2/28/2013

Are You Comfortable In Your Own Skin?

Being comfortable in your own skin means to be satisfied with yourself. Often, in American culture, and certainly for women, this is interpreted in terms of appearance. However, true satisfaction and self esteem reflect your ability to cope with whatever challenges life has for you.
Being "comfortable in your own skin" means to have self-confidence and inner peace. People who are centered like this do not need to make Google+ or Facebook posts about "me-me-me" and then wait for the inevitable adulation of +1's and comments from the peanut gallery of followers that they have developed in order to feel good about themselves.
Read the following quote from a woman who finally found this out:
"From the time I was a little girl, people told me I was pretty, but I never believed them.  Instead, I scrutinized myself in the mirror searching for ways to look better, not realizing that what I was really looking for was a way to be me and feel good about myself.
As I focused even more on my looks throughout my twenties, I became increasingly self-conscious and dependent on how others perceived me.  If someone complimented me and gave me attention, I would feel confident, but if I went unflattered or unnoticed, I would return to the mirror in an effort to figure out why.
One day, I took another long look in the mirror, and suddenly something clicked: My looks were not the problem—they never were.
Somehow I understood that what I didn’t like about my face had nothing to do with my physical features. It was something else; something within myself that was reflecting out and causing me to feel unattractive, ill at ease, and unconfident.
At that moment, I knew there were two things I needed to do. The first was to stop staring in the mirror. The second was to look at what was going on inside."
You can easily tell if someone is not "comfortable in their own skin" on Google+. Typically they only post to a limited circle of followers (for women - it's usually a circle composed mostly of men). Their posts mostly seem to be self-centered and designed to attract adulation in the form of positive comments or +1s. They rarely follow other people's conversations or participate in same. And most of their interchange with others is  on a superficial "ha ha funny" type level. Their posts often are laced with obvious sexual innuendo.
People with low self-esteem often get involved in relationships with the liars, trusting the backstabbers, and loving the heart breakers.  And when they fall in love, its often with someone who wants to play with their heart, not someone who deserves it.

2/27/2013

On Social Media

I find it disturbing that someone could let social media control their life to the point where it becomes so intolerable for them that they feel compelled to delete their entire profile and all of their content. But I just saw it happen to somebody whom I had regarded as a good friend.

Google+ and other social media sites are tools. Used carefully and correctly, they can help you to build rewarding, meaningful relationships with real people, even though you are participating in a "virtual" world.

Used improperly, they can make your life completely miserable and make you feel powerless to control your life and your destiny. When you have reached the point where you feel compelled to delete yourself and your online presence, you aren't just getting rid of the "bad" - you're throwing away all the good, too.  In other words, you may have sequestered yourself, but that doesn’t solve your problem, because all the personal issues that caused you to take this drastic action are still there. Fix your issues first, and such sequestration may become unnecessary.

People used to do this before social media were invented. It's called suicide. When it happens in the virtual reality of social media, the person is bound to eventually come back under a different name. But it's still the same person, who will make the same or very similar mistakes and react in the same way to others. I have difficulty respecting anyone who isn't honest enough to end one relationship before starting another, either online or off. There could be exceptions, but they are few. When  people abuse and misuse social media, it's not social media's fault.

Here's the thing... if someone has allowed social media to take over their life to such a degree that they feel they have no other recourse but to remove themselves completely from it, there are bigger problems to contend with in that person's mental and emotional state. Simply deleting the information and accounts isn't going to solve those issues. Removing oneself from Google+ (or whatever) doesn't solve the inherent personality issue(s) that got you into trouble in the first place. It may lessen the pain, but it's more like throwing the baby out with the bath water.

By the way, even though you cannot reach out and touch a person in your Google+ circles or Facebook friends, your relationship with that person is 100% real and carries all the emotional dangers of a relationship that exists in real life. And that includes the possibility of being wounded.

How to Have a Real Life On Google+ If You're A Married Woman
(And want to stay married)

1. Do not make posts with any kind of underlying snark or sexual innuendo. That is simply asking for trouble.
2. When approached by a man inappropriately, immediately tell him you are married and not looking for a relationship outside of marriage.
3. If a man should not "get the message" and clean up his act, BLOCK HIM and move on. Do not dally around. 
Google+ is a wonderful tool for building happy, rewarding interpersonal relationships and friendships when used properly. It is also a wonderful tool for quickly destroying otherwise perfectly good marriages.

The choice is yours.

2/24/2013

Friendship, Intimacy and Cyber-Sex

Not all or even most friendships need to fit all of the boxes (personal, professional, emotional, intellectual). But the best friendships — the intimate ones — do, especially both the emotional and intellectual areas.

cyber-love

What do I mean by "intimacy"? Intimacy is a concept that is not exclusive to romance. It's also a potential descriptor of high-wattage interactions, feelings, and trust between two platonic friends. In a romantic relationship intimacy can be conveyed via physical contact — just snuggle up with her/him. In a platonic friendship intimacy must be expressed mostly via words and body language. So it can be hard to pin down in a friendship.

Here's one possible sign of intimacy: When you're interacting with this friend, does your best and most natural self come out? Does being the person you want to be become effortless?  Do you feel a sense of trust and being able to confide in this person?
Intimacy in friendships is one of those things that you can get along fine without but miss once you've experienced it. Most people I know who maintain deep, intimate friendships value these relationships more highly than their ever-growing list of weak ties. Peak human experiences seem to happen in conjunction with intimate, soul-nourishing relationships. Friendships of this variety blur the lines and categories altogether.

Intimate friendships do not come easily - especially "virtual" friends that you make on social media - there must exist a common bond, a kinship, a feeling of mutual respect and trust that cannot be manufactured.

Another area where people become easily confused is "cyber love" or "cyber sex". I've experienced this and I can tell you that it is fraught with complications and dangers - not the least of which is serious heartaches for both parties.

Cyber-lust is rampant on social media. Often married men and women get involved in cyber-sex activities without thinking through the consequences and one or more partners gets hurt. The spouses of these participants can also get hurt even if they are not aware of the activities. 
I'm not a religious person, but I am a very spiritual and moral one. For those who follow the Bible as the inspired word of God, I offer the following: 

The Bible nowhere mentions cyber sex or phone sex because "cyber-anything" and "phone-anything" were not possible in Bible times. The Word of God does give us some principles that apply to activities such as cyber sex and phone sex. Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

There are many Scriptures which indicate that sex outside of marriage is a sin (Acts 15:20; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13,18; 7:2; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). Jesus Himself taught us that to desire something that is sinful is also sinful: “You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”

Cyber sex and phone sex are, in essence, desiring something that is sinful. They are fantasizing about that which is immoral and impure. In no sense could cyber sex or phone sex be considered noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. They are virtual adultery; fantasizing about a person lustfully and encouraging another person into immoral lust. They lead a person into the trap of “ever-increasing wickedness” (Romans 6:19). A person who is immoral in his/her mind and desires will eventually become immoral in his/her actions. Cyber sex and phone sex are most definitely sins.

Having said this, I define such activity as sinful only when it occurs in married people. If two people are single, divorced, or what I call "functionally separated" (a marriage in name only with no real love, or where a partner plans to leave the marriage shortly) then I suppose cyber-love is OK; it would be considered part of normal courtship behavior. But if you are married, and you want to keep your marriage, cyber-sex is probably the fastest way to undo everything that was ever good in your marriage.

Just my two cents this Sunday morning.

2/11/2013

Sexual Snark in Social Media Sites

I see a number of obviously married women (and some men) who post the kind of immature sexual-innuendo-laden silliness posts that if their spouses could read their posts, it would never have been posted. Of course if both spouses have an account and they can laugh about it, that's different. But I bet in a lot of cases these are just people who are unhappy in their marriages and are using G+ as a kind of sexual escape from that. The ones who have happy marriages you usually don't see doing this because they are busy enjoying the company of their spouse. I note this as a person who was once happily married and is now single.

I don't want to speak in absolutes, but you can see this kind of stuff and i find it a little annoying, especially from married women. There are even these "eCard" sites that seem to capitalize on this quasi-sexual snarkyness. I must see a half dozen people i follow doing this, primarily women. If you are bored  and don’t have social contact at an office, I can see where this might be acceptable.

The litmus test is this: If you (a married person) post something sexually snarky like that, ask yourself if your spouse would approve. If the answer is no, you're probably using the behavior as some sort of sexual escape into a fantasy world of your own making and it's unlikely to be productive for your marriage. All it does is cheapen you. And I see people who do this repeatedly.  If it's "boys will be boys" or "girls will be girls" type of snark and you are single or functionally separated, I'm fine with that and I do it myself. But then, I am not married. If I were, my spouse would be online participating with me and my content would almost undoubtedly be different.

To summarize, marriage is a contract of trust and respect for each other. If one cannot meet the requirements of this contract, one is free to become unmarried at any time and do as they please.