Thursday, December 01, 2005

After The Exodus...A Five Part Series On Grief Management...Part Four: Bargaining

"You can get much further with a kind word and a gun then with a kind word alone."

-Al Capone

Respect. Do we want to gain the respect by intimidating people into respecting us or do we want to gain the respect of others by treating ourselves and others with respect? Maybe we don't really care what others think of us. OK...that's honest and it is also very lonely. What does respect have to do with the stage of Bargaining? A lot.

It's after a loss that we tend to really realize and value what we have lost. Sometimes the loss is so suddenly and so swift we never see it coming. Then it's over...done. The Bargaining within ourselves begins. "If I had only been a better daughter. "If I could have only found some way to make our friendship work." "If I had only pushed Frank harder about seeing a doctor...maybe he wouldn't have died." "If I would have checked one more time to see if the door was locked, I wouldn't have been robbed." "If I had only seen the psychiatrist sooner, maybe I wouldn't have lost my mind." LOL. That one is my personal favorite for obvious reasons. LOL. Yes, as the great public speaker, Dan Quayle, once said, "What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is." LOL.

In the stage of bargaining, there exists the potential to use the stages of Anger, Depression and Denial as tools to help us Bargain to regain our loss. We use our Anger to heavy hit the powers that be (whoever might be able to restore our loss) because our need to have what we want when we want it is so very strong. We have a drive in us...the need for comfort, for the basics of food, shelter, love, acceptance, all the basic human needs for a healthy survival. In addition to the basics we humans tend to surround ourselves with additional comforts that enrich the basics and fulfill our lives. Pets, art, creative pursuits, material items, work, friendships, contribution to society. We humans have a need to feel good about ourselves, even if it doesn't seem to apparent to us. We reach out, we offer to lend a hand or a compassionate shoulder, we offer a part of ourselves.

This past summer when AOL took a poll asking folks why they have a journal, I scoffed a bit at the results. According to the poll results most folks begin journals to share their personal lives. And that is where most of the focus remained. In that one small box. In truth there is many reasons why we journal. Some of us have worked our whole lives, long before there was a Journal Land, on literary projects we have living inside us. Some of us have a great passion for seeing things with our cameras and it gives us an amazing opportunity to share our vision. Some of us, like me, have way too many passions and pursuits sparking our creativity to just sit still. I share my passions when I blog. So, why was there such a big surprise when folks acted individually to this situation? The first thing I thought of was that poll...and it's lack of understanding about what blogging really is. Blogging is a million or so lives being lived in a million or so different ways. Blogging cannot be contained within a box.

Factor in all the different reasons why we read someone ie: their life, their creativity, their art, because they piss us off, because the make us glad we are alive, because they inspire us to keep going, because they are our friends, because they become the families we were denied, because they inform us, because they take us outside ourselves, and the pain we are in, with their humor, because they make us feel less alone. Because we can visit places we may never get to see otherwise. Because we need to understand the other guy's view, Because we are lost. All these things lead us back to the pleasure principle...and our need to maintain it at all cost.

Truth is, none of the usual bargaining scenarios would work in this unique situation. "If I had only been a better blogger, AOL wouldn't have placed ads at the top of my journal." "If I had only paid my bill month after month, AOL wouldn't have placed the ads at the top of my journal." If I had just been a better photographer, AOL wouldn't have placed ads at the top of my journal." "If I had written more about my personal life, instead to such generalized topics, AOL wouldn't have placed ads at the top if my journal." None of those things would apply. The drive to Bargain sometimes comes from our inner voices screaming "shoulda, woulda, coulda." Truth is, this was a situation completely out of our control. So, in a need to maintain or regain the feeling that we all shared on November 14th, the day before the ads were placed, we look for any means we can to make that happen.

"Give me back the Journal Land I love or I will go to the press!" "Give me back my Journal Land or I will be as nasty as I possibly can." "Give me back my Journal Land or I will leave and never be your customer again." "Stay in Journal Land or we can no longer be friends." "Leave Journal Land or we can no longer be friends." "Put Journal Land back the way it was, or things will change forever." Isn't that a little like a kind word and a gun? Maybe. Maybe not. I could be wrong, but in that we have very few ways to negotiate or Bargain our situation please think for just a moment about what you have said or done personally since this situation began...are threats of action either proactive or actuality a form of Bargaining? Just a question. The bargain being...satisfy my need to fulfill the pleasure principle or I will leave. It's very human. It's very normal. It's very honest. Just a theory. I could be wrong. It's seemed off to me, that some of us turned on each other during this time. But when I thought about it, it's actually pretty easy to understand, we all have a need inside us and like our grief itself, it is individual. And so is how we respond to it.

Back to respect. As all the stages come together, we begin to recognize our responses to them. Mistakes are made, things are done right, a cleansing takes place. We also begin to grow within ourselves as we realize that we can survive what seemed impossible a few days earlier. How we treat ourselves and others will remain a big part of this chapter of our own personal history. It will remain a part of AOL history. How do we want our future to be? It is a personal decision for everyone, and shouldn't be answered here but within yourself. Take 5 minutes and consider the possibilities beginning 5 minutes from right now. Envision the future. Can you Bargain effectively? Can you make a positive difference? Can you envision change without hurting others? Think about it.

NOTE: I am not a healthcare professional. I offer this series as a peer to peer suggestion only. If you are in need to long term advice or care, please consult a qualified mental healthcare professional, a member of clergy or your personal physician.

"The Flower Of Bargaining"
Berkeley, California
November 29th, 2005


Karen Funk Blocher said...

I didn't realize that shoulda coulda woulda was part of bargaining. It strikes me as very true, though, and I strongly agree with everything you wrote here.

There's no rational way to blame anyone but AOL for the initial decision. We can't control the powers that be at AOL, especially what they did in the past. At best we can influence them a little in future decisions. Our woulda coulda shouldas are mostly going to involve the stuff that is under our control: the way we treat each other.


Steven said...

Thanks for this one :-)
I'm somewhere in this stage as it holds portions of the other stages. I'm not sure. But food for thought.

V said...

Hi Carly.
And, in the present circumstance, the lack of a bargaining position can lead us into helplessness, and back to the "whispers".

Further, for artistic types like ourselves, {Rank`s Artists}, the inability to use our creativity as a positive defensive posture {sublimation} may allow more primitive defenses to rear their ugly heads. Things that are more self-limiting.