Mary Loyer: Founder of Red Lipstick Inc.
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March 13, 2010
Last week, I spoke of being an unstoppable woman by cultivating a state of Confident Harmony. I outlined the first step in the Harmony Process to help you on the road to getting what you need from the men in your life. So how’d you do this week with Step 1? Did you Identify lots of so-called “Stupid” Behavior in the men around you? When I first started observing this, as you can imagine there was no shortage of actions by men that I assumed were evidence of stupidity. I know your list may be just as long, and detailed… so for Step 2, you can simply use one “stupid” action to focus on to continue the Harmony Process.
Step 1: Identify the so-called “Stupid” Behavior without Evaluation
Rather than see the behavior for what you think it means, try observing the actions only.
Step 2: Get Clear with Your Expectations
This one is tricky, as sometimes we think we don’t have an expectation, because we just assume that everyone does something the way we do it. I use to have the belief that, “Everyone knows that you shake a person’s hand when you meet them, therefore its not my expectation and if someone doesn’t shake my hand, they are clearly being rude on purpose.”
I’ve come to learn that EVERYTHING I assume is going to happen with people around me– is simply an expectation. I assume that all women like pedicures because I do. I assume that all women like wearing lipstick, because I do. I assume that all women like chic flicks because I do. I admit that in the past when I met women who didn’t fit some of my assumptions, I thought they were very odd, and again assumed something must be wrong with them. My expectations were definitely getting the best of me in those moments. These expectations even effected the men in my life. Years ago, I really thought my Dad was stupid, because he didn’t seem to express love the way I did . I expected a certain type of behavior from him, because that is how I would have expressed my love and care.
I lived for eight years, ignoring my father’s existence. I was so hurt—thinking he was stupid, and incapable of loving me—that I decided to reject him instead. Later, I realized that my expectations were based on how I express my love, and the whole time my Dad had no idea why I was so hurt. I was able to open up with curiosity, and I asked him, “ How do you like to express love and care?” He mentioned that he likes to inquire about people to show interest, do nice things for them, and offer advice to show he cares. Then I remembered that a big difference between men and women is that men judge each other by their actions, so they are used to taking action and solving problems, rather than using words, or emotion to express themselves. After that new revelation about my Dad, I started to see the ways he cared for me all the time, and I began learning how to request the kind of care that I needed.
Using one stupid action on your list, try this step for yourself. Regarding the man who committed this so-called “stupid” action, ask yourself: What were you expecting him to know or do in that situation? How did it make you feel when he didn’t do it? Do you think he was purposely trying to make you feel that way?
After answering these questions, you might find that you have some expectations that this man has no idea about. He may simply be reacting or behaving in a way that is natural to the hunter-single-focused ways of men. To be sure, try asking him, “What had you do that, or not do that?” What had you make that decision, or say what you said? How do you like to give_________ create___________, do _________, clean__________? Fill in the blank with whatever action or behavior caused you to think he was being stupid. Most likely, his answer won’t be anything you expected! Try to be open to being surprised, and be curious without making his answer wrong. It will be worth it when you get what YOU need from him in step 3! Stay tuned next week for step 3: Clearly Requesting What You Need, and GETTING it!
March 7, 2010
Remember last week I spoke of finding Confident Harmony with the men in my life? Well, a few of you wrote back asking what that actually looks like, and curious if it is something you might even want in your life?
As I thought more about how to describe this state of Confident Harmony, I remembered that every woman I’ve ever talked to would love to be more confident. We even have our own role models for confidence. I look up to Arianna Huffington as a great example of a confident woman. I love her elegant way of always speaking her mind.
So what happens when you add harmony into the mix?
Confidence is defined as: to have, or show faith. So when a woman is described as confident, it may seem that she has faith in herself. She makes decisions well, she is clear about what she wants, and has faith in her abilities. When you add harmony to the mix (a pleasing combination of elements in a whole), imagine a woman who has faith in herself, and faith in the pleasing combination of people with different abilities around her. What you will notice, is a woman who is strong, uncompromising in her values, and alert to the strengths in the people around her, so that she can accomplish what she needs and wants. I call that woman unstoppable!
I often experience this state of “Confident Harmony” as a result of practicing something I call the Harmony Process. I say “often” because as imperfect human beings, we may have our moments when our fear, anger, and frustration can take over, and all our faith goes out the window. When those moments happen to me, this Harmony Process helps bring me back to where I wanna be to get what I need with grace. It consists of four steps to follow any time you encounter a frustrating situation with a man behaving in a way you might think is “stupid,“ or just plain wrong in your opinion. This week, I’ve outlined step one for you to practice!
Step 1: Identify the so-called “Stupid” Behavior without Evaluation
This might seem to be an easy thing to do, but in the heat of the moment, when we are frustrated, our observation skills may not be as accessible, and it can be easy to jump to conclusions about what a man just did, and how he possibly could have done it, especially if it really hurt us or someone else. My friend Nathali really thought her husband leaving his socks on the floor was his way of saying, “He didn’t care about how much work it took for her to clean the house.” In this case she was able to see that the only thing he was ACTUALLY doing was leaving his socks on the floor. Acknowledging this was the first step for her to get what she needed from her husband John. She realized that this action of leaving socks on the floor was merely that—one action she didn’t understand or agree with. By not taking it personal, she became free to see what was really going on, and deal with it. She realized that he was so single-focused on his other tasks (a strength of men), that he didn’t even see the socks!
Be easy on yourself this week as you practice this step of “identifying” the behavior of men that is standing in the way of you getting what you need. Remember how different men are from women. They have twenty times more testosterone than we do, and that changes how their brains are designed and the strengths they’ve developed. Rather than see the behavior for what you think it means, try observing the actions only. If your man brings his laptop to the table at dinner, he didn’t insult your cooking and your hard-work, he simply brought the laptop to the table, period. Practicing this step this week will help you ease into Step 2 of gaining Confident Harmony: Getting Clear on Your Expectations. Stay tuned for that next week!
P.S. I’d love to hear about the biggest thing your man did that you thought was stupid! Please do send them my way, by commenting on this post, or sending me a question on my site: www.redlipstickinc.com
February 17, 2010
Have you ever caught yourself saying to yourself, “If I were him, I would have done it the smarter way. Why did he do that so backwards?” In my research, it seems this can be a common thought in our minds when our husband, boyfriend, or male colleague does something we don’t agree with. We try to make sense of it in our mind, and when it doesn’t match up to what we would have done, it can be an easy conclusion for us to think he was just being “stupid.” I’ve been guilty of thinking this many times.
I wonder though, what if by the act of expecting men to do and think the way we do, we are really looking at them as “hairy women,” who should know all the right ways to do things like we do. Remember Tom Hanks portrayed a woman on the sitcom, Bosom Buddies? He could dress like a woman, but he couldn’t help thinking like a man which often got him into trouble. It sure made for great laughs, right! On the other side, men can often make the same mistake by perceiving women as softer men who should do things and think the way they do.
So the big question is: How do we change this perception, and stop our frustration when the men in our lives do things that we perceive as being “stupid?”
Well, perhaps we can start with the idea that men and women were designed differently for a reason. Maybe there are strengths or skills that one has that can benefit the other? When I came upon this realization several years ago, it gave me a huge relief. I suddenly didn’t feel the burden to have to do everything myself. The next trick seemed to be in learning how to engage my man to help me benefit from all the great skills and strengths bestowed to him as a “Man.” After all—now that I wasn’t seeing him as a hairy woman, I was aware that maybe he wasn’t going to be able to read my mind and know what I needed from him all the time.
Sometimes, it seems as simple as being aware that what we think is obvious to us, is NOT obvious to him. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to handle those moments of misunderstanding. It can be very frustrating, none the less. I often find myself reminding the men in my life about this when I don’t quickly understand something they think is obvious—like how plumbing works. My friend Nathali use to get so upset about the socks her husband, John always left on the floor. She said,” He obviously expects me to pick them up, because they’ve been on the floor for a week. He can obviously see them—he just refuses to pick them up.” When she finally brought it to his attention, he said, “What socks?”
I taught Nathali that men are really good at focusing on only one task at a time, and how it can have them tune out everything unrelated to their current task—even if it’s socks on the floor. She was very relieved to know that he wasn’t purposely trying to upset her. She later explained to him how happy it would make her, if he put his socks in the hamper, and helped her keep the floor clean. He agreed, and simply asked if she could give him a friendly reminder, as he doesn’t always notice them.
The next time you notice the men in your life doing something that you think might be “stupid,” because the “correct” way is obvious to you, perhaps you’ll remember that he’s not a hairy woman, who thinks the way you do. Try asking him why he did something with curiosity, rather than an attitude of disdain. You may find that he had a good reason, and it may give you room to ask for what you need differently next time. Stay tuned next week for details on my Harmony Process—four easy steps to help you get what you need with a lot less frustration.