Playing it Cool

For whatever reason many people “play it cool” that is they do not want to let the other person know they are interested, either in something or them. At the back of this is not wanting to give away power or advantage, this in the context of some imagined negotiation. “If I show interest my position will be weakened.” So they are intending, hoping for, a game of “kiss chase” whereby they can withhold the kiss, they want to be chased all around the block and otherwise be courted. Thus people feign disinterest and adopt a prove it to me first mentality. It is by way of a game that can sometimes backfire.

Now despite the success of the X-men franchise there are not that many Charles Xaviers out there. Mind-reading is an as yet not widely prevalent skill. So there is an inherent danger in playing it cool. Namely that the person on the end of the cool gets frostbite and thinks, “fuck this for a game of soldiers”. That is a problem with many games, they can sometimes work out not all that funny. When frozen by all that cool nothing happens. We are back to the “after you, no I insist, after you, you go first” scenario. That unwillingness to show a tiny bit of vulnerability, a chink in that icy armor, can work out costly.

There is of course a balance between being over eager, and frostbite. It is called being real.

Having cued this up;

Has playing it cool ever cost me?

What is so very wrong about being frank and honest?

If I keep the advantage will I be blissfully happy in my fortress until the end of time?

Is safe and powerful, yet somehow sad, my heart’s desire?

Powerlessness and Position

I have been contemplating this today and it is very difficult to put into words, so please bear with me.

The first thing to say is that many find this whole feeling of powerlessness frustrating and debilitating. Yet many find themselves, because of life circumstance, in a situation in which they feel powerless and unable or unwilling to change anything. They may be stuck in a relationship but fear to do anything about it for fear of loneliness, shame, failure, the children or financial ruin. They may be in a job they hate, but there is that whopper of a mortgage. {Back when I was in pastoral care many a student went through the divorce of parents who were staying together until junior went to university.} There is a whole heap of “reasons” why people don’t address things which might free them up. One of these is the adopting of a position.

Once you have adopted a position and broadcast it to all and sundry, there is a feeling of being trapped by that position. One is almost behind the ramparts of a castle surrounded by an army and unable to leave the strategic position of the castle. The open plains beckon, you can’t quite see the army, but your mind tells you it is there. You might want to change something, but you cannot do that and keep your position. In the situation of a divorce or some other in which there are financial implications, your lawyers may even forbid you from shifting position. You become entrenched in that position and unable to move or budge. In effect you have become powerless, disempowered by your position that looks so strong. To shift position is to lose face which is a terror beyond imagining.

Your castle becomes your prison.

Many may seek to change something, to address a problem or rid themselves of an annoyance. The only way to do this may be to surrender some power and become even slightly vulnerable. Because they have power, which they value, they are unwilling to let go of any power, so ironically, they have become powerless because of all that power. Most specifically it is that clinging to power which renders them powerless. To take the necessary risk to change that something is to risk losing some power.

This whole adopting of a position, justifying it and defending it, is a nice piece of human folly. One can paint oneself into the corner of a room quickly enough. Once done one is powerless to get out of the corner without getting paint on you, you might wait for the paint to dry. But what if you need to take a dump?

Many find this feeling of powerlessness frustrating, yet they are unwilling to unlock it.


The F Word

Needless to say, the course I mentioned previously was the very last one I did, of its ilk. Trying to get arrogant insecure people to talk of Feelings, even a little tiny bit, can lead to a metaphorical crucifixion. Of course, it isn’t that bad, but when the T-type attack dogs are on the loose what is an F-type to do? Walk away and thereafter be disinclined. I got that T-shirt.

So very many are shit-scared about speaking of Feelings. They are caught in unidimensional brain-land. Where all their self-esteem is invested in their cleverness, which may in any case not be as extensive as they imagine. It is very simple, ask someone to open-up even a smidgeon and they attack, criticise, slag off and try to avoid it like the plague. Feelings are not Ebola, strange as that may seem to some.

We INFJ types are pretty rare and often we get bullied and persecuted. Many hide their talents under a bushel because we have learned long and hard. We may sense things about people which they seek to hide, and should we be stupid enough to open our mouths; BANG, we get it both barrels, the T-type attack dogs are let loose. This faculty, this skill set, remains largely unused.

A part of the cause of me being where I am today can be directly traced to this unwillingness to speak about Feelings in other people. This bottling up, leads to pressure and illness.

I’ll suggest something now, see what you think. One of the best ways of overcoming insecurity is through cultivating vulnerability. Sounds scary perhaps? But insecurity never goes away through pretending to be invulnerable, one is always on the attack, always defensive. It must be really unpleasant to live like that, always edgy, a kind of shell.

To be a spiritual warrior, one must have a broken heart; without a broken heart and the sense of tenderness and vulnerability, your warriorship is untrustworthy.

Chögyam Trungpa

An angle, a pretext

If you are a keen watcher of espionage films, as I am, you might note a recurring theme. This is that when people want to do something “dodgy” they try to create an angle, a pretext, a cover story. This enables them an entrance, a semi-plausible way in; an excuse, a rationalisation. They may spend ages trying to manufacture one of these. And we might do this for a crush we have. Somehow, we engineer a “chance” meeting in the corridor. Quite why people feel the need to go to such lengths is strange, but I guess we have all done something similar, to a greater or lesser extent. The thing is that these angles, these pretexts are subject to things going wrong and the basic motive is one of deceit.

Now most of us are not taking part in a le Carré novel in our daily lives, yet we do engage in this kind of intrigue. Maybe by playing games we keep hold of our “power”. I don’t know. But that tendency to manufacture rather than being straightforward is not uncommon. In so doing we set a tone. Of course, this could be part of the fun and games of courtship, with some frisson. But game playing is game playing, and it can go wrong. Too much game playing, and we feel unable to say what it is we feel for fear of handing over “the advantage”. We may miss, by our games, that which we want or need.

We are such a clever bunch, but that is not always wise. Being so caught up in this, what we fear most is being authentic and real.  Always trying to be foxy and cunning, we may fail in our covert missions. To think and behave like the SAS behind enemy lines, in our day to day interactions, does not breed goodwill. There is an unusual tactic that may work, and that is simply saying what you want or need and asking the other person what it is they are thinking. Call me a revolutionary if you want, but maybe you might need an angle or a pretext before you could broach the subject.

Do you get my drift here?

The more “sophisticated” you are the more you will search for an angle or a pretext so that you might have plausible deniability. The sand runs fast in the hourglass. Why is this plausible deniability so important? Well it is simple, we would not want to lose face or “power”.

And so, situations go foul because of this need for an angle, a pretext.

This fear of being vulnerable wounds us more than vulnerability itself ever can. Humans are fond of self-harm. And so, time after time, we seek an angle, a pretext, a cover story.

It is a bit sad.

Having cued this up:

Have I ever lost out by seeking an angle, a pretext?

If I had been simple and straightforward, might things have worked out differently?

Is it possible that I am a slow learner?

Male Insecurity

I hinted at this in the last post, and to my eyes it is a big problem in our times. Insecure men tend to over compensate in order to be more macho and appear tougher. They tend to be full of bravado and braggadocio and rather than compete with their fellows they perceive them as threats and so compete against them. It must be so masculine to win. I know that many men have perceived me as a threat and reacted poorly towards me because of this. Insecurity breeds edginess and tension. Not many are comfortable in their own skins or their masculinity. I doubt having large biceps and a big cock makes you all that masculine, they are perhaps an ersatz for this ill-defined quality masculinity. What then are masculine qualities? I would say that openness, vulnerability, caring, warmth, resilience and tenderness are masculine qualities, the ability to problem solve perhaps but in a wide context, are amongst them. These and not being a cardboard cut-out. I don’t know for sure because masculinity is something of a mystery. Is it the war-hero, the fireman or the priest? I am sure that being cold and insecure are not all that masculine. Being puerile about tits and football and cars and beer, is that the epitome?

There is a crisis in masculinity now.

It could be argued that we need a masculinity movement. Something, if only to get men off the porn sites, games consoles and bullshitting addictions. Masculinity is a taboo subject and all the tattoos in the world can’t fix it, nor can groovy beards and grooming products. It does need to be talked about BUT that requires some vulnerability and maybe some tears along the way. The world is changing, and men are struggling to find their place in it.

Male insecurity, a big problem in our times…