On Being One … And The Power Of Change

We are all programmed to seek stability. In fact, it is often said that we are creatures of habit. As human beings, we crave the routine while, at the same time, often we complain of it. From an evolutionary standpoint, routine represents safety. No wild animals interrupting your nap. No enemies beating down at your gates. So, while routine may be boring to must of us, it also brings us peace of mind.

Yet, if there is one constant it is that life is always changing. While we may think that everything in our lives remains the same, under the surface (if not over it) things are always percolating, always changing. Sometimes they seem to blow up. Events seem to take us by surprise. Sometimes they do. Most times, had we been keenly aware of the signs around us, we would have known they were coming. Alas, most times we tend to ignore signs of change as we seek the comfort and safety of the routine. This is particularly true in relationships.

But, there is tremendous power in change. It opens new horizons, new possibilities, new adventures. The problem is we resist change. In our evolution, change meant danger. Our reptilian brains remember this and recoil seeking the shelter of the familiar. When a relationship ends, the familiar is rendered. For those who are being let go, we are cast off from the tribe of two, and sometimes more as mutual friends choose sides. Our bodies are flooded with survival chemicals, another remnant of our evolutionary past. Most of us then seek comfort in the pity of others. We play the woe be me card in an effort to receive love from our friends, and sometimes our family. We resist the change as we seek to get our ex-partner back. Or we rush into the rebound relationship without really taking the time to adapt to the change. But it need not be so.

When a relationship ends, the person that is being let go has been taught by society – particularly the media – to react in a certain way. We should be sad … for example, most songs deplore the loss of a relationship. These are not restricted to blues and/or country-western songs, by the way. And songs have the power to change our emotions. Poems wax eloquently about lost love. For most of us, our response to this change is a conditioned one. There are a lot of shoulds. We were previously taught, mostly by our parents, that we are not worthy of love. And those demons, which had been kept at bay when your ex-partner loved you, come roaring back.

Society does not teach us how to deal with endings. If you think about it, we are actually taught the very opposite. Our instinct for survival and our conditioned fear response to change, is reinforced when we are taught to save existing situations, regardless of whether they are beneficial to us or not. We fight to save our jobs, whether we like them or hate them (latest Gallup poll shows that 70% of us are emotionally disengaged from – i.e., hate – our jobs). We fight to save patients in their terminal stages of life, robbing them of the dignity of a peaceful death*. And, of course, we fight to save relationships which have become toxic mostly because we got into the relationship for fear of being alone**. We hate endings per se, but without endings there could be no new beginnings. In this life, everything has a beginning, a middle and an end. An ending is the natural evolution of things.

I’ve written before that most relationships are what are called purposeful. Once the purpose of the relationship is accomplished, the relationship is complete. We can, if we are mature and in touch with our own feelings, end any relationship gracefully. Or we can end it screaming and kicking. Now, don’t get me wrong. Relationships may be complete only after a lifetime together (i.e., the death of a partner. These are lifetime relationships.). Relationships can also evolve beyond a seeming end. In which case, both partners must be willing – and able – to communicate directly, openly and honestly. It is possible, but rare, for a purposeful relationship to become a lifetime relationship. Usually, one partner is on a different path than the other and, given men and women’s genetic predisposition to mis-communicate, as well as our disposable society, a purposeful relationship rarely evolves into a lifetime relationship.

The important thing to remember is that when a purposeful relationship comes to a natural end, it is a success, not a failure! Yes, this is difficult for us to accept, particularly for the person who is being let go. Thoughts of what else you could have done, feelings of guilt, anger, despair (leading to suicidal thoughts in extreme cases), loneliness, etc. come rushing in. Let them be … for a while. Then remember that you have done this many times. From high school friends, to parents, to jobs, to other partners. It doesn’t get easier unless you realize that life … well, goes on. That you are in charge of your emotions. That you can choose to be out of the relationship and miserable, or out of the relationship and at peace.

For most of us, the end of a relationship may represent the opportunity to know ourselves. However, most of us hate the silence of our thoughts. The silence of uncontrolled thoughts become unbearable. They scream at us of our failure, of our loneliness, of our unworthiness. Most of us then seek refuge, albeit temporary, in addictions, be it alcohol, drugs, video games, parties, etc. Yet, if we can stay with our thoughts for a while, we can learn to control them and, thereby, control our emotions. We can learn to choose to be at peace regardless of the circumstances around us. We get to the point where we understand that things and people change. In fact, if we are true to our feelings, we get to see that, in the split second before our conditioned responses took over, the truth made its way to the surface. If we are honest with ourselves, in that split second, we may have emitted a sigh of relief. But, chances are that we buried it deep and our conditioned responses took over.

If we took the time to really examine the reasons why a relationship ended, we may discover that it was a natural evolution that allows for newer beginnings. These new beginnings will be much the better when we get to know ourselves. And, in the process of doing so, be gentle to ourselves. Let go of the blame, let go of the anger, let go of the fear. Embrace the new beginning and realize that changes are inevitable.

As always, I remain in love with all. Jean-Pierre

When something ends, it is spirit inviting us to take a look at our life. To examine what our truths are and whether we are living them. The harder the change appears to be, the more we are invited to learn.

* Einstein proved that we are vibrational beings. That is to say, energy made into matter. We know that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only be transformed into matter. Hence, we are eternal beings and need not fear death.

** A recent study showed that: 40 percent [of respondents] said they feared not having a long-term companion, 18 percent said they feared “spinsterhood”, 12 percent feared losing a current partner, 11 percent feared growing old alone, 7 percent feared never having children and a family, 7 percent said they’d feel worthless if alone, 4 percent feared negative judgments from others and 0.7 percent said any relationship (even if horrible) was better than none. (Emphasis added)

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On Being One … And Of The Myth Of Loneliness

The word alone most of the time merges with loneliness. The very thought of being lonely makes most of us shudder. What is about being alone that makes us feel lonely and brings despair into our hearts? Well, from an evolutionary standpoint, we evolved to be part of a “tribe.” Our very physical survival depended on being with others. To be abandoned, left behind by the tribe to fend for oneself, was tantamount to a decree of death.

In fact, for most of us, our infancy and childhood are marked by our parents and our peer groups. They may not be the healthiest of relationships, and rarely are, but we are part of a tribe. Our physical survival is assured as our parents put a roof over our head, food on the table, and clothe us. Some of us, the very, very lucky few, are born under the right star and get to experience unconditional love and joy. But, eventually, like birds thrown out the nest to fly, we seek our independence. We move on to be our own person. However, for most of us, this simply means that we seek to be adopted by a different tribe. Be it the tribe at the college dorm, or class mates, or work mates, or bar mates, and eventually “love”, or at least “sex”, mates.

While we may think we have left the maternal nest to achieve autonomy and independence, really we have only shifted our tribal affiliations. We may look at others around us and see them as “independent” and distinct from us. We may try to momentarily forget that we are a social species dependent upon others, not only to survive (i.e., our parents from the moment we are born to, for some of us, the day they die). After all our survival is dependent on our collective abilities, not our individual might. And without others, how could we define ourselves? For without others to mirror us, to let us know what we want to be, what we like and don’t like, how would we know who we are? So, are these others we see surrounding us truly “independent”? Aren’t they, as we are, looking to fit into a tribe? To be protected, taken care of, accepted? Ultimately, aren’t they, as we are, seeking to love and be loved?

According to a recent Gallup poll, today some 50% of all adults are living alone, up from 22% in the 1950s. More than 50% of marriages end in divorce, and more than 5 million adults younger than 35 are single, while we get married at an older age than ever (See, The New Yorker – The Disconnect). Yet, single dating sites proliferate like rag weeds in the summer. Our world is more connected, at least electronically, than ever thanks to Facebook, email, text, etc. But the more electronically “connected” we become, it seems the more “disconnected” from each other we have become. Have we lost the ability to communicate? To interact at a deeper level than a casual “hello”? After all, communication is believed to be more than 80% body language and voice tonality, neither of which is carried via text or Facebook regardless of how many emoticons we provide. Is technology forcing upon us, or creating upon us, a world of superficiality where we are unable to connect with each other in meaningful ways? In ways that allow us to love and be loved? Being able to text your “friends” on a Saturday night while sitting in an empty apartment or guzzling down beers at the local drinking spot, is far from being connected to a healthy relationship. As Eric Klinenberg wrote in his new book “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone“, I wonder if we are creating “a secret society of people who live and die alone.

Is it so “strange” then that being alone is equated with loneliness? After all, our books and movies, and even our TV shows (at least those of olden years such as The Brady Bunch, and even modern ones such as How I Met Your Mother) extol the virtues of love and depict single people as individuals quaffing ice cream or guzzling wine in front of the flickering TV set. In fact, in the 1980s polls indicated that about 20% of people felt lonely at any given time. Today, that number has doubled to some 40%.

Do some, perhaps most, of us seek solace in alcohol, drugs, sex (a way to be touched and feel worthy), some of these or all of these? Do they provide a Band-Aid to cover our wounds, our lack of self-esteem, our feeling of loneliness, even if for a moment in time, and even if we know these come at a very high price in the end?

Why do we stigmatize loneliness? With do some of us feel lonely, regardless of the number of Facebook “friends”? Why do we still equate loneliness with being a “loser”? Do we still consider someone who is lonely as a “weak” person?  And, in so doing, do we deny our loneliness to ourselves and others. We put on a brave front. We tell ourselves and others that we’re fine. We’re “over her” or “over him.” We’re “happy” to be alone (and some of us are). We don’t “need” anyone (and some of us don’t). And for those who are alone but not lonely, I scream from rooftops: Bravo! You have achieved self-love. You no longer depend on someone to make you happy. The sad part, perhaps, is that that’s when you are most likely to be in an ideal relationship which you are no longer seeking.

But to me, denying that we are lonely makes about as much sense as denying that we are hungry or thirsty. Loneliness is truly painful. In fact, medical science has shown that feeling lonely is a major risk factor for an early death. Science has also shown that feeling lonely creates isolation from other people as we go into a self-preservation mode. We tend to care less about the issues of other people. We tend to be less giving, less emphatic. And, yet, a known “solution” to feeling of loneliness is to help others. Volunteer at a local kitchen, or hospital, or Boys and Girls Club, etc. Give of yourself. Be useful to the tribe you feel isolated from. Seek “real” friends (no, Facebook friends don’t count) that you can share your feelings with and, more importantly, who will empathize and provide loving touches without which we not only do not grow emotionally, but I digress (the subject of how many loving touches we need to grow emotionally is the subject of a different and upcoming post). If you have a supportive family, seek solace within them. But by all means, let’s stop feeling sorry for those who are alone. And let’s also stop equating being alone with being lonely. One has nothing to do with the other.

Let me leave with you a wonderful poem for you to ponder:

Song of Quietness

Robinson Jeffers, 18871962

Drink deep, drink deep of quietness,
And on the margins of the sea
Remember not thine old distress
Nor all the miseries to be.
Calmer than mists, and cold
As they, that fold on fold
Up the dim valley are rolled,
Learn thou to be.

The Past—it was a feverish dream,
A drunken slumber full of tears.
The Future—O what wild wings gleam,
Wheeled in the van of desperate years!
Thou lovedst the evening: dawn
Glimmers; the night is gone:—
What dangers lure thee on,
What dreams more fierce?

But meanwhile, now the east is gray,
The hour is pale, the cocks yet dumb,
Be glad before the birth of day,
Take thy brief rest ere morning come:
Here in the beautiful woods
All night the sea-mist floods,—
Thy last of solitudes,
Thy yearlong home.

This post is based on various sources of research, and primarily that of John Cacioppo’s “The Lethality of Loneliness

As always in love, Jean-Pierre

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On Being One … And Of The Power Of Self-Esteem

It is often said that we cannot love someone else unless we love ourselves. It is also often said that loving yourself is all about self-esteem (i.e., you can’t love yourself if you have low self-esteem and vice-versa), and self-worth. But … what does it mean exactly? And, how do we get self-esteem? How do we love ourselves to get our self-esteem back? I know this is a concept I have struggled with for … well, let’s face it, probably most of my adult life, like most of us – or at least those of us who have thought about this. I’d like to share some of my journey and some of what the research shows self-esteem, or loving yourself, is all about.

First, let’s look at the definition of the words themselves.

Merriam-Webster defines:

Self-esteem: a feeling of having respect for yourself and your abilities.
Self: Well, that doesn’t really needs a definition, right?

Esteem:  respect and affection.
Love: a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person.
Self-love: regard for one’s own happiness or advantage.
Self-worth: a feeling that you are a good person who deserves to be treated with respect.

Hence, I think we can all agree that loving yourself, self-esteem and self-worth all mean the same thing. And, please, let’s not confuse any of these with getting your mojo. The term mojo is defined as: a power that may seem magical and that allows someone to be very effective, successful, etc. While, I hope everyone gets their mojo, I think it more important to get your self-esteem.

So there are all kinds of ways that we can love ourselves and get our self-esteem back. We can take long baths with candles (preferred by women, in general), get a massage, get a mani-pedi (again, generally preferred by women), go shopping (I wouldn’t recommend this one, but it seems to be a preferred “therapy” for some, if not most). We can also do more enlightened things, like recite affirmations, go to personal growth retreats and/or seminars, read books, listen to inspiring CDs or watch inspiring videos, and even watch funny movies or go to shows and/or comedy clubs. I should point that, at least in my humble opinion, partying, drinking or taking drugs (this includes pot) is definitely not the way. I offer this not in judgment but as an observation. These feel good for a time because they diffuse your thoughts. That is, they calm your brain. They slow down the millions of thoughts you think, sometimes simultaneously. However, when you come out of the buzz and/or the high, you’re still feeling a lack of self-esteem. (see, Abraham-Hicks on Alcohol)

I know that I have watched numerous videos, listened to a variety of CDs, read a vast quantity of books, and attended some seminars. You may have too. If you’re like me, and like most people who have done the same, I would bet to venture that you are still left with … a hollow feeling inside of you. While all of these help, you’re probably still feeling that you are not entirely worthy. You’re still wondering how you can achieve this blissful state of self-esteem, self-worth and self-love where you are happy no matter what. I know I am, though I get closer every day. Let me share.

Based on my experience, the hollow feeling comes from the fact that obtaining your self-esteem back requires … work (gasp). It does not come naturally to the vast majority of us. Therefore, though we start on the path (see above), we soon give up. Why? Well, because it is hard and also because we live in an “instant” society. Think about it, we can’t even take the time to write long sentences anymore. Twitter restricts us to 144 characters. Texting, at least for the new generation, requires the use of acronyms and emoticons, all so we can get to the point faster. News are now served to us in 30-second bites. We are all impatient … I want it, and I want it now! This is a trend that started more than 50 years ago with the introduction of the credit card: Get it now, pay for it later! We live in a society in which we must fulfill our needs NOW! Even 30 seconds later is too late.

Let’s take for example our national obsession: slimming down. We all know the key to it: eat less, eat healthy, and work out. We all know that following this program works. Yet, It takes effort. It takes dedication. More importantly … it takes time. And time is precious. Time is money. Time is ticking. Time waits for no one. So many expressions to let us “know” that we don’t have time.

So, we start eating better – more greens, less meat, etc. We eat less. we drink less alcohol. We start working out. At first we see results. A pound here, another pound there. But then … time takes over. This is taking too long. I don’t have time to eat right, let me grab a burger and fries just for now. I don’t have time to go shopping for fresh foods, never mind cook. And corporations make it easy to forego our intentions, to deviate from our path. That chocolate cake looks so good … perhaps just this once. I’m exhausted tonight, I’ll skip Yoga or going to the gym (personally, I prefer the outdoors to a gym any day).

It’s no different for our path/program to self-esteem. It requires work, dedication and time! It requires passing up on most things that have you brought pleasure in the past. And, let’s face it, the pleasure of eating that doughnut, pizza, watching TV instead of working out, etc., was fleeting and followed by guilt. It requires a totally new perspective on life. It requires going against the flow. It requires, sometimes, standing by yourself and being true to yourself. It requires not listening to well-intentionned friends and sometimes family. It requires not buying into corporations’ attempts to make you believe that this or that product is the key to loving yourself. You can do it, but will you?

In the end, getting your self-esteem back, feeling worthy, requires action. You can sit all day repeating to yourself that you love yourself, that you are worthy, etc. You can listen to Oprah, Wayne Dyer, Abraham-Hicks, and the myriad of other gurus (by the way, I encourage everyone to do so) that have important messages to deliver. But in the end, you must take the time and have the dedication to apply all of these lessons, or at least the ones that resonate with you. You must have the courage to act in a way that you are not used to. You must make the time to be true to yourself.

Once you dedicate the time, another and most difficult part remains: look for your self-esteem on your own. No one can give it to you. It is a treasure that only you can find, and you can only find it within yourself. When you become dependent on someone else to provide it for you – usually in the form of a relationship, be it love, work, friends, etc. – then you will be disappointed at some point in time. That’s because the other person(s) you have become dependent upon has(have) their own path(s) to travel. They will, at some point in time, deviate their attention to someone or something other than you. Since you are now dependent on their light shining in your tunnel to show the way (so to speak), when the light faces a different direction, you become lost. The same applies to circumstances that surround you and things that you “own.” You cannot control people (at least not for long), you can’t control circumstances, and “things” provide fleeting pleasure at best (probably why we have the expression: buyer’s remorse).

There is only one thing you can control …. YOU! YOU can control how YOU view and react to the events in YOUR life. YOU can control what YOU eat. YOU can control when and often YOU work out. YOU can control what it means for YOU to have fun. YOU can control how much time YOU dedicate to what YOU love. YOU can control the people YOU wish to associate with. YOU can control what YOU watch, what YOU read and what YOU listen to. YOU can control what YOU choose to believe. YOU control YOU and YOUR thoughts! What are YOU doing to achieve YOUR goals? How hard and long are YOU willing to work at it?

Like slimming down, getting your self-esteem back will take, for most of us, a long time … for some, perhaps a lifetime. Can YOU stick with the program? It is oh! so very easy to just go with the flow, to give in and give up. It’s up to YOU.

For those of you interested, I have a worksheet that can help you on your path. You need but request it and I will be delighted to send it to you free of charge and with no strings attached.

“Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.” Iyanla Vanzant

As always, in love, Jean-Pierre

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On Being One … And Of The Genetic Evolution of Men-Women Communication – Part III

To recap Part I of this post, we reviewed how men’s and women’s brains have evolved very differently. Men’s brains have evolved to be compartmentalized … to do one thing at a time, and do it very, very well. Women’s brains have evolved to be highly efficient at multi-tasking. In Part II, we reviewed how women can simultaneously listen to multiple conversations on different subjects, speak at the same as they listen, all the while keeping track of everything, whereas men take turns. We explored why men can always find the North and why women are poor map readers.

Hence, we learned that our genetic evolution has men and women communicating very differently, or rather mis-communicating. Once we understand our genetic communication predispositions, and we remember to apply them, I posit that many relationships will become happier and healthier. After all, it is often said and no doubt true, that communication is the key to successful relationships. So let’s continue exploring this subject of mis-communication between men and women.

It will come as no great surprise or shock to anyone, that the number one skill women developed over the eons of our evolution … drum roll please … is speech and language! But there is a fundamental difference in the way and the reasons why women and men talk. Put bluntly, women are great talkers, men are not. Let’s start with the fact that men speak, on average, some 7,000 to 10,000 words a day, whereas women speak, on average, 25,000 words. A “word” in this case is defined as a “communication signal” which can be verbal, tonal or body language. A woman can vocalize 8 to 9,000 words with up to 500 to 600 tonal changes using 5 tones (remember that men can only identify 3 of those 5), along with 4,000 to 6,000 different gestures and movements. This represents a total of some 25,000 communication signals a day!

But the biggest single difference between how men and women use speech and language is the fact that they are for completely opposite purposes. Men use speech and language to communicate facts and data. Therefore, when speaking, men tend to use short sentences and direct talk. That is, we tend to go straight to the point. Similarly, when listening, men look for facts and data. As a result, men are also problem solvers. We think that is part of our duty as the hunters-gatherers of the tribe. Women use speech and language for bonding and rewarding. Women speak an emotional language. That is, they express their emotions through their speech.

This difference in how men and women use speech and language is vitally important. Think about it. When a woman speaks she wants to emote. However, men listen for facts and data. Men listen for the (most of the time non-existent) problem that we think a woman is conveying. Hence, once we have identified the (non-existent) problem, we interrupt and offer a (non-requested and unnecessary) solution. Furthermore, if speech and language is used by women for bonding and rewarding, then silence is used as a punishment. If a woman is mad at a man and wants to punish him, she goes into silent mode! The problem is that men love silence and view it as a reward. No wonder we mis-communicate and misunderstand each other. When a woman loves a man and wants him to feel appreciated, she talks to him. The more she talks, the more she loves him. For a woman, words are a reward.

The large difference in the number of communication signals men and women express on a daily basis is evident around the dinner table or, more likely these days, in front of the TV. That’s because, by the time the family sits around for dinner, men have spoken their 10,000 words, but women are generally not even half way through. Dinner time is fire-gazing time where men get to channel surf. By the way, we channel surf because we are not so much interested in what’s on TV, as much as we’re interested in what else is on TV! Remember that it’s pointless to have a conversation, intelligent or otherwise, with a man who’s fire gazing as he is, for all intents and purposes, deaf. Of course this leads to all kinds of mis-communications and hurt feelings.

Man is at peace fire gazing and woman comes home with still some 11,000 words to speak. Or perhaps she had a good day and spoke 15,000 or 16,000 words. In which case, she still has some 10,000 to 9,000 to speak. But maybe she’s had a bad day. She’s been speaking with small boys at the kindergarten, or grown men at the office. The former likely grunted all day. The latter mostly grunted as well and/or were emotionally expressionless throughout the day.Now she has 20,000 words to speak and someone has to hear them. Who else but her partner?

“Hi, dear. How was your day?” she asks. Most men will answer: “Good”…10,001! Woman will continue with a different question. Perhaps: “How was your presentation to the management team?”  “Good”, he replies…10,002! Now she’s thinking that he doesn’t love her anymore because he won’t talk. But that’s an erroneous conclusion. He simply has spoken his 10,000 words and is happily fire gazing.

However, man has learned that he must also ask his partner about her day. So, he does and she proceeds to tell him. “You wouldn’t believe the day I had. I wore the blue dress with the nice pumps I bought when we were on vacation because it thought it was going to be such a nice day. But then it started pouring rain and I didn’t take my umbrella so I got drenched on the way to work. Speaking of which, I ran into Joan at the coffee shop which, by the way, served my coffee so hot that I burned my tongue. But Joan was limping and it turns out that she hurt her hip last week and may have to have it operated, poor thing. And you won’t believe this, but I broke the heel on those pumps. I got them caught on the escalator when I went to the mall.” etc. From a man’s point of view, he has just been inundated in an avalanche of facts and data, all of which are unrelated. He also believes that he has been presented with several problems and she expects him to fix each and every one! So he proceeds to do just that.

Because he can only do one thing at a time, he keeps interrupting her about what she should have done (i.e., the solution) with each perceived problem. Example: “Wait a minute, dear. Here’s what you should have done. You should have listened to the weather forecast because then you would have known it was going to rain and you would have taken your umbrella and not gotten wet.” From a man’s perspective: problem identified and problem solved. He’s signified he loves her. From a woman’s perspective, she’s thinking: “He’s interrupting me. He doesn’t love me.”

Somewhat unfazed, she continues with her story and gets to the pump (not much he can do about the hip). “I broke the heel on those pumps. I got them caught on the escalator when I went to the mall.” Man is thinking: “Broken heels on shoes … problem. “Here’s what you should have done, dear. You shouldn’t wear high heels on escalators. That’s dangerous. Just wear flat shoes next time.” From a man’s perspective: problem identified, problem solved, he’s shown his love for her. She’s thinking: “He won’t listen to me. He doesn’t love me anymore.” Meantime, he’s wondering why he has to fix all these problems. Seems to him they are quite simple and she should be able to solve them herself. Which she could if they were problems. She was speaking to show her love for him.

What would have been mutually satisfying (I am a man, hence: solution)? For the man to simply listen. There was no need to seek solutions to perceived problems, because there were no problems. Your partner was simply talking to reward and bond with you. But there’s more to listening than simply paying attention.

When men listen they tend to have expressionless faces and literally grunt responses. This is true across cultural divides and geographical boundaries. That’s because, as we grew up, and particularly as we entered the business world, we learned to not express emotions, particularly either smiling or crying. It is not “manly.” For women that means that, when you’re listening to a man, listen with an expressionless face and grunt some responses. He will feel an immediate bond with you. For men, the opposite is true. Your face and body must mirror her emotions and you must respond with questions or sentences such as: “No, that did not happen!”, said with an expression of surprise or horror, depending on the story. “No, what did you do ?” said with arched eyebrows expressing interest. “She didn’t, did she?”, again expressing interest. And for God’s sake, don’t offer solutions. None are needed unless asked directly to do so. And be genuine about your interest. This is your partner. She is bonding with you the best way she knows how. She will immediately know if you are faking interest and the penalty will be severe.

Again, please remember we are talking about most men and most women in most situations. Also, remember that most men will exhibit some feminine traits and some women will exhibit masculine traits.

While we will revisit this topic at other times, this marks the end of this three-part post. I hope that it has and/or will help you in communicating more effectively with your partner and avoid the shoals of failing relationships and, instead, create a vibrant, loving and healthy relationship.

As always, in love, Jean-Pierre

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This post is based on research done by Barbara and Allan Pease

On Being One … And Of The Genetic Evolution of Men-Women (Mis)Communication – Part II

To recap Part I of this post, men’s and women’s brains have evolved very differently. Men’s brains have evolved to be compartmentalized … to do one thing at a time, and do it very, very well. Women’s brains have evolved to be highly efficient at multi-tasking. Our genetic make-up and evolution means that men and women communicate very differently. In fact, we are genetically programmed to mis-communicate. Once we understand these differences, and we remember to apply them, I posit that many relationships will become more vibrant, happier and healthier. After all, it is often said and no doubt true, that communication is the key to such relationships. So let’s continue exploring this subject of communication differences between men and women.

Because men’s brains evolved to do one thing at time, when we speak we take turns. While we may interrupt each other, it is extremely rare that men will speak to each other simultaneously. Again, this is because we can either speak or listen, but not both at the same time. By comparison, women speak all together all at once. By the way, this is true across cultural and geographic boundaries. What befuddles us men, is the fact that women not only can carry multiple simultaneous conversations about a multiplicity of unrelated subjects and can actually follow, assimilate and respond to each! This is incomprehensible to men. When we hear a group of women speaking simultaneously, we think that no one is listening. How could you? But women can multitask, so they can and do speak and listen simultaneously.

Another difficulty in men-women communication is that women use 5 different tones of voice, but men can only identify 3 of those. A woman can be speaking on a particular subject and half-way through, introduce a different one by using one of those 5 tones. Other women will instantly pick up the change. Most men don’t and we continue to think that the woman is still speaking about the same subject. As the woman switches from subject to subject, eventually the man gets … well, lost. If he is in a relationship with the woman, or has a close friendship with her, he may even say out loud: “What are you talking about?” If he doesn’t feel comfortable saying it, he will certainly think it.

Another reason women evolved to multitask is that, when harvesting the crops – a woman’s task – there was a definite advantage to using both hands instead of one as you can pick at twice the rate. In contrast, men only needed one hand, usually the right one, to throw the rock or spear at the target. Because men needed to identify this dominant right hand, we evolved a spot on the left side of the brain (Note: the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and vice-versa) to spot the right hand. Women, by contrast, didn’t need such a development since they tended to use both hands. This explains why most women can’t identify their right from their left. They’re not “stupid”, they just haven’t needed to evolutionary step.

In Part I, we also explored the visual-spatial skills men developed over the eons of our evolution. This skill means that men are capable of seeing in 3-dimensions. We can see height and width as well as depth. That is, what is beyond the object we’re looking at. Again, this is an important skill if we are to hit a target at a distance, whether it is a prey or the 8th hole on the golf course. This skill also allows men to mentally rotate objects so they can look at it, in their minds, upside down. Women cannot do that and this explains why they are, in general, very poor map readers and navigators. When a woman gets handed a map, one of the first things she’ll do is rotate it in the direction of travel. She’ll then look for an object in the distance which she can recognize on the map. Eventually, she gives up and in the process a “fight” between the man and woman typically ensues. Of course, this “problem” is rapidly becoming extinct as most of us are using GPS on our phones eradicating the need for paper maps.

I know that in my past relationship, asking my partner to give me directions was a recipe for disaster. She is a very intelligent and capable woman with a very high (i.e., 150) IQ. In her mind, she thought I was testing her intelligence which, by the way, I never did. When she failed to provide the directions (the place we were trying to get to was usually in the opposite direction in which she was directing us), she saw it as a failure of the partnership! Men would be wise to not ask their women partner for direction. By the way, visual-spatial awareness is also the skill needed to parallel park and merge on the highway! Before women take pen to paper, or electrons to screen, to skewer me, please remember that we are taking about most women in most situations and that this is not a criticism. Rather, it is a simple observation derived from brain scans.

This highly developed visual-spatial awareness also explains why men love sports. Whether it is watching NASCAR drivers race around an oval several hundred times, or watching a puck go into the net, or a ball being thrown for a pass … sometimes several times in slo-mo. This is highly appealing and stimulating to men. It engages us as we, simultaneously, figure out angles, speed, etc. Women think it’s a wasted Sunday afternoon when they could be strolling through the park hand-in-hand, go antiquing, lay on the beach, or some other more activity more conducive to romance. Again, please remember we are talking about most men and most women in most situations. Also, remember that most men will exhibit some feminine traits and some women will exhibit masculine traits.

In Part III, we will conclude this summary of the way men and women have genetically evolved to mis-communicate. In particular, we will explore (i.e., offer some solutions) how we can cross this mis-communication gap.

As always, in love, Jean-Pierre

You can now follow me on HeartWhisper

This post is based on research done by Barbara and Allan Pease

On Being One … And Of The Genetic Evolution of Men-Women Communication – Part I

It is often said, and no doubt true, that communication is the key to a vibrant, loving and healthy relationship. Yet, most relationship come to an end (Hint: I prefer not to use the term “break-up” or “split”. See, On Being One … And The Power Of The Word “Break-Up”) not because of a lack of communication but because of a fundamental failure to communicate. The reason is simple: because of our genetic make-up and evolution, men and women communicate very differently. In essence, we mis-communicate. I’m sure this is far from a revelation to anyone. But, to paraphrase someone who had 10 minutes of fame sometime ago: “Can we all learn to communicate?” Well, let’s take a look at the differences in communication styles between men and women and the genetic and evolutionary reasons for them. Once we know them, we will be free to apply them (Remember: knowledge without application is, for all intents and purposes, useless.), or you may choose to ignore them. It’s really up to you.

As a starting point, let me state that what we’re about to review applies to the majority (i.e., 8 out of 10) men and women. Remember that it is the exception that makes the rule. So, the principles discussed in this post generally apply to most men and most women in most situations. They are not absolutes.

Let’s start with the basic principle that a man’s brain is a fairly simple mechanism. This will come as no shock to women who, by comparison, have very complex brains. It turns out that men’s brains are compartmentalized, with each compartment having a specific task and functioning independently of the others. Brain scans also reveal that men’s brains are more organized. That is, a place for every thing, and everything in its place. Brain scans of women reveal that functions are more evenly spread on both sides of the brain.  In fact, for women, the cord connecting these different brain centers is, on average, 10% thicker and carries 35% more connections between the left and right brain, than in men. Meaning it can carry more data. This is a reason why more women than men are ambidextrous.

This thicker connection is also why women are more, in fact much more, efficient at multitasking than men. Research shows that women can carry between 2 and 4 unrelated tasks simultaneously and efficiently. She can be driving her car with her knees, applying her make up, talking on the phone, and sipping her latte from her favorite coffee-house, all at the same time. We men gasp at such skills. By comparison, men can and do one thing at a time, and one thing only … in our defense we tend to do that one thing very, very well. By the way, this explains why men will turn down the volume on the radio, or even turn it off, when they’re looking for directions. We men can either use our navigational skills or listen, but not both. (Hint for women: Don’t speak to your man when he’s navigating.)

Let’s go back to our evolution for a bit. Here’s an interesting fact, most men can always point to the North. This is true regardless of whether they are outside, or in a room with no windows and no way to look at the sky. Most women have difficulty with this “skill.” “Why would that be?” you ask. Well, from an evolutionary standpoint, there has to be an advantage. In fact, it turns out that this is a very important survival skill. Men evolved to be the hunters-gatherers of the tribe. For eons, men went out in search of food to feed the tribe and to fend off potential threats. That, and only that, was man’s job description. That means that we evolved to find a target and hit it. So men’s brains evolved to be very good at visual-spatial awareness. How far is the target? How fast is it going? Can I throw my rock or spear that far and kill the target? If not, how fast do I have to run and at what angle to intercept the target at a distance from which I can accurately throw my rock or spear? This is the main skill of any man’s brain in any culture. This explains why men have tunnel vision. We’re very good at seeing objects (i.e., prey) straight ahead of us, whereas our peripheral vision is quite limited. Now that “man” has hit the target and has gathered the food for the tribe, he needs to get home. For that he needs to find North! Otherwise, he’s lost and, while he has food, the tribe does not and perishes.

Because women evolved to take care of tribe at close quarters (protect the nest, so to speak), visual-spatial awareness is a skill they did not need to develop. However, women developed a high degree of peripheral vision. This was a skill needed to spot an animal entering the nest, or being able to judge whether another human approaching the nest was friend or foe. In fact, most women can see up to an angle of 60 degrees on either side of their eyes while seemingly looking straight ahead. Some can see up to 180 degrees, and a few can even see beyond 180 degrees. Ever been in this scenario: A woman tells her partner to check out the couple by the exit door which happens to be almost 90 degrees to her left or right. The man sitting next to her will automatically swivel his head to look at the couple, promptly followed by the woman’s admonishment not to be so obvious. But he can’t help it! If he doesn’t turn his head he won’t see the couple in question.

Long distance tunnel vision also explains why men can’t find things in the refrigerator, sock and/or underwear drawer, etc. All women have heard the complaint from a man that he can’t find the milk, mustard, butter, etc. in the refrigerator (though most men seem to be particularly good at spotting the beer!). That is until the woman comes around and hands the man whatever it was he was looking for and which had been right in front of his face the whole time! He’s not being “stupid”, he is exercising his long tunnel vision!

Once he gets home, “man” lies about how hard it was to catch and/or kill the prey and promptly sits down to gaze at the fire. His work is done. It is now time to relax. Modern man has not evolved far from this. He gets up in the morning and usually goes to a job (i.e., hunting-gathering) he hates so he can make money to put a roof over the family (i.e. the tribe) and put food on the table. Once he gets home, he talks about the hard day he had at work and sits on the couch to TV surf, or read the paper (one or the other at a time, not both). The latter is the fire gazing part of the day. At this point, brain scans reveal that he is hearing impaired. This is no joke! Women remember … men can only do one thing at a time.

Again, please remember we are talking about most men and most women in most situations. Also, remember that most men will exhibit some feminine traits and some women will exhibit masculine traits.

In my next post we will continue to explore how men and women are genetically wired to mis-communicate.

As always, in love, Jean-Pierre

You can now follow me on HeartWhisper

This post is based on research done by Barbara and Allan Pease