What Would Wayne Dyer Do? Apparently, being a jerk is something he’d do.
A couple of days ago in a post about freedom, I quoted Wayne Dyer. His words made me think about my own children’s freedom, about the freedom I ask for myself, and the freedom I allow other people and things to take away from me.
I read the rest of his book, Pull Your Own Strings, and I found myself becoming less and less enchanted with Wayne Dyer’s idea of freedom. In the name of freedom, apparently, it’s perfectly OK, and even encouraged, to be a jerk.
You see, I learned from this book that there are people everywhere who want to victimize me. And little did I know that people are sneaky about it. And although he didn’t say it outright, women are the worst about it! Because women talk about things, and want to understand each other and get to know people. That’s apparently a trick to get people to be weak. Don’t let people do that to you, Wayne Dyer warns! They’re just trying to get you to say things about you so they can manipulate you!
At the apex of his two chapter long diatribe about how people use mind games to get at us, he proves his point by describing a parent who has learned not to be victimized. This parent asked his teen to take the trash out not once, but twice. He didn’t get mad, or beg his son to comply, or, God forbid, explain himself. He simply dumped the trash on the teen’s bed. The teen got the message that his dad couldn’t be manipulated or victimized.
What the hell?
I was livid after that example, but I calmed down and went ahead and finished the book anyway. After I put it down, and breathed a little, I reminded myself that before I reached the chapter on
How to Be a Jerk How to Keep People From Manipulating You, I really liked what Wayne had to say.
He talked about how we can be trapped by our past. He described different ways of handling criticism. He talked about how we have a choice whether to be happy. He also went into how our own negative judgments of others are a voluntary way to victimize ourselves. Some of the examples he gave were spot-on and gave good tools for how we can choose to live more peacefully.
And I’ve read a couple other books by him as well, that had a lot of good to say. (I haven’t yet read “Your Erroneous Zones”.) Should I reject everything he’s said, or never read a book by him again, because of these two paranoia-inducing chapters?
No. I needed be OK with cherry picking.
Yesterday at church (OMG, Tammy goes to church! Shhh… don’t tell anyone), the speaker’s topic was about cherry picking. His cherry picking had to do with the bible. See, the church I go to doesn’t use the bible. In fact, there are some people in the congregation who really abhor the bible and anything to do with Christianity or religion at all. (There are others who are very Christian. A truly mixed group.)
Anyway, the speaker, Ross Blocher, said that even though there is a lot of violence and other passages in the bible that may not resonate with our beliefs, there is also lot of good to be found in it According to Ross, we shouldn’t reject the bible if we aren’t Christian (he isn’t Christian either), but rather to cherry pick the best parts and appreciate those parts for what they have brought us (while also having a critical mind for all of it).
Now, I might have just alienated my entire Christian audience, and I hope I haven’t. I don’t want this to be a discussion about religion. My point is that even though parts of Wayne Dyer’s attitude towards people makes me glad he’s not my friend or in my family, he does offer a lot of good ideas I can cherry pick and appreciate.
I’ve struggled with this idea because I couldn’t see how it could be done without being insincere or manipulative. I’ve been struggling with being able to appreciate people and things for the good parts in them while recognizing with equanimity that bad parts exist too. I have always felt like that if I say I “like” something, it’s a tacit approval of every single part of it. It’s either I support everything, or I support nothing. I don’t feel comfortable saying I like a speaker, a teacher, a book or a method, unless I like all of it. One wrong word, and it’s tainted everything else he or she has said or done in the past (and future).
Pretty limiting way of looking at things, isn’t it? If I keep going like this, I will never have any friends (because all people have faults), I will never be able to appreciate an author (because no writer is perfect), I will eventually run out of things to like at all (because all things eventually show “their true colors”). This idea that once someone or something has shown their “bad” side, I can no longer offer my appreciation, is just plain dumb. What’s the matter with me? Part of it is that for most of my life, I didn’t even realize I was doing it.
I think this idea of all or nothing is purpetrated in our society. A perfect example is our political attitudes. But we can also see it in how reluctant people are to accept homeschooling (or even to accept each other within the homeschooling community), or in family members who turn their backs on each other, or in people’s product loyalty (Can we say Apple vs. Microsoft?) Let’s not even get into the whole monster of “patriotism”.
I struggle with cherry picking when it comes to being a homeschooler, even. Because even though I support homeschooling, there are certain aspects to it that bother me. When some ugly part of homsechooling comes out, I start to feel that knee-jerk mental withdrawal. Almost as if I had been betrayed. In fact, a few weeks ago, I read an online discussion about homeschooling, and I was appalled by some of the comments my fellow homeschoolers made. And, to be honest, some of the non-homeschoolers in this particular discussion brought up some really astute points about the problems with homeschooling. For a while after I read the discussion, I wanted to just throw in the towel, and be done with it all. Of course, I can’t do that, because I have to pick some kind of educational process, so I continued on homeschooling.
And, on the flip side, even though I don’t send my kids to school, there are many things about school that I appreciate. If something good pops up about school, I it’s natural to push that information aside, to justify my continued negative attitude I’m “supposed” to have toward school.
It’s a long, slow process to learn to simply see. There is something to appreciate in every person. I am losing out when I push away ideas and people who have a lot of good, simply because I can’t see past the negative. I have already lost out on much because of that. I’m becoming increasingly aware of that.
In the end, I can decide to appreciate a person, a book, a theory, a perspective, a method, a political group, or even myself, without having to be what gamers call “a fan-boy”. I can cherry pick. I can’t tell you how much freedom I suddenly feel I have from this one simple idea that most people probably already “get”, but it took me a long time to finally allowed myself to accept.
Wayne taught me more by example, than by his words. By being a jerk, he taught me about how to be free.