Monday, 27 June 2011

a Moment for Wisdom…


Manipulation is not trusting that the outcome will be perfect.  Trust more; control less.”

Sharif Abdullah

Personal Wisdom:

Think of someone you would consider “manipulative” or “controlling”:

  • What are the characteristics of their behavior?
  • Why do you think they are that way?
  • What is their motivation?

How do you act like them?

Societal Wisdom:

What would a trusting, non-manipulative society look like?

Do you know of any?

a Moment with Sharif…


When I was a kid, I loved growing things.  This was a bit of a problem, living in Camden, NJ. (New Jersey is known as the “Garden State”, but whoever named it that hadn’t visited Camden.) I grew the beans in the milk carton that seems to be standard curriculum in every elementary school. I would always “help” the beans along by unfurling their leaves for them! And, I could never figure out why the leaves were always misshapen!

I was manipulating the leaves… with the best of intentions! I thought that I was doing them a favor through my manipulations.  I was doing this, because, at the bottom line… I did not trust that they could do this by themselves.  I did not trust the Sacred Pattern.

Sometimes, manipulation comes in the form of “helping”. You may actually think that you
are being “compassionate”.  But, in the case of the leaves, their struggle to unfurl themselves is an integral part of their growth process. While I thought I was being “compassionate” and “helping”, I was actually retarding their growth.

So, how can you tell the difference? How do you know the difference between providing necessary help and manipulating?

In the 16 March Praxis Exercise (Week 06), I wrote this:

Luiz Diaz has a nice definition of “rescuing” when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Rescuing is doing something for another person:

  • That they can do for themselves, and/or
  • That they didn’t ask for.

So, with this definition, we can see that, if our “help” is requested, and if we in fact
can help, we should do so. If it’s not asked for, if we don’t have any expertise, and IF THE STRUGGLE IS PART OF THE GROWTH OF THAT BEING, our compassion should lead us to be open-hearted, supporting… and non-manipulative.

Let’s let the Sacred Patterns emerge.




All photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.


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8 Responses to Monday, 27 June 2011

  1. maja says:

    Beautiful and thought provoking piece Sharif.

  2. deborah says:

    Beautifully written, thank you.
    I learned something similar when my mother was meeting a relative at a home for people with physical challenges (What is current P.C. protocol these days? Please inform me, as no disrespect or? intended) Anyway she found out that the best thing to do was ask a person if they wanted help when the occasion arose. Of course if imminent danger is at hand act first however in general i find this is a good way to show compassion without assumption.

    As we become more emotionally, socially intelligent by practicing and sharing stories we will grow as a species. As this is a necessary part of the true, radical paradigm change needed to derail the train to oblivion, it is good to hear, see you speaking up in public. It gives courage to others!

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the comment…

      You asked: “What is current P.C. protocol these days?” I don’t do “political correctness”. I find that it’s an excuse not to open our hearts and CONNECT. “P.C.” folks can be just as hard-hearted as any racist/sexist/homophobe… but they know the right words, so you can’t call them on it…

      The solution to “p.c” is found in your second paragraph! We must become, as you said, “… more emotionally, socially intelligent…” When we do that, we will always be saying the right thing… even if it isn’t the right word.

      You point out that imminent danger may cause us to act without asking… like the guy in Uganda who gave me a really hard yank to move me out of the path of a truck. Another instance would be almost all help we give to children. I rarely asked my kids if they needed help when they were young — I had the superior position (development and experience) and knew when they needed it… and when they didn’t. (I assume you’ve seen the video of the otter mother “helping” her cub, but I’ll give it to you, in case you haven’t seen it: Mother knows best!)

      Thanks again for your comments…

  3. Susie says:

    Excellent! We all have our own path to walk and our own lessons to learn. It might be hard to watch sometimes, but that’s the way it is. Love and support without an investment in the outcome is the way to go.

    • admin says:

      And, if its really hard to watch… I will turn away, rather than interfere where not wanted or needed. Like watching my kids trying to tie their shoes when they were little.

  4. Connie says:

    What an important and well stated lesson!
    Just this past Saturday I had designed a simple plan that I could see would fulfill the stated desires of both of us and result in a beautiful and productive win-win. When I directed my companion to turn left when he was going into the right turn lane, he exploded. Guess what – he hadn’t bought into my plan. Major aha for me! I have been closely watching for and examining my manipulative tendencies since that event. WOW – it makes a big difference in my focused listening and now more humble self awareness.
    Thanks so much for today’s wisdom, as well as many other days.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your sharing…

      This reflects on yet another major issue: “assuming” that if someone “hears” me, they “agree” with me… and, if they don’t “agree” with me, they didn’t “hear” me! That little assumption is the source of the majority of our inter-personal arguments, and quite a few international disputes. I’ll be writing about this in the near future…

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