Throwback Thursday – 14 March

On this day in 44 BC, the eve of Julius Caesar’s assassination, Casca and Cassius decided that Mark Antony should live. Led by the sour feeling of fairness, by humility or by the sheer fear of the impact of their deed, we can’t be sure. Centuries later, we may jokingly say that Antony was spared so that he could make his grand dramatic appearance at Caesar’s funeral and giving his famous speech which we know from Shakespeare’s play:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

at which point Antony makes a well-paced pause to further build up the crowd’s discontent at the assassins. After which he finishes with:

But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world; now lies he there.
And none so poor to do him reverence.
O masters, if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong,
Who, you all know, are honourable men:
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honourable men.
But here’s a parchment with the seal of Caesar;
I found it in his closet, ’tis his will:
Let but the commons hear this testament–
Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read–
And they would go and kiss dead Caesar’s wounds
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood,
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And, dying, mention it within their wills,
Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
Unto their issue.

###
Did you notice the use of the “honourable man/men” phrase? I laugh every time I hear that phrase. Popular culture contributed to my own unholy feelings when I come across it. There is nothing to be added to that brilliant speech.

Can Introverts Work in HR?

Because of my occupation, I often read about the “perfect” applicant, the “matching” qualities, the “relevant set” of characteristics in a person who will make her fit in a team or a job. Recently, I was outraged by an article about the qualities you need to look out for when you search for your HR Manager. The article was loosely written and had little focus. For instance, I didn’t understand why it was entitled “How to Choose a Quality HR Director”, but it spoke freely about the entire range of HR professionals. I mention such weaknesses because the article appeared in a reputable online HR resource that purports to carry the torchlight of professionalism to the plebeians and newbies in the field. Were it part of a personal blog, I wouldn’t be so upset.

In addition to repeating many well-known truths and rules as if they were ground-breaking revelations, the article reached the conclusion that “There is no place for introverted people in HR”. An explanation of why followed. Needless to say, it only demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge and understanding in the field of personality traits and peculiarities.

Are you curious to read about some of the Myths of Introversion? Here is my blog post #1 encompassing the most popular ones.

Sorry to see that the author is part of a large company recruiting management staff and she has the authority to dictate the tone and beliefs of many professionals in the sphere.

That said, let me explain why I disagree. First of all, introverted people are not ones who don’t like to communicate. Some of them are asocial or socially anxious, but that is not a feature all introverts share. Introverts actually love communication, but they prefer it to be meaningful. Then they need rest.

Second of all, introverts are not people who don’t know how to socialise. Many introverts are keen public speakers and love going to parties and having fun, including meeting strangers. Then they need rest.

When we speak of the need to rest, it might be helpful if you check my post about the “introvert hangover”.

Third, and I don’t want to be rude here, just because someone wants to speak to others and is able to do it incessantly, doesn’t mean this person has anything meaningful to say. The only sure thing about such people is that they love listening to their own voices. How is that helpful when you are an HR?
In order to align your work and mentality with the colleagues from the company, you need to get to know them. That takes time. It also needs a lot of patience. Not many extroverts have the time to wait until they get really close to someone else. Have you seen what happens when an extroverted manager accosts an introverted or asocial employee? The employee withdraws in her shell and you’ll never see her or hear her voice again. This might bring the manager to the easy conclusion that the employee is impolite. Why not see what I’ve written about the myth that introverted people are rude? It will definitely have a familiar ring.

The direct approach combined with a broad smile so characteristic for seasoned managers with experience in big companies is one of the most detested tools of power. Any quiet and focused team member will tell you that.

This goes under my #SavageSaturday hashtag because it discusses my beloved introversion topic.

Tao Te King – Chapter 18

#MindfulMonday brings us back to Tao Te King and my choice of today – Chapter 18

When the great Way is abandoned,
Benevolence and righteousness arise.
When wisdom and knowledge appear,
Great pretense arises.
When family ties are disturbed,
Devoted children arise.
When people are unsettled,
Loyal ministers arise.

###
The great Tao fades away
There is benevolence and justice
Intelligence comes forth
There is great deception
The six relations are not harmonious
There is filial piety and kind affection
The country is in confused chaos
There are loyal ministers.
###

In short, when truth disappears, it gets replaced with various values and attempts at doing the right thing. From here on, you can develop the rest.

Psychologist or Psychiatrist?

#SavageSaturday

That is a question often asked when one suffers some mental issue or another. Films and magazines sway the public opinion towards a psychologist. They often depict the treatment, called therapy, as relaxing on a couch or in an armchair, outside of hospital environment and talking to a professional. Usually, we see a doctor-patient relationship and both parties call each other these names. Yet, we don’t see white medical robes or any sign of a medical office.

I had always thought the professional is a psychotherapist by practice and a psychologist by education. It turns out to be a mistake. Even though they don’t prescribe medicine or hospital stay, these therapists we see in films are psychiatrists. They study at a medical university along with all the rest on the craft – paediatricians, obstetricians, cardiovascular and internal disease doctors. They know about anatomy, biology and chemistry just as all the doctors we meet in more typical environments. After medical school, they go on to specialise, again like any other doctor does, in the so-called residence. That means they work full-time at a hospital or institution where they get familiar with lots of different real cases and get trained to treat patients independently.

So, when we’re mildly affected by a mental issue, who should we turn to? I used to see psychiatrists as doctors who would simply prescribe some drug to you which is sure to meddle with your sense and stability. It turns out, they actually undergo courses in psychotherapy, if they like, and then continue helping patients with sessions only or combining pills and talking sessions.
Then, when do we visit a psychologist and what can we expect her to treat? I would say, we do that when our marriage or parenting or relations in the office don’t work efficiently. We go to see a psychologist when we need a new perspective in some area in our everyday lives where we are stuck for one reason or another. We don’t do it when we are depressed or suicidal, just as we don’t go to the pub owner for a cure when we have the flu or a toothache. In those latter cases, we visit medical doctors, of the speciality we need.

We must face it, though – a lot of people do exactly that. When they are sick, they seek advice and help at various places, but at the doctor’s. It’s hard to imagine they would do differently when it concerns their mental health.
I am a psychologist and am deeply interested in therapy and ways to help people. At the same time, I know doctors have a great advantage compared to me because they know of hormones, enzymes, physiology and nerves, among other things. I, on the other hand, can simply improvise and imagine things. Things which can do more harm than good. That is why I know I’m helpless in a lot of situations. Like all psychologists in the world.

I hope more people will realise that.

Tough Elements, Sunday Whirl #389

Tough elements inhibit my judgement.
Sitting on trial, the night denies its chill.
Is it shy?

A file will help me do the bars.
I signal my help on the street.
Although, the prison’s all mine,
they still come to rescue.

Tough elements swipe through the colony.
The night hints at the approaching dawn.

(c) 2018 MK

Two for Tuesday: More Pebbles

Today, I’m sharing even more pebbles to make the River of Stones. Not just two, I mean.

10/01
The storm just hit
Accumulated anger and aggression –
happily not I, the target.
I am relaxed, although alert.
And then – the drama entered –
both concerning cats and human children.

Where is the counsellor?

11/01
Have we made for the clear exit of our tiny muddle?
Not sure we have.
What I’m sure of is the weekend’s here,
so, I don’t care,
and my plan is to comply.

12/01
It’s joyful I have yoga.
It’s nice I have a masseuse.

Is it dramatic?
Is it enough?

I seek relax and solitude
so that I recharge
for new exhausting battles.

Today, I think not of that.

13/01
I love Sundays, in general
and, in general, distaste them.

Today’s the same –
void, therefore giving me
a sense of loss.

Especially disliked
are afternoons.

14/01
Just cold. And nothing else.

15/01
I don’t look out, I’m simply wondering
as usual.

What will tomorrow bring?

###
Accomplishment and recognition
received from an unexpected source
Make up for some of my tribulation.

Tribulation and unrest
mark the day as I expect the rest.

16/01
I suffocate
My own words are my burden.

I can’t breathe
Emotions twerking in and out impede air.

The day, no matter good or bad,
just passed unnoticed.

17/01
Heavy load
Hanging on
To it – new load
is added.

Sleep will not come.

18/01
Spring-like day –
azure the sea, the air fresh.

We speak of love –
as is the norm in crisis.

The door slams
Regret remains.

19/01
Free from turmoil
comes the grey morning
which, nonetheless, seems
like endless sunshine
and brings me up and standing,
almost running
just for joy.

Small Stones in January, Pebbles

On a Friday, there are many things to do which are relaxing and appealing. Today, I chose to form a small rivulet using the pebbles below.

3/01
Tension is crawling back
slowly, but deftly.

Slowly, but deftly, too,
I’m defying it
For the time being, at least.

Wine in the evening
brings joy.

4/01
Snow – only not here.
Only wind and cold
roam here.

That’s our winter.

5/01
I do yoga
hoping to fight extra weight
Yoga brings me joy
It’s kilos that emburden me.

No pressure in that fight
Thus, no results expected.

6/01
The day –
amazing with its sweetness.
Outside –
so freezing, that we stay indoors.

To love and hug each other
and be loved and hugged
into a tenderness of heart.

7/01
Today, I felt frustration bitter
speculating what is and what might have nee, or was…
In short, things I shouldn’t muse over

Coming back to the flatness of mood is tough
(reading back here, I see repetitions)

How come all my journeys back are hard?
Is it with age that I’ve become so slow?

You know, the day, it started off so well –
I read promises of books and hugs and whisky.
(I’d discard the whisky)
And also forest walks in sparking snickers
with obviously painless knees.

8/01
No more bitterness –
Today is only satisfaction
and fulfillness.

9/01
Did I ask too many questions?
Was it too late when I asked them?

I expected craziness
But was met with calm

Apparently, the storm will hit another day.
###

Monday Mentions – 21 January

Today, I chose to blog about two notable men of Russia – Rasputin and Lenin. The reason is that the former was born on this day, 21.01.1869, while the latter died on that date, in 1924. There is also a connection between them, besides the fact that they are both Russians. While Rasputin was close to the Tsar’s family and part of the court, for better or worse, Lenin was the leader of the Revolution that finished off the remains of the Tsarist rule in the country and its echoes. Some even say that Rasputin’s influence over the Tsarina and the royal family, in general, was detrimental to their reputation and popularity.

Rasputin was a mystic, he had spent years pilgriming to various holy places and living in monasteries. Lots of people in the Russian court believed he was just a charlatan who had managed to ensnare the Tsar and, especially, the Tsarina by healing their haemophiliac son.

Grigori Rasputin was a Siberian peasant who was illiterate until his adulthood, which was normal for that time. He married his wife who would be loyal to him until his death, the two had seven children, 3 of whom survived to reach adulthood. Most of his married life, however, Rasputin spent away from home, either on pilgrimage or at the Russian court. Although his family was formally introduced to the Royals, they didn’t move to the capital and remained in their village.

On several occasions, Rasputin ‘helped’ the Tsarevich, although it is hard to say how. The Tsarina was convinced that Grigori is a holy man who could bring recovery to her son. That contributed greatly to his power and rise of status. His stay at the top of his reputation was marked by a huge change in him. Formerly, he had sworn off alcohol, but now he would drink and accept bribes freely. He had numerous affairs with his female followers and indulging in his sins, yielding to temptation, was seen as the path to defying sin and getting forgiveness. That doctrine, like the one that was mostly preached and practised by Rasputin at his hey-day in the Russian royal court, made him look more cynical than holy.

History shows us that it is natural for such a path of life to end forcefully, and so Rasputin was assassinated by a ring of people close to the royal family who believed he was putting a black mark on the reputation of the Tsar.

While the country’s economy quickly declined, as a result of WWI and bad political decisions (made not without Rasputin’s influence), a senior Marxist ideologist rose to prominence, determined to overturn the Tsarist regime and take Russia to a new road to liberty and equality.

Lenin was a competitive and bossy child, doing excellent at school, born in a middle-class family. After his father’s death, the boy, then a teenager grew erratic and renounced his belief in God. His elder brother was arrested and hanged for capital treason, as part of the group to put a bomb in the Tsar’s palace. We don’t know if that played a role, but during his late adolescence and university life, Lenin read more and more anti-capitalist and pro-socialist literature, forming his hard and fast opinions about how society must change and develop. He successfully, though not without obstacles, graduated law at St. Petersburg and sought a career in the profession.

While we were at school, Lenin was presented to us as a soft-hearted humanist who rejected his own convenient life for the sake of society’s improvement. We read about Red Terror, and Cheka, of course, but those were simply examples of the necessary measures to be taken against the enemies of the people. When I was reading my history lessons, I never imagined what a historical event means for the average person and who those enemies could be. In our minds, they were always greedy, fat and cruel owners of factories and land who harassed workers and peasants and treated them like trash. So, when one day my father, irritated by my neverending praise of Comrade Lenin, told me he was a ‘cut-throat’ and it didn’t matter that he never killed anyone personally, I was in shock.

I suppose that without the Red Terror he wouldn’t have managed to throw the cloak of Marxist-Leninist ideology over all of Eastern Europe. Plus, history is full of violence, that is the normal way revolutions happen. His frugal lifestyle and his self-discipline turn him into a charming and inspiring character even now, I suppose. The relentless determination with which he worked towards his goal, socialism, also speaks tones about him. Perhaps it’s sad, but history, like nature, doesn’t do things in vain. Even though the division of the world by ideology devastated lands, lives and people, it is part of history – along with its effects and lessons.

Myths about Introversion, Part 3: Rudeness

Here we go with another blog post in my #SavageSaturdays sub-series concerning Introversion. To check the previous posts in the series, you can see here and here.
This post is going to be on one of the most popular myths about introverted people – Introverts are rude, impolite, selfish or arrogant, depending on the situation.

Do you remember the last party you went to? Was there at least one person, a man or a woman who didn’t mingle with the group? She seemed aloof, kept at a distance, didn’t laugh at your jokes and, generally, didn’t make nice talk to anyone. Oh, except for that very weird neighbour of your friend, the party host. Or, the pet. Or, did you see her reading a book in the hallway? Playing or chatting on her phone all the time? But mainly what set her apart was the fact that she never laughed. Not even at the host’s jokes. She wasn’t a teenager, she wasn’t dressed as a Goth, so the only thing you thought was: rude.

In fact, introverted people don’t like small talk, they are never prepared to chat about shoes, cooking, the town gossip or the weather. Neither would they try to solve the problem of poor education or healthcare in the country at a party. They don’t see a reason why they should be prepared for such topics, actually. Small talk seems a waste of time to them. When it comes to jokes, you need to be really funny to make them laugh. That doesn’t include the “banana-skin” sort of funny.

In addition to the above, we must keep in mind that often introverted people are more scared to socialise than others are insulted by their lack of socialising. That lady kept to the side not only because your topics are boring. Even when they are interesting, she might keep away. She is too self-conscious. She imagines that stepping closer will move a spot of light onto her, all eyes will be on her, and in their lame attempts to make her feel ‘at home’ people will stare and start interrogating her. That is exactly what it feels like – interrogation. However, introverted people don’t have ready answers for even the simplest questions, apart from, perhaps, their name, age, family status and job. They need to think, then they need to phrase and re-phrase, and re-think and re-phrase again. In short, they suck at promptness. To avoid all this, which might not take place, at all, they choose not to risk getting into the spotlight of attention.

I hope, more of us would find the time to think about that when we see someone looking or walking away just to avoid us.

Quotation Marks – Basic Punctuation and Peculiarities Rules

When writing I am most often puzzled by punctuation rules. That is why, whenever I think of this blogging topic, #WriterlyWednesday, I turn my view towards punctuation. Today’s matter of discussion is quotation marks, a.k.a. inverted commas. The use of quotation marks in English is a tough topic for me, not only because it’s different in my language, but also by the complexity and variety of cases that are present.

First of all, let me say how indignant I am at the fact that there are two types of quotation marks – single and double, and, of course, British and American English go completely opposite each other in the way these are used. There are also two names for the same thing, and namely, you can either call them “quotation marks” or “inverted commas”. Such diversity is unnecessary, IMHO. Let’s move on, though.

In British English, you would use the single quotation marks. They are very hard to see and distinguish, partly because they look like the apostrophe, and this is a good reason for me to give up using them after years of poor attempts. You see, I naturally go with the British English version of everything, but typing ‘said he’ quickly gave way to “said he”. Did you see that? Visibility and certainty that these commas are in fact marking a quotation.

The Americans use the double marks for the same cases. Why then the other marks exist? Very simply, they are used when you need to put some quotation inside the main quotation. This is also the reason why our language doesn’t need a second pair of quotation marks – we don’t put dialogue in inverted commas, so if we want to use them in dialogue, we simply use the normal ones.

One of the huge puzzles for me personally is where to put the full stop – inside or outside the quotation marks. No wonder, that also depends on whether it’s British or American English. In the latter, the full stop (which is called “period”) goes inside the marks. I prefer the logic of the British writing style, however, where it depends on whether the ending punctuation mark of a sentence is an integral part of the quote. Thus, if it isn’t, it will stay outside. Here is an example:

I wonder what would be an appropriate use of the phrase “point blank”.

Do you think he’ll say it’s “long overdue”?

See what I mean by logical? This is the way I use quotation marks. Where I step away from American style is the type of the marks – I tried to use single, but this simply doesn’t work with me, so I turned to double and plan to stick to them.
Do you follow the British or American style? Which one seems more intuitive for you?