Relationship Advice: We’re There When You Need Us

January 14, 2012

Dear Board of MisDirectors:

I broke up with my ex-boyfriend a year ago, and he’s still blaming me for all his problems.  We only went out for three months.  Shouldn’t there be a 2-times-the-length-of-the-relationship rule about how long this can go on?

Feeling Too Powerful in Newark

Dear FTP in N,

We’re so glad you came to us for advice – you need it!  We have quickly rallied our best experts to help you sort out this all too common problem.

From The Expressor: Clearly your boyfriend has things he needs to express!  When that is the case, it really is best to just let it out, as holding back results in untold costs.  And yes, you may have noticed: “boyfriend” is the correct term here.  If he is still having such strong feelings for you, then obviously the relationship is not nearly as over as you thought.  Just sit for a moment with how that feels – you may even feel you just want to have a good cry yourself.  Once your own complex feelings have a chance to be expressed (including relief – who wants to die alone?), you’ll find that you’ll be grateful for the way your good young man has kept a light shining all this time.

From The Critic: The question needs to be asked:  just what did you do to him?  Seeing how we have wounded another person is not easy, but it’s a blessing in disguise.  Think of him as a report card, giving you feedback at how well you performed in the syllabus of love.  It sounds like you need some remedial review.  In fact, that would be a prerequisite before you make another person miserable with what can only be you toxic girlfriend ways.

From The Escalator: You have fallen for the oldest trick in the book, my dear.  How can what he suffered be anything close to what you had to deal with?  He’s obviously a needy, clingy, pathological, and perverted human being.  The best course here is an Order of Protection, combined with alerting all your girlfriends, family and co-workers about how unsafe you with him around so that you can have 24 hour protection.  Meanwhile, double up on your therapy visits, and send him the bill.

There you have it!  The advice you need, at a price you can afford, carefully designed to cover all eventualities so that you’re never at a loss.  We’re confident that if you work hard you’ll see the wisdom of combining all three of these expert opinions to make your relationship the meaning and purpose of your life.

Write again!  We’re glad to help!

Your Board of MisDirectors


Failure: The Subtle Revenge

July 13, 2011

Or, as we like to say, Failure: the other success.

As we point out in our advice column, Why Bother?, failure is a fantastic place to be, especially when it’s repeated, hopelessness-engendering failure.  You may ask, why?  You may say, that sounds rather dismal.  Of course it is!  That’s the beauty of it.  Let us explain.

Consider some of the arenas of failure: relationships, school, job/career, improving your lifestyle (say, eating better or exercising more, giving up addictions, etc.).  When you fail at any of these, what happens?  Pain, that’s what!  Feelings of inadequacy, guilt, perhaps shame.  You may also experience a desire to fix the blame on someone else (Your spouse just wasn’t supportive! Trauma from your childhood left you unable to cope!), angry defiance, and the like.

Hold onto those feelings!  Bank them!  They can guide you through many dangerous situations – situations which might suggest you try again.  We say, why bother?  The outcome is predictable – you’ve already experienced it – and it’s just a lot of work.  Remember the pain, the guilt, the anger, feel it all again – and give the “try again” thing a miss.  This way you save time and energy.  Success!

There may be those in your life who shake their heads at you, thinking you’re missing out on something.  There are two things you know that they don’t – and here’s the meat in the stew of failure as subtle revenge.  First, you are right and they – well, they’re just dead wrong.  You already know this.  Second, you know deep down that if you really wanted to, you could succeed in whatever it is – you’re simply choosing not to.  Therefore, you’re smarter than they are, and you win.  Success!

While there is a kind of brute-force rubbing-their-faces-in-it revenge in success, we note that the more elegant, subtle revenge lies in total, complete, abject, repeated, hopeless failure.

Make everyone sorry.

The Benefits of Stubbornness: The Sweet Spot of “No”

July 11, 2011

Many of you have no doubt been taking advantage of the benefits of “No” for many years, though perhaps without being fully conscious of what you were doing.  We congratulate you!   Saying “No” to things is one of life’s sweetest actions, even when you are only partially aware of the benefits.  We are about to show you a few that you may not have been aware of – but will now be able to savor fully.

The most obvious one, and the one that you are all probably already enjoying, is the sense of control, coupled with the sense of showing the other person (or party) just where they get off.  Oh, you want to do this?  Well, tough cookies: No.  Implicit in that: you can’t make me, I won’t be placated though you may try ’til you turn blue, there’s nothing you can do that will change my mind, you loser.

It feels good, doesn’t it?

Here are two of the more subtle benefits.

  1. It puts the next move squarely in the other person’s (or party’s) court.  They suggested something, which you flatly rejected.  Now they have to think of something else to suggest.  Don’t fall into the trap of making an alternate suggestion yourself!  Oh, no, no, no!  Keep them reacting, trying to guess what might be acceptable to you!  Hold onto the power!
  2. It puts you in the place of pure faultlessness.  All you did was to reject a clearly unacceptable suggestion.  Not your fault if the other person (or party) couldn’t come up with something that was even marginally acceptable!  No matter what happens from here – whether it’s just a little rough spot in the road while they come up with a better idea, or complete moral and physical disaster – it’s not your fault.  NOT YOUR FAULT!  Savor those words.

A recently Harvey Mackay piece suggests you let your inner child influence your negotiating style.  Well, we second that – sort of.  He’s referring to the happy, curious, open inner child.  We feel this will work much better with the needy, petulant, whiny inner child – the one that says “No” even to things he or she wants, just to be ornery and get back at whoever is suggesting it.

It may not get you what you want, but it will sure as shootin’ pull those around you down to your level of (un)happiness and (dis)satisfaction – and after all, that’s the ultimate goal, right?

The Board of MisDirectors thanks its member, The Rationalizer, for this entry (advised, of course, by all the other Members). If you find this advice helpful and would like more, please visit the Board of MisDirectors web site, where you can get advice on topics from employment to relationships, as well as hints on how to maximize the benefits of your unresolved traumas!

Board of Mis-Directors and the Global Economy

October 25, 2008

Who is responsible for the current global economic crisis?  We take no small amount of pride in proclaiming that we are.  As proud and pleased as we are with the way the presidential campaign is going (and with the general trend of campaigns and politics over the last many years), we must say that we just burst our little buttons when we reflect on this economic crisis.

Pardon us if we just take this moment to celebrate some of our devoted members.  While everyone out there is looking here and there, in boardrooms and governmental offices, in banks and lobbyists’ phone records, for the person or persons to blame for this economic crisis, we will let you in on a little secret:  We Did It!

Oh, yes, they were our instruments.  Of course.  But we were the power behind virtually every move, every step along the way.

So, today, we will take this space to congratulate some of our members for their roles.

The Rationalizer is our first big star here.  The Rationalizer stands behind every government official or business person who ignored signs that problems were on the way, whether for his or her own benefit or just because it was uncomfortable to notice.   The Rationalizer is also a strong friend of those who got mortgages they knew they probably couldn’t pay, as well as those who created those wacky credit derivatives, and so many others involved in seeding this crisis.  You go, Rationalizer!

But The Rewarder deserves some of the credit there, too.  What a team they make!    Once The Rewarder makes sure folks know about the short-term gains (adjustable rate mortgages!  Credit derivatives swaps! So much more!), the Rationalizer can step in with the Way Around the Difficulties.  Elegant!  Efficient!  Effective!

Now, when the crisis hit and banks started failing, our crackerjack (and experienced) crisis team stepped up to the plate and helped the US administration in its hour of need.  The Realist helped them to create the overall picture of the situation, and The Escalator helped to drive home just how dire the consequences of deliberation (as opposed to immediate action) were.  The Rationalizer and The Rewarder helped everyone adjust to the idea of a big $$ bailout, and additionally The Rationalizer is even now helping to figure out who to blame.  And we send a special shout-out (so to speak) to The Expresser, who is helping those who find someone to blame to do it in the most emotionally scarring way possible.

Excellent job, guys!  Keep up the good work!


Board of Mis-Directors and American Politics: Mud-Slinging Part 2

October 1, 2008

We proudly take credit for the three major tactics used in elections today: pandering, mud-slinging and flip-flopping (Actually, mud-slinging and flip-flopping are specialized forms of pandering – but worth mentioning separately because they are used so heavily and to such good effect!)  Here’s a recent example .

A few weeks ago we saw in the newspaper (yes, of course we diligently read, watch and listen to the news – we enjoy seeing the results of our work) a report about a conflict between our two presidential candidates over some American flags.

Thanks for this gem to William Douglas and Margaret Talev, from McClatchy Newspapers.  This is an excellent example of an effective, yet inexpensive, mudslinging technique!  And, in the great tradition of mudslinging, it really doesn’t matter which part of it – if any – is true!

Apparently the McCain campaign came across some small American flags leftover from the Democratic convention – you know, the kind that get handed out by the thousands, waved for the cameras, and then taken home and bronzed for posterity.  The McCain campaign reportedly took the flags, then had veterans (nice touch!) hand them out at a McCain-Palin rally, saying that they wanted to find good homes for these flags that the Democrats had thrown away.  John McCain proclaimed, “I love those flags.”

This forced the Obama campaign – reportedly – to respond that the flags had not been thrown away at all, but had instead been filched, or pinched, or swiped by the Republicans.  To make sure everyone understood where they were really coming from, in the patriotic sense, a spokesperson for the Democrats said, “American flags were proudly waved by the 75,000 people who joined Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention.  John McCain should applaud that, but instead his supporters wrongfully took leftover bundles of our flags from the stadium to play out a cheap political stunt calling into question our patriotism.”

You must admit: this is sweet.  The flag, bless her, is one of the most effectively used symbols in the patriotism arena of mudslinging.  Why?  Because it is so incredibly symbolic!  The 13 stripes for the original 13 colonies, the 50 stars for the 50 states.  The White symbolizing purity and innocence; Red, hardiness and valor, and Blue, vigilance, perseverance and justice.  The red might also bring to mind the blood of the soldiers who died for their country.  Power, idealism, sacrifice – It’s all right there. 

And you know what that means: plenty of emotions to play with!  Find your buttons and push away!

Mudslinging makes heavy use of fear. Note how potent fear of thought unpatriotic is in political campaigns.  This is partly because it works on the general public as well as on candidates.  We (we include ourselves as part of the general public out of courtesy) hear that someone has thrown flags away, flags which deserve good homes, and we immediately feel that we ought to be outraged, too, even though perhaps we just threw away the flag we got at the rally last week, lest someone peg us as unpatriotic.  Yes – the power of shame!  It’s one of our favorite tools for helping folks keep in mind what they owe to the rest of society, and how close they are to having their shortcomings revealed for all the world to see – and scorn.  And so, the response is often defensive self-righteousness, which – if done properly – can throw the other party into shame.  And so the cycle continues!

What purpose does all this serve?  A very good purpose!  We noted above that it helps people keep in mind what they owe to the rest of society, and how close they are to having their shortcomings revealed.  The direct benefit of this is it keeps people in line, and assists them in devoting their attention to what’s really important:  proving to themselves and everyone else just how well they are fitting in.  It also makes folks much more susceptible to our other messages – about how they might be falling short in one way or another, or perhaps about how someone has found out about some failing or fault that they thought they had successfully hidden – so many possibilities!

And so, we retain our control.  Thanks, guys!

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