The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Lady and The Tramp

We all have our Pet Hates – whether that’s people, or situations. In the case of irritations, like that, for us all there is a sliding scale from a mild or minor irritation right up to the pinnacle – the top tier, the two or three that just dig their nails into our sensitivities and won’t let go. It’s the “PH” red zone – way above the peeve factor, into the GRRR area.

Now there’s always a danger when we become PH intolerant, when we have an overload of PH.  Richard Wilson’s character Victor Meldrew in the BBC Comedy series One Foot in the Grave was hugely PH intolerant, and for him there was no sliding scale. The ludicrous nature of his intolerant reactions was the comedy factor, plus the fact that the sheer volume of his Pet Hates seemed to bring him an ever increasing number of mishaps, accidents and grief. He reaped a constant harvest from his own particular Law of Attraction.

Deeply embedded
In the structure and familiarity of our own particular Pet Hates there is longevity to them. They go back a long way, often to our childhood – and this being so, every time we have experienced them we’ve flagged them up accordingly and coded them into our memory, all lit up like beacons.

Not being a tall person, I experienced many childhood instances of being ignored or passed-over, particularly when waiting in queues. They grew into contemptuous put-downs due to my physical inferiority in the height department. My personal vulnerability and insecurity and low self-esteem was then – at any time - able to grow this purely height-related inferiority into a full-blown personal attack.
Neurotic and paranoid – yes!
Elicits irrational behaviour – yes!

When we are behind the wheel of a car it is like we are in our ultimate “safe zone”. We are hermetically sealed from regular human interaction – and can release all our social conditioning. Of course, this affords us full expression of any and all PH intolerances we encounter while driving. Traffic hold-ups and other idiots are everywhere, aren’t they? So we can, if we are so inclined, keep up a running tirade of invective – which of course turns us into a driver far worse than the ones we are complaining about!
So what am I beefing about on this particular occasion?

BĂȘte noire
Following After School Cricket Club this week I went food shopping in my local Marks & Spencer’s. I was clad in track suit and trainers.

As I approached the checkout with my basket, the lady in front of me was unloading her basket contents onto the conveyor. At this stage of the story timeline, in my eyes, she was still “A Lady”. She was smartly dressed, aged between the ages 55-65, and clearly shopped at M&S as it befitted her social standing. Even the contents of her shopping basket designated her as being of such a “type”.
Now in my view of the world every woman is someone’s daughter and – possibly – someone’s Mum. Plus, in the panoply of human life we are all equal, in my book.
Anyway ...

When she’d finished unloading, rather than stand aside and let her walk to the end of the conveyor with her now empty basket, in order to put it on the “empty pile” – I held my hand out for her to hand me the basket so I could stack it for her. She passed me her basket as if I was the servant, her personal serf – with no word of thanks, or even a smile – just a cocked nose in the air and a contemptuous curl of the lip.
In the days of my personal Yore, I would have probably said something sarcastic to her – however, another of my flagged up experiences has been that the type of women prone to this particular type of behaviour, are impervious to sarcasm or any kind of criticism, veiled or overt. They have obviously breezed through life, carried by a stream of minions and doormats, whom God – and their particular God - has put on this Earth for one purpose only.

So I remained mute, although bristling, and with rolling eyes.
I wondered if it was my clothing. Perhaps if I’d been dressed in a suit or at least smart causal, she would have afforded me the common decency of even a “knowing nod”, for my small Random Act of Kindness.

Then I surmised that perhaps this was a human remake of Lady and The Tramp? Although after reading this entry on Google I had my doubts:

Live the journey of Lady, a beloved cocker spaniel, and Tramp, a mutt with a heart of gold, in one of the best loved stories of all time.

She may possibly have been someone’s beloved Coq Espagnol, but I wouldn’t describe myself as “a mutt” even though there are some who think I have a heart of gold!


The thing is - life is not necessarily Disney-style with fairy-tale story lines. It can be ugly and sordid as well as be filled with amazing and wonderful Gentlemen AND Ladies.
However, life is, generally, what you make it.
If you choose to Tramp through life believing all people are amazing and unique; enjoying your time here while wearing a pleasant disposition right down to your bones; finding the fun, the humour, the joy, and the beauty wherever they may be; you’ll find it quite straightforward to accept all the brickbats and bouquets that this buffet of cosmic catering can serve up.

If you choose to “Lord” or “Lady” it through life believing that most people are irrelevant except when they are serving your purpose; when your frown and curled lip are a constant testament to your endurance of a world that is made barely tolerable by Random Acts of Trampling; you’ll find it very difficult to accept that this particular mortal coil was made for many honest and genuine people beyond the myopic strictures of your inner coterie.

The Conclusion of Damocles

For a very brief moment, this Tramp’s life momentarily crossed that of a sad Lady. Although he may, at the time, have uttered under his breath, “You’ll get yours soon enough, Madam,” it was more of an observation than a wish.
The sadness is in her insecurity, and from her insecurity comes the need to behave in the way she does.
Rather like Damocles, she has climbed onto the throne of Dionysius II believing all that great power, authority and wealth would give her. Then comes the day in Lady’s life when she realises Dionysius has hung a sword over her suspended by a single horse hair.

Sadly, there can be nothing happy for the person over whom some fear always looms.

This cautionary tale of food shopping yields an abundance of advice to both Lady and The Tramp!
So - I would invite you to be aware of this caveat:-
In any queue, anywhere, you never know who is really in front of you OR behind you.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Wardrobe

Casually watching Twitter posts scroll up can often be a source of amusement, interest, and occasionally a spur into experiencing connective ideas.

And thus it was, this morning, as my attention was caught by one of those time-worn phrases of the self-development lingua franca, namely:-
“Gain More Confidence – Improve Your Performance”

Now many phrases such as this are bandied about like mantras, and, as is general with mantras, there is usually a pivotal word, a keyword if you like. Rather like a hook on a clothes hanger, the pivotal word should be strong enough to hold the structural weight of the other words in the phrase as well as the implied meaning, the message in the phrase.
Of course the motivated recipient of the message will also be making use of it by draping their needs, wants and emotions over this linguistic hanger. And they’ll put it – perhaps over laden with all that “raiment” – into the wardrobe where they keep all their phrases, mantras, couplets, snazzy quotes, and other verbal investments.

So what is the pivotal word, for you, in that six word phrase that caught my eye?
Well, I expect if you were to rank them in importance 1-6 then No.6 would be “Your” – and the top two would most likely be “Confidence” and “Performance”. Stands to reason, doesn’t it?

Of course when it comes to meaning, there are a number of other things going on that enable us to apply some make-up to the phrase, make it a bit more catchy, a bit more showy – some foundation perhaps or something personal like a little I-liner.

“More” here presupposes that you’ve already got “Confidence” and “Your” aims the whole “Performance” shebang specifically in one direction.
“Gain” and “Improve” look like the two-edged power sword of the phrase, dripping with motivational positivity. Increase this and be better at that, it seems to say with a swish of the blade!
Yet – is it BE better, or DO better?
This poses a conundrum as to what “Performance” means for you, and for each of us.

Is performance something we do – in certain circumstances – and then return to normality of the everyday hurly-burly?
I happen to see “Performance” as being something permanent – a 24/7 activity – all that that normality is. There are specific highlighted acts and scenes within our lives – but they are all part of performance. It is the way we are, the way we are being. Of course, you may hold a different perspective, rather like I did in previous years.
Neither of us is right or wrong, yet whichever perspective we hold right now colours the way we view the phrase “Gain More Confidence – Improve Your Performance”; and weaves subtle threads of our personal warped view of the world into the weft of the words we read or hear.

This brings me to the one word I’ve yet to elaborate on – “Confidence”.
It is a mental construct, of course – you can’t buy it off the shelf in a shop, or grow it in a pot. Though its curious, isn’t it, that I get asked for it a lot, by clients who want some or who want some more! You can bet that if it was a tangible commodity, then someone – indeed lots of people - would be selling it because there are millions of people out there clamouring for it!

Confidence is nothing more than a barometer, a measure of the level, of our security.
If I am lacking confidence in something, I am unsure – or insecure – about its suitability for the task. “Will this barrier hold back the flood waters? Well I’m not 100% confident it can – more like 60%.”

Similarly if it is someone, or ourselves, then we are insecure about their, or our own, ability in certain areas, or actions. “I need more confidence,” is merely our way of saying “I need to be more secure about my capabilities.
However, “I need more SELF confidence,” feels somewhat different, doesn’t it?
This feels like I’m talking less about what I feel I am capable of and more about just me and the way I am. The way I am BEING in the world.
At the end of the day, when all is said and done, confidence is still just all about the Barometer – the measure of security.

For us all - security goes deep, right back to when we were babies. In our early childhood we perform in amazing ways – learning from an innate perspective about our bodies, controlling our movement and balance, the ability to communicate, and all about the myriad of things in the world around us. We don’t learn how to learn, it is just in our nature. We are precocious discoverers, curious of the mysteries and joys in all experience – utterly confident.
Until, that is, we encounter something or someone that gives us our first encounter with the barometric readout of our security. We shy away, there is a reticence in our body language, and we become guarded, unsure, in our behaviour. If we can already talk we go quiet, we are wary – looking out for ourselves, for our security. We’ll reach out for comfort – in whatever form that might be. For Comfort = Security. Once we feel secure and comfortable we come out from behind the safety of the mask of wariness.

And, as we grow up, our “Comfort Zone” for anything still means Security. And our level of Security we label as Confidence. So when we want More Confidence, is it that we want to widen, deepen and broaden our Comfort Zone? Seems to be so, doesn’t it?
However – beware the Comfort Zone! For here’s the thing:-
If we want to Improve our Performance we’ll need to step outside the Comfort Zone.

Now there’s a thing we need to remind ourselves about the metaphors in our boudoir – the beds we make for to lie on, the full-length mirrors we admire ourselves in, the tallboys that hold our bigs and smalls, maybe an ottoman nobly standing four-square, the dressing tables that house our adornments and beautifications – and particularly and especially, the wardrobes for our outer clothing.

Whether they are edifices that fill a corner, or spaces behind sliding doors - there isn’t a soul on Earth who has not got a wardrobe.
Except perhaps young children – gosh, I wonder why THAT is?!

Until recently my wardrobe had a lot of stuff hanging in there that I hadn’t worn for years – yet I can still remember all those earlier times when I’d reach in, get dressed up to the nines and feel like I was the bee’s knees. Everything we have serves us well, or so we think – until the moment that it doesn’t!
“Why am I keeping this junk?” I’d ask, and then come up with that classic answer that all hoarders of clutter use, “It might come in useful someday. I’ll keep it for a rainy day just in case.” The thing is, since I’ve hung it up the rainy days have come and gone – and it was never used anyway. For many of us, our wardrobe - like that - is a kind of Comfort Zone.
It contains lots and lots of familiar clothing, with sentimental attachments.
There might be things we’d like to change in our lives, perhaps improve to help us feel more confident as we stride out into the world. Yet we want to hang on to the Comfort Zone at the same time. “Yes, I’d love to have that fabulous new outfit – but I need to hang on to these things that seem to say so much about who I am as well.” Yet, consider this when wanting to change - what are these old things saying about us, and just who are they speaking to?

There was an interesting notion going the rounds, about the human body replacing itself every 7 years. Well there’s a certain truth about cell replacement and regeneration, however it is a fanciful notion that any cyclical or total physical metamorphosis takes place for us. Still, through the mists of metaphorical curiosity I’m more than happy to grab hold of the idea that for something new to come in to our lives, then something old needs to be shed. If the car park of our life is full then nothing can move in until some cars leave. The same in/out routine applies to our Wardrobes.
So I performed a clear out, confident that what I have left just relates to my life here in the current moment. No more did I need the hipsters, the bell-bottoms or the flowery shirts, and I severed all my kipper ties.

So what linguistic raiment is hanging on the rails in your wardrobe? Does a snappy Tuxedo of Confidence lurk in there amongst your favourite suits? Have you got some worn out and ill-fitting mantras, or some garb in the fashionable colours and material from days of yore?

And if it should be that you have a Curiosity, watch out for MY next Twitter post! It could well read –
“Gain More Confidence –
Clearout Your Wardrobe –
Improve Your Performance”