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3/27/19 – Show 13: Response To Listener Email … perhaps some of you remember an email I read on the air from a woman named Sylvia. She’s 59 and was struggling to rebuild her life after a divorce. I just received a second email from her and I would like to share it, too.
It says… Hi, Othello. I can’t believe it’s only been six weeks since I first wrote you, but I want you to know I took your advice. It was hard at first, trying to get still and remember what I loved as a child. I spent two weeks trying! My mind kept going back to the divorce and all the awful stuff surrounding it. But then, one day, I actually remembered how much fun I had in third grade when I was in a play. Then, I remembered I was in another play in the fifth grade, and I loved that, too! Some of the best moments of my marriage were when we had parties and played games, like Charades. Maybe I’ve always been a ham, and didn’t realize it. So I contacted our local theatre group… auditioned for their up-coming play – and got a small part. I only have six lines, but they’re all funny! And I love the whole cast. After a few practices, they began to feel like family. So, thank you for telling me to remember what I loved as a child! Maybe this is what I was born to do. Who knows? All I know for sure is that I’m on my way to feeling like a whole person again. Thank you. Sylvia. P.S. I always look forward to you next podcast.
Well, first, let me thank Sylvia for giving us the update on her situation. I also want to reiterate and re-emphasize some of the ideas expressed six weeks ago when she was struggling to regain control of her life. All of us face “re-starts” in our life. Long held dreams are crushed, and we’re left feeling devastated. Wonderful and rewarding positions are suddenly whisked away for one reason or another, and there’s nothing to do but try to pick ourselves up and start again—sometimes in a totally new and terrifying direction. Death, divorce, and job loss are among the most common reasons for re-starts, and there are dozens of legitimate concerns and complications connected to these issues. But staring at the problems, concerns and complications will not change the situation. Answers aren’t found in a pile of problems. Answers lie in a whole different area, in a pile of possible solutions, and to identify the most likely answers takes 1) our willingness to consider them, and 2) 110% of our attention. Only then will we lift the blinder of our belief that we have an insurmountable problem, and reach for an answer. What can keep us from doing that, except ourselves?
To begin again, in any area, it’s extremely helpful to identify our goal. What do we want? What kind of situation seems comfortable and rewarding when we imagine it? Once we identify our goal, there’s an easy formula for staying focused.
Using pencil and paper, design a Goal Focus Plan
1: State the Goal and project a deadline to meet it. (Yes, we may have to move the deadline more than once, but without it, it’s easy to become distracted and give up.)
2: Make a list of five things that can be done toward making the goal a reality.
3: Everyday, do at least one thing on that list to make it happen. If it’s possible to do more, then do more than one.
4. After we’ve done that thing, mark it off the list and add another. Always keep five things on the list until the goal is met.
5. Write an affirmation for success, such as: I am confident I’ll find the perfect situation to meet my needs. Then memorize that line and repeat it several times a day—especially while waiting at a red light or waiting in a doctor’s office. Putting this kind of thought into our mind regularly, reminds us to keep looking for a new situation and encourages us to believe in ourselves.
Sometimes, we think we want success, when we really don’t. For instance, I once had a client who had owned a lucrative business, but during his divorce he became so distraught, he let the business dwindle and die. So he sought my help. I relaxed him with hypnosis, suggested he would provide answers to change his situation, and asked him to make the same Goal Focus Plan that I suggested above. He left feeling energized and sure he could rebuild his business, and made an appointment for the next week. To my surprise, when he returned, he was down and depressed again. I asked why, and he said, “I made the list and realized if I did the first thing on it, I could restart my business.” I said, “That’s good, isn’t it?” He shook his head. “Nope. Not good. I also realized why I let the business go. I’m not going to let that bitch have half of it. I’ll restart it after the divorce is final.” We hide our least becoming qualities from ourselves—and he suddenly came face to face with one of his. I have no idea how his life progressed from that day on, but he was more interested in vengeance than success, at least, at that point.
We can all make decisions that postpone our happiness and success. That doesn’t mean we’re “bad” or “evil;” it just means that for the time being, we see an advantage in being unhappy and unsuccessful. As in all situations, it’s just a choice.
3/20/19 – Show 12: How To Find Love … there are many shared ideas that expose our lack of understanding. One such idea is: “You must love yourself before you can love others.” Nothing could be further from the truth. We feel love when we give it – when we’re thinking loving thoughts about someone else. Thought creates emotion; therefore, loving thoughts instantly create the warm, satisfying emotion called love, which generally prompts loving actions.
Most Americans have had some exposure to Christianity, if only the verse, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” It’s often quoted, but few seem to grasp the significance of the little word “as.” As means: at the same time, too the same extent, degree, proportion, depth. It also means when, while and because. As means all of these things. Knowing this expands the meaning of this verse. It precisely details how we are to love, and when we will feel loved. Example: If the definition of the little word “as” were included in this verse, it would read: “Love your neighbor to the same extent, degree, proportion, and at the same time you’re doing that, you will love yourself. When we love others, we feel the love we have for them, and get to experience the joy of it. We love and loathe ourselves to the exact extent that we love or loathe others. Not more, not less.
We learn to love and accept ourselves as we think loving, accepting thoughts of others. Understanding this helps explains another verse we’ve all heard, but often doesn’t make sense to us. “It’s better to give than to receive.” This is true for the same reason the “love your neighbor” verse is true. When we show someone else they are appreciated and valued, we are rewarded with a sense of appreciation and value, too. We feel acceptable as we help others feel acceptable. Likewise, when we withhold love and acceptance from anyone, we withhold it from ourselves. The opportunities for giving and withholding love are endless. We’ve all experienced the fullness of giving and the emptiness of withholding love, but we often fail to recognize the inevitable consequences. We can withhold love and replace it with bitter words and insults; or withhold it with silence and refusing to make eye contact. To withhold love is to blame someone else for what we are doing, and of course, we are ignorantly cheating ourselves.
It is NEVER true that someone else has hurt us. Pain, like love, is an inside job. We hurt or comfort ourselves. Others can try to help, but we are the ones who must do the work and accept the reality that we will always feel empty when we withhold love, and always feel condemned as we condemn others. We cannot escape the pain of the judgments we make against others.
Most of us have also heard the Christian teaching: Judge not that you be not judged – and it never occurs to us that all of the most quoted scriptures are saying the same thing: As you think, feel, and judge… you will experience the same love, fear, guilt, etc. This means the same thing as “love your neighbor as you love yourself,” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The meaning of the verse, “Judge not that you be not judged” is generally interpreted to mean: if we judge someone, God will judge us, but it, too, means, If you judge others, you will feel judged by others. You will feel guilty; and we are guilty of blaming them for what we have done to ourselves. This response is inevitable and occurs in all kinds of relationships. The one who judges also feels judged. There is no escaping this result. When husbands or wives “fool around,” they feel guilty, and so do their spouses– who judge against them, and themselves. The spouses instantly feel condemned and wonder: How was I lacking? What did I do wrong? Why am I no longer good enough?
We cannot change the fact that we will feel judged AS we judge, so it’s wise to accept that reality, and stop playing judge. All of the finger-pointing and blame meant to absolve us from guilt actually confirms, deepens, and strengthens it. Because our thoughts are based on our beliefs and create our emotions, we are both prisoner and jailer to ourselves. Understanding is our only hope for release.
No one believes exactly as we do; therefore, no one sees our situation exactly as we do. They do not think our thoughts or create our emotions. We are the judge who condemns us, and our release depends on understanding– recognizing that we are not in a position to judge anyone—because we cannot see beyond our own beliefs! The answer lies is relinquishing all judgment because it’s only when we stop playing judge that we are released.
No one else can think our thoughts or create our emotions. No one makes us feel loved or unloved. We do that all by ourselves. No one is responsible for anything we feel, except us. AS we give, we receive–at the same time, in the same way, to the same extent, and without exception. However, it is possible to accept our differences, and be happy that we are each allowed choose the belief that “makes sense” to us.
3/13/19 – Show 11: Why Forgive … there are times in everyone’s life when emotional pain cuts so deeply and severely that we’re literally crippled by it. When it consumes both mind and body, we neglect simple, ordinary tasks and often overlook the needs of those we love. Then, to our dismay, some friend or family member who seems oblivious to our pain suggests that we forgive and forget, and get on with our life. At that point, we’re angered at the injustice of it all. Why should our pain be overlooked? We’re entitled to it and completely justified in our anger! Why should we release our resentment toward the one who caused it?
While this is honestly our experience, it reveals our lack of understanding. No one on earth sees a situation or circumstance exactly as we do. Each of us perceives every situation differently—because our perception is based on our beliefs. No two of us believe exactly the same; consequently we misperceive both the words and actions of others. We know our “offender” is wrong because he or she doesn’t really know us! That’s true, but it’s also true that we don’t know our offender. The fact that we are offended by someone else’s perception of us exposes our lack of understanding. If we understood, we would overlook each other’s misperceptions, the same as we overlook a toddler’s bed wetting. If it weren’t so tragic, it would be funny. Imagine two color-blind people arguing over the color of a garment which neither sees correctly. That’s, literally, all that’s going on; we believe we know when we haven’t a clue. Consequently, it never crosses our mind that we are creating our own misery by hanging onto angry thoughts, grudges and misperceptions.
We don’t expect the blind to see or the deaf to hear, and as long as we remain unaware that we, too, are blinded by our lack of understanding, we will continue to stumble into each other, knock each other down, and blame the other person for being on the wrong path and getting in our way. The twisted belief systems that assure us we are “right” and others are wrong create this miserable situation. Yet, no one can force us to open our minds’ eye to understanding… to see a more effective way to live. We have the freedom to choose any belief that suits us. If we believe our suffering is ‘proof’ of our goodness we will refuse to give it up even though we know there is another choice.
As a hypnotherapist, I sometimes counseled people who felt that suffering made them “good.” One client admitted as soon as she sat down, “I was born to suffer. God is testing me.” I said, “Okay. So why are you here?” She rubbed her forehead, then her neck, and said, “I want to get rid of my headaches and stiff neck.” I asked, “Isn’t that part of the suffering you’re supposed to endure?” She shook her head. “No, no. He wants me to feel bad inside. And I do! I feel guilty and cry a lot because I’ve committed lots of sins.” I worked with her once a week for four weeks, trying to gently ease her into a different understanding and a more loving image of her God, but she clung to her belief that suffering made her ‘good.’ Her headaches and stiff neck disappeared temporarily. A few weeks later I met her in a store and asked how she was doing. It was no surprise to learn the headaches and neck problems had returned, which she said was good… then added, “I must have been wrong to go to you, because God obviously wants my body to suffer, too.” Then she smiled and added, “I’m still being tested.” I nodded, and wished her well. She had chosen her path and felt privileged to believe that her God cared enough to continually test her faith.
Like young children, adults love fairy tales, too—especially, scary tales. If we ever awaken from our self-induced nightmare of pain and suffering, the world’s economy will probably collapse overnight because 90% of it is based on profits gained from our fears… fear of death, sickness, poverty, loneliness, and a hundred other imagined fears and ‘lacks.’ The benefit of forgiveness can’t be realized until we understand that our body’s eyes cannot see beyond the physical. Misperceiving is not wrong, but it is often painful and always unnecessary. If we ignore our bodies and concentrate on our minds—where all the answers are waiting – those who want understanding will find it.
Forgiveness allows us to overlook misperceptions—both ours and others’. At that point, we can reach a new understanding–one that allows us to overlook misperceptions–both ours and others’. Forgiveness is about freedom… freedom from guilt and shame, and freedom to recognize there was, and is, nothing to forgive.
3/6/19 – Show 10: What Do We Know? … I want to discuss the difference between knowing and believing. When we decide we know something… anything… we stop looking for answers. We literally stop thinking about it. For instance, once we learn to tie our shoes, we stop asking how to do it or wondering about it. The mystery is solved, the task accomplished—and after we learn, we do it the same way, every day thereafter. Perhaps there are dozens of other ways to tie shoes, but we don’t ask and don’t care. We know one way, and we’re content to let everyone else tie them however they want. Of course, learning to tie shoes is not terribly important… not life threatening… but the principle behind the illustration is, when we think we know, we stop learning.
Do we know that everyone sees the color green exactly as we do? We are taught that grass is green. Therefore, although we may see it as blue, if we learn to call it green, we will believe and say it is green. It’s obvious that our physical senses are not dependable gauges. Some people like the taste of blueberries, others don’t. The same is true for colors, odors, sounds, and sights. Our physical senses indicate that we are each different. We have all learned to recognize the color we call green… to recognize the sound of a drum, the taste of blueberries, the touch of a kitten’s fur, and to recognize things by sight—but that doesn’t mean we all see the same color, enjoy the sound of a drum, the taste of blueberries, or the touch of a kitten’s fur. If it did, we would all prefer the same things and enjoy the same experiences, but we don’t. We accept these differences as “normal,” but refuse to accept different spiritual beliefs. We are often willing to fight for our spiritual beliefs even if it means breaking one of the tenets of our faith to do so.
Why is an invisible idea – a belief – more threatening than an invisible taste or smell? Perhaps because it is only a belief? How can we know our belief is “true” when we don’t even know why some enjoy the taste of liver and others despise it? Is it our uncertainty, our lack of knowing that blinds us to the possibility that we can all live together peacefully, even with different beliefs? Do we know that different ideas are unacceptable or have we just stopped thinking because we believe we know? There’s a great difference between believing and knowing. One of the most recent and obvious examples occurred in 2011, when a tsunami swept over Japan. Before it hit, animals knew to run to higher ground, and did. The people did not know, and over 1500 died. That’s the difference between knowing and believing.
When we “know” something there’s no need to quarrel or fight. We simply respond to what we know, regardless of what other’s think and believe. When we fool ourselves into believing we know THE TRUTH about anything, we become pawns for the legions who will quickly take advantage of our ignorance. A recent example was aired on NPR. The host of the show asked an executive at a large pharmaceutical corporation, “What is the best pain-reliever on the market?” He chuckled and said, “A placebo, of course!” It’s extremely easy to profit from ignorance. Consequently, multitudes are exploited daily, in hundreds of ways.
What we know doesn’t need to be taught. We enter this world knowing what we need, and when we need it: We hunger for food, thirst for water, long for love, acceptance and understanding, and often need shelter. Instinctively, like so-called “lower” animals, we sense that we should examine the various ideas offered us. Too frequently, though, our parents, friends and teachers have already stopped searching. So, eventually, we decide it’s easier to accept their beliefs than to keep searching. So we stop, too.
However, the search to know is always more exciting and rewarding than accepting a secondhand belief, convincing ourselves that we know, then fighting to protect our belief. Whether we believe in a Divine Designer or Evolution doesn’t change the obvious — that we are each allowed to believe whatever we choose. If we believe it’s a Divine Plan, who would dare insist the Designer made a mistake—and what good would it do? If we evolved from “lower” animals, does our willingness to kill each other over something we cannot control indicate that we have stopped evolving? Strangely, it appears that believers in the Divine are more eager to fight over what they cannot change. Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to assume that it may be part of a Divine Plan?
Convoluted reasoning isn’t “wrong,” but it is unreasonable and exposes our confusion between belief and knowing. For instance, after we know how to tie our shoes, we don’t argue about which way is best. Nor do we insist the other ways are wrong. We accept there are other ways –and we know one, so we’re content!
The distinguishing attributes of knowing and belief are easily identified. Knowing accepts challenge with serenity while belief erupts defensively. It appears our ignorance has left us “sitting ducks” for those who can, and do, profit from it.
2/27/19 – Show 9: What Do We See? … most of us are unaware that we have a filter in our mind that influences everything we see, hear, and think. It is fully operational and performs flawlessly 24-hours a day, for as long as we live. One of its functions is to work in tandem with our ability to perceive, while honoring our right to freedom and choice. Just as dark sunglasses filter the sun, and red ones cast a rosy glow over everything, this mental filter colors all of our understanding. It is the strongest of all our intellectual abilities, and therefore, treasured. No one can touch it unless we allow them, yet many try. Even though most of us are only vaguely aware of it, it remains a faithful servant that influences every area of our life.
The filter is belief. It is a teaching tool meant to assist us, to help us understand ourselves and others so that we can live peacefully together. Unfortunately, because we don’t pay much attention to our minds, we lose awareness of belief’s significant influence. Instead of using it to help us, we unwittingly use it destructively — against ourselves and others. Belief warps our perception. It convinces us that we see truth and reality, when we don’t. For instance, if we believe the world is filled with evil people, we’ll experience it as a frightening place. Without realizing it, we will look for and see evidence… proof!… that evil is all around us. We see it because we project our belief onto everything we see, and allow it to interpret everything we hear. Fortunately, and unfortunately, what we believe about others and the world in general—we also believe about ourselves. There is no separation between us and our belief. Conversely, if we believe people are inherently good, we’ll look for, and see, proof of their goodness. Then, we feel “good.” But this is also an illusion. It’s more comforting than the belief that the world is evil, but it is no less of an illusion. The world just is; we are the bringers of ideas and beliefs.
The message our mind is trying to reveal to us is: physical eyes cannot, and do not, reveal spiritual reality. “Goodness” and “evil” exist in a mental/spiritual reality. Here’s a true story that illustrates the power of belief and perception—even when it’s an illusion: A middle-aged man in California, terrified that someone would break into his house and harm him or his wife, kept a baseball bat beside his bed. Afraid, he always slept fitfully. Then, one night he heard someone trying to open a window. He grabbed the bat and ran to the window just as the intruder pushed his way into the room. The man savagely beat the intruder to death then called the police to report what happened. The man and his wife waited in the living room for the police. When they arrived, and turned the intruder over, the man screamed and fell to his knees. He had just killed his son who had apparently forgotten his house key. The man’s fearful belief created a terrifying illusion that prompted him to act swiftly and brutally, and he did.
When we believe we see goodness and evil, we trick ourselves. We see physical actions; we cannot see intentions, motivations, beliefs or outcomes. When we create the illusion that we know “The Truth,” we “play” God.” First, we convince ourselves that we know what is true then we pass judgment on everyone and everything—from a neighbor’s weed-infested lawn to our own soul. We may want to exempt ourselves from judgment, we can’t escape the painful effects of the judgments we pass on others. We suffer guilt and regret, too.
All sacred texts advise us NOT to judge. Yet, even as the preachers rail against it, they do it. Like those who fill the pews, as the preacher perceives, he or she projects “right and wrong” judgment onto others. As long as we remain unaware of this process, we can’t begin to unravel other obstacles that impede our understanding. Most of us say we “know” we are spiritual beings, but we don’t really believe it. The evidence is too great to list here, but the following examples will suffice. We often feel depressed, angry, confused, frightened, dispirited and hateful. These are not characteristics or attributes of a spiritual being.
It is obvious that we can and do believe whatever we want. When we are ready to open our minds to a new awareness, we will… and there will always be more to learn. When we stop judging, we will also stop fearing and feeling guilty—and not one second sooner. Yes, our beliefs are sacred to us. Often, we are willing to die for them. We generally acquire them from people we love, so they are precious heirlooms. Just the thought of abandoning them creates sadness and guilt, so we seldom do.
We are each in charge of our mind, thoughts, and emotional responses. Nothing on earth can “make us” change a single thought or belief, and we will not do so unless we’re convinced there’s an advantage in changing. We can also live our entire life believing that we see “the Truth” — as we stumble through one tragic illusion after another. We can believe we see the truth, but we can’t make it so. We can also correct our errors, but only if we recognize they are errors. Choosing to ignore our mind isn’t wrong or bad; but it does extend our misery, because as long as we remain ignorant we are unable to offer significant assistance to others, or ourselves.
EXERCISE: (to enhance spiritual understanding and minimize the effects of frightening beliefs). In every situation and circumstance, look for love – and only love. Love exists in every being, every situation and every circumstance. If we are determined to see it, we will.
2/20/19 – Show 8: Cause and Effect … let’s think about the kind of world we live in—not who’s good, bad, right or wrong… but the cause and effect factor that we can easily see all around us. For instance, if we see a dented fender, we know something caused it. If we’re startled by a loud noise, we know something caused it. If we arrive home tonight to find a broken window in our house or apartment, we immediately try to determine what or who caused it.
So, we know we live in a cause-and-effect world. But why do we stop with the physical world? What about our mental and emotional world… when we feel depressed… afraid… worried or guilty? What causes us to feel these things? Do insults and fear prompt our depression and anger? If we make an innocent remark that hurts someone’s feelings, do we feel guilty? These are the usual responses. But how reasonable is it to assume any of this is true? Actually, it’s not reasonable at all. We are each the cause of the emotional effects we experience. We are the ones who decide if we are right or wrong, guilty or innocent, in every situation. Others can accuse us of anything… but if we are not guilty of what we’re being accused of, we will not identify and will not feel guilty. We can, however, decide to be offended because we are being accused, and at that point, we are the cause of our anger and indignation. We have insulted and offended ourselves. Yes, that’s our choice, and many choose it every day. Even if someone insults and embarrasses us publicly, we have the same choice and will experience the same cause-and-effect response emotionally. We can, of course, choose a different response. It is possible to shrug and dismiss the insult as soon as it hits our ears. We’re the choosers of all our responses.
Learning to dismiss emotional responses that pump harmful chemicals into our bodies takes determination, but it can be done. Depression, anger, and fear are emotions that age and sicken our bodies. Most of us know this, so why do we continue to mistreat ourselves? Perhaps one of the reasons is we’re afraid of what others will think if we behave differently than they do… so we confirm each other’s “goodness or badness” based on how others would respond in a similar situation. Here’s an example that helped open my eyes to how mistaken I can be in making such judgments and assumptions. Years ago, I went to visit my girlfriend, Mary. She and her boyfriend, Tom, a real estate agent, were both drinking. She was making dinner and he was slouched on the couch. I’m not sure what he said to prompt her anger, but suddenly she erupted, and yelled, “You’re a loser! A dumb loser. You’ll never amount to anything or have anything but that old beat-up car. Get out of here! Now! And don’t come back!” I cringed with embarrassed for him. He left, head-down, looking as humiliated as I would have been had I been in his place.
Fast forward two years. Mary and I were in a restaurant enjoying lunch, when she looked up, and whispered, “You’ll never believe who just walked in!” Her tone warned me to not look back. “Who?” I whispered. “Tom! He looks terrific, and he’s with a beautiful woman!” Before Tom and the beautiful woman sat down, he saw Mary, and urged his date to our table. “Hello, Mary,” he said politely, then turned to his date and said, “Mary’s the woman who saved my life!” He smiled at Mary, and continued, “What you said the last time we saw each other… well, you forced me to take a look at myself, and I decided to do something about it.” Then he took his date’s left hand and held it out for us to admire a huge diamond on her finger. “We’re getting married,” he said. “I’ve done very well, and I owe it all to you, Mary. Thank you for telling me the truth.” Mary smiled stiffly and nodded, and I sat stunned–not by the diamond, not by the engagement, not even by his words. I was stunned that he wasn’t destroyed — as I thought he would be! He chose to use Mary’s ugly, angry assessment of him as a catalyst for change.
We never know how any situation is going to end, but we assume we do, and our assumption is based on nothing but our limited and very fallible beliefs. Without knowing it, Tom became a cause-and-effect inspiration for me. We live in a cause-and-effect world; we can decide to accept and work with it, or continue to blame someone else for our problems.
2/13/19 – Show 7: Listener Email … Othello, I heard your show last week and I was glad to learn that listeners can email topic suggestions. I’m so hurt and confused right now, I don’t know what to do. I’m 59, and my husband left me eight months ago. We were married 30 years. He wouldn’t say why he was leaving; he just packed up, and left. I received divorce papers in the mail two weeks later. I can’t tell you how crushed I’ve been. I cried for a month, but finally calmed down. For the last six months I’ve tried to figure out what I’m going to do, and how I’m going to regain enough confidence to get my life going again. I have no idea where or how to start. However, I’m not looking for another man—at least, not anytime soon. I’ve been in counseling for 3 months but I can’t say I feel much better. My counselor keeps saying I need to go to work or get involved with a social group. I’ve thought about it, but can’t find the motivation to do those things. Nothing sounds interesting. My kids, a daughter and 2 sons, are grown and have lives of their own now. I’m okay money-wise. Not rich, but okay. I Googled your name, and know you’ve been through a lot of painful stuff – but you still managed to go on with your life. So please talk about this. I know lots of women, like me, will appreciate it…..Sylvia.
Thanks for the email, Sylvia. You’re correct when you say lots of women are facing this problem—and it’s understandable. Men frequently face the same problem, too, but today, I’ll concentrate on you. Knowing your age, I assume that you grew up believing that once married, your sole purpose in life was to set aside your personal desires and focus on your family – your husband and children. Now, you feel lost.
First, try to remember what you loved to do as a child. What was your favorite pastime? Singing? Dancing? Riding your bike? What subjects interested you most in school? Was there homework you loved? Or did you prefer to be outside, sitting under a tress with a good book… or maybe playing basketball with the boys? Try to remember how you loved to spend your free time as a child. Women 50 and older who have devoted themselves to being a good mother and wife frequently can’t remember what thrilled them as a child. If you can’t easily recall, lie down, get very still and quiet inside, and let your mind wander back to pleasant childhood moments. Pay attention to what was happening around you, and what part you played in it. If you can’t remember immediately, don’t fret over it. Just lie down each day for at least 15 minutes and deliberately think back to enjoyable moments. If you want to remember, you will. Then, once you remember, you’ll know where to start to find a path for rebuilding your life. For instance, if, as a child, your greatest pleasure involved physical activity, you might enjoy being involved in a hiking or cycling club, or even a gym. If you loved coloring books and coloring—look for an art class. If you enjoyed helping others with their work, you might like tutoring or volunteering at a school or local charity.
The things we loved as children frequently indicate where our greatest interest lies. In my 25 years as a counselor and hypnotherapist, one client who faced your situation, stands out in my mind. Like you, her kids were married and gone when her husband died. She felt utterly useless and unwanted. When I asked her the questions I asked you, she remembered how she loved to sing, and hoped to be a singer when she grew up. But once married, she even stopped listening to music because it made her feel torn. She thought a good wife and mother shouldn’t yearn to be anything else, and until I asked, she had totally forgotten her love for singing. Once she remembered, she immediately began singing with the radio, bought a karaoke machine, practiced, and eventually, sang with a local band.
So don’t despair, Sylvia. Instead, get quiet and remember your childhood passion. Find an adult version to satisfy that passion, and renew your confidence. Nothing can stop you – except you. Think about what you love… dwell on what you want — and dismiss every thought of anger, loss and rejection. It’s not easy, but you can do it. We all can. Go for it! Then write me and tell me how you succeeded! Thanks again for writing!
2/6/19 – Show 6: Understanding the Subconscious … today I’m going to discuss the influence of our powerful and loyal servant, the subconscious. As you know, there are times when we want to accomplish something—anything from losing weight to overcoming depression, to starting our own business, but for some reason, the task seems insurmountable. We do well and feel hopeful for a few days, then somehow, all of our resolve disappears into who-knows-what or where. With some understanding on how our subconscious mind functions, the task becomes manageable. It’s still a task, but we can do it.
The subconscious “works” like a recorder that saves every thought AND the emotions that accompany it. When we have repeatedly thought and re-thought, felt and re-felt a particular emotion, we have literally built a synapsis bridge from one part of our brain to another. Then, like a computer, the brain anticipates our favorite topic, and stands by, ready to prompt us to cross that bridge again. This is why we sometimes go to sleep feeling optimistic and certain we’ll meet our goal, but wake up depressed, doubting we’ll ever meet it. Without conscious prompting, our subconscious has favorite “loser” thoughts waiting and anxious to give us exactly WHAT WE HAVE GIVEN IT – discouraging thoughts and emotions. Sometimes it does so the instant we open our eyes and continues throughout the day…after day… after day.
So… how do we stop it? We consciously take charge! Even if it often doesn’t seem so, our conscious mind is the decision-maker. If we decide to take control we can. Our subconscious DECIDES NOTHING. It remembers everything so that we don’t have to learn how to walk, talk, and dress ourselves again every day. As children, we may have decided we were bad, ugly, and stupid… and thought it so many times that, as adults, it’s still an operational belief—lodged in the “favorite thought” category. If so, it keeps “working for us,” convincing us that we’re bad, ugly, and stupid. If we never challenge that belief, it will remain, and we will eventually “prove” it’s true. We’ll give up and surrender in defeat. Let me give you a personal example: I couldn’t read until I was 13, and by then I had built a bridge of monumental strength to that idea. Consequently, when I accomplished anything, I felt like a fraud—as if everyone knew I was too stupid to have done it. When I sold my first novel and wanted to order it at the bookstore, I couldn’t find the nerve to mention that I wrote it. I “knew” I was too dumb to be a writer. That belief hung around until I had sold 13 books. At that point, I finally decided to overcome it, and I told everyone I met that I was a writer – and gave them the titles. The bridge began to dissolve.
Write an affirmative statement about whatever you want to accomplish-the dream that constantly escapes you. Repeat that statement dozens of times every day to refute the idea of failure. Here’s an example: You are creative, you want to open your own store to sell your creations, whatever they are. If so, repeatedly say and think, “I’ll find a way to open my own store.” Then talk to others, tell them your dream, and listen to their ideas.” Imagine being in your store, putting away merchandise, talking to customers, laughing and selling your creations.
This is the formula:
• Decide what you desire and refute the belief that you can’t have it or don’t deserve it. Every time doubt enters your mind, get rid of it by stating: “I will find a way to do it!”
• Visualize being in the situation you desire. Take time to see the details and hear the conversations you want to hear.
• Tell everyone you know and let others help you.
• Speak the truth about yourself before you retire at night. Say, “I am intelligent, resourceful and creative. I have everything I need to make this happen. I will do it!”
Whatever you think you “need,” you don’t. “But it costs a lot; I don’t have the money!”. You have a mind, a mouth, acquaintances… you’ll find a way to get the money, unless you allow your old beliefs to discourage you.
Another tip about the subconscious: It has no sense of humor. Let me illustrate. Let’s say… you tell someone your dream (and because you feel like a fraud) you self-consciously joke: “Of course, it’s probably just a pipe dream and will never happen!” Resist that temptation or you’ll add another layer of strength to your “loser” belief. The subconscious doesn’t discriminate; it honors EVERY word and thought you give it!
If you think this advice is worthless, then you have not begun to understand the power of your mind. We are each a power house of strength if we know how to use our minds properly. When we are ignorant about how to use it, we misuse it, and hurt ourselves — much like a toddler who sticks a nail into an electrical outlet. Used properly, the outlet provides wonderful advantages. Used improperly, we may not survive the shock.
Make conscious decisions about how you want your life to proceed, and honor that decision. You can do it; we all can.
1/30/19 – Show 5: Our Unintended Prayers … today I’m going to talk about prayer, because I think we’ve tricked ourselves into believing something untrue. It appears we believe that the thoughts and words we express as “prayers,” are the only ones that reach the awareness of the Divine. Maybe we spend five minutes a day praying… and the rest of the day resenting the past, fearing the future, or complaining about the present. These words and thoughts are our unintended prayers, and they are answered as certainly as the ones we call our “real” prayers. However, because there are so many more unintended prayers – with answers we don’t want–they often overshadow the answers we do want.
Fortunately, The Divine, created a way for us to instantly recognize when we are sending an unintended prayer. Our thoughts have been linked to our emotions. Therefore, when our emotions change from loving, patient and kind to unloving impatient and unkind, our uncomfortable emotions are subtle alarms, warning us to “get off that track! Abandon that train of thought!” Few of us respect our mind and thoughts. No one else can see them, so they are essentially ignored. Of course, we have “free will,” so we can respect and be grateful for the subtle alarms, or ignore them indefinitely, torture ourselves, and even convince ourselves that we have nothing to do with creating our problems. When we don’t understand or accept that our disquieting emotions are responses to our present but unintentional prayers, we feel as if our “real” prayers are being ignored. They aren’t, of course; it’s just that our constant, unintended prayers are also being answered, and are preventing us from experiencing our intended prayers. Consequently, we begin to doubt ourselves and the Divine. We falsely imagine there is nothing trustworthy, nothing certain. We feel alone, ignored, and unloved. Of course, none of this is true. We’ve just arrived at another flawed conclusion—and unwittingly pushed happiness, health, and success further away.
Ignorance doesn’t prevent negative consequences; it guarantees them. The wonderful truth in all of this is that each of us is allowed to monitor or ignore the cause-and-effect consequences of our thoughts and words. The instruction, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is not a request to be “nice” or burn in the everlasting flames of hell of some ungodly, vengeful god — it is the formula for creating a loving peaceful existence, or making our lives a living hell. Example: When we recall a past injustice, we feel resentful and angry again. When we worry about the future, we feel afraid, and these hateful, poisonous thoughts produce poisonous chemicals that break down the very cells of our bodies. Once sick, but still unaware that we have sickened ourselves, we pray for Divine intervention to make us well—and we do so even as we continue thinking frightening thoughts of dying, and clinging to our ignorant, loveless beliefs. We pray for miracles, never realizing that our lack of faith in love – prevents us from performing the miracle for which we pray. We read that Jesus performed miracles, and hear preachers talk about his miracles, but Jesus never once said he performed a miracle. When miraculous healings occurred, he gave all the credit to the healed person. He said, “Your faith has made you whole,” and “It is done unto you as you believe.” He also said, “It’s not what goes into your mouth that makes you sick, it’s what come out of it.” Far too often, what comes out of our mouths are expressions of anger, doubt, and fear – or lack of faith.
It’s not easy to live in the physical world and believe that God is Love, because we’ve all been taught that God is an All-Seeing Judge, with a huge, eternally burning furnace where we may suffer forever. If God is Love, then Love is God on earth. Love is filled with God-like Power. The sweetest, most delightful emotion we know is love. It fills us with joy. When we are loving, we are sharing peace, hope and healing. Love strengthens and reconstitutes our minds and our bodies. When we withhold love from anyone–even those we call evil—we are asking that it be withheld from us, too. What we ask for others, we will receive, too, because what we think about others, is merely what we think and believe about ourselves – projected onto them. All thoughts are prayers, and all prayers are answered.
God is Love and Love lives or dies in our mind. We can spend a few minutes each day praying for Divine Intervention—(which we already have!) or refuse to accept the obvious – that our thoughts and daily conversations are unintended prayers—that will be answered. Nothing will change until we accept that only loving, patient, and kind thoughts bring the results we desire, because we were created out of love, in the image of love, by Love. Only a flawed belief blinds us to this truth.
Pray with purpose, keeping in mind that we each receive according to what we give others. Anything less and we will receive less, too. Thinking is giving, so let’s think well of others and be well ourselves.
1/23/19 – Show 4: Memories … I want to discuss a topic we all know very well – our memories! We have some we love and some we wish we didn’t’ have. Of course, the ones we wish we didn’t have are the ones that just won’t go away. They haunt us off and on for years – sometimes, for a lifetime. Even our sweetest memories leave us feeling a sense of loss – because the wonderful moment is gone.
I’m going to remind you of something you already know, but maybe haven’t thought of for a long time. It’s just five little but extremely powerful words: To think is to live. Let me repeat that: to think is to live. As you know, when we stop thinking, we’re pronounced dead. Not only do we live through our thoughts, we literally give life to whatever we’re thinking, and guess whose life we’re giving – our own! So why do we live so much through memories? To remember is to re-think and re-live. The characters are always the same and the story doesn’t change, but because EVERY THOUGHT CREATES A CORRESPONDING EMOTION, we re-experience the corresponding fear, anger, hurt again. Does this sound rational to you? Who in their right mind wants to re-experience pain? Do we remember in order to condemn these people again? Whether their offense occurred yesterday or 50 years ago — we are ones presently condemning ourselves to re-suffer the misery … by remembering! It’s as though we think we are helpless to stop it. We are not helpless! We don’t have to recall and re-suffer old injuries. Each of us has the ability to control our mind. We can think on any subject, any topic, so why choose to re-experience past pain? Are we convinced that we need punishing? Or is it that we don’t know any better? I prefer to think the latter so with that in mind, I would like to share a little information.
Memories do NOT come of their own accord; they do not have the power to do that. As we think, our thoughts create electrical currents called synapses. They fire from one part of the brain to another, and as they do, they leave a very fine trail. If we repeatedly return to the same memory, the trail thickens and becomes stronger, and will actually build a bridge – a LINK to THAT specific memory. Then, much like a computer remembers our favorite website and prompts us to go there with a single key stroke, our brains remember and anticipate our most-visited thought –- and instantly takes us to THE BRIDGE that links us to our favorite memories. Once this pattern is established, and we want to stop wasting our time and our life this way, we do it the same way that we created the memory link — through repetition. We repeatedly stop the memories as soon as we’re aware of them, and deliberately choose another thought – one that makes us feel better. The good news is this: because our mind and spirit prefer to feel peaceful and relaxed – it takes less time AND EFFORT to create a new bridge that leads to peace, a new “favorites” link, if you will. And there’s MORE good news! When we stop returning to the same thought, the same memory, the synoptic bridge thins, weakens – and disappears! Use it or lose it applies in many instances – and this one is advantageous!
As mention in my introduction, I had an extremely traumatic childhood. At 18, I tried to commit suicide but only managed to put myself in a 2-day coma. After that, I realized that I dared not look back. I sensed that I had to keep my mind out of that rubbish can of the past or I would wreck the rest of my life. Later, as a hypnotherapist, I created a plan, based on what I had done, to help others move beyond their painful memories. The plan has 4 steps:
• Make a written list of the painful memories. This will help you recognize them more quickly when they come to mind.
• Put the list in an envelope and DECIDE to Ignore the memories.
• Make a list of personally empowering statements, such as “I am intelligent and GRATEFUL that I can control my mind – and I WILL.
• Copy THAT LIST several times. Put a copy in every room of your house or apartment. Put a copy in your pocket or purse, and in your car. Removes the temptation to say, “I was so depressed I couldn’t think of an empowering thought.”
Remember what I said last week… unhappy thoughts not only create doubt and make it more difficult to meet your goals, they also release harmful chemicals into your body that create serious heal problems. Anyway you look at it, reliving the past is an irrational waste of your life!
1/16/19 – Show 3: Creating Happiness … who and what makes you happy? Let me guess… your husband or wife. Your children, friends, or parents? Maybe it’s a particular situation or special circumstance, such as a better job, more money, or a bigger, better house. These are the kinds of things that most people associate with happiness. And guess what? They are also the exact things that make them miserable, furious, stressed-out, and depressed.
How do the things that make us happy also make us miserable? Somewhere, deep in our consciousness, we all know the answer. None of these things make us happy or unhappy.
Other people and things have nothing to do with our emotions. Only our thoughts create our emotions. Every good and bad thing we can think of is labeled good or bad by us. If we judge something as good, we’re happy. If we judge it as bad, we’re not happy. We all know, of course, that the very thing we say is good, someone else will judge as bad, and vice versa. The thing itself is neither. It just is.
Let’s use money as the example. Some people think it’s their savior and others think it’s the root of all evil. The truth is: money is printed paper or stamped coins. It has only the value we give it. To some, $5.00 is like a million; to others a million is like $5.00. Every situation and circumstance is only a matter of perception — information gleaned through our physical senses, and colored by our beliefs. Consequently, it is easy for us to deceive ourselves. Then, of course, once deceived, we unwitting deceive others.
We are each creating our own happiness and misery because every thought creates a corresponding emotion — but most of us don’t realize it. Many who are aware of the process ignore it because they wish it weren’t true, so they refuse to accept responsibility for the emotions they create. It’s always easier to blame (or credit) someone else. We say things, such as, “He makes me so happy!” or “She makes me furious!” One reason we do this is… no one would be sympathetic to our misery if we admitted to hurting ourselves. If we told the truth and said, “Last night I had a choice between making myself feel good or miserable, and I chose misery. I kept rehashing what George and Mary did, and got so depressed I hardly slept a wink!” The easiest way to escape this childish behavior is to stop judging everything as right or wrong, good or bad. We have no idea what is prompting someone else’s actions or how every situation is going to turn out. Horrible situations sometimes turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to us. If we believe a situation needs correcting… find an effective way to correct it because criticism and judgment don’t change anything — except to destroy our peace and negatively influence our health.
If you would like to feel peaceful for 24 hours, try this: Suspend all judgment for a full 24 hours. Really! Judge nothing – not even a paper cup in the street. Pick it up and toss it as though you’re the one who dropped it, or let it be what it is: a paper cup in the street. You’ll be amazed at how peaceful and refreshed you’ll feel at the end of the day.
I imposed this restricting on myself many years ago, and I still try to practice it today. I decided to drop all descriptive words—all adjective and adverbs from my various observations. When I began the exercise I lived in a large city and walked six blocks to and from a little place to have lunch, and I would often become irritated at the loud, noisy traffic, the crowded and cracked sidewalks, the rude pedestrians, etc. When I decided to identify these things merely as traffic, sidewalks, and pedestrians—with no judgment attached, my walk no longer irritated me. In fact, I began to notice other things—things that gave me pleasure. A window box with flowers. A song drifting from a window, etc. An old couple holding hands. Trust me… the world won’t fall apart if you suspend judgment for one day, and if you—like me—find relief in doing so, you might want make it a daily practice.
Remember: every thought creates a corresponding emotion. What—exactly, does that mean? Well, it’s as simple as this: Lift your index finger. Now notice… did your fingernail rise with it? THAT’S how unnoticed, simultaneous, and connected thoughts are to emotions. That connection can’t be broken. It can only be ignored – but only at the expense of our peace, happiness and health.
So, if a situation makes you smile, enjoy it! If it doesn’t, let it pass.
1/9/19 – Show 2: Imagine Success … we’re all aware that everyone wants peace, love, health, happiness and success, and yet, it seems that since we first cried for a dry diaper, these things keep slipping beyond our reach. Throughout childhood, we accumulate memories of being denied what we want. Maybe at age two, we wanted the pretty flowers on the coffee table, but every time we reached for them, our hands were slapped. Later, we said we wanted to be someone special — an actress, an astronaut, or famous athlete… and were told to forget it — we weren’t smart enough, tall enough or good looking enough. Or there wasn’t enough money.
Although most of our childhood memories have disappeared from our conscious mind, they remain stored in our subconscious, and they have slowly but surely hardened into a solid belief that stops us from living a truly fulfilling life. Certainly, our adult desires are different from those of our youth, but if the old belief is still active, it’s likely that our adult desires will remain unfulfilled, too. Perhaps we’ve tried many times to reach a particular goal, but have failed. This, of course, only reinforced the belief that we can’t be or have what we want. The belief may have become so strong we no longer even fantasize about reaching our goal. We’ve decided “this is as good as it gets.”
The power of belief can’t be exaggerated or overstated; it affects every decision we make. Once we’re convinced that we can’t have what we want, it’s possible to live our whole life and never suspect we are operating from a false self-limiting belief. The good news is: we can replace the old, discouraging belief with a new belief that encourages and empowers us. And we do it the same way we learned to accept the old belief — through REPETITION. We repeatedly tell ourselves that we are free to live as we choose; that we are competent to create the situations and circumstances we desire. We actually write out such statements: “ I am free to create the conditions and circumstances that I want.” We memorize the statement and repeat it to ourselves several times a day. And we repeatedly imagine our success until we finally convince ourselves and suddenly discover that we have the courage to realistically pursue our goal.
Now, listen carefully. I’m about to give you some very important information. Are you listening? While our subconscious holds and remembers everything we experience… it does NOT know the difference between fact and fiction. It accepts anything and everything we tell it – and when we imagine anything – what we want or what we don’t want – we are telling it what to remember! Therefore, if we repeatedly imagine fulfilling our desires, it will accept our imaginings as truth—exactly as it would if we had already succeeded. If we imagine success repeatedly, our subconscious stores what we imagine as ACTUAL SUCCESSES and we begin to replace the old belief with a new reality. We have given our subconscious a roadmap or pattern to follow – and it will ASSIST us instead of hindering and stopping us!
We can literally “give” ourselves a different past—one that helps us succeed when, if fact, it was anything but helpful. A good example is a female client– I’ll call Sue — who came to me, literally in tears, and said her husband of two years was divorcing her because she couldn’t cook. I’m not kidding. He had grown up with a mother who was a fabulous cook, and Sue continuously ruined everything she tried to cook. She also told me that her own mother was also a great cook, and frequently made sumptuous meals for large numbers of guest. I asked if she ever cooked with her mother, and she said, “No!. She would never let me in the kitchen when she was cooking. When I asked, she always said, “No, you’ll just make a mess. You don’t know what to do.” Obviously, her mom’s words stuck. So I relaxed her, and had her imagine she was three years old, sitting on the counter top while her mother stirred a batch of cookies. After the cookies were on the cookie sheet, I had her imagine her mom handing her the spoon to lick. Then, I had her imagine she was six and helping her mom make cookies. From there, I had her imagine herself at two year intervals, always cooking a little more, until she was 18, when I had her see herself cooking a huge meal for a dozen people, and everyone raving about how great it was. Well… I’ve never had faster confirmation of a success than I did with her. The next morning, my phone was ringing as I entered my office. It was Sue’s husband. He said, “Thank you! Thank you! For saving our marriage! For the first time in two years, Sue made me a delicious meal! You saved our marriage!.” I didn’t, of course; Sue saved it by seeking help.
If we really want a new experience, we don’t need someone else to tell us what to imagine. All we need to do is identify what we want… relaxed ourselves… and see our past as we wish it had been. We imagine being young and getting the encouragement we desired… we see ourselves a little older…. learning more, doing more of what we truly want to do. We can each do for ourselves what I helped Sue do. Remember… our subconscious doesn’t know the difference between fact and fiction. It stores everything as absolute truth, as if it happened just that way. Try it! Build a belief in yourself. And, if you need a relaxation tape to help you relax, get one.
1/2/19 – Show 1: #MeToo … today, I want to add my name to the Me, Too movement. I’m a 77-yr-old woman who had the misfortune to experience both incest and rape. The incest perp was my father when I was seven—the night that we buried my mother who had just burned to death in a house fire. The rape happened when I was 18 and went for my first job interview. I’ve written about this in my memoir, ‘Cry into the Wind,” if you’re interested in the details. It’s on Amazon. But for those who only want a brief overview of how it affects a young child to be molested, well, in a nutshell, it leaves the child feeling “stupid,” “dirty” and “ugly” well into adulthood. For me, a great part of the agony was that I despised and feared my father whom I also loved. I wanted to still love him but I was afraid of him, and later, I also feared all men who resembled him… hair color, height, mannerisms.
A few weeks after my mother died, my three younger siblings and I were put in an orphanage and separated for the next 11 years. It was a cold and brutal place and for whatever reason, I did not learn to read… so I became an extremely clever cheater. I was 13 before I realized letters had sound assignments! Once I understood the concept, knowing I had 13 letters in my name – half the alphabet! – I swiped a flashlight from the kitchen warehouse where I worked, and sneaked it under the covers with a book, and slowly taught myself. While struggling through my second book, Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, I began to experience a terrible fear… so much so that I stopped reading, tried to slow my breathing and figure out why I was so afraid. It didn’t take long for me to realize that someone else’s words going through my brain were making me feel afraid. For a moment, that amazed me. But my next thought was: “If words can make me feel afraid, I can tell myself words that make myself feel whatever I want to feel!”. I understood the enormity of that revelation, but that’s not to say I remembered it throughout all of the ups and downs of my teen years. I wasn’t dedicated to remembering it until after the rape at 18, and surviving my suicide attempt. At that point, I knew I had to start over, reteach myself how to think. I knew I couldn’t look back; couldn’t let myself dwell on anything except what I wanted. I wasn’t sure what that was, but I was sure it wasn’t in the rearview mirror of my mind.
I wrote my first novel—a thriller—when I was 23 and it sold to Avon Books. It became a bestseller, as did my first six books—three thrillers and three children’s books. Now, if this makes male readers think, “Well, it doesn’t have to emotionally cripple a woman if she’s raped. She can get over it.” Yes, she can, but incest and rape make it a thousand times more difficult—for girls and boys. To physically overpower a child or an adult—for sexual gratification that can be satisfied with your own hand is tantamount to admitting, “I am too dumb to remember I have hands.” The need to overpower anyone reveals fear of weaknesses and deficiencies, and the act of subduing a child or a woman will not alleviate either. Yes, it’s survivable, but it’s also miserable and needless. It proves nothing about the one attacked, and nothing worthwhile to the one struggling to feel powerful. Those attacked are not really diminished or “less” than they were, but some never realize it, and spend the rest of their lives feeling “soiled.” Likewise, the attackers prove nothing “good” about themselves. They are left with a shame that cuts so deep they joke and brag about it those who will keep their “secrets.” This is the only way they can feel “big, important, and powerful—a pitiful effort to sound proud. Statistics reveal that one in three girls and one in four boys are molested. Perhaps some who are listening now.
With that in mind, I’ll close with this: If you, whether female or male, were molested as a child or an adult, nothing can stop you from being all that you want to be. Reclaim your life! Don’t look back except when holding the hand of someone who is trembling from the same experience. Then, say, “I have felt the pain you feel, but you have not been permanently damaged. Go on with your life, live it as you want it to be. Look forward. Set goals, and honor yourself by keeping those goals. Be who you were born to be. Don’t hate; it steals your resolve. Simply ignore the memory. Let it die of neglect, and soon you’ll replace it with wonderful memories of your successes.” The “Me, too” movement is important. Men must learn that overpowering someone with less physical strength proves weakness, not strength. Real strength is revealed through understanding and respect.