"You forgot to buy milk!"
"You never said anything about milk."
"Yes, I definitely did. You never listen."
"I do too listen. You never said milk."
"No, I did say milk. You just don't listen."
We've all been in situations like this one-when a loved one unintentionally provokes a confrontation. What do we do? We stand our ground, push our point, and underscore our reasons. We do it because we know we're right. What is it, deep inside our being, that refuses to budge, to give in, or to shut up before we're embroiled in a fight we don't want? Meet your baby self. According to Dr. Anthony Wolf, this childish personality comes out at home, at work, and in social settings-with spouses, significant others, colleagues, and even friends. The baby self doesn't know when to back down, it doesn't compromise, and it can lead you to make rash and, usually, wrong decisions.
In this humorous, helpful, and eye-opening guide, you'll learn how to deal with your baby self when it wreaks havoc on your life. Dr. Wolf provides alternate ways of responding to others when your baby self is ready to scream: It's not fair! It's not my fault! You are wrong! He offers ways to avoid the traps that sabotage all relationships, helps us recognize the false reasons we trick ourselves into thinking we are right, and teaches us how to let our mature side do the talking. With scores of examples of how innocent day-to-day conversations can erupt into conflagrations, Dr. Wolf shows you how to disengage fast and easily. The result? Peace, positive dialogue, and happier relationships all around-even if deep down you know you are right!
Everyone quarrels, says clinical psychologist Wolf, but there are ways to prevent arguments from deteriorating into behavior that destroys a relationship. Although grownups are mature, says Wolf, they still retain a "baby self" that wants immediate gratification without stress. It is when someone's baby self, rather than rational self, emerges during a verbal conflict that trouble begins. Using numerous and often humorous sample conversations, the author demonstrates how to circumvent this. When Celia and Lewis disagreed because she had promised they would attend a dinner party and he wanted to spend time with his father, their discussion grew angrier because both used insulting language rather than accepting that they would have to negotiate. Just drop it, says Wolf, disengage and simply leave an argument if you and your partner cannot stick to the basic subject. Wolf (Mom, Jason's Breathing on Me) also includes sensible advice on how to avoid other baby self pitfalls. such as bringing up past grievances, assigning blame and indulging a need to control.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 06, 2006
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Excerpt from Why Can't You Shut Up? by Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D.
The day begins in the middle of the night. I am not paying attention to anything but the bass in my hand, the noise in my ears. Dev is screaming, Thom is flailing, and I am the clockwork, I am the one who takes this thing called music and lines it up with this thing called time. I am the ticking, I am the pulsing, I am underneath every part of this moment. We don't have a drummer. Dev has thrown off his shirt and Thom is careening into feedback and I am behind them, I am the generator. I am listening and I am not listening because what I'm playing isn't something I'm thinking about, it's something I'm feeling all over. All eyes are on us. Or at least that's what I can imagine in my stageblindness. It's a small room and we're a big noise and I am the nonqueer bassist in a queercore band who is filling the room with undertone as Dev sing-screams, Fuck the Man / Fuck the Man / I really want to / Fuck the Man. I am punctuating and I am puncturing and I am punching the air with my body as my fingers press hard into the chords. Sweat, malice, and hunger pour from me. This is release, or maybe it's just a plea for release. Dev is wailing now and Thom is crashing and even though my feet don't move I am traveling hard. I look past the light and see people shaking, people jumping around, people watching as Dev takes the microphone into his mouth and keeps yelling the words. I throw the chords at them, I drench them in the soundwaves, I am making time so loud that they have to hear it. I am stronger than words and I am bigger than the box I'm in, and then I see her in the crowd and I fall apart.
I fucking told her not to come. While she was busy ripping me into pieces, that was the one fragment I begged to keep. Please don't come to the shows. I don't want to see you there. And she had said yes, and it hadn't been a lie then. But it turned into a lie at some point, because here she is, and my fingers are losing their place, and my buzz is losing its edge, and everything about me goes from crying out to just plain crying--all in the time it takes for me to see the shape of her lips. And then I see--oh fuck no--that she's not alone, that she's with some guy, and while she'll say she's come to watch me, there's no doubt in my mind that she's come so I can watch her. It's over, she'd said, and wasn't that the biggest lie of all? I am stumbling through the notes and Dev is onto the next verse and Thom is playing a little faster than he should, so I have to catch up as she leans into this guy and rocks her head like I'm making this music for her, when if I could, I would take it all away and give her as much silence as she's given me pain.
I try to keep up with Dev and Thom. We're called The Fuck Offs tonight, but that's a new name and it'll probably only last three gigs before Dev comes up with another. We've already been Porn Yesterday, The Black Handkerchiefs, The Vengeful Hairdressers, and None Of Your Business. I don't really use my vote, except to veto Dev's stupider ideas. ("Dude," I had to tell him, "nobody wants to see a band called Dickache.") Dev's out to pierce the pierced, tattoo the tattooed, and have his way with the messy punk boys who come to our shows not knowing they'll end up wanting to mess around with the guy challenging How big is your cocker spaniel? into the mic. Dev's from a town in Jersey called Lodi, and that makes perfect sense to me, since he's nothing if not an idol in reverse. Thom's from South Orange, and has only had an 'h' in his first name for the past two months. I'm from Hoboken, as close to the city as you can get without actually being in the city. On nights like this, with a chance to play in front of more than just our friends, I'd swim across the Hudson if I had to, in order to get to this cave of a club. At least until Tris shows up and I find myself bleeding invisibly across the stage.
Take the Power / Fuck the Man / Take the Power / and Fuck the Man. Dev is taking the song somewhere it's never been before: a fourth minute. I'm rutting now, waiting for the wind-down. Thom looks like he's on the verge of a solo, which is never a good place for Thom to be. I move my feet, turn away from her, try to pretend she's not there, which is the biggest fucking joke I've ever not laughed at. I try to get Dev's attention from the periphery, but he's too busy wiping the sweat on his chest to notice. Finally, though, he gets a burst of energy strong enough to end the thing on. So he throws out his arm and howls and I run us into the ground with a final lurch. The crowd sends us a burst of their own noise. I try to hear her voice, try to separate that single pitch from the shouts and applause. But she's as lost to me as she was the night I cried and she didn't turn back to see if I was okay. Three weeks, two days, and twenty-three hours ago. And SHE'S already with someone else.