Mission Update—The First National Tune-Out Week + Social Butterfly Practice
Mission Update—6 MONTHS LATER
Almost 6 months ago, I issued a challenge to you:
So, in the spirit of the annual national Turn Off The TV Week, I’m asking you to tune out neutral, low-value, and no-value Black men this week. I don’t just mean the toxic or damaged Black men. I’m talking about tuning out ALL Black men who aren’t contributing something of value to your life. This includes the neutral Black men who aren’t doing anything against you, but they’re also not doing anything for you.
These neutral Black men are not checking for you. Why are you always checking for them? Your habit of paying attention to these noncontributing, neutral Black men is blocking many of you from paying attention to the non-Black men in your environment that could (and would) benefit you. Halima, blog host of Black Women’s Interracial Relationship Circle, has done a recent post containing a link about this behavior pattern.
I want more African-American women to realize how this is completely out of touch with normal female behavior. The overall, timeless human pattern is that normal women respond only to the extent that a man looks and acts fit, willing, and able to be of some benefit to her. There’s a word for women who grin and skin at indifferent-acting, neutral men: GROUPIES.
Most of you already know how to tune out noncontributing women. But you continue checking for, and responding to, noncontributing Black men.
I understand that many of you have been conditioned to always hop and skip toward, pay attention to, and respond to any and all Black men that come your way. Regardless of these men’s indifferent (or even negative) behavior toward you. I’m asking you to take the first step to breaking the habit this week. I’m asking you to take back your peace of mind. This week I’m asking you to tune-out the Black men who contribute nothing of value to your life:
Don’t talk to noncontributing Black men this week. If you’re in a work or similar setting where it would create problems not to respond to a noncontributing Black male, keep your responses as brief as possible.
If for some reason, you must (briefly) interact with a noncontributing Black man this week, don’t look into his eyes. Instead, look at a point near the top of his forehead. The eyes are a window into the soul. Looking into someone’s eyes draws you further into the interaction.
Don’t read noncontributing Black men’s blogs this week.
Don’t read news reports about noncontributing Black men this week.
Don’t talk about the thoughts, views, or activities of noncontributing Black men this week.
Tuning out useless people helps give us time to think, read, create, and do the healthier things we never have time for. Tuning out such individuals reduces the stress in our lives. It creates room in our lives for better people, places, ideas and things.
Here are my questions for those who participated
- After the first week of tuning out useless people, did you work to make this a permanent habit? Why or why not?
- Have you reduced the amount of attention you give to useless people? Why or why not?
- Or have you gravitated back to avidly following what useless people are saying and doing? Why or why not?
LETTING GO OF THE ‘KEEPING IT REAL’ TRICKBAG
During a recent conversation, Evia, blog host of Black Female Interracial Marriage Ezine talked about how many African-American women unwittingly act in ways that are unattractive and severely limit their social maneuverability. She said,
Okay . . . re how to talk without saying anything much, it’s actually a dynamic process and specifics depend on the situation. It’s a survival skill. Mainly, you never, ever say anything that will come back to bite you or others like you in the butt.
[Another reader had asked:] Also why do I need wiggle room, if I’m representing myself, and I only plan to be myself?
You need wiggle room to enhance your surviving and thriving. None of us can predict life, so you must always give yourself a way out or space to switch up–just in case.
This goes back to the way some bw see themselves–as serious, always telling the whole TRUTH, being responsible, hardworking, plodding along putting one foot ahead of the other, etc. like stodgy mules–even though it doesn’t work to their benefit in lots of cases, obviously.
Self-Image. I would like instead for AA women to think of themselves as and cultivate the image of charming butterflies that flutter around. Such a butterfly would never make heavy statements or limit itself to showing only one side of itself. It knows it needs wiggle room so that it can keep on fluttering wherever and be seen. LOL! People like having that type of butterfly around. It’s lighthearted. It’s delightful to look at, but no one expects it to do anything concrete or memorable. That’s not what a butterfly does.
That butterfly could actually be very shrewd, could be moving with stealth, but no one would ever expect it to be and it sure won’t tell ALL. If you’re always just being “yourself,” you limit your movement drastically.
For ex. when I’m around practically any male (preteen to 95), I behave like a charming butterfly because that always works to my advantage with men (even with very young males). It makes that male feel good. That’s a win-win situation for both of us. That’s not the “real” me; that’s just one of my FACES. Note: I fortunately don’t have to spend any time around any ghetto-acting male.
Mules. Mules have to DO concrete things. They’re expected to act like mules at all times. People don’t particularly like to look at them, but they’re necessary. Too many AA women have decided to look and act like mules. People put pressure on mules that they would never put on a butterfly. Very few people would pressure a butterfly to answer a question because that delightful creature might–gasp!–fly away.
It has to do with the way a woman thinks about herself. This is what she projects.
You should NEVER present your “real” self to strangers. WHY would you do that? Only do that with others who’ve earned your trust. We all can cultivate many faces and if you haven’t done that, you should work on that ASAP. Unfortunately, many bw will ‘let it all hang out’, but when others use some of that as a noose for them, they have no wiggle room or way out.
Talk, be lighthearted, but keep it moving. Smile, be charming, but be evasive–like a butterfly. If you’re evasive long enough, the typical person will back off and go on to the next person. If the person persists, use what they’re asking you to change the subject or smile and start to remove yourself from their presence (like the butterfly). Say, “Excuse me, but I’ve got to finish doing . . .” or simply “I’ve got to go.”
Always remember though that you don’t EVER have to answer anyone’s intrusive questions IF you don’t want to do so–unless in a court of law or similar situations. You don’t have to talk to people just because they want to talk to you. I’ve been criticized for not talking to certain people online, but I KNOW I don’t have to talk to anyone if I don’t want to do so, and just because someone asks me a question doesn’t mean I have to answer. Ebonically speaking, “They ain’t nobody!” I talk if I CHOOSE to talk or answer. We all can make that choice.
The basic issue here is one of boundaries, as Khadija has pointed out, and as I pointed out about those “nice guy” males. You have to have boundaries when dealing with any other person. You have to believe down deep inside yourself that the inner you belongs to no other human being, but YOU, and that NO ONE must cross your boundaries. No other human being has the right to cross those boundaries to access inner areas of you or even any of your outer assets unless you CHOOSE, in your best interests, to give them permission. Here’s the clincher. In any interaction with another human being, virtually all of the time (except for maybe with your children), YOU are the primary person–the MOST important person. No one else is as important as you to yourself. No one. This is why the subtitle of my first book is “First and Foremost.” You have to believe that you are NUMBER 1.
In response, a reader named Tracy said,
Evia, for some reason, “butterfly” is very difficult for bw to grasp, simply because when you dare to walk around happy and bright eyed, you are called “fake” or , God forbid, “white”..
I truly believe that the phrase “Keeping it Real” was invented to keep bw in Mule/Sista Soldier mode. Real means letting it all hang out, not thinking thru or controlling your emotions, and basically not caring about the image you are projecting. It’s easy to be “real.” The girls that I mentored in church had the hardest time with being “fake” because they were always having to think about what was coming out of their mouths, what they were wearing, and yes even their facial expressions. I would try to get them to think of something funny or happy that would make them smile, or to soften their expressions – but sadly some of them couldn’t even muster a good thought.
The scariest part of all – the sharing. The only thing these girls wanted to talk about was tearing down some other girl. Or the last fight they had. Or a beatdown that they saw recently. THAT made them smile…I understand teenage cliques, but I believe that in some circles, it may be a matter of safety for them to be a “real” or “down” Mule – Butterfly’s could be crushed easily. Still, hopefully some of them will remember and use their lessons later on in life.
Which is all the more reason to get far away from such people and environments; and relocate to healthier environments.
HAVE YOU BEEN PRACTICING YOUR SOCIAL BUTTERFLY SKILLS?
Tagged as: low-negativity diet