Register here

Register using an email address

Terms & Conditions

Already have an account? Login here

Register using a social network


Login using your email address

Keep me logged in
Forgot your password?

Login using a social network


Read Letter

Dual Capacities

Dear Jil,

Today I want to share with you the paradox of capacities. One of the greatest paradoxes of life is that strengths are often weaknesses.

I remember the story of a disciplined politician with an incredibly disciplined thought system. He knew how to save his nation from economic miasma but he was accused of rigidity. That became an electoral albatross that earned him in death the sobriquet of the best president his nation never had! And so strengths can become weaknesses if not properly shepherded.

A woman has two critical instruments. They are her tongue and her emotions. These are powerful technologies. The tongue on its own is a deadly weapon. Let me quote from James’ contemporary thesis on the tongue: “By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it!” Now you see the paradox of the tongue: it can build and destroy in equal measure! In the corporate world I’ve seen grown men weep, torn to shreds from the tongue-lashing of a woman. And I’m talking about a woman shredding her colleague – not a superordinate shredding a subordinate.

What makes words so powerful in the mouth of a woman? It’s because the words of a woman ride on the strength of the combination of her dual capacities. They ride on the power of the amplitude of her emotions in combination with the inherent power of the tongue.

Emotions are liquified natural gas. When combined with the tongue it can set off a forest fire and send the whole world up in smoke, according to James. And a woman has an abundance of emotions. Without that abundance she cannot be the surfeit of human kindness that she is. Without it she can’t nurse her baby way beyond the harsh capacities of a man.

Men are just not equipped with those levels of emotional capacity. It makes a woman a pillow of comfort. And in many homes you’ll find that the woman is the mediator. She’s the translator of a child’s incorrigibility into acceptable understanding. She’s a shield from harsh judgment. That same emotion is what makes a woman vulnerable, sometimes to emotional predators. Again we see the paradox of capacities.

The question you’re confronted with in your relationship is, to what use do you want to put these powerful capacities? You can either build with it, or destroy a life with it. You can pull your man down, destroy his ego, his self esteem… Or you can prop him up, boost his immune system…it’s tough out there you know! You can be a comforter with your emotions, or you can use it obtusely to amass inordinate power through moodiness.

What is interesting in James’ analogous reasoning is that the tongue itself gets consumed when it sets the world on fire. In other words, a destructive use of the tongue is self-obligatory and non-discriminatory. It consumes, and then consumes. The tongue is an arsonist who doesn’t spare the supplier of gasoline. You are a weaponised entity. Be careful with them weapons.

A woman often dreams of her wedding day. Most women have it all planned out. A man lacks that visionary capacity. But suppose as you read this we create extra frames of future history and extend the script into marriage itself. There you are in your home sending your man off in the morning with words of encouragement. You’ll be shocked how much a man needs this, and he needs it often! A kind word, a touch or kiss does wonders! He’s going to face the lion and the bear out there. He needs your words and comfort. And he either comes home beaten, needing to go back into the ring to fight again; or he comes home triumphant. If he’s triumphant, you can encourage him to aspire more. If beaten, you can encourage him to fight one more round! And one more round, and one more round until life determines of its own accord he can’t be licked.

Contrast that scenario with tearing him down in the morning. He won’t want to come back home! We all pray for success. The story you don’t want is that your husband made it despite you. You want him ever grateful for the kind of woman you are! That is a vision worth pursuing. A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse, James says in his essay on anatomical purposedness. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. In other words, in a manner of speaking, you can be the bit in the mouth of your man. We may be hearing from the horse’s mouth, but it’s your bit of encouragement in the mouth of the horse that makes it fearless!

You can be the emotional rudder in the face of strong winds and tempestuous seas. I remember the story of Evander Holyfield when he faced Mike Tyson. (Don’t know for sure if the story is true but it sure is compelling even if not true!) A few minutes to the start of the boxing match, Evander became afraid. Who wouldn’t be! Don’t forget that, that Tyson guy would later bite off his ear, raw! He was a raging lunatic with a neck the size of a thigh! Sensing her husband’s vulnerability, so the story goes, Mrs. Holyfield invited her husband to dance. She held him and danced with him, draining away his fears, replacing nervous energy with the energy of faith. He went into that ring and faced the devil, beating the daylights out of Tyson. He pugilistically disciplined an animal!

Your mentor,



©Leke Alder 2013



Tags : Emotion, Tongue

Post Your Comments Here