Flattery – a Subtle Art of Deception

“Flattery is refined deception–it is the froth of language–it is the alcohol of social intercourse–it is the prescription of the subtle–and the nectar of fools.”   William Scott Downey

A flatterer is a person who often insincerely lavishes praise and compliments upon another person for a personal gain. Sometimes the flatterer is referred to as a brown-noser, bootlicker, yes-man, and suck-up. A flattering remark enlarges as it is an inflated expansion of praise. A person would not question such exalted words because it sounds and feels so good. On occasion, a client will tell me about wonderful words that were said to them that really inflated their sense of self as it also gave them pleasure like biting into a sweet, juicy, and delicious ripe peach. They will ask themselves the question can this person really mean what they said to me. The question that they ask themselves over and over again, “is it true”

Some people use praise to get their way or what they want by lavishing superlatives and flowery words upon another because it calls up an actual emotion in the other. Many people will eat that up like fertilizing compost that nourishes as well as sustains them. It reinforces their good feelings about themselves. As a manipulating tool it is a dissembler. Flattering adulation can veil the emotional manipulation. Such praise, admiration, and exaltations can cause a bewilderment and confusion in an individual. It might soften and disguise ones real perception about what has been said. It acts as a smoke screen by clouding the flatterer’s real intention. Then one is easily and craftily manipulated.

Both men and women can experience a particular sweet talker who expresses such smooth talking lines as if they are poured over them like a thick scrumptious gravy. In her song Strong Enough Sheryl Crow sings about flattery as a lie. These lyrics convey the emotional feeling that is generated by flattery.

Are you strong enough to be my man

Lie to me, I promise I’ll believe

Lie to me, but please don’t leave

I have a face I cannot show

I make the rules up as I go

Just try and love me if you can

The following fable clearly shows the use of flattery as a “dissembler.” It is a dissembler because it is a specific type of bending and stretching of a truth that a person would not doubt or have a reservation about, let alone question. Flattery can cause one to lose something of value.

The Fox and the Crow

A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and settle on a branch of a tree.

“That’s for me, as I am a Fox,” said Master Reynard, and he walked up to the foot of the tree.

“Good day, Mistress Crow,” he cried. “How well you are looking today: how glossy your feathers; how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds.”

The Crow lifted up her head and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox.

“That will do,” said he. “That was all I wanted. In exchange for your cheese I will give you a piece of advice for the future: “Do not trust flatterers.” ─ Aesop

“Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery.” ─ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

© Ozimkiewicz

Rancid Emotions

Chunks of water from my essence slips

Setting my heartbeat into rewind.

With a heart heavy, my eyes spits

Rancid emotions, my teeth I grind. ─ Alozor Michael Ikechukwu

Sometimes experiencing a particular emotional state over and over again seems to produce a rancid emotion. The word rancid is from the Latin rancidus ‘stinking.’ As an example just think of butter that is rancid. It is old and stale.  If you happen to get a taste on your tongue it leaves a stinking taste in your nose and mouth. It sure does not have the clean, clear, and freshly made delicious butter quality. Rancid emotions are unpleasant and rank as they are decomposing in a person. Because of these emotions sometimes a person will make a “stink.”

At times, clients have indicated that they feel rankled by a festering emotion and a persistent irritation or resentment that has embittered their life. They want to be free of the gall that needles them daily.

Such strong lingering emotions such as sorrow, hate, fear, anger can sour people over time. I’ve chosen the following nursery rhyme, 3 Little Kittens, to convey a feeling essence.

This Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme talks about crying in the form of meeowing as the kittens experience frustration, sadness, badness, naughtiness, anger, regret, loss, and sorrow and finally finding a just reward of approval.

3 Little Kittens

Three little kittens they lost their mittens, and they began to cry,”Oh mother dear, we sadly fear that we have lost our mittens.” “What! Lost your mittens, you naughty kittens! Then you shall have no pie.” “Meeow, meeow, meeow, now we shall have no pie.” The three little kittens they found their mittens, And they began to cry, “Oh mother dear, see here, see here For we have found our mittens.” “Put on your mittens, you silly kittens And you shall have some pie” “Meeow, meeow, meeow, Now let us have some pie.” The three little kittens put on their mittens And soon ate up the pie, “Oh mother dear, we greatly fear That we have soiled our mittens.” “What! Soiled your mittens, you naughty kittens!” Then they began to cry, “Meeow, meeow, meeow” Then they began to sigh. The three little kittens they washed their mittens And hung them out to dry, “Oh mother dear, do you not hear That we have washed our mittens.” “What! Washed your mittens, you are good kittens.” But I smell a rat close by, “Meeow, meeow, meeow” we smell a rat close by…


A therapeutic resolution to rancid emotional states is about being heard and listened to. It is possible that the crying as a mee ow is really an expression that means me or my own hurt that is an ouchy or owie inside of oneself. Often the feeling of loss of a protective caring causes the kittens to meeow. Cats and kittens can represent young or mature independent instinctual possibilities within a person. A person’s own instinctual nature and nurturing self-care helps one to find relief as the person seeks to understand the emotional state that they were captured by. Food is often associated with taking in comfort and love. The pie that the mother cat made might be a symbol of feeding you love and self acceptance. The kittens start to take care of themselves when they take off their mittens and wash them thereby cleaning things up. They ask their mother cat to hear that. Then she calls them good and gives them the approval and validation that they need. This might be approving in a mature way of one’s self. At the end the mother cat smells a rat and the kittens may sense that they have to go out into the daily rat race of life. There is the need to take care of their own feelings now as they struggle with their encounters with the ratty things in life.

“To awaken to the living dream within one’s life and remain awake involves repeated struggle, yet also presents something truly worth fighting for. Each individual soul has its share of genius and a core of imagination that can transcend the collective anxiety and the chaos in the world.”  ─ Michael Meade

Angling, Tall Tales, and Trickery

 O, Sir, doubt not but that Angling is an art; is it not an art to deceive a Trout with an Fly? —Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler (1653)

Some of my clients have said that they are victimized by seemingly underhanded ways and means by those they thought were trustworthy. They want to know more about how to handle this dynamic in their life. These clients tell me that they like to give “the benefit of the doubt” to those they are distrusting. At the same time wanting the ability to know, recognize, and distinguish any lying, trickery, and deception. When I hear this kind of statement I know the client does not trust their own knowingness as real guidance.

It takes a thoughtful discernment and discrimination in order not to be hoodwinked. The nature of a deceiver is to deceive. He or she uses falsehoods, underhanded means, and deliberate hiding with a camouflage over the truth to deliberately cause people to be unable to detect their misrepresentation.

When you are in doubt about what someone is saying or doing this is a sign to look further into what is going on. Doubt is a feeling that spontaneously appears to let you know something is not quite right. Here are some words that can be associated with that doubtful feeling. They are: deceive, lie, betray, mislead, bamboozle, outwit, double-cross, and cheat to name just a few.

You can always ask yourself the following questions when in doubt. The questions are; who, what, where, when, how, and why? What does it sound like to me? What does it feel like to me? What is going on?

Here are a few teaching tales that have deceptive angles in them. While reading the following short fables just notice the affect that comes over you.

The following is a modern day version of deception that was first told by Ann Landers in her newspaper advice column. This tale is categorized as classic American folklore. It is a modern day wisdom morality tale about meeting people that are prone to employing deceptive practices in relationships with others.

Snake Is Always a Snake

Watch out for snakes in the grass

A young girl was trudging along a mountain path, trying to reach her grandmother’s house. It was bitter cold, and the wind cut like a knife. When she was within sight of her destination, she heard a rustle at her feet.

Looking down, she saw a snake, which spoke to her. He said, “I am about to die. It is too cold for me up here, and I am freezing. There is no food in these mountains, and I am starving. Please put me under your coat and take me with you.”

“No,” replied the girl. “I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you will bite me, and your bite is poisonous.”

“No, no,” said the snake. “If you help me, you will be my friend. I will treat you differently.”

The little girl sat down on a rock for a moment to rest and think things over. She looked at the markings on the snake and had to admit that it was the most beautiful snake she had ever seen.

Suddenly, she said, “I believe you. I will save you. All living things deserve to be treated with kindness.”

The little girl reached over, put the snake gently under her coat and proceeded toward her grandmother’s house. In a moment, she felt a sharp pain in her side. The snake had bitten her.

“How could you do this to me?” she cried. “You promised that you would not bite me, and I trusted you!” “You knew what I was when you picked me up,” hissed the snake as he slithered away. ─ Ann Landers

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Many times appearances are deceptive.

 A Wolf found great difficulty in getting at the sheep owing to the vigilance of the shepherd and his dogs. But one day it found the skin of a sheep that had been flayed and thrown aside, so it put it on over its own pelt and strolled down among the sheep.

The Lamb that belonged to the sheep whose skin the Wolf was wearing began to follow the Wolf in the Sheep’s clothing. So, leading the Lamb a little apart, he soon made a meal off her – and for some time he succeeded in deceiving the sheep, and enjoying hearty meals. ─Aesop

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

There is no believing a liar, even when he speaks the truth.

A shepherd-boy, who watched a flock of sheep near a village, brought out the villagers three or four times by crying out, “Wolf! Wolf!” and when his neighbors came to help him, laughed at them for their pains.

The Wolf, however, did truly come at last. The Shepherd-boy, now really alarmed, shouted in an agony of terror: “Pray, do come and help me; the Wolf is killing the sheep”; but no one paid any heed to his cries, nor rendered any assistance. The Wolf, having no cause of fear, at his leisure lacerated or destroyed the whole flock.

Little Red Riding Hood ─ Brothers Grimm

All kinds of trickery and deception in this story

Once upon a time there was a dear little girl who was loved by everyone who looked at her, but most of all by her grandmother, and there was nothing that she would not have given to the child. Once she gave her a little riding hood of red velvet, which suited her so well that she would never wear anything else; so she was always called ‘Little Red Riding Hood.’

One day her mother said to her: ‘Come, Little Red Riding Hood, here is a piece of cake and a bottle of wine; take them to your grandmother, she is ill and weak, and they will do her good. Set out before it gets hot, and when you are going, walk nicely and quietly and do not run off the path, or you may fall and break the bottle, and then your grandmother will get nothing; and when you go into her room, don’t forget to say, “Good morning”, and don’t peep into every corner before you do it.’

‘I will take great care,’ said Little Red Riding Hood to her mother, and gave her hand on it.

The grandmother lived out in the wood, half a league from the village, and just as Little Red Riding Hood entered the wood, a wolf met her. Red Riding Hood did not know what a wicked creature he was, and was not at all afraid of him.

‘Good day, Little Red Riding Hood,’ said he.

‘Thank you kindly, wolf.’

‘Whither away so early, Little Red Riding Hood?’

‘To my grandmother’s.’

‘What have you got in your apron?’

‘Cake and wine; yesterday was baking-day, so poor sick grandmother is to have something good, to make her stronger.’

‘Where does your grandmother live, Little Red Riding Hood?’

‘A good quarter of a league farther on in the wood; her house stands under the three large oak-trees, the nut-trees are just below; you surely must know it,’ replied Little Red Riding Hood.

The wolf thought to himself: ‘What a tender young creature! What a nice plump mouthful – she will be better to eat than the old woman. I must act craftily, so as to catch both.’ …to continue the tale click this link


A Children’s Tale

‘When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.  Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” ─ Native American Proverb

During times of grief, loss and sadness people and children often wish they could talk to their departed loved one in the hereafter. Death is a separation between two, you and the loved one or perhaps heaven and earth. People naturally look for a sign, signal or a message from the person who has passed. Recently a client told me about the following children’s story that can be used during a time of sorrow explaining the inability to communicate with a departed loved one. I thought that the story is appropriate for adults as well during a time of sorrow.


Waterbugs and Dragonflies

Down below the surface of a quiet pond lived a little colony of water bugs. They were a happy colony, living far away from the sun. For many months they were very busy, scurrying over the soft mud on the bottom of the pond. They did notice that every once in awhile one of their colony seemed to lose interest in going about. Clinging to the stem of a pond lily it gradually moved out of sight and was seen no more.

“Look!” said one of the water bugs to another. “One of our colony is climbing up the lily stalk. Where do you think she is going?” Up, up, up it slowly went….Even as they watched, the water bug disappeared from sight. Its friends waited and waited but it didn’t return…

“That’s funny!” said one water bug to another. “Wasn’t she happy here?” asked a second… “Where do you suppose she went?” wondered a third.

No one had an answer. They were greatly puzzled. Finally one of the water bugs, a leader in the colony, gathered its friends together. “I have an idea”. The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk must promise to come back and tell us where he or she went and why.”

“We promise”, they said solemnly.

One spring day, not long after, the very water bug who had suggested the plan found himself climbing up the lily stalk. Up, up, up, he went. Before he knew what was happening, he had broke through the surface of the water and fallen onto the broad, green lily pad above.

When he awoke, he looked about with surprise. He couldn’t believe what he saw. A startling change had come to his old body. His movement revealed four silver wings and a long tail. Even as he struggled, he felt an impulse to move his wings…The warmth of the sun soon dried the moisture from the new body. He moved his wings again and suddenly found himself up above the water. He had become a dragonfly!!

Swooping and dipping in great curves, he flew through the air. He felt exhilarated in the new atmosphere. By and by the new dragonfly lighted happily on a lily pad to rest. Then it was that he chanced to look below to the bottom of the pond. Why, he was right above his old friends, the water bugs! There they were scurrying around, just as he had been doing some time before.

The dragonfly remembered the promise: “The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk will come back and tell where he or she went and why.” Without thinking, the dragonfly darted down. Suddenly he hit the surface of the water and bounced away. Now that he was a dragonfly, he could no longer go into the water…

“I can’t return!” he said in dismay. “At least, I tried. But I can’t keep my promise. Even if I could go back, not one of the water bugs would know me in my new body. I guess I’ll just have to wait until they become dragonflies too. Then they’ll understand what has happened to me, and where I went.”

And the dragonfly winged off happily into its wonderful new world of sun and air…….

From: “Waterbugs and Dragonflies : Explaining Death to Young Children” by Doris Stickney

Happy New Year Be Wellers and Resolution Makers

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” ─ Bill Vaughan

Many of my clients have mentioned their anxiety about the future. They wish 2017 will be better for everyone. The following information on making resolutions for 2017 is adapted from online sources beliefnet and Brian Maher. I have also published variations on this in other years.

A new year gives us all the opportunity to make changes in our lives. January 1 arrives bringing hope to everyone that the New Year will be better than this past divisive, stressful, and conflicted year that was 2016

For many, the New Year means a fresh start, a new beginning, and a clean slate. It also means a new resolve to finally lose some weight, save money, be well or anything else your heart may desire. Now for the good news: You don’t have to be one of those people who fail. No, really. Keep reading, because I’m about to give you some simple rules for making (and keeping) your New Year’s resolutions.

“Write the vision and make it plain…” Habakkuk 2:2

Reflecting on the mistakes and mishaps of last year is a good place to start when making New Year’s resolutions. Where could you have done better? What do you want to see change? No need to be down on yourself. Just take a look at your weak points and see what you can do about them this year.

Be Specific – The key here is to make your resolution very specific by writing it down and bring it out of the realm of thought and fantasy. This allows you to plan out your goal and forces you to be more accountable.

Not specific: “I want to lower my body fat percentage this year.”

Very specific: “I want to lower my body fat percentage by 7 percent by December 31st.”

Be Realistic – For example be realistic with a planned weight-loss goal. If you have 60 pounds to lose, don’t try to lose it all in one month, and don’t make it your initial goal. A huge goal like that can be overwhelming and cause you to get frustrated and give up at the first bump in the road. Instead, you should set a realistic goal that helps you take smaller steps toward reaching your ultimate goal.

Not realistic: “I want to lose 60 pounds by February.”

Very realistic: “I want to lose five pounds per month for 12 months.”

Determine the Path – It’s critical to think about-and plan out-how you’re going to reach your goal. Just like with the goal itself, your path needs to be specific and realistic.

Bad path: “I am going to lose 10 pounds by June 1st by eating less.”

Good path: “I am going to lose 10 pounds by June 1st by only having one scoop of ice cream once per week instead of every day and by walking for 30 minutes every day at lunchtime.”

Make It Known – Accountability is to yourself and others are key if you really want to stick to your New Year’s resolution. Instead of keeping it a secret, share your goal with others.

Make It Rewarding – We have rewards for almost everything we do. Create an incentive and reward system for yourself before you start working toward it. Maybe you could treat yourself to new clothes or a massage. Let the reward motivate you as well.

From Big Goals to Baby Steps – Very big goals often appear as a mountain to climb and it’s easy to decide it’s too much and too big. A person might just crawl back into bed and hide.

Break big goals down into smaller increments like baby steps. For example, if you’re writing a book and you want to have your book finished in a year. Write a page a day and at the end of the year you’d have 365 pages. That is a feasible daily task that will accomplish a larger goal in time.

Identify Time-Wasters – A lot of great tasks in life don’t get finished, because we waste a lot of time doing things that are unimportant or distractions that are unrelated to the goal. Think about all the time you spend on social networking web sites or those two hours in front of the TV every night. Wouldn’t that time be better spent working towards your resolutions?

We so readily say, “Oh, I just don’t have time.” The truth is that you can make time. Identify the time-wasters in your day and replace them with projects and tasks that will bring you closer to your goal.

Sometimes a Year is Not Enough – As the year draws to a close, take some time to reflect on the resolutions you made last January 2016. How did you do? Did you work hard? Did you make the deadlines or do you need another year?

You’ve laid the ground work to achieving your dreams, and you can take the next year to perfect them. Learn from the previous year’s mistakes and grow. Every year is another chance to do it.

Poor, poor January is burdened with all our hopes that are pinned on those first 31 days. We cram a laundry list of goals into one month and try to make them all happen at breakneck speed. Inevitably, by February we are burnt out, and by the summer, our resolutions are long forgotten.

Let’s give January a break, shall we? If your goals are worth attaining, they will take time – much more than a mere month can offer. Plus the effort and energy it will take to accomplish those resolutions is too much to do all at once. Space them out. Some resolutions can’t be worked on until April or early June. So, give your New Year’s resolutions some breathing room. The month of January thanks you in advance.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” ─ C.S. Lewis

© Ozimkiewicz

On Your Mark, Get Set – Pace

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” ─ Henry David Thoreau

On occasion, a client will talk about wanting to hurry up, get there, be done, arrive, and find it. I ask, “What is “it?”  The response might be something, like “I don’t know but whatever it is I want to know.” They also talk about being late, feel behind or afraid that they might miss the boat. Sometimes a client has said, “Just tell me, and I will do it.” I reply, “I have no idea what it is but let’s see if we can discover what it is that you want or are looking for.

There seems to be in some people an inexplicable impulse, urge, or drive to rush as if they want to help push the river along. Their intention can be about discovering their own life path, purpose, mission or niche in the world. They feel like they want to get from A to Z automatically. Sometimes I answer with, “Let’s just take a first step and start to go from A to B.” After I say that the client usually takes a breath, sighs, and noticeably relaxes.


“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” -Thoreau

According to the dictionary, the pace is the speed or rate at which somebody moves. It can be the distance covered by a single step or stride. Some people have an uneven pace and seem to take two steps forward and one step backward. This dynamic helps a person to evaluate his or her life’s progress. As they walk back and forth or pace, there is an experience of a nervous restlessness with a feeling of being held back as they worry.

This anxious feeling that propels people forward unconsciously to an unknown destination is sung in a song by Alabama. Here are some of the lyrics from Alabama’s song “I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)

I hear a voice

That say’s I’m running behind

I better pick up my pace

It’s a race

And there ain’t no room

For someone in second place.

Can’t be late

I leave plenty of time

Shaking hands with the clock

I can’t stop

I’m on a roll and I’m ready to rock.

I’m in a hurry to get things done

Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun

All I really gotta do is live and die

But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.

Slow Down – Speed Trap

“I am old and move slowly” ─ Socrates

Metaphorically, some people get speeding tickets over and over again as if some higher law was giving out a message. The etymology of the word pace is from the Latin word pax (peace) as in pace tua (with your peace). Perhaps taking a stroll through life, sauntering around as one does a walk about, might bring the experience of peace of mind and the enjoyment of life.

“Thoughts come clearly while one walks.” ─ Thomas Mann

© Ozimkiewicz

Hedgehogs and Foxes

“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”  Archilochus

I have noticed that some of my clients are locked into only one thing, or way of being and thinking. Then there are other clients who have so many options that it is difficult to focus on one choice. For some people it easier said than done while for others, it seems complicated and tricky to find their way. Some people are more adaptable by making a concerted effort to find new solutions. Animals can often depict instinctual qualities that can be incorporated by people as they make their way in the world. The Hedgehog and Fox are two archetypal patterns.

Isaiah Berlin’s conclusion to War and Peace and his essay on Tolstoy was based on the Greek poet Archilochus’ fragment “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”  This quote can have varying meanings. Berlin used it to point out historical and political differences in thinking. I would like to use this quote by applying it to psychological and instinctual differences between people individually or in their personal relationships. Often times these are active opposites in a relationship dynamic.


“In the last analysis, most of our difficulties come from losing contact with our instincts, the age-old forgotten wisdom stored up in us.” ─ C.G. Jung

The hedgehog is singular in it viewpoint and vision. An example of Hedgehog type personalities according to Berlin was Dante and Plato. As an animal, the hedgehog has dense, erectile spines along its back. It is not a porcupine. It is an old world mammal that rolls into a tight ball for protection. It has a particular tactic of locking itself up for self-protection. In a person, this quality is displayed by being procedure oriented in the use of their tactics to feel secure and safe. Often things are just plain, black and white. The thinking is linear in nature. There is an established or official way to do something. Sometimes a series of actions is conducted in a certain order almost like a ritual. This person knows only a single truth.


“A wise fox will never rob his neighbor’s roost.” ─ English proverb

The fox’s viewpoint is that the world is complicated and complex. It does not have a single, standard but is extremely changeable and adaptable with its tactics. Some of the qualities used by a fox are craftiness, cunning, and cleverness. The fox can symbolize the trickster. Berlin depicted Shakespeare, Aristotle, and Tolstoy as Foxes. Fox like people uses options. An option is something that is chosen. It is made up of varying courses of action. It may consist of an alternative recourse to a set pattern.

The fox displays and depicts how they use these opposite viewpoints. They can be independent or be in a group. The fox is busy and inventive or a predator and destructive. It can be bold or cowardly. At other times, it can have a tricky alertness or carelessness. The fox shows and demonstrates inherent characteristics or contradictions that are often seen in human nature.


The solution may lie in deciding to become more adaptable and flexible with a thought, idea, or even in a conversation within a relationship. Shifting your focus and thinking about a problem might include understanding what the other person wants and needs. Can you explain your wants and needs in a coherent way to be understood as well? Is a compromise possible through giving and sharing to reach a consensus and end a stalemate by shifting rigid points of view? Conversely, consider consolidating and integrating many varying ideas into one cohesive choice.

Can you turn something sour, like lemons into lemonade, in your life?

Understanding Lemons

lemons don’t let you admire yourself too much they stick from their tree like awkward thoughts demanding a truth be told even if the tongue would prefer a far more sickly explanation lemons are perfect though for the need to jump straight out of bed on the eagerest of mornings into the task that must have no nonsense about it they have no truck with laziness or the idle hope they can be easily misunderstood – their sourness their association in sayings with the poorest of the lot their way of squirting you in the eye when being cut they don’t have much emollience in their nature you can’t get that close to lemons – they stand firm in their separate place asking to be respected – then they will give what they’ve got like waxed nurses offer you their own prim recipes for a healthy life

─ Rg Gregory

© Ozimkiewicz

You talkin’ to me?

“There are, it seems, two muses: The muse of inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the muse of realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” ─Wendell Berry


The word deflect comes from the Latin deflectere, de means ‘away from’ and flectere means ‘to bend.’ Some of my clients will get sidetracked and divert attention from themselves in a session. Even though a client comes in to figure out and resolve within themselves a specific disturbed emotion, symptom or strong feeling that has captured their mind. The client will often deflect by distracting the attention that is being paid to them and their issue because it feels too scary to come close to it or address it. They will find a way to turn aside a painful situation or memory in order to protect themselves. This is sometimes done by going off on a tangent, changing the subject, telling a funny thing or joke, or enter endless talking. These are defenses that are used to separate themselves from past events or current ones.


The definition of a defense mechanism is the way that a person will find the means to turn aside or distance him or herself from an actual or real awareness of a disturbing behavior, or repetitive thoughts. The client may block themselves from integrating and feeling their own true experience. He or she may abruptly shift the focus to another person or idea. A third party will be interjected into the issue as a buffer to protect their feelings. Sometimes in defense, the client will unexpectedly not hear or misunderstand what was just said.

Retroflection (hold back)

Some people will not express any urge to speak, show or express a behavior, feeling, movement or an emotion to others. They are withholding their life force and energetic flow. The suppressed dynamic flow of self-expression can lead to an internalization that produces symptoms in the body. Some of these might be aches and pains, a disease, depression, anxiety, addictions and even self-harm. The next time you become aware of deflecting, withdrawing or holding back your own expression see if you can catch yourself and start to change the behavior.

Deflection, defense mechanisms, and hold backs are usually adopted and learned in childhood to self protect from the feeling of being in trouble with someone else. The behaviors may have worked as a child. In adulthood, a person can learn to use more appropriate coping skills.

In the poem Self Communion, Anne Bronte describes this feeling of distancing oneself from an issue in order to have peace.

The mist is resting on the hill;

The smoke is hanging in the air;

The very clouds are standing still:

A breathless calm broods everywhere.

Thou pilgrim through this vale of tears,

Thou, too, a little moment cease

Thy anxious toil and fluttering fears,

And rest thee, for a while, in peace.

Of course, any issue needs to be handled delicately and in a gradual way with baby steps. Then the client will begin to digest a strong feeling into a bite-size chewable piece. This is done slowly in a session to integrate, absorb, assimilate, find meaning, and to heal their painful feelings.

Men seek for vocabularies that are reflections of reality. To this end, they must develop vocabularies that are selections of reality. And any selection of reality must, in certain circumstances, function as a deflection of reality.” ─Kenneth Burke

© Ozimkiewicz

Life Is But A Dream

Some of my clients have expressed to me that their day in and day out lives seem like the title of the book Chop Wood Carry Water. They feel like they are just slowly rowing along as life happens.

 Row, row, row your boat,

Gently down the stream.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,

Life is but a dream.

This nursery rhyme has been said or sung since 1852. The author is unknown. The verse was usually sung by children is a sing-song rhythm. This rhyme can be sung in different forms such as in rounds or by rotating and alternating the starting lines to make a moving wave effect.

Life’s difficulties are described in the verse symbolically and metaphorically in simple words. The row boat is an image of the container that carries you or a group through life. The boat is steered by repetitive, monotonous, rhythmically accomplished, and skilled rowing practice day in and day out. The oars have to be locked in place in their holders to synchronize the rower’s pushing and pulling movement to propel and thrust the boat forward, backward, to turn around or make various maneuvers. Down the stream might suggest the path and directional movement of your life. Time has been considered to be a stream. How people use their allotted amount of life time contains restrictions and constraints. These can be certain limitations, boundaries, and borders around the framework of their work or living environment. The banks of the stream hint or imply that there are free will choices to be made within the narrow confines presented to the rower as the boat moves along downstream. All the merrilys are a tip-off to moving happily through life within set circumstances. Life is but a dream, the last line, gives hints to the inspired imaginative aspects and creative fashion in which life is dreamed up and experienced in the physical world. Perhaps, everyone is rowing to get to the shore.

Row the Boat Ashore

During the Civil War the negro spiritual song Michael Road the Boart Ashore, Hallelujah was sung by the slaves. The abolitionist, Charles Pickard Ware wrote down the many verses for posterity in 1863. This metaphorical song was about freedom, deliverance, and salvation from oppression. The desire to get to the shoreline suggests a symbolic edge or borderline, before getting to the Promised Land. It is a song sung with the hope of release from all the endured harshness in life when the boat finally makes it ashore.

Row Your Boat Redone

In Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll included an adaptive reworking of Row, Row, Row, Row Your Boat as the poem’s fundamental foundation:

A boat beneath a sunny sky,

Lingering onward dreamily

In an evening of July —

Children three that nestle near,

Eager eye and willing ear,

Pleased a simple tale to hear —

Long has paled that sunny sky:

Echoes fade and memories die:

Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantom wise,


Alice moving under skies

Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,

Eager eye and willing ear,

Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,

Dreaming as the days go by,

Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream —

Lingering in the golden gleam —

Life, what is it but a dream?

It is interesting to note that the beginning letter of each line read vertically is the name, Alice Pleasance Liddell. She was the actual Alice that inspired Carroll to write about his dream.

A dream is the experience and sequence of images, sounds, or other sensations during sleep that appear involuntarily to the mind of the dreaming sleeper. Sometimes there are mixtures of real and imaginary characters, places, and events. A day dream can be defined as a series of images, usually pleasant ones that pass through the daydreamers’ mind while awake. It is a vague trance-like state that lets the mind dwell on delightful scenes and images when alert and conscious, often resulting in inattention. A daydreamer is preoccupied with imaginal thoughts or fantasies that can become new contributions and works presented to the world.

What do you daydream about?

What is your life’s dream?

Are you living your dream?

“Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” ─ Swami Sivananda

© Ozimkiewicz

And then There’s “That!”

“I exist as I am, that is enough.” ─ Walt Whitman

Some of my clients will tell me about emotional trauma, their huge life events, and they might say to me, “That’s that!” Others have said, “and then there’s that, and that’s all there is or amen to that!” These statements, “that’s that,” etc., seems to imply a finality as an acceptance of their state of affairs or a particular situational event. It rings a mental bell reminding them of the fact that some things are unalterable in life. When a client states a “that,” they are saying it cannot be changed, and I have to accept it because this is the way it is. Emily Dickinson describes this dynamic in her poem “That it will never come again.”

That it will never come again Is what makes life so sweet. Believing what we don’t believe Does not exhilarate. That if it be, it be at best An ablative estate — This instigates an appetite Precisely opposite.

When there is the thought, or if it is said out loud, “that’s that” it is a ruse or a trick upon oneself. Because that phrase takes you back to exactly the opposite of acceptance and finality. The idiom “that’s that” implies that there ‘s nothing more to say about “it.” Actually, there is more, the personal situation needs to be processed, digested, absorbed and assimilated with meaningful integration into one’s life. When a person says, “And then there’s that” they are saying that is the thing they are keeping away from their self, as if it is out there and stands alone. There are various methods that can be used in therapy to integrate a life’s emotional situation such as sand tray, expressive arts, and EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. There is a way metaphorically speaking that readily accomplishes integration by doing the hokey-Pokey.

Do the Hokey-Pokey That’s What It’s All About

This is a song and a rhythmic circle dance for everyone of all ages. Many different parts of the whole body are isolated such as a hand and shook. The song calls out for each limb to participate. The dictionary said that the word hokey-pokey was taken from the magical words hocus-pocus thereby indicating trickery. This is a song and dance that get you to integrate your entire self as you shake yourself all up. The whole self magically becomes alive and invigorated.

Psychologically, through the participation in the song and dance there’s a magical effect that is an authentic movement. According to Occam’s Razor, this notion says that when it’s applied, it points toward all things being equal, that the simplest explanation for a phenomenon is the preferred one. As you move about there is a shift into a vibration that gives an energetic vitality to your life. Once you decide to take a step into something pretty soon your whole self can get immersed in it. Here is the verse from the song and dance from Robert Chambers’ Popular Rhymes of Scotland from 1826.

You put your whole self in

You put your whole self out

You put your whole self in

and you shake it all about


You do the hokey-pokey

and you turn yourself around

That what it’s all about!

(The original author is unknown to me)

The heart wants what it wants, there’s no logic to this things, you meet someone and you fall in love that’s that.” ─ Unknown


© Ozimkiewicz