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Get Out of the Meat Locker

12 May

My last blog was a rant about the poor state of affairs our society is in regarding personal responsibility. I got more comments on that blog than I have in a while. Perhaps it resonated with others. Perhaps I said something that others are afraid to? One comment was just a “Wow.” When I saw the person who commented this way he said, “I think you were a bit harsh.” But that’s as far as he went. I don’t know what he meant by that, but if harsh means that I was straightforward, blunt, to the point, and expressed an emotion, yep, I was harsh.

I’m not one to necessarily get extremely vigilant or worked up about anything.  It’s just not worth it. What’s the point? Unless that intensity is going to lead me to take action, as it did in this case, then it’s better to leave well enough alone. If I’m going to feel something I want it to mean something.  As I was reading the headlines I could feel myself getting more and more worked up. Maybe “angry” isn’t the right term. I wasn’t hurt. I wasn’t offended. I was incensed. I felt “strongly” let’s say. And I needed a constructive outlet for my thoughts. Ode to the KP blog, and each of you was at the receiving end. So thanks for listening.

I want to take my rant a step further though and dig into the foundation of personality responsibility. I’ve had quite a few interactions of late with females in particular who demonstrate  severe self-loathing and shame, and I’ve noticed a few behaviors that accompany these characteristics, which I believe, at their core, represent a dysfunctional level of personal responsibility.

  1. Indecisiveness
  2. Perpetual uncertainty
  3. Low confidence
  4. Lack of trust
  5. Hoping and wishing
  6. Asking “why?”
  7. A focus on the not-so-great, ugly, negative, “wrong” stuff of life
  8. A vocalized need for change

I’m finding that most people operate on extremes. I’ve got these ladies who throw themselves in the meat locker, suffer through hypothermic temps,  insist on carrying the devil on their backs, and start every sentence with “I should.” Then I’ve got the individuals who refuse at every turn to believe that they play any role in the situations in their lives. Hapless victims, whatever happens, the fault resides with someone else.

So we’ve got the “I’ll never be good enough” camp versus the “yeah buter” camp.  The former runs themselves ragged, wreaking havoc with the belief that they must not be trying hard enough, being who they should be, getting as much done as they really could, or accomplishing what they’re capable of. They strive for ultimately what can never be achieved– perfection.  The latter, well, they are just victims of circumstance.

Of course it’s never all or nothing, folks. The world is not black and white, and neither are people. But they can act this way, believe this way, and ultimately what it leads to is dissonance. Which is exactly what these camps have in common. Discomfort. But it’s coming from different sources.

I don’t want to address the less-than-responsible people today.

You meat locker people– those of you have decided that there is inherently something wrong and bad about you. You’re right. We’ve all got facets of our personalities that are less than becoming….downright ugly at times. And the sooner we can accept that, the more self-compassionate we can be. Self compassion doesn’t mean self-pity. What it does mean is letting yourself off the hook– the one you’ve hung yourself on in your own personal meat locker. The meat locker is that “I’m my own worst critic” voice. How about rather that our own worst critic we welcome in a friend who we can sit in front of like a mirror and let her reflect was she sees. Not in a judgmental manner but one of genuine care, acceptance, and an expectation of understanding.  If you’re searching for change or you are uncomfortable, it’s not change you’re actually looking for. You’re desperate for things to remain the same. But understanding that change is inevitable, that everything is fleeting, that nothing right now is the same as it is right now, can do a few things for you.

a) It can create in you a perpetual student– keep asking the why’s, but do so like a scientist, an observer

b) It allows you to relieve yourself of the need to push too hard toward some things and to push away other things. In other words, you become skilled in being right here, even if right here is not ideal

c) It allows you to trust in the uncertain nature of life- -not a thing remains the same; we live in the unknown; most of what we want answers for, there aren’t any answers for, and our suffering is a product of clawing our way through what we think will create answers.

d) It gives you the ability to treat your life like a great expedition. You’re an explorer. Explorers don’t “hope” and “wish”. They navigate. And yes, they may run right into some storms and suffer setbacks, but they expect them.

e) It teaches you not to force change. Change is going to occur whether you want it to or not.

What a gift! If you’re in the meat locker right now oh how lovely the transformation can be!  The melting self-forgiveness and the transcendent nature of coming to terms with our frailties and ugliness, but also the beauty that we can extract out of life when we’re not so hung up on what’s wrong with us …….thank you Mr. Blog Follower for giving me the word to end this blog with: Wow.

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8 Responses to “Get Out of the Meat Locker”

  1. Effie May 12, 2012 at 3:41 PM #

    Brutally honest. Awesome

  2. Susan May 13, 2012 at 8:27 AM #

    So much great stuff in this post. How about, instead, we welcome in a friend. We navigate. We observe. We treat life like a great expedition. Love it.

    • kpropst May 13, 2012 at 8:35 AM #

      Thank you, SD. We’re just so hard on ourselves all the time. Why? We all know people who are determined and successful, work hard, and never quit, but who also ride the waves with a bit more ease. They understand that life will bring lemons. Time to make some lemonade! 🙂

  3. jamikotera May 13, 2012 at 4:03 PM #

    Here’s another Wow, Kori – Wow! I absolutely love your analytical thinking! I like to buzz right through your blogs, then reread so I can absorb and understand. It si uncanny how you can see into my mind so clearly – point things out so simply! This ones a keeper – to reread and digest & refer back to when I’m struggling with a preceived issue or problem. Thanks again! Please keep them coming!!

    Jami

    • markfunkhouser May 13, 2012 at 11:10 PM #

      Yes, but less brutal than the original post, and yes, “honest and awesome”. Naturally, being one in the “personally less responsible” camp, in the second blog, I picked up on the notion of treating ourselves and others “not in a judgmental manner but one of genuine care, acceptance, and an expectation of understanding.” The original blog was right on and perfect as a more private entry or for “preaching to the choir” (as noted by those who jumped on the bandwagon. But what about those who may have read it and didn’t respond? How did they feel and what did they think of it? There is a saying in relationship education that “we can be right at the top of our voice and still be wrong.” But sometime we may need to speak loudly and boldy! It needs to be said but we can’t expect everyone to be open to self-righteous condemnation, even if it is their mere perception. All you heard that day, Ms. Blog Writer, as a parting comment was that the original post was “a bit harsh”. I also said I agreed with the gist of the post, but maybe this was your “turning over of the tables” and perhaps it’s high time we got angry. Audience and tone often go together and that’s the reason it resonated with the choir, but what about those not in the choir? We need to find a way to invite them into singing with us as opposed to alienating the already disenfranchised. Culturally we have been brainwashed into trashing ourselves or kept ignorant of what it takes to value our “self” and our health. As you well know, we also have genetic issues, metabolism differences, generational cycles, poverty, addiction, eating disorders, ignorance, and other issues that create adversity for those who might otherwise adopt a healthier lifestyle. These cannot ultimately be “excuses” but they are reasons. We have to meet them where they are to take them where they need to be. There is denial and then there is apathy. “I don’t care” is more difficult to break through than “I didn’t know that or how to do that” and even though sometimes I need to be beat over the head with it, most often the “gift” of the “transformation” works better with the language in the end of the second blog —- “self-forgiveness inherent in the “transcendent nature of coming to terms with our frailties and ugliness, but also the beauty that we can extract out of life when we’re not so hung up on what’s wrong with us” —- that’s the approach that “melts” the cold resistance of those of us in the “yeah but” camp and also warms up those in the “meat locker camp”. Thank you Ms. Blog Writer.

      p.s. Kathleen Parker writes in the Evansville Courier on Friday, May 11, about how “being obese in America has never been easier, but crisis may be looming.” http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/columnists/orl-parker,0,4065963.columnist
      She writes, “No one wants to make overweight people feel worse than they do. Fat is indeed a plague, and most of us struggle to varying degrees. . . . At this point, we make the necessary disclaimer that some people are blessed with hummingbird metabolisms (and we hate them), and others are genetically inclined toward fatness. Genetic inclination isn’t a life sentence, however, and personal responsibility can’t be excluded as contributing to most fatty outcomes. These days, responsibility isn’t only about pushing away from the table; it means educating oneself, reading food labels and going to a little extra trouble. . . . Oh sure, eating with such attention to the glycemic index ruins your life. You won’t have any friends. You’ll spend all your time alone weighing four-ounce cuts of fat-free meat, sautéing spinach and picking flaxseed out of your teeth — and your children will hate you — but you’ll be thin. Best of all, you won’t need to go to the doctor as often, or rely on federal food marshals to tell you what to eat.”

      • kpropst May 14, 2012 at 9:18 AM #

        Mark,
        Thank you. Thank you for taking YOUR honest approach to my post. My intention in writing it was not to “preach to the choir” or have people jumping on my bandwagon but instead to generate discussion. If people agree, fantastic. But I also want to hear from those who don’t. Less than the post being about identifying the disparities between people, my intentions were 1) to express freely my frustration with the situation; and 2) to attempt to understand the reasons we are in the situation in the first place. There are far too many contributing factors to list, including, as you mentioned a genetic propensity toward obesity. The blog started with my focus right there– on the fatness of the nation and the responsibility-taking that appears to be lacking in changing the trends. However, as I wrote, I recognize that my thoughts meandered to the dearth of responsibility-taking which I feel I’ve seen among so many individuals, as well as what I believe to be an antecedent to so many ails of society. We all have our own opinions, and I was soliciting the views of others in writing that post.

        I’m curious about your statement above regarding expecting others to be open to “self-righteous condemnation.” As I wrote my post I had no expectations for others. I had some desires. As I mentioned, I was wanting more discussion. Rather than, “Go Kori!” or “Right on– it’s about time someone said something!” I was hoping for thought, questioning, and a bent toward discovery. No expectations. Interestingly, what you call “self-righteous condemnation” (and I still do not know how you define this), I view as honest, personal, objective, self-analysis. Not condemnation by any stretch of the imagination. Such a negative focus can lead often to LESS responsibility-taking and less resilience, so to speak. The “I don’t care” camp, in my opinion, is the same as the “I don’t know how” camp EXCEPT they are on the opposite end of the introspection continuum. Merely saying “I don’t care” conveys to me that there is some energy being devoted to whatever the individual “doesn’t care” about. The “I don’t care” mentality often manifests in less than ideal behaviors. If you look at it from a strength-based approach, however, I see this statement as meaning “I don’t want to care.” Think about what you’ve said you don’t care about. Do you not think about it, leave it completely alone, and is what you’re saying you don’t care about off the radar? I doubt it. I’ll be the first to admit that when I hear myself say this, it’s my signal to take a deeper look at it. Self-righteous or just aware? Seems to me that this is what is really lacking. An awareness, an in-tuneness, a presentness. How come, and I’m getting into another topic here, but it still related to personal responsibility) so many of us believe that we are supposed to feel good all of the time?
        Life is a collision of often unanticipated calamities, and we have the gift of approaching them with inquiry and openness or avoidance. There are positive and negative consequences to each, but as Kathleen Parker so aptly pointed out:

        “These days, responsibility isn’t only about pushing away from the table, but it means educating oneself, reading food labels, and going to a little extra trouble. Getting fat has never been easier, of course. Food is plentiful and convenient, and the bad stuff is tasty and cheap. At the end of long day, it’s easier to buy a Happy Meal than to shop and prepare a balanced dinner. And who wants to hear the little darlings protest when presented with cauliflower over calzone?”

        Yep, we need to be educated, but we can’t sit back and wait for education to fall into our laps. We must be willing to seek it out. Easy? Not if you’re not used to behaving this way. Is that a reason to NOT do it? This is what I’m getting at. Step out of your comfort zone if you expect to change. Make excuses if you like, decide not to act, and you’ll likely see that your despair continues.
        Mark, you know me well enough to know that I’m not a “pull out my bat and beat you over the head with it” type person, consultant, friend, or whatever I am to people. Do I get frustrated w/ what appears sometimes to be a lack of effort? Sure. But I am cognizant of the fact that the approach needs to be one of compassion. Just don’t expect me to not hold you accountable. I hold myself to high standards and I’ll hold you to them also….in an environment of safety, with attention to your individual worldviews, beliefs, values, programming, cultural influences, stigmas, socioeconomic status, etc.

  4. markfunkhouser May 14, 2012 at 10:24 AM #

    Wow again! Very good, thank you! I know that you care about us and all individuals who struggle with getting and maintaining healthy lifestyles — body, mind, and and soul. I just don’t work well with angry, accusatory stump speeches about what is “right” (maybe it’s my denial and resistance to change, though, I remember being threatened and cornered and even physically punished as a young person by peers and a few adults in order to have change instilled in me ( or just because they could), but this would be deeper work left for therapy.). And it is also a reality that others struggle with the stronger approach as well. I know you would not have written the same blog for the front page of a national newspaper. Those reading your blogs most likely are already in the “camp” or at least on the perimeters making a fire ready to move in, yet I am always thinking about the people on the fringes, the disenfranchised, the disillusioned, and yes, even the irresponsible, the complacent, and the lazy. I work with people everyday in active addiction and in the justice system who struggle to stay legal and even survive, let alone eat well and exercise. This is where I live in my profession and personal life, so this necessarily (or thankfully) skews my perspective. It’s not that I speak for them, but I am always aware of their presence their mindset, perhaps to a fault; I am mindful of the “worst of the worst” so as to reach out to them as well. I think about what they are thinking about my approach to helping them change! Indeed, as you know, I also struggle with healthy motivation, attitude, and choices, so I guess I am them and they are me! Nevertheless, we are all truly blessed to have you as coach, mentor, friend, and counselor — your compassion, your heart and soul, and yes even the whip and chair, metaphorically speaking. Thank you for fostering the discussion Kori, especially about “personal responsibility” (I think I struggle with those two words because they imply, at least for me, confrontational blame but more importantly, the challenge to change!). Sometimes I play the adversarial advocate at the risk of stirring it up (occasionally in a good way hopefully!)! Anyone that knows you knows your passion for people and helping them move toward sound mind, body, and soul! Respectfully, Mark, a.k.a. Blog Follower.

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