Sunday, August 31, 2014

Incomplete Thoughts and More Questions

I thought I'd go ahead and throw this out there, even though I don't have the answer. Only questions. Only observations. Only wondering.

A number of months ago I was waiting for someone to show up at a rehearsal site. The studio was in one of those places where there are rows of businesses in what look like storage units or offices with accompanying garages. One of the businesses was, of course, a personal training/workout studio.

While I was waiting the personal trainer came out with two clients. I watched as he barked orders at them, as they said "yes, sir" and performed tasks which appeared to be questionable for one of them. I saw one of the clients in obvious distress, saw him say something to the trainer, saw the trainer be demeaning and belittling and the guy said, "yes, sir."

My thought when I watched the tyrannical personal trainer was that, at least in BDSM, there is a safe word. With personal trainers there is only, "yes, sir."

I've listened to snippets of self-help gurus who use prejudicial language, who put themselves above others as the experts and who challenge and bully their followers into submission. Or so it seems.

Recently I started reading a book which seemed to have a different approach. At first. But then she started in with the same language. Discriminatory. Belittling. Blame the follower, the victim, the oppressed.

I understand that there are difficult decisions to make in life sometimes. More times than we'd like. That sometimes we have to sacrifice. That life isn't always easy. That we do have to look at ourselves with honesty and admit what we can do and what we can't do.

But I wonder: do people have to do it through shame and guilt and being bullied? I do believe it is possible to make these same changes in more positive, supportive, healthful ways. Then my thoughts go to the opposite end (sort of), the you-can-manifest-anything-if-you-think-hard-enough end of the Change Your Life industry. And I think that, my desires and needs interact with others' desires and needs and sometimes we don't always get what we want no matter how hard we close our eyes and center our hearts and wish because sometimes needs conflict or sometimes what we think we need isn't the thing we really need or our need will unknowingly make another person's more necessary need impossible and so it goes 'round and 'round.

Where is the in between of trainer-without-a-safe-word and lala-manifesting-life-vending-machine?

I do know there is not one answer for all people and all situations. Each person has unique needs and resources. Each person has approaches which work or don't work. I know there are some more "middle ground" trainers/teachers/speakers/authors. And it seems that the middle ground people tend towards one side or the other.

My incomplete thought has not been clarified as I write this. I am no closer to an answer than when I began - I am actually farther away. I see more questions with each thing I write and I see where there is some truth in most of the approaches -- although I still don't care for either of the far ends of the spectrum : too whip-carrying tyrant or too blink-and-it's-yours hopeful.

Maybe we need to stop looking outside of ourselves for the answer.

And maybe we need to stop thinking it is going to be quick and easy.

And I do acknowledge that even being able to contemplate these questions is significant. I know there are people for whom survival is their daily reality and making change means getting themselves, family, friends, to safety.

Which brings me back to my original thought: why would a person willingly let themselves be bullied into making change?

No answer. More questions.