I had a bit of a blast from the past when a friend posted this video to his Facebook this week. A number of years ago now I was a moderator on a “pick-up site” and was familiar with this kind of whining bloke who clings to his world perception to reassure himself that it is the world that is wrong and not him. The forum members were pretty evenly split between those that appreciated the fresh perspective that, as a single woman, I brought to the site and those that hated me, largely on the basis of my gender.

I have long maintained that there are two types of straight men; those that like women and those that don’t like women. Of the men that like women, most understand this immediately. Of the men that don’t like women, they immediately disagree and argue that it makes no sense. What determines the kind of man a guy is largely depends upon whether he sees women as the enemy. The guy in the video doesn’t like women because he sees them as holding back the goods (sex, companionship, affection) and he’s deaf to feedback because he’s angry about this. If he could let go of his anger and appreciate that women just operate differently he’d develop the qualities he is so bitter about lacking.

The sad this is that if I were to advise him, I’d probably say the things he’s ranting about. Or perhaps I’d tell him to just grow up.

Owning your feelings is a rather abstract idea. We are so attuned to them being an intrinsic part of ourselves that it can be difficult to view them how others might but this is an essential step towards being a desirable human being whether that be desirable as a friend, a lover or an employee. It’s not so much about changing yourself as having empathy for others. When we hold our feelings as being responsive to external factors we lose control and are weakened by them. The guy in the video is a perpetual victim of his experiences. That’s not to say I’m unaffected by the world around me but I can at least recognise that I take things personally which are not meant personally. Rather than deal with his feelings, he is externalising them as a problem with society. When I’m upset, I know it is about me and not society (mostly).

It’s about denial of culpability. Owning your feelings requires responsibility and the guy in the video is too much of a coward to do that; far easier to blame women en masse for their rejection of him.

I found it strange that so many people will struggle to take ownership of their feelings and yet take ownership of something that arguably doesn’t belong to them. I’m talking of course about our Forests whose proposed sell-off was abandoned with an apology by Caroline Spelman.

What makes people feel our woodlands belong to them?

We live in a material world where property and land reign above all other goods. Strange that given our obsession with marking out our territory we subscribe to a larger ideal of shared ownership. Yet somewhat accidentally I chanced upon my answer this week.

I had reason to head into the Forest. Not the Forest in the sense that every day I get into my car and cross the threshold to the Forest of Dean by road but rather that wearing my hiking trainers I left my office and headed out from the Centre’s grounds into Forestry Commission land to make my way to a coppicing project. Armed with a notebook, I questioned the project manager about scope and objectives but found myself entranced by the scenery. Particularly the veteran trees.

Veteran trees are fascinating and can make you feel remarkably humble. Veteran trees are big picture stuff and when you look at them and take in their age and how they’ve shaped their surroundings, the concerns of a government seem rather silly and surface level. I had got it wrong I realised, the people campaigning to save our forests weren’t claiming ownership, they were claiming that our forests are beyond ownership.

So I’m delighted that they won’t be sold off. I’m glad that the value of the veteran trees near my office won’t be valued solely in financial terms. Their value is too abstract.

So if I was wrong about people feeling ownership of our forests, was I wrong about my angry little Youtube poster? Did he have a point to make?

My conclusion is no, based upon the trees. What the response to the proposed sell-off demonstrated was that not everything in life can be equally traded. It simply isn’t right to trade our trees for money (there’s a certain irony in that) and equally I’d say we shouldn’t trade our souls for validation.

I have admitted to validation whorery several times (as the results for “validation whorery” in Google show!) but not at any cost! The price of gaining approval ought never be more than the value we place on what we give up in the process. If we don’t know our value, if we aren’t in touch with ourselves how can we know what it right to give away?

I think people who are openly insecure about their value make us uncomfortable. We value secure people as we feel we can trust them and rely on them; by my definition they are less reactionary to external factors and are therefore more stable. We know where we stand. With insecure people we cannot trust or rely on them because they are more reactionary to external factors and are therefore less stable. When it comes to weathering the storms of life, we don’t want partners who’ll buckle at the first whisper of wind.

Own your feelings and hug the trees.


2/19/2011 06:29:30 am

I've got much better at not taking things personally, over the last two or three years. Submitting papers for conferences, and having a novel out there, are both things that positively invite 'criticism' and if I took it personally, now, I'd have no time to do anything else! :)

2/23/2011 03:23:55 am

I like to think I'm getting better at taking things personally but really I think it's just a quicker recovery time. I just received an email from my academic supervisor saying he is "disappointed" with an aspect of my work and am utterly crushed. Still, I know that by tomorrow I'll have it in perspective whereas once that would've taken weeks.

5/3/2017 06:35:07 pm

I believe that all men are different and all of them have various ways on showing their affection. You may not see the effort they are giving, but you can feel it, I am sure. Men wanted ownership without sounding so possessive. They want to love and care in the most subtle way. That's the nature of men, and you have to deal with it! Thank you for this article!


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