Cheryl Pappas


Archive for November, 2011

Acceptance: A Necessary Risk

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

What does it mean to practice acceptance in our closest relationships?

Acceptance, like its blood relative, forgiveness, is a matter for serious study.

One of the largest realities showcased in the news today is a profound lack of acceptance in our society.

This is a time of fighting celebrity headliners and the media’s obvious obsession with public brawling. Black Friday? A cheap invitation to blood and chaos in this economy.

The lust is on for nastiness ratings booms.

We couldn’t witness a more shallow and non-accepting time.

It is reported that even President Obama and John Boehner have stopped speaking. Wait a minute! Isn’t this relationship necessary for the country?

The media is going more and more tabloid, heavily featuring examples of just about everyone fighting.

The Republican candidates are at it against the Democrats and each other, Obama’s anger directed toward someone specifically matched by his personal ratings requirements du jour, David Letterman vs. ABC on behalf of Regis, various reality show Housewives pitted in teams against each another, the women representing a number of unfortunate cities in catty combat.

The extreme absence of “acceptance” between people is everywhere highlighted for us to swallow, digest, and repeat in our own lives.

I know, I know. It’s easy to blame the media for presenting the worst in human behavior, calling it “news” or “entertainment”, boldly role-modeling the bad and the ugly.

Of course we are responsible for our own behavior at all times.

And yet, how many people care to be deliberate in word and action?

How heavy is the impact of reality shows and celebrity fights screeching the decline of the reasonable human?

As the Dolby sound movie theatre commercials say, “The audience is listening”.

I believe it.

Many people tell me stories about not being able to accept the people in their lives. They often stop answering the phone or telling the truth about it.

I’m happy to encourage communication in these cases.

It’s always worth a try to see if a troubled relationship is fluid and made of quality stuff. At least the quality of being able to respectfully discuss hurtful differences.

This lack of acceptance of what is, from what I can see, is currently playing out as a new normal of extreme emotional disengagement in our private and public lives. People are exhausted and disinclined to go deep. Disagreement is too deep, and the effort to avoid the ugly has ushered in a silencing wave of Political Correctness.

This has led to the big yawning of America.

When people stop talking about what is real, it’s a society yawning.

Political correctness is a dangerous snore.

The fear and control against any degree of discord or confrontation, as if that’s the worst experience, seems to be exhausting the public psyche.

Is this the result of people going unconscious by marinating in television faux relationships gone haywire?

Is it fatigue brought on by constantly hearing virtual clashes between other people?

Perhaps all of this hateful non-acceptance has become the wallpaper of our lives, narcotizing us to not get involved or be too close.

Whatever the reasons, rejection and confrontation phobia means that people have stopped talking.

They have figured a way to be around people but not with them.

Acceptance is tricky.

Acceptance requires knowing another person, apart from who I am.

It means clearly seeing, not spinning or hoping to polish, the character of the other to fit what I want.

Sometimes what you will face between you and someone close is a mild difference of opinion, be it political or personal.

Mild enough if you are able to discuss and listen to one another’s differing take on a matter.

This is not goodbye. In this case, the differences fold, whether neat or sloppy, into the recipe of that relationship.

In other cases, the sad truth may be that the relationship is no longer possible.

In other words, to accept is not always to continue.

I suspect this is the core fear that keeps us from knowing, and wanting to know, another person in an intimate way.

Knowing brings a relationship crossroads, where people may choose to become mute and unreal, while continuing in a pretend way to walk a shared road.

To embrace a distance that is numbing yet avoids the sharp pain of loss is a common choice.

What is acceptance of another person?

Acceptance is inconvenient.

It demands honest thought and feeling when it doesn’t feel great.

Acceptance is essential for emotional clarity about ourselves, but is no guarantee of an ongoing relationship outcome.

To accept is to see.

To see is to respond.

To respond is to choose.

Do I continue to choose this relationship?

Theoretically, Obama and Boehner are working together, so they have to choose, accept, and maintain the relationship.

Apparently they need some help with that.

In our personal lives, there is no chance of having real relationship without acceptance.

The risk is, with acceptance, there is the possibility of not wanting to choose it.

Turkey Madness aka the Thanksgiving Super Committee

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

We have all sadly heard the one about the Super Committee flunking economics.

I don’t know about you, but I would certainly not cast the first stone at any of them.

Who among us was superb in every scholastic subject?

Who can honestly report whipping brilliantly across the entire intellectual or even, geographical map? (Herman Cain is here with me now, nodding and obsessing about whether his tie color was a good choice).

Please, before this story vaporizes to nothingness on the manic media screen, let’s seize the fast aging news moment.

The super committee members undeniably had been entrusted with one mission, in spite of not knowing much about that subject they allegedly were gathering to fix, the economy.

Okay, but this misses the point.

Our job these days is to read into the news. We must investigate mentally everything being said.

For those of you who do not commonly practice this, I now offer a myriad of inescapable facts. Call it my holiday gift to you.

First of all, the super committee has been personally appointed, not by congress, but by the President himself, in between campaign stops to usher in (drumroll!) Thanksgiving.

Anti-climatic for the country, yet not a surprise.

There is more than a streak of Turkey Madness in, on, and around the air.

Turkey Madness is everywhere! Every time you turn around, there is a picture of a cooked turkey. Have you noticed?

The turkey is the symbol of America.

The super committee was, for a brief, shining moment, the symbol of hope for the American economy.

For those of you who think this is all a mere coincidence, and how silly to mention it, have another eggnog and think more deeply.

This exercise is also terrific practice for welcoming back brain cells and surviving our times!

You’re welcome. My pleasure.

Next week: The Unveiling of What Black Friday Is Really About.

Stay tuned.

It Is Time to Share the Shock

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Sometimes a shocking episode from life’s infinite collection of bizarre experiences knocks rudely on the door of your heart and your life.

Helloooo! You might answer, consumed with milder matters, more than likely amidst the stupor of your favorite denial strategy.

Sometimes it is possible to immediately identify what this outrage is and what it simultaneously means.

At such a time, it may even be possible to instantly return, without missing a beat, to the road that is familiar to you and get back on track with what is recognizably sane and comfortable.

But sometimes, life presents something so extreme and unfamiliar, that after closing and locking the door in its aftermath, you find that nothing will ever be the same.

Such has been the case recently in my life.

Hence, these thoughts I offer.

It occurs to me that we live in strange, even shocking, times.

And maybe I should add, times of strangers.

There is a ghoulish censorship and silence among people who call themselves “friends” when it comes to traumatic experiences and feelings.

Don’t get me wrong.

I am blessed with over a handful of people who know very well what goes on today with me, as I know well their daily lives.

I’m lucky.

However, I find it impossible to turn away from the reality of disconnection we are led to embrace.

How are we led to embrace disconnection?

We are scared to death by streams of television and radio commercials outlining our possible diseases and imminent deaths. There is no popularity, nor has there ever been, in turning to one another about how this terror impacts us or leads to sleepless nights, if we are under the age of, say, 80 years old.

Here’s another example. No one likes to outline a negative narrative about family.

Americans are supposed to belong to a loving family. Period.

End of discussion, but it shouldn’t be.

Commonly, the truth in our families is checkered with grief, not a billboard for The Happy American Family. People confide things everyday to me, and I am astounded about how ashamed many feel with the truths about their own family conditions. Even in therapy, it is a long time coming for most people to reveal toxic family experience.

Stand-up comedy aside, bad family is a societal censorship that is heavier than the image of the late Iron Curtain.

I wonder if human beings in this 21st century are wired to the public, “It’s all good” personal promotion for survival reasons.

In the past, I have been judgmental about the “It’s all good” and “No worries” wallpapering of relationship design and construction.

Yes, I am a baby boomer. Guilty as charged, I do remember when simple truths were the necessary fundamentals of any worthwhile relationship.

So laugh at my nostalgic vigor.

I’m saying more than “it was so much better then”.

I’m saying it is time to talk.

Time to expose the hurts and the angers over true personal abuse and injustices of all hideous varieties.

Not in a tabloid, reality show way. That’s too cheap.

This truth-telling I’m talking about belongs in personal relationships with trusted people.

In other words, for a healthier you and a healthier society, it is time to Share the Shock.

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