-ist

To choose to read something based on the gender or race of the person who wrote it is “ist”.

I knew a lady who is a lesbian who only read books written by women. I wasn’t brave enough to ask her if she ever read anything by George Sand.

There are people who say they are feminists, and they only will worship “the divine feminine” – the Goddess.

There are white people who will only read things by white people, and black people who will only read books by black people.

This is all “ist” – racist, sexist.

It is making God in your own image. It is staying in your own neighborhood. It is only looking at yourself and not knowing anything about your neighbor.

How can you love your neighbor if you know nothing about her or him?

But likewise, to choose your friends based solely on their race or gender is also “ist” -even if they are opposite you. To be white and pick a friend because he is black – not because of who he is, is “ist”.

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Payoff

What is the payoff?

If you are constantly stuck in a rut, doing things that you don’t want to do, there has to be a payoff. Discover what that is and address it, and you’ll fix the problem.

Say you want to get in shape, but you keep overeating and “cheating” on your exercise routine. You “forget” to walk or go to the gym. You eat three pieces of pie when really you only wanted half a piece. You eat too much at the buffet, even though you say you don’t want to, again and again.

You feel guilty after you do these things, but you keep doing them.

They are symptoms, not the source.

Dig down further.

Who first taught you what to feel about yourself? What did they say? How did they make you feel?

Perhaps your family ignored you most of the time. Perhaps the only time that they even talked to you was to complain about your size or how you “were eating them out of house and home.” You were called fat, lazy, worthless.

Negative attention is still attention.

So as an adult, you still need attention.

But you’ve been taught that the only way to get attention is to be fat, lazy, or worthless.

So you keep repeating that message to yourself.

So you’ll overeat, and skip the gym, and fail, over and over, because that is how you were taught you should be treated. Even though they aren’t telling you this message anymore, you are now telling it to yourself.

Time to learn a new message, and retrain your brain.

Time to create a different payoff – where you get happy that you have achieved a goal. Maybe the goal was only eating two plates at the buffet, instead of four. Maybe the goal was parking the car further away in the parking lot so you had to walk further to get to work.

Little goals count. They add up.

Just like coming off being addicted to a drug, relearning how to treat yourself with kindness takes a lot of work. You have to rewire your brain. New healthy habits don’t have the same kind of payoff that the old bad habits do – not yet. The old habits were wired into you for years – and the work was done by people you should have been able to trust – your family or friends.

It is hard to go against the feeling of loyalty to your family. It is hard to treat yourself differently than how they treated you, even if it is healthier.

But if they weren’t kind and loving to you, they were your family or friends in name only.

Your first and best obligation is to yourself. Your body and your mind are your first and truest homes.

It is time to remodel.

It is going to be messy.

It is worth it.

You are worth it.

What’s in a name?

At what point do you start calling someone by their first name? How do you feel if someone calls you by your first name and they don’t know you very well? Have you ever insisted that someone call you by your last name? What is in a name? What does all this mean? What is going on behind the names?

There is definitely a difference when you go from being addressed by your first name to being addressed by your last name. After my parents died, I started calling our next-door neighbor by her first name. Before that she was always known as Mrs. Miles. There was something about all that I had been through before and after my parents died that made me realize that I was an adult now and I started calling her Margaret. No one told me to do this. I just knew it was time. She didn’t stop me. Even though she was 50 years older than me I was now equal to her.

Really that is what the difference is. When you call someone by their first name, you are establishing a hierarchy. If you both refer to each other by your first name, you are equals. But if one is referred to by the last name and the other is by the first name, there is a hierarchy. One is higher than the other.

Notice that teachers are addressed as Mrs. (last name) while the children are addressed by their first names. Doctors are the same way. Even if he has given you permission to call him by his first name (“Call me Don”), you will likely still give him a title – Dr. Don. He is above you in skill, so how you address him reflects that.

If someone is referred to by their last name they are considered to be higher than the other person. There is a lady that I know who works at the pharmacy I go to. Her mother-in-law is one of my coworkers. I know this pharmacy tech by her first name and she knows my first name as well. But I was a bit taken aback when she referred to me by my last name. I was suddenly an authority figure and not an equal. I felt that she had said that there was a space between us, and that she was making herself lesser than me. Perhaps her boss would think it would be over-familiar to address customers by their first names, though.

There is a gentleman who comes to the library who is 30 years older than me and I referred to him by his last name. It is Mr. Vanderlip. At one point he said “No, call me Hank.” and that felt really wrong. I expressed to him that I really like calling him Mr. Vanderlip because it is such a cool name. But really the issue is that I don’t feel it is appropriate for me to call him by his last name because he is my elder.

Now, being an elder has something to do with the person’s age but it also has something to do with respect. Someone can be older than you but not an elder. So there is something in there about experience and authority and wisdom. An elder would be referred to by her or his last name, unless s/he gives you permission otherwise.