Wisdom Workout

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Nothing Personal


By Susan McNeal Velasquez
By Susan McNeal Velasquez

Are you familiar with the term Machiavellianism? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is defined as “the employment of cunning and duplicity in state craft or general conduct.”

In psychology, it is used to describe a person’s tendency to deceive and manipulate others for personal gain.

In the 1960s, Richard Christie and Florence Geis developed a test for measuring a person’s level of Machiavellianism. People scoring above 60 out of 100 on the MACH-IV are considered “high Machs” who endorse statements such as: “Never tell anyone the real reason you did something unless it is useful to you to do so” or “The best way to handle people is to tell them what they want to hear.”

People scoring below 60 out of 100 tend to believe: “There is no excuse for lying to someone else,” or, “Most people who get ahead in the world lead moral lives.”

High Mach’s support the statement: “The end justifies the means.” Therefore, the result of an action is considered valuable enough to overlook the method used to get that result.

Have you ever had the experience of being lied to, betrayed, or cheated out of something that was rightfully yours and then been told not to take it personally? “It’s just business.” “Our actions were unfortunate but necessary.” “It’s a dirty job but someone had to do it.”

Often distaste for politics or big business comes from being the recipient of underhanded tactics that are covered over by pat phrases that excuse dishonesty and sanction low integrity, in the name of the bottom line.

Abusive behavior comes packaged in many forms. One of the trickiest situations to successfully navigate is when your livelihood is at stake and therefore your safety and security needs become threatened. Do you fight? Do you flee? Do you freeze? Do you collapse? Do you rage? Do you blame yourself to keep from feeling the effects of being out of control? Do you threaten or beg for some kind of rational resolve?

Depending upon the seriousness of the situation, it is likely that in the process of coming to terms with what is happening to you, you will do all of the above.

When you are taken by surprise by unanticipated outcomes, it is natural to take it personally. Your life is being impacted. Therefore your first reaction will be defensive anger and outrage.

When your ethics require you to uphold a high level of personal honesty and integrity yet you are confronted by a situation where the people you are dealing with don’t share your beliefs about how business should be conducted, explosive and disruptive outcomes are often the result.

If you are suffering from a major loss, give yourself the gift of generous, extravagant patience. Come home to yourself. Coming home means revisiting what you have been doing with your life and how you can create more satisfaction as you make new choices.

If you have been stuck using all of your energy to fight or flee the perils of demanding challenges, it may be time to choose a new path. Hold tight to what you value. Your needs, your desires and your values are your innate soul treasures. Be assured that you can and should take them very personally.


Susan teaches workshops locally on how to unleash the power of your intuition. Reach her at susanvelasquez.com.




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