Listen, Learn, and Love - 3 Keys to Harmony

Dr. Joan's Advice

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Dr. Joan's Advice

Date: 11/23/2013

By: Dr. Joan

Subject: Female Stereotyping: Is It Fading or Growing

Dear One and All:

Take a look at American female jockey Anna Rose Napravnik. At 113 pounds, and towering 5’ 2”, Rosie rides horses weighing 1,000 pounds, galloping 40 miles an hour. AND she wins such events as the Kentucky Oaks, pulling in millions of purse dollars. But what did Rosie do when she first started racing in 2005? She disguised her gender on race forms by calling herself A. R. Napravnik! She wanted to avoid being stereotyped as a female jockey. As her accomplishments and wins mounted, she dropped the initials and used “Rosie” instead.

Stereotyping is a form of discrimination. In fact, it is akin to scapegoating where we blame someone for something because they are a particular gender, race, age or any other category of humanity. To go even further, stereotyping can lead to bullying where others criticize and tease an individual or group, making reference to the stereotype characteristics. We’ve seen tragic results of bullying in the news.

When we attach negative characteristics or limitations to gender, race, ethnicity, age, political persuasion, religious affiliation, or any other package that we human beings happen come in, we are GENERALIZING, that is, we are failing to look deep into the heart and soul of the individual person. Look what happened in Nazi Germany when Hitler GENERALIZED.

Are you a woman who has suffered from stereotyping because of your gender? Have you been stereotyped on the job, paid less than male counterparts with the same job description? Does your husband or partner treat you as less capable than he is, or less “in the know” so to speak, and leave you out of significant conversations? Has anyone ever said to you, “Well, you’re a woman; I don’t expect you to understand taxes.”

Here are my tips for any woman who has been stereotyped, scapegoated, or bullied. If you feel safe enough to remain in conversation with the offending person or persons, then try these tips:

Tip #1: TELL ME MORE: If someone verbally stereotypes you, make a clear, calm statement back to them: TELL ME MORE. WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT statement?
Tip #2: KEEP EYE CONTACT: Look straight into their eyes as they try to explain what they meant.
Tip #3: LISTEN CAREFULLY: Listen with both ears while they talk. Stand still. Focus.
Tip #4: MULL IT OVER: Think before you speak. Digest what they tried to explain.
Tip #5: SPEAK WITH AUTHORITY: Respond in a firm, calm voice with your ideas which include some information to educate the person(s) who did the stereotyping.
Tip #6: SEND LOVE: Before you leave the situation, silently send love to the offender. Remember, you don’t have to like a person to send love. Love is probably the only thing that may help enlighten that individual.
Tip #7: DON”T DWELL ON IT: Rosie Napravnik said, “If you dwell on every loss, you’re going to do a lot of dwelling.” She was talking about racing losses, but her philosophy applies to stereotyping, scapegoating, and bullying. Walk away, forget it. Don’t dwell on it.

I’d like to hear your experiences and ideas about stereotyping of women, or men, or any other type of stereotyping issues.

Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: Each person is a unique individual, full of treasure.

Date: 11/01/2013

By: Dr. Joan

Subject: The ENVY EXERCISE©

Dear Friends of Harmony Keys:

Today I would like to walk you through the ENVY EXERCISE© which may help you wash feelings of ENVY from your heart, allowing you to dwell on more productive thoughts, releasing you to obtain peace of mind, freeing you to enjoy your relationships.

For this exercise you will need: paper, pencil, and crayons.

Question One: What does ENVY look like?

Activity One: We’ve all heard the expression: Green with Envy. Does that give you an image of ENVY? On your paper draw and color a picture of ENVY. It doesn’t matter what shape or color you put on the paper. Now, label your drawing in large letters: ENVY.

Question Two: Who do you ENVY?

Activity Two: Let’s think about some examples: Do you envy your brother who is taller or stronger than you? Do you envy your sister’s long, blonde hair? Are you envious of your friend who holds a lucrative position in a large firm and can take trips to the Bahamas while you toil away, day after day, for minimum wage? OK, you’ve got the names of people you envy. Write those names in a circle around whatever you drew on the paper as ENVY.

Question Three: How does ENVY make you feel?

Activity Three: Think about how you feel when you allow ENVY to creep into your heart. If you feel mad, draw a cloud on your paper, color the cloud black, and label it MAD. If you feel sad, you could draw a downward mouth and label it SAD. If you feel cheated out of good luck or opportunities, you might sketch a closed door and label it CHEATED. Whatever feeling you sense in yourself when ENVY occupies your thoughts, draw and label that feeling on your paper.

That’s it. That is the ENVY EXERCISE©. And guess what? By allowing yourself to think about what ENVY looks like, who you ENVY, and how ENVY makes you feel, you cleanse your mind and heart. The ENVY EXERCISE© is a cleansing process. How do you feel now? Can you draw it?

Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: Each time you see or feel envy, throw water on it.

Date: 10/26/2013

By: Dr. Joan

Subject: Integrity Insures Solid, Valuable Relationships

Dear Kitty:

You ask the question: What is integrity?

Let me give you an example of integrity that relates to your dilemma, although I’ve changed the circumstances to protect your anonymity. You, yourself, were an employee in a Mom and Pop small store that sells wedding dresses. You learned that the owners of the store purchased several “used” wedding dresses from a thrift shop, had them cleaned, and put them for sale with the “new” wedding dresses. In your opinion, the “used” dresses should have been labeled as such and sold at lower prices than the “new” ones. You stated your opinion to your bosses and they fired you.

The other aspect of your dilemma is that you could NOT lie to your customers when they tried on a “used” dress and dupe them into thinking they were buying a “new” dress. You would have had to tell them the truth about the “used” dress. So here we have another example of integrity, wrapped up with honesty. Your integrity would lead you to tell the truth about the “used” dress.

You, my dear Kitty, are a living example of a person with integrity. You have core values which guide your decisions and behavior. And, looking around this world, it is safe to say, that integrity is the glue that bonds solid, valuable relationships together. You have that glue.

In your case, your relationship with your employers ended, but it was a relationship you would not care to continue anyway. Their value system was diametrically opposed to your beliefs. Your connection to them was not valuable to you. Now, on the other hand, you could have been valuable to them if they had listened to you and taken your advice. But they chose not to do so.

Your other relationships will continue to grow and blossom because your strong foundational principles guide your interactions with others. People respect you and love you, I’m sure. Go out with confidence as you seek employment, and clearly state that you a woman who tells the truth and lives each day with integrity.

Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: Wear your moral compass on your sleeve.

Date: 10/19/2013

By: Dr. Joan

Subject: What is a Family?

Dear Everyone:

Lately I’ve been thinking about what makes a family. The following definitions were posted on the internet and I find them to be somewhat limiting:

“a group of parents and children living together in a household”
Well, yes, but supposing the children have grown and moved away. Aren’t the parents and children still a family?

“a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, ..., whether dwelling together or not”
Ah-ha. That’s a little better, but still very limited.

“all the descendents of a common ancestor”
“any group of persons closely related by blood”
Well, now, just a minute. Supposing a child is adopted into a family and that child is now a daughter or a son in that family. The child is not descended from the same ancestors as the other members of the family, but the child is still a member of that family.There’s more than one way to get into a family. As far as the concepts of marriage and adoption are concerned - they are closely related. Marriage is a legal contract. Adoption is a legal contract. So? There is absolutely no difference between marriage and adoption in terms of forming a family.

What are other ways people get into a family? Well, “living together” is a bigee. Come on. Living together is out-stripping marriage as an accepted way of forming a family. I’m old fashioned, and prefer marriage, but it seems that sometimes it’s cheaper just to live together. Plus it is expensive to divorce if it turns out the married couple don’t like each other.

All of the other definitions I found to be limited one way or another. Some descriptions do include single parent families. However, the definition of family still needs to be radically expanded. I would add families where there are no parents, per se, but other adults acting as parents such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, etc. AND, we must add families with no children because they are a family also. What about single people? Do they compose a family? Or does the word “family” connote more than one person? Well, think again: suppose a single person has pets? Must a family be composed only of human beings? Not in my book.

What is more important than WHO is in the family and HOW the family was formed? You guessed it! FAMILY VALUES like love, loyalty, patience, honesty, kindness, trust, forgiveness, and generosity.

Jaycee Dugard was abducted from her parents when she was eleven years old. That was in 1991. She was found alive in 2009. In her story, “A Stolen Life,” she writes: “Genes, I have learned, do not make a family. Families are the people that stick around through good and bad times.”

So, dear friends, what is your concept of family?

Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: A family is where love abounds.

Date: 10/18/2013

By: Dr. Joan

Subject: Use Mediation to Resolve Disputes

Dear Chairman of the Board:

Let’s talk about how to mediate a dispute. I’m sure you know about the process of mediation which includes listening, learning, and yes, loving in order to reach a compromise and settle a disagreement. You don’t think so? No loving? I will explain, but first let’s set the scene of your dilemma.

You are chairman of the board for a condominium owners association. During a recent general meeting of the Board, where all owners were welcome but few attended, one owner had a meltdown involving yelling and crying on his part. It seems he was overwrought about personal health issues. Further, he blamed the Board for exacerbating his health problems because he was being penalized for “breaking” a board rule. That rule required him to be 50 feet from the condominium structure when he smoked, but he was repeatedly smoking on his own patio which, of course, was part of the structure. The Board sent him a fine notice each time he was seen smoking by other owners, and he refused to pay the fines, saying he was physically unable to go to a point 50 feet from the building. The Board notified him that a lien would be placed on his condominium by the end of the month. He attended the meeting to appeal his case to other owners. During his appeal, he publically threatened to bring suit against the Board and all other owners for harassment and discrimination, claiming his physical disabilities exempted him from the rule.

Now we come to you, dear Chairman of the Board. My understanding is that the overwrought Smoker was particularly upset with you because he felt you had been unresponsive to his appeals. During the Board meeting you politely allowed him to air his complaint all the way through his meltdown, including numerous attacks against you personally. Kudos to you for your courtesy, but courtesy is not enough.

This incendiary situation must be defused pronto. Here is my advice:

1. Meet with Smoker, who, you say, is a new owner in your complex. Bring two other Board members and one non-Board owner with you. You need several sets of ears and eyes.
2. State that you want to find a compromise resolution.
3. Invite Smoker to talk first. Listen carefully and learn as much as you can from him while he is calm. Let him know that you hear what he is saying and you sympathize with his health issues.
4. Next it is your turn. Clearly explain that the rule exists for the health and safety of all owners. State that he was informed, in writing, of the rule before he purchased the condominium. Regarding legal action, my guess is he has no leg to stand on. By the act of receiving the official condo rules before purchase, he was fully informed about the smoking rule. It was no surprise.
5. Continue the conversation, back and forth. Does he get out of the condo by car? Could he drive 50 feet from the building and then smoke in his car? Does he have a care-giver? Could the care-giver drive him or walk with him 50 feet from the building? Would he like to stop smoking? Suggest that he seek medical advice to aid in such a campaign.
6. Your offer to compromise might be: Once he agrees to abide by the rule and not to bring suit, you will agree to remove all pending fines.
7. To be safe, draw up a simple statement of the compromise and both you and he sign and date it. The statement might include: (a) when he smokes on the property he will smoke 50 feet from the condo structure, (b) he agrees not to bring suit, and (c) the Board agrees to rescind all fines issued to date.

The process I’ve outlined is called mediation. You do not need to bring in an outside mediator to accomplish the task which is to achieve a compromise. You can engage in mediation with Smoker by using the three harmony actions: listen, learn, and love. Listen to each other, learn from each other, and love each other without question. Love, you say? Yes, love. You don’t have to like someone to love him. Just send love to Smoker, silently, in your heart. Sounds like he could use some love in his life. By sending love, you will calm yourself, calm him, and help achieve a compromise. You may even grow to like him.

Good luck, and keep in touch.

Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: To mediate a dispute you must listen, learn, and love.

Date: 09/08/2013

By: Dr. Joan

Subject: Refrain from Yelling at Your Teen

Dear Manti Mom:

I hear you! In fact I can hear you all the way up here in the north when you “yell” at your young teen in Manti. OK, I get it. He’s 13 and he’s annoying at times. He stays up late scanning the internet, leaves his room in a mess, misses the bus, talks back, sluffs his chores, and on and on. Anyone who has reared a teen, or who has been a teen, and that would include all of us, understands your level of frustration. So, I’m going to make my answer short and sweet.

Stop yelling.

Why, you ask?
1. You are the adult in this duo. One of you has to be the adult and it better be you.
2. You could be endangering your own health by engaging in stressful yelling.
3. Your son will remember everything you’ve said, whether you have meant it or not. Do you really want him remembering the words you have uttered when you are angry? Keep in mind that you will have a life-long relationship with your son. Build that relationship into a strong, positive one.

What could you do instead of yelling?
1. Write a contract with your son, establishing basic expectations and rewards.
2. As he succeeds, increase his responsibilities and add new rewards.
3. Compliment your son often ... every time he meets the terms of the contract.
4. When he slips up, discuss the problem quietly and have him design a solution.
5. Tell him you love him!

Good luck to you, Manti Mom, and please let me know your progress.

Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: My voice is an instrument of harmony.

Date: 08/13/2013

By: Dr. Joan

Subject: Opportunity Knocks

Dear Everyone:

Do you hear someone knocking at your door? Opportunity knocks once. Not once in a life time, but at least once a day. How often it knocks, depends on how well you listen. So, the minute you wake up, listen for the knock on the door. Open the door and take opportunity by the hand. Invite it into your day. Welcome it. Feel your whole being falling into harmony with opportunity.

Opportunity exists for one purpose and that is to help you in some way each day build harmony in your life. You only have to recognize it, accept it, and embrace it. Once you take those actions, opportunity becomes your asset. It becomes your strength, your joy, your present, and your future. It becomes a key to harmony in your life.

What is your opportunity today? Open the door and find out. Could it be that you have an opportunity to improve the harmony in your mind and body by:
calling someone on the phone?
writing a letter?
offering aid to someone?
signing up as a volunteer somewhere?
investing time with your family in a new way?
taking a walk?
exercising your body and improving your health?
getting your check-up with your physician?
engaging your mind so that you grow mentally?
trying a different technique on your job assignment?
interviewing for a new position?
repairing a relationship?
daring to risk leaving your everyday routine?

This day is unique. It will not come around again. And the opportunity knocking at your door today is exclusively meant for this day. When your unique opportunity knocks, what did we say? Open the door, invite it in, and experience the joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction you will feel when you embrace today’s opportunity.

You will see. You will find yourself floating on cloud nine. And that feeling is what we call pure harmony.

Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: When opportunity knocks, open the door.

Date: 07/23/2013

By: Dr. Joan

Subject: The Truth about Rape

Dear Nana:

Sometimes we are confronted with seemingly insurmountable decisions ... ones we do not want to make, but we must act and move forward. In your case, you are facing a difficult choice. Your grandson, who is in your custody, has been charged as a juvenile offender in a rape case. A shocking fact is that your grandson is 15. Another outrageous fact is that the victim is his younger half-sister, who is not in your custody. Your dilemma is that you know where your grandson was at the time of the rape, and you know he was the only person with your granddaughter.

To further complicate the situation, your daughter, who is the mother of your grandson, has warned you that she does not want you to give the information you have about your grandson’s involvement. She has informed you that she wants to get to the point where the judge orders counseling for both your grandson and your granddaughter.

I do not know the laws in your state that address family testimony. Generally speaking, you may be able to refuse to testify because you are a close relative and you fear self-incrimination. I must ask, however, why would you fear incrimination? Yes, you are his legal guardian, but you are not his constant companion. Finally, since this case will be processed in criminal court, you may find yourself in contempt of court if you refuse to testify.

Consider the basic question: What is the truth? If the truth is that your grandson is the only person who could have perpetrated this assault against his sister, then the truth must be known, and it will be said from your mouth. The relationships with your daughter and with your grandson will have to take their own course over time. Yes, both of your grandchildren will benefit from counseling, and the court will see to that, but first must come the prosecution of the case. At 15, your grandson knows right from wrong. He knowingly committed a crime and must stand up to the punishment. When we tell the truth, we feel no guilt. And so it is for you.

My final question is: Why do you have custody of your grandson? There must have been a reason your daughter was unable to maintain custody. I assume you stepped in for a purpose. If you accepted custody when your grandson was young, I further assume you have done your best to rear him with solid values. Somewhere, somehow he cast aside those values. Let us hope he can retool himself and reclaim a productive life. By telling the truth, you will set an example for your grandson. You will demonstrate that the bricks lining the path to a successful future are all labeled with the name TRUTH.

My heart is with you in this difficult circumstance.

Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: The truth shall set you free.

Date: 07/15/2013

By: Dr. Joan

Subject: Unresolved Disputes Rupture Relationships

Dear Frustrated Frances:

So you have a mysterious misunderstanding with a woman you considered to be a good friend. It is mysterious because you don’t know what it is about. She walked away from you, literally turning on her heel, without a word of explanation. You are frustrated because you have no clue as to what you said or did that upset your friend.

Your situation is a classic example of a ONE-SIDED misunderstanding. It happens often because we are all human. One person in a relationship decides that the other person has misspoken or committed a misdeed and then the horse is out of the barn, racing down the track. By that I mean, that the person who has taken offense runs away (as your friend did), or hides, or refuses to speak, or refuses to answer the phone when you call, etc. I understand why you are frustrated. You are unable to reach your friend to try to talk it out. In fact, she is hiding from you, like a small child.

Years ago, my father’s cousin, who is long gone now, took offense because my mother declined to wear a hand-made hat designed by this particular cousin. Sound silly? It was, but my mother was never able to explain in person to the cousin why she chose a different hat to wear at my wedding. The one way my mother was able to offer an explanation was in the form of a letter. Even the letter did not resolve the misunderstanding, but at least my mom tried to clear the air and she felt better for taking action.

So here is my simple advice for you, dear Frances:

WHEN SOMETHING IS UNRESOLVED, TAKE ACTION: If the only action you can take is to write a letter or a note, then, by all means, do so. Why? Because you will give yourself peace of mind that you have tried to resolve the issue. And that is important. Remember, you only have control over yourself. You have no control over the other person. Therefore, your job is to take the best steps you can to clear up the misunderstanding and give yourself some peace, knowing you have tried. If your friend will not answer your calls, or open her door when you knock, then write the letter. Ask what it is that upset her, offer to talk with her, offer your apologies, even though you have no knowledge of having offended her. You will feel the comfort of trying to build harmony. Please let me know of your progress.

Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: Sour notes don’t belong in a beautiful song. Do your best to replace them with harmonious notes.

Date: 06/30/2013

By: Dr. Joan

Subject: Follow-Through in Relationships

Dear True to Her Word:

OK. Let’s put your dilemma out there for readers to decide. Readers, True to Her Word promised her boyfriend that she would stop smoking. She even set a date she would smoke her last cigarette. That date came and went several months ago, and True to Her Word is still smoking. Her boyfriend is allergic to tobacco smoke, AND he does not like the hang-around odor of smoke on her breath and clothing. He now is accusing True to Her Word of being a liar, saying she had no intention of quitting, and cares nothing for his health, or his preferences, and cares even less about her own health. He is ready to abandon the relationship.

What say you, dear reader?

Dr. Joan says that Boyfriend is right. If you say you are “true to your word,” then you must do what you say you are going to do. There’s no wiggling out of it. But before we launch into how you can rectify this situation and keep your boyfriend, let’s back up and explore a couple of basic assumptions:

Assumption 1: I am going to assume that you call yourself by the moniker “True to Her Word” because you see yourself as being true to your word. Also, perhaps, you are known by others as being true to your word. If these are correct assumptions, what happened with your promise to stop smoking? Why did you abandon your habit of being true to your word? These questions lead to Assumption 2.

Assumption 2: I will assume that you tried to stop smoking, found it difficult, and gave up.

If my assumptions are correct, then there is good news for you. You CAN repair your relationship with your boyfriend AND you CAN attack your smoking habit. Here are four basic hints to try:

HINT 1: APOLOGIZE IMMEDIATELY: Ask your boyfriend to forgive you for taking little note of his health needs and preferences. Assure him that you respect his request and you wish to accommodate him, as well as improve your own health options. Make clear you had every intention of keeping your promise to quit smoking. You realize you failed, but you now wish to craft a new plan which will lead to success.

HINT 2: ENLIST HELP: You may need help to design a new plan. I am not a professional, but my suggestions are:
a) Invite your boyfriend to help you. He believes in you.
b) Set forth a schedule for gradual cessation of smoking.
c) Establish rewards at the end of each interval.
d) Research ideas on the internet.
e) Seek professional help if you can afford it.

HINT 3: PRAISE YOURSELF: As you stick with your plan and complete each stage, rewarding yourself as you go, give yourself copious praise. With each accomplishment you are proving that you are indeed true to your word. You are developing your own strong character AND you are building trust with your boyfriend.

HINT 4: BE GRATEFUL: Give liberal thanks to all who help you, especially your boyfriend.

Good luck, dear, and please keep me posted on your progress.

Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: Do what you say you are going to do.

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