The Blog of Brian Copeland


Guest blog by Joseph Manners, our Nashville fun NABor.

Scene: I am standing on a soap box. A microphone is inches away from my mouth. I straighten my typed written blog and I begin reading this to you.

At almost any bookstore or public library there will be a large section of Self Help books. The aisles are usually very extensive and loaded with books on various topics that could possibly help everyone with various “issues”. Topics include self esteem, learning to love yourself, learning from your animals and burning a bra to show a sense of empowerment. (Luckily, I will never read this book, again).

As you peruse this section you may notice people crying or attempting to hide the book they have in hand. Oddly, we recognize the need for help but don’t want to advertise this. Who do we think we’re fooling? You can spot someone with OCD issues in less than 5 minutes: you can only pass off the constant need for hand sanitizer after touching anything as an imitation of the TV show Monk so many times before even a toddler recognizes you have problems with germs.

With such titles as: Get your Tongue Out of My Mouth; I’m Kissing You Goodbye; When Your Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’ll Be Me; If Singleness is a Gift, What’s the Return Policy?; If Men Are Like Buses, Then How Do I Catch One?; When You’re Standing Between Hope and Happily Ever After; How To Be Happy Though Married; The Sun Is Always Shining Above the Clouds; I Hate You Don’t Leave Me; Faking It: How to Seem like a Better Person Without Actually Improving Yourself; My Self-Help Book (And Mine Too!): A Guide For Schizophrenics; It’s Not A Real Farm! (A Guide For Facebook Addicts) and How To Be Decisive (Read It Now, Or Read It Later), you can clearly see that we are a society with many issues. Perhaps these titles make you laugh. However, the verbiage is slightly different from one book to the next; they do have one theme in common: ownership. You must assume ownership of all of your traits, foibles, processes, shame and guilt. They are yours. How these things entered your life is not as important as how you intend to deal with them directly.

Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Drug Addicts Anonymous and virtually any other organizations that help overcoming addictions have one primary theme: ownership. How can anyone overcome something unless they own the feelings and actions that keep perpetuating the problem?

I believe that today more than ever we live in a world where most of the time anything that happens to someone is not their fault. Their mother hugged them too much, not enough, never said “I love you,” didn’t encourage or encouraged too much. In the end, a person’s problems are usually attributed to how they were raised or events that happened along the way. Don’t get me wrong, I know that people were physically, emotionally and sexually abused. Those are tragic and hard to overcome. But your life cannot begin until you own the feelings and stop the perpetuation of issues in all aspects of your life. Sure this is easy for me to say. But the reality is that there are just as many people that have checked out of the Pity Party Hotel as those that have decided to stay. The choice in the end is always yours.

I wasn’t beaten as a child.(I know that you think perhaps I would be better person if I had been.) My mother took a different approach. She found what you hated the most and made that your punishment. One of my brothers hated washing dishes. My mother would remove every dish from every kitchen cabinet, douse them with flower and syrup. Then she would say, “I want them all cleaned and put back in the cabinets within three hours.. If I find anything still dirty you get to do them again.” I am not sure if she picked this up from watching “The Adventures of Superman,” but she could always identify the particular Kryptonite for each of her children.

Sadly, we all have perceptions or possible false memories of events that have occurred in our lives. My brother remembers vividly being beaten. I don’t think it happened because the beatings you could get over being forced to do something that took hours lasted so much longer. I wonder if my mother would have fared well as a prison guard? However, to this day my brother will tell a particular story about the beating that he remembers. He never said that it continued so we can only assume that it happened just the one time. So he refused to spank his kid. I know you are thinking, really? But the lessons that we learn or think we learned as children do move forward in our adult lives. At what point does common sense leave the equation of how we continue to live our lives?

I worked briefly with the law. In one part I dealt with the criminals and in another part I dealt with victims. Some of the stories were horrific. Some of the results were incredible. But in almost all of the cases there was the same thin line of lack of ownership or responsibility. I remember a defendant telling a judge that because he was illiterate he shouldn’t be held responsible for shooting someone. The judge asked him, “Did you need instructions on how not to shoot someone.” The defendant went to jail. I recall a woman who had been beaten by her ex saying she wanted to drop charges because they had reconciled. The judge was very hard on her, saying that when she called 911 the thought of reconciliation never came up, correct? When the police came and took her to the ER the thought of reconciliation never came up, correct? When she worked with the D.A. and police for months regarding this case, the thought of reconciliation never came up. “Now at the 11th hour you want me to dismiss this case because you feel you are in love?” He offered her three choices: she could (1) go to jail for perjury, (2) have her kids removed immediately or (3) proceed with the case. I remember that she moved forward with the case. I just don’t recall what happened. I am sure that today that wouldn’t be tolerated. For the record this judge is still on the bench. I still admire this judge for their rulings. (Please note that I didn’t say she or he; I can keep some secrets)

I have admitted in a prior blog that I needed to seek professional help with my anger issues surrounding people not putting their shopping carts up correctly. Yes, it is funny but I am much better for the chance for someone to point out to me that it wasn’t about the shopping carts at all. My attempts to blame my parents fell on deaf ears. The therapist pointed out that I was a grown man in my 40s that I knew right from wrong. Of course, I didn’t like the fact that I was paying for this sage advice (abuse).But once I owned the emotion and the reasoning behind the emotion, my anger left almost immediately. Sure I still have some flare-ups. But I am so much better than I was, for now anyway.

Parents are defending their kids when their children are clearly at fault. The parents will give the same type of excuses: that the fault lies somewhere else. Some will say that the teacher or police have it out for their children. Almost inevitably the excuse will lead to someone being jealous of their child. Of course, we know what happens or will happen when children are defended for something that they are actually guilty of. They become our co-workers, neighbors, friends, or worse, family members that the rest of us will have to contend with. Gee thanks, Mom and Dad.
Personal responsibility has become taboo because we need to be politically correct. Apparently, it is disrespectful to point out to someone that they are wrong. I have been told many times that “no one can judge me but God.” They also say that they don’t judge. But the reality is, you are judged and you judge every day of your life. Right or wrong it happens and will continue to happen.

Bob Newhart did a great skit on Saturday Night Live. He played a physiatrist who said that he could cure anything for $5.00 for 3 minutes. He said that the patient could take notes but he would only give the advice one time for the $5.00. His advice was the same no matter what the problem. He would say very loudly, “Stop It.” Apply that to any problem that you may have regarding your life. “I am sad because I was fired from my job and I cannot find a job.” Stop It. Don’t be sad. Find a job and quit belly aching. “I am upset that my co-worker didn’t say thank you when I cleaned up the office kitchen.” Stop it. Don’t be upset. Learn that your co-worker is selfish and self-centered and get over it. Plant drugs in their office draw and call the police. Sure they will go to jail and have to pay out large sums of money. But in the end they may learn some humility and start thinking of others. It will be for the greater good.

So if you follow the advice that I just gave, you will save money. No need to buy a self-help book. Just say to yourself, “Stop It!”

If I have offended you in any way or if I have struck a nerve, it is not my fault. I grew up in Greenbrier Tennessee. What would you expect me to do?

Scene: I step down from my soap box and wave as I walk away. You will notice on the back of my shirt the words, “It is not my fault. “