions than it would be to become single and look for someone I did have romantic feelings for. In many ways, it was. In fact, I still haven’t found someone that was such a great match for sharing all my interests. But on the other hand, I haven’t found someone that was a good partner either. Sometimes I wonder, did spending so much time in a dead-end platonic relationship seriously hurt my chances to meet the right person for me? While I was wasting time, were all the smarter women marrying the men I would have liked better? I have a sneaking suspicion that I wasted many good years that would have been better spent single and meeting a better match for me. Not that life is over and I’m ready for the retirement home or anything, but did I miss out? I definitely didn’t make much progress towards my real goal!

I feel the same way about many areas of my life. Did I waste time switching my college major a few times? Did I waste time at jobs I didn’t like? Did I waste time staying at home instead of working on a career when I was married? While I did have many good experiences, I knew I was unfulfilled, and I just stayed that way instead of taking steps to get what I really wanted. I think the journey through life is very important, but…you have to be ON that journey instead of sitting in the rest area while your goals are still waiting down the road!

I want to live a life of movement towards my dreams instead of being stagnant. Every moment we are feeling unhappy and not doing anything about it is a moment wasted…a moment that isn’t being spent doing the things we want to do with the people we want to be with. It is time to make changes and reach for what we want instead of just waiting!

Are you really “behind” your peers? Or just on a different track?

laymileaf1Some of us take longer than others to get on the right track in life. We don’t know what we want to do when we grow up, we are hampered by rough beginnings, we make dumb choices…and we end up far behind out peers when it comes to our careers, education, families and other areas of our lives. We see people our own ages who are doing so much better and we see younger people who are surpassing us as well. Not going to lie…it’s depressing!

I have had that problem. And I think, even though I now know my life purpose, I’m a good 15 or 20 years behind. My much younger sister makes more money than I do with hardly any work experience! I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time and I’m going to have to work hard to get back on track. But can I catch up when I’m this far “behind?”

And does it really matter? Am I truly behind? Or just different? Many of my former classmates have good paying careers, nice homes and established marriages. I’m not too far from where I started when I was leaving high school. And at the same time, since I’m not a fresh college graduate, I am watching much younger people get promoted ahead of me because I was not on the right track to begin with.

Sometimes I worry about this. But, then I start thinking and remembering that I have had some really unusual life experiences and have learned some lessons that most people will never have the opportunity to experience or learn. For one, I was once on an album cover. Who out of my peers can say that?! But on the other hand, I am twice-divorced–both times from abusive men with the second being an actual sociopath. Oh yeah, I learned something there! Let me say, I did NOT like that lesson. But, I have learned the power of introspection as I’ve uncovered why I attracted and was attracted to narcissistic men. And I am no longer naive to false charm; I know to look at actions instead of just hearing words. Plus, I learned how to help my children avoid ending up in the same position. I married abusers because I was raised in an abusive home, but it has made me alert to understanding how children and personalities develop…as well as what we all need to feel secure and not fall prey to pretty charmers. There are a whole slew of life lessons and there is a whole book’s worth of wisdom in my head. As a bonus, I’m aware that I need to learn more and I am open to doing so.

Does that really leave me “behind” my peers? Maybe in some areas, but perhaps not in the life areas that truly matter.

I think my life’s trials have given me a lot of understanding and critical thinking skills I might never have learned without having endured bad things. They helped me find some of my life goals, and they have prepared me to fulfill my plans. Most importantly, they have given me fire and inspiration to succeed!

And it’s okay to play “catch up.” There are plenty of admirable people who didn’t find their way until later in life. Did you know that the renowned wedding dress designer Vera Wang didn’t begin her design career until she was 40? Now she’s a HUGE name in her industry! Or how about comic book creator Stan Lee? He was almost 39 when he found success. Now his creations are legendary. Famous actor Samuel Jackson didn’t hit it big until he was 43 and comedian Rodney Dangerfield was 46. Charles Darwin didn’t write “Origin of the Species” until he was 50–the same age Julia Child was when she wrote her first cookbook. Now both of them are known as visionaries in their fields. And one of my heroes–Laura Ingalls Wilder–didn’t publish her first “Little House” book until she was 65.

I finally have a life goal and a plan that has been growing for the past few years. I’m closing in on 40 and I’m not doing as well as my peers, but that’s okay. I am in good company….

For more stories and information about people who found their success later in life….

20 People Who Became Highly Successful After Age 40

Complaining lets us get stuck instead of appreciating what we have and pursuing what we want

Stop Complaining: Guide to Living Life Instead of Complaining About It

I was reading a short article in Reader’s Digest called “Why I Stopped Whining” and found an interesting quote. The point of the story is that when you complain, you waste time and miss out on appreciating what is good.

“Complaining allows us to acknowledge the imperfect without having to take action–it lets us luxuriate in inertia. We all have grand ideas about what life would be like if only we had this, or did that, or lived there. Perhaps complaining helps bridge the vast yawn between these fantasy selves and reality.”

It’s just a short two-page article, and the author goes on to explain that she learned to accept that life isn’t perfect and to appreciate the things she has. But, the quote made me think of a whole lot more. Complaining allows us to be lazy. We can sit and whine and feel bad, but we don’t have to be brave enough to take the next step to change things. Sometimes change is scary and it feels “easier” to just stay semi-miserable than it would be to take a risk trying something new. It’s a “luxury” to sit around complaining and not doing anything.

We often complain because we don’t have what we want. And there are some things we can’t ever have, but we could put an effort towards getting the things we want that are possible. Even though the writer, Roxane Gay, was making a point about accepting and loving what we have, that particular quote reminded me of the reality that whining also keeps us from achieving what we could have.

So…have your moment to sit and pine and think about how imperfect things are…then accept the things you cannot change and find the courage to change the things you can!

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

The importance of your thoughts and how they affect your moods

Sunflower Field with setting Sun in Background, nice Sunburst and SunbeamsI’ve read so many books that talk about the power of your thoughts, and I’ve blogged about the importance of positive thoughts. What you think and what you dwell on can really affect your day, your mood, your attitude and your emotions. Still, when something bad happens, it is so easy to get caught up in thinking negative thoughts, which then generate more negative thoughts over and over until you are in a horrible mood. I am seeing that in action now.

I’ve had a few disappointments lately–the worst being that I was turned down for a job I really, really wanted after going to a second interview. It left me feeling pretty depressed and the thoughts started swirling around in my head–I was an idiot in the interview, I didn’t dress well, I didn’t look professional, I answered the questions stupidly, I am so far behind my peers, I’m an underachiever, I’m never going to get a job now…. But it’s time for me to get real about what is really going on. None of those things are true. In reality, what happened was someone else was a better match for that job. It doesn’t mean I’m a loser. It just means that wasn’t the place for me.

It’s so important to look at our situations realistically instead of letting the bad thoughts take over. And I’m reversing that negative course now. What is the truth? I did dress nicely, I got along well with the interviewers, I wasn’t nervous, I’m not stupid, I have qualifications to get a good job. But, there were possibly hundreds of other well-qualified applicants. And one day, I’m going to apply for a job where *I* am the perfect fit!

How I’m learning how NOT to be a predator magnet!

Gaining the confidence and skills to discourage predators

Gaining the confidence and skills to discourage predators

So after I started recognizing all the qualities that were drawing abusive people, narcissists and con-artists towards me, I knew something needed to change! I was shy, a wallflower, non-assertive, lonely, and lacking self-esteem, but I think my two biggest issues were I had zero to no boundaries and I was kind of desperate. In fact, I didn’t start dating abusive men until my late 20’s. Before that, I’d dated all nice guys. What changed? I honestly think it was the biological clock issue. The guy I dated through most of my 20s was not the kind of person I wanted to marry. But, as I got closer to 30, I started panicking! Instead of waiting for a man who really fit my values and gave me time to get to know him, I fell for the charm and insistence of a man who turned out to be a narcissist. He wanted me to move in with him and get engaged pretty fast, and I went with it. I should have had some boundaries and given myself time to really know that person. I used to have a lot of strict dating rules, but I let go of them over the years. I have to admit, when I was more strict, (especially about sex early in the relationship,) I did not end up with jerks. Hmmm….

So this is where I need to learn about boundaries as well as learn to say “no” without guilt or explanation. How sad that it never occurred to me before that I could say “no” to people without feeling like I had done something wrong! I also realized it was okay to be a bit choosy. I don’t have to date whatever guy asks me out. I can say “no” and wait for someone who is a better match. (Duh!)

I started reading about boundaries, co-dependency, good relationships, self-esteem, success and more. Here are some of the things I learned could help me avoid being targeted by bullies and predators:

“No” is a complete sentence.

I don’t always have to defend myself or my choices. If you get caught up defending your valid life choices, the bully is going to back you in a corner demanding you explain yourself. Nope. I don’t need to explain a thing! Bullies want a reaction and they want you to keep talking. Sometimes, moving on without a word is the smartest response. Furthermore, engaging and defending yourself makes you seem weaker because you care too much about what others say rather than remaining confident in your own truth. The more you say, they more a bully can find to pick on.

I need to STOP telling people too much too soon. Bullies will take your insecurities and run with them! And the more you tell people, the more they have to work with when they want to mock, stalk or prey on you. People with poor boundaries violate their own privacy by giving away too much information which shows predators that they are easy targets.

I need to practice self-control. Instead of letting myself get caught up in romance, I need to limit myself and give myself time to think instead of rushing in. The romantic predator is hoping to overwhelm you and push you into a relationship to get you hooked before you know what is going on.

I need to beware of making hasty decisions–especially if someone is pushing me–and stop being afraid to ask questions.

I need to recognize my needs and desires and speak up for them. Predators want an easy target. If you start being a “pain” and asking for equal rights, they are probably going to move to someone less difficult to control. Plus, if I don’t know what I want, how am I going to meet the right people?

I need to stop being mousy and start being bold.

Those guidelines work with an emotional predator, but from a crime perspective, we are less likely to be targeted if we move with purpose and look around us to let the predators know we’ve seen them. This article has some really interesting information. For instance, studies show that the way we walk is hugely important to how predators choose us. It shows our confidence levels. To quote the article, “What distinguished the likely victims from the rest of the pedestrians was their posture, body language, pace, length of their stride, and overall awareness of their environment. Criminals judge a person’s level of self confidence by the style of their walk, such as a walk that lacks interactional synchrony, wholeness, organized movements, and a flowing motion. This signified to the perpetrators that the pedestrian lacks self confidence. On the other hand, those who walked fast and fluidly were less likely to be victimized.”

But this is the part that really surprised me: “Even though it is thought that women who dress provocatively are the most likely to be rape, studies show that women with passive, submissive personalities are more likely to get raped. These women tend to wear clothes that are concealing such as high neckline, long pants and long sleeves. This may sound ironic but, predatory men can identify submissive women by their style of dress.” Wow. If we dress like we are timid, even if we think we are covering up and protecting ourselves, it’s a signal to a rapist that we are actually more easy to prey upon!

I think all of these things come down to inner strength and confidence. If we have it, we project it. We trust ourselves, we value our own privacy and personal boundaries, we walk without fear, and we dress with confidence. Just small changes in the way we view our selves can show predators that maybe we aren’t such great targets after all.

I have been thinking a lot about how to protect myself emotionally, but the information about the importance of the way we walk has me thinking. Protecting yourself from predators isn’t just about setting guidelines in your mind. It’s about every part of you and the image you project physically and emotionally. Live like you matter. That’s something I never used to do.

You as YOU make you–the Kardashians and the power of transformation

You as you make you

You as you make you

Like many of us, I know much more about the Kardashians than I would like to know. I see posts about them in my Facebook newsfeed, and they look so outrageous, I end up looking at the articles. What strikes me most, is they must have to wear huge amounts of make-up and spend huge amounts of time to look like the characters they play. Personally, I’d rather be doing more interesting things, but what I find intriguing is that they completely transform themselves into different people in order to play a part and create income. They prove that you can be as YOU make you.

Kylie Jenner before and after from

Kylie Jenner before and after from

In older photos, they look like typical teenaged girls, but in recent photos, even the “baby” of the family is different. Yes, a lot of this is due to plastic surgery, butt injections, lip injections, and who knows what else, but some of it is just careful make-up and strategic eyebrow waxing. I write a lot about transforming one’s attitude and mind, but what about your body? It’s how actual stars and faux stars make a living. Arched eyebrows, plumped lips, contoured cheek bones, glossy hair extensions, long false eye-lashes…. and several hours later, a Kardashian goes from typical female to cartoon character.

Kim Kardashian before and after from

Kim Kardashian before and after from

I’m no fan, but I do realize that this family of women, who haven’t actually done any form of work, have created a multi-million dollar empire simply by transforming and selling themselves. What does that say for us? It says we all have the capability of doing the same. These women are just as naturally pretty as the rest of us. In older photos, you can see that none of them were glamorous. Cute or pretty, yes, but not bombshells. And I’ll bet now, underneath the make-up/masks, they look very different. They are a public example that, if we wanted to transform our bodies and create new selves, it wouldn’t be out of reach. Yes the procedures would be pricey, but just the make-up and working out can go a long way.

Marilyn Monroe before and after from

Marilyn Monroe before and after from

Look at other transformed women like Norma Jean…I mean Marilyn Monroe. She went from normal girl to bombshell–just by remaking herself and creating an image. She just made herself into this new, bigger-than-life creature that was so different from her original self. You can look at old photos of many actresses and see how very typical they looked before they physically made themselves into the women they wanted to be. Many success authors speak of creating an image for yourself–a brand that you can sell–and these women take it to the extreme. But, they also demonstrate the selling power of transformation and creating an image. It’s something to think of. Perhaps there is something you can learn from the Kardashians 😉

Reputations and learning from people with good, (or bad,) reputations

So I’m reading this book again:
Click here to purchase 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One)

I am still not a millionaire! But, I keep the book by my bed and I read through a little bit every few nights. Last night, I found a tip that really resonated with me. Number 102 says “If you want to see how powerful a reputation is, write down the reputations of several people you know personally. It will become clear why people either are attracted to them or avoid them.”

This is part of the chapter about building and protecting your reputation because it is the most important part of your career or business. I thought I’d like to take this one step further. I want to make a list of what is good and bad about those people’s or companies’ reputations, and learn lessons from them. Why is one person well-liked and another despised? Why is one person successful while the other one is stuck in a dead-end job. I know from experience that working hard is not necessarily the key to being promoted. There is more to it and I want to do what the successful people are doing and learn from them!

Poor Boundaries in Fifty Shades of Grey

Click here to purchase Fifty Shades of Grey

So, like many other women, (and probably men too!) I read Fifty Shades of Grey. I can absolutely see why it might seem sexy and romantic. Who doesn’t want a hot billionaire? But, I was reading it from the point of view of someone who wants to build boundaries for successful, equal relationships, so I found Anastasia Steele’s poor boundaries very frustrating! For those who aren’t familiar, Ana and Christian are the female and male leads. She’s a naive virgin, (well, that is she *was* a virgin,) and he’s a sexy, controlling billionaire. She wants a relationship with him, but he wants to dominate her entire life and practice BDSM without a standard relationship. A lot of people think the situation is abusive–not because of the BDSM, but because of many other issues which include his stalking her, getting jealous of her male friends and invading her space when she tries to take a break to think things over.

What struck me is that throughout this entire book Ana wants Christian to be a different man for her, but because he cannot and will not change, she accepts a lot of things she doesn’t like just to be with him in hopes that he will become the romantic man she really wants and give her a real relationship. How many of us have done that? Stuck with someone that can’t give us what we want because they are so attractive or sexy that we hope they will come around to our points of view? Frankly, that’s a waste of time. It isn’t fair to try to change someone and it’s not fair to ourselves to give up what we want and need for all the wrong reasons. You just can’t love someone enough to turn them into a different person!

Over and over, Ana thinks to herself that Christian is arrogant, controlling, crazy, freaky, abusive, psycho and more. She says he scares her, that she should run from him, and she admits that he is not good for her…but then says she is going to go along with his demands anyway because she’s in love with him. Argghhhh!!! Ladies, if you have been this woman…don’t! Don’t do a bunch of things you don’t want to do with someone you think is crazy just because there’s sexual chemistry. And honestly, that’s about all they have in common in the book. That’s just not enough for a relationship. And who wants a confusing relationship where you are always on the verge of leaving anyway? If you are spending most of your time worrying that your “boyfriend” is a weirdo who doesn’t even want to be your boyfriend, it might be time to find a real boyfriend!

Several times in the book, Ana feels sorry for Christian and feels angry that he was introduced to sex and BDSM as a teenager with an older woman. Ana sees him as a sad, broken victim. Yet another red flag. Relationships shouldn’t be about pitying the other person, trying to fix them or trying to love their inner demons away. That’s more like codependency.

I’ve hung on to people who didn’t want the same things I wanted or who made me miserable with hopes that I could change them or get them to see the light. It doesn’t happen. It’s just wasting your time when you could move along to find the person who does want what you want. (And doesn’t stalk you or sell your car against your wishes!)

All through the book, (even the steamy sex scenes,) I kept wanting to yell “Ana, go find a guy who isn’t broken and wants what you want instead of giving up your emotional needs to fix someone!” Helping people is fine, but relationships should not be fixer-upper situations.

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