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July 24, 2012

What Politics And Women Have In Common: Avoid The Extremes

IStock_0couplearguingllMuch of my work with women is about getting out of the extremes: extreme thinking, extreme actions, extreme emotions etc.  In order for women to be heard they have to get out of the extremes and instead get grounded, calm and strong.  Too often women make outrageous statements in their effort to be heard and it often ends up guaranteeing they won’t be heard.  It’s a difficult lesson for some women to learn, however, it is powerful once they get that screaming louder and louder actually weakens their message rather than strengthens it. 

 This same dynamic happens in politics as well. In fact, I experienced this dynamic today when I was getting lunch.  I stepped out of my car and walked past a table with a poster of President Obama with the word “Impeach” at the bottom of the poster.  My first thought was, “Wow that’s a little extreme.” The woman behind the table waved and asked me to come over. I politely declined and went in to get lunch.  As I was driving away, I realized the poster had a picture of President Obama with a mustache like Adolf Hitler in addition to the word “Impeach”.  When I realized this, I felt a lot of anger and had lost all respect for the woman who was standing at the table trying to convince the world that President Obama was like Hitler. Really? Isn’t that a bit dishonoring of all the Jews who lost their lives as a result of Hitler’s atrocities? To equate how our President is running our country to the way Hitler killed countless Jews is so extreme and over the top that it is offensive.  This extreme message immediately lost any ounce of truth for me.  Once I saw the obsurdity, I was not even remotely open to hearing what the woman had to say.  Regardless of my views regarding President Obama, her extreme position drowned out any potentially helpful message for me.

Similarly, when women are so desperate to have their loved ones hear them that they scream, yell, incessantly complain etc., they drown out their message.  They start to say things that are so extreme, no one in their right mind could hear them let alone believe them.  One of the most common situations where extreme comments are made is in regards to leaving a marriage. These comments can get pretty heated and often are designed to shock the other person into changing their ways. The women threaten to leave the marriage, take the kids and never see their husband ever again.  The first time the men hear this they may get a bit nervous and change for a day or two yet by the third time they hear this, they no longer get remotely frazzled. 

Many women I work with have made countless threats similar to those above and on many occasions.  They come to me shocked that their husbands don’t believe them and aren’t changing.  What the women don’t realize is that they have trained their husbands to not believe them.  Their extreme comments that seldom, if ever, get followed through with, are simply seen as a bunch of hot air.  The women are simply trying to use shock value to wake their husbands up.  Unfortunately, this type of behavior does anything but wake their husbands up.

When it comes to wanting to be heard the biggest tip I can give to women is to stay out of the extremes.  Don’t silence, shut down, threaten, rage or incessantly complain.  Remember that less is often more. Get grounded, get calm and get clear.  Decide what action you are going to take and take it—calmly and powerfully. You will feel better and your partner may actually start to tune in.

Challenge: Remove threats from your life. Ask for what you want directly and if you don’t get it then decide what action you will take as a result.  Stop looking to change the other person or to wake them up and instead wake yourself up.

 

 

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