Connecting The Dots

Discussing the threads of my own passions which have culminated in my work as coach, mentor, presenter in my own business.

The conundrum of Social Media

Mary Johnson - Friday, March 23, 2018

Have you given away lots of your personal information on social media? I certainly have! We know now the degree to which data collectors (and a whole lot of other potentially unsavoury people) can follow your movements travelling, your political leanings, who your kids and grandkids are and where they live, etc. etc. The revelations of the last few weeks has me really thinking about the benefits vs the risks of staying on FaceBook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest. For many of us it's too late. What started out as a super easy, fun way to stay in touch has a decidedly dark side.

While I knew political parties were in their like dirty shirts - in the US, I was floored last night on the news when the it was revealed the volume of ads targeted at us here in Canada. Just yesterday it was reported on Global news that the Conservative party sent out 247 ads on social media- many attack ads. The Liberals 25 mostly about Trudeau and the NDP 4 about tax cheats. I'm not lauding any party. On another day the ad count numbers could be look quite different. And the ads are tailored to what you like or don't like on social media. That's only the more obvious tip of the iceberg. While I thought I knew my information was being used, this came as a shock to me. Like to think of myself as an independent thinker. Heck most of us would abhor thinking we are being constantly manipulated.

So does the upside of social media out weigh the dark side? Do we all delete some of our personal information in the hopes that some sort of regulation requires the social media machine to cease and desist? It is reported to take 90 days for your information to be deleted. 90 days. What else will happen while we wait? Or do we vote with our delete buttons? 

What's the message you want to send?           

Time to think Seeing patterns

Mary Johnson - Friday, March 16, 2018

Just returned for some time away. It was wonderful seeing new places and old friends. We also had some very long days on the road. The hum of the motor and beautiful scenery has a tendency to put you into a rather Zen like state. In my last blog Do you need a new question? it was early in the game. I was having some difficulty gearing down. Became focused on being grumped about not having a map. (I did get an Atlas by the way.)  

So with the 'big picture' in hand - literally, I began to relax. The bigger picture of my life floated before me. Accompanied, as always, by a good book. Well several in my case. The book I was spending time in was Harriet Lerner's 'The Dance of Anger'. I had read it years ago and it certainly resonated. But I was also not prepared to accept as much responsibility for my contribution to situations. Now as I reread about patterns of behaviour, in particular, over-functioning, I was able to connect a number of dots in my life.

Over-functioners have a number of hallmarks**;  

~ know what's best not only for themselves but for others as well.

~ move in to advise, rescue, and take over when stress hits.

~ have difficulty staying out of and allowing others to struggle with their own problems.

~ avoid worrying about personal goals and problems by focusing on others.

~ have difficulty sharing their own vulnerability, under functioning side, especially with those people who are viewed s having problems.

~ maybe labeled the person who is 'always reliable' or 'always together'.

AHH! I was reminded these are all ways anxiety and uncomfortable feelings are kept at bay. I have circled around this whole busyness thing in a number of blogs. Are you busy or productive? The frame of over functioning provided another piece in the puzzle regarding my how I tend to deal with life. When the going is tough, I squash down my feelings about it, and immerse myself in a lot of activity. Not all productive. Usually end up exhausted and I feel resentful. 

 Sooo you say this is all well and good. Any insights?!? Yes indeed. 

1. Remind myself (as I feel the need to fix someone's thinking!!) that I'm not responsible for them - their feelings, dilemma, etc. 
2. If I have misstepped I can (and have been working on) circle back with whom ever (usually my husband. Also an oldest and over functioning) to talk about The Real Issue. I am getting way better at identifying what in me is off kilter!
3. Stay our of triangles. Families are full of them. Certainly I can hear someone out. But I need to stay out. Zooming in to soothe can takes away the opportunity for the other person to deal with their issue straight on. Follow Harriet's 3 part process. Stay calm (remind yourself it's not about you!) Stay out of other people's situation/ emotions. Hang in - don't withdraw emotionally.     
4.  Spend regular downtime with myself. Come into an understanding, recognition of how I get ramped up and how to ramp down.

Holidays gave me a chance to see myself in action. It's a low risk, lower stress time. Realize I worry about Neil's energy levels driving. Hate 70 - 80 MPH in the US on their busy freeways (and ALL the trucks). Struggle with long hours in the car vs Neil's seemingly limitless capacity. I worked on identifying what was up with me and what I was needing. Felt a whole lot less uncomfortable speaking up. The real test will be in a crackerjack situation. But practicing everyday has strengthened this practice.

 **(from Page 192 of 'The Dance of Anger 2005)

Do you need a new question?

Mary Johnson - Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Maybe you too are familiar with the saying that goes something like it's better to live the question than have an answer. Okay so I don't remember it exactly but there's the general gist. Sounds great in theory and I'm a want-to-know kinda gal. This has reared it's head on a wee bit of a holiday Neil and I are taking. I like to know where I am going (map in hand). A plan also helps. We are traveling fundamentally without either. This is a challenge! Wish I could say I am 'going with the flow' but I'm struggling. 'What's your thinking about what you want to do? 'Where are you thinking we'll travel to today?' 'This is unexpected. What's plan B?' It's more or less up in Neil's head (or so I tell myself) and not in my hands. Hmm my not so inner bossy pants twitches with this!! My default is to find ways to rephrase the same question. Not working!

On another hand I usually take along some inspiring, uplifting books to read. One idea by Jennifer Krause** was when you find yourself hooping around the same thinking, it's time to find a new question. One that opens up the situation; or on a much larger scale one that your life can be an answer to. Seems like a great suggestion for my situation! 

So I've been playing with what question(s) might get me out of fretting about the trajectory of our trip. Here is some of my fruitful ones. 'What might I see on this trip that I've never seen?' 'How will I be inspired today?' 'Who or what will touch me?' 'What will I try that's new?' With practice and perserverance it's helping. I'm a little less obsessive about the particulars. When I evoke the questions, my eyes and my heart are less focused on my need to know and more open to some delightful and /or new to me experiences. Have met some wonderful folks, been helped by strangers, narked a whole lot less when we got tired and had a long ways still to drive. Her wisdom showed up at the right time!

 So now it's got me thinking how might this approach work for some of the bigger questions in my life!

** Jennifer is the author 'The Answer: Making Sense of Life One Question at a Time'.