Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Review of Accept No Trash Talk, by Traci Lawrence

I read Traci’s book over the last week, and as usual with an e-book, highlighted a number of things that struck me, or that I ‘argued’ with. This is one great advantage of e-books, that you keep track of the notes you make so easily. It’s the equivalent of scribbling on the printed page or putting in exclamation or question marks.

Traci’s book looks at the difficulties people face who have limitations, or who are more sensitive than others, or who struggle to make themselves heard against those with stronger personalities. The limitations may be physical or mental disabilities, or health problems. The one struggling may be part of a minority, someone who's been brought up in an abusive family, or someone currently living in an abusive situation. Traci’s book applies to any of these and more.

It also looks a great deal at bullies and controlling people.

One of the lines that really struck home to me was: Controlling people do not like to be controlled. Controlling people do not like to have their agendas obstructed. I’ve found this true in my own life too. I know several controlling people: they usually have positions of authority and can abuse that authority, often without realising it. I’ve even been guilty of being a bit of a control freak at times myself, so in a sense I know it from both sides. Controllers don’t like to be confronted about their behaviour, however. Mainly, I think, it’s because they don’t see it at the time, and perhaps don’t even believe they’re doing it.

I’ve found that some of them eventually come to understand they’re controllers, but the behaviour is so habitual that controlling usually happens before they can deal with it. They have to eat humble pie afterwards. Still, better to eat humble pie than never to acknowledge it.

Traci makes a point about bullying: I think that the overarching reason for the bullying...can be condensed down to the fact that many of these people [are] self-righteous. Self-righteousness can be loosely defined as the attitude of a person who feels that he is superior to people who don’t think, look, act, talk, or believe as he does. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector immediately comes to mind! [Luke 18:9-14]

The self-righteous often don’t see their own behaviour. I had experience of corporate bullying in the last three years of my working life. I wasn’t directly in the line of fire, but my immediate boss was. The self-righteous bully eventually closed down our office because he felt he was right about his views. And unfortunately, as is often the case with such bullies, there were also cronies and yes-men surrounding him who endorsed his self-righteousness. Standing up to such people is an enormous, energy-draining task, as my boss found.

This is a personal book, and Traci discusses her own successes and failures honestly. She also gives credit to those who've helped her, and in one passage talks about her husband who saw her potential, affirmed her, encouraged her and validated her. ‘Since he believes in me,’ she writes, ‘I believe in myself.’

In spite of the difficulties of Traci’s life she has managed to build up a positive attitude. I like this paragraph from her book: When one door closes, a new door to a better life usually opens. Sometimes, we just have to be patient. At first, newly-opened doors may not always look like fresh opportunities. Opportunities may not always manifest themselves immediately. In fact, opportunities may first present themselves as unexpected, undesired challenges. The good news is that those challenges are what prepare us for new levels in life.

There’s a lot more packed in that paragraph than I realised when I first noted it.

This is a book that will encourage those who struggle, whatever their situation. It will also make you stop and think: am I guilty of this kind of behaviour?

I might not have discovered this book if I hadn’t discovered Traci on Google+. Increasingly I’m finding that site is full of people who are willing to make strangers into friends, and help and support each other.  

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