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Kaiser Permanente and Worker's Compensation 
This Section of the Kaiser Papers is for the Employees of Kaiser and The Permanente


Excerpt Dr. Wayne W. Dyer's book - Pulling Your Own Strings.
 

From Chapter 7 - Never Place Loyalty to Institutions and Things Above Loyalty to Yourself - If you are what you do, then when you don't, you aren't.

How Institutions Work

Business institutions exist for one reason: to make profits.  They seek only to perpetuate themselves so as to return dollars to the people who have taken the risks of financing them and manufacturing the products or delivering the services. They are not in business for charity, and they don't pretend to be. Therefore, any victimizing you experience as a result of your connection to an institution has probably come about because you allowed it to happen.

If you believe a business institution owes you some kind of loyalty and ought to reward your long service with a lot of benefits to you as a person, then you are carrying  around  groundless  illusions.  The institution will attempt to deal with you in as utilitarian a fashion as possible. It will pay you for your services until you can no longer deliver the services it needs, and then you will
be dismissed in as inexpensive a manner as possible.

This is not a sour view of business in western culture; it is simply the way things are. Whenever you become an employee of an institution, this is the implied agreement. Even if it has such things as pension plans, profit sharing, incentive programs, or any other devices designed to hold on to employees, the fact remains that when it doesn't need you any more, you will be replaced, and every effort will be made to get rid of you as cheaply as possible.

Institutions simply do what they are designed to do, and there is no complaining about them being written in these pages. But you are not an institution. You are a human being who breathes and feels and experiences life. You do not have to be upset about the way businesses operate, nor do you have to commit yourself slavishly to institutions just because you are encouraged to do so by
institutional spokesmen who stand to gain by your self-victimizing loyalty. The man who retires after devoting fifty years of unflagging service to a company, and receives a gold watch and a small pension for his lifetime of devotion, has not been victimized by the institution. It owes him nothing, so he should feel grateful for the watch. He did his job and received his paychecks, and the company received his services. That is the way it is supposed to be. But the retiree has been victimized if he has devoted
himself beyond normal requirements and sacrificed his own personal goals and his family activities, because institutions do nothing but conthme on, whether you kill yourself for them or simply see them as ways for you to make your living.

SOME COMMON INSTITUTIONAL VICTIM GAMES

1. MAKING THE INSTITUTION A PERSON 

Perhaps the most significant way to victimize yourself through your work or association with an institution is to conceive of it as
somehow human and treat it as you might a lover or a friend. 

When you think of the company as another person who needs you, or even who can't function without you, then you are introuble. Institutional representatives would love for you to think this way, because they know you will then deliver your services on twenty-four-hour call and deny yourself any private life of your own. If you really believe the institution is a human thing,  ask yourself, "Would the institution continue if I left it?" "Would it die tomorrow?" Would it be upset or breakdown?" "Would it cry?": You already know the answers to these questions, so why not put the company or other institution into proper perspective and begin to treat it as at best a mechanism through which you are paid a fair price for a pleasant, stimulating, productive and satisfying use of your talents? Because there is no fair price for your sacrifice of the most important commodity you have your life.

2. SWEARING YOUR ALLEGIANCE FOREVER 

Another way you can victimize yourself is to swear undying allegiance to "your" company and proceed to make this obligation,
which you have invented, more important than your obligations to yourself and your family. This kind of devotion is absurd in many ways, because nine times out of ten you would gladly move on if you received a better offer elsewhere, and if you wouldn't, the worst reason in the world would be that you felt you were betraying some kind of unwritten law of loyalty. In big-league sports,
where "team spirie" and loyalty can actually be vital to success, you seldom see such confusions. Athletes are playing their hearts out for one team one day at the same time they are negotiating for bigger contracts. If they can do better for themselves elsewhere, they go to another team and instantly become loyal to the team they swore to wipe off the field, the court, the ice, or whatever. Managers of professional teams switch around on a regular basis, and they always understand that their loyalty lasts as long as their contracts. You are in a similar position with your job. If a better offer comes along, you would be afool to pass it up. If you find yourself unable to swerve from your allegiance to your employer, remember that the institution itself has no such problems with you.

3. ADHERING TO RULES AND COMMITTEE PROCEDURES AS IF THEY WERE SACRED 

Going along with the policies of your institution and acting as if they are rules to live your life by can also victimize you. Rather, look at rules and procedures as contrivances of people who have very little else to do.                                 .

Take alook at the way colleges and universities are run. Make no mistake about it; these institutions are big business, and they are in business to make money and to perpetuate themselves. They are run by administrators who suffer from the "comittee neurosis," who appoint committees to study everything vaguely connected with the university. There are committees to study the curriculum, to redo the curriculum, to undo the curriculum, to study the feasibility of inaugurating a new curriculum, ad nauseam.

If a camel is really a horse put together by committee, the daily running of universities is like an endless caravan of camels parading solemnly in circles. Grown men and women gather together week after week to sit around tables and discuss feasibilities, "prioritizing," rearranging, promotional and tenure decisions, building improvements, language requirements, grading procedures, evaluations, alternate procedures, and on and on. Rarely is anything foolish the entire game is, and that all the decisions that
take twenty weeks to make in the committees could easily be accomplished by one intelligent, fair-minded person in
twenty minutes.

But as so often happens with institutions, the procedures become bigger than the people they are designed to serve. And for the most part, the people who are trapped in the maze of the committee neurosis ironically seem to love it. After all, if they didn't have their petty committee meetings to attend, their minutes to read and reread, their points of order, and their Roberts Rules of Order, they'd have very little else to do.

People who sit around and talk for a living rarely are doers. They become administrators worked up in their own words, and they personify-the Peter Principle that is, cream rises until it sours. People who want to get things done refuse to sit around and talk about what could be accomplished if people would get off their rear ends instead of endlessly spinning out the possible ramifications of what is proposed.

Gail Thain Parker, a former college president, writing in the Atlantic Monthly, described her first faculty meetings at Harvard in 1969 this way: 

It was like watching a basketball game in which the object was to take time-outs rather than to complete plays.
The most active man on the floor was the parliamentarian who repeatedly leapt to the stage to confer with the president, while the president in turn sat quietly in front of a huge red lag emblazoned VERITAS. 

Having paid my dues by spending six years as a college professor, I can personally attest to the veracity of her remarks. Professors sit around in caucus demanding to be heard on an issue of no consequence.A debate ensues for thirty minutes, with the result that an ad hoc committee is formed to come up with a feasibility study, which will take at least two years to get to the floor.  When it does, it will be debated for more wasted hours, chewed up, and spit back to another committee.  Anything to keep the issue from being resolved and acted upon, even it it is so inconsequential as to require nothing more than a sensible clerical decision. 

Non-doers gain their self-worth in these meaningless ways, maintain the status quo by instituting evasive gimmicks, and tend to label the entire process democratic participatory decision-making. The following words of a North Dakota state senator illustrate how the endless, meaningless tripe that spews out of so-called decision-making bodies sometimes attains the heights of the sub-
limely ludicrous.

What we ought to do now, obviously, is suspend all activity until we can hold a plebisite to select a panel that will appoint a commission authorized to hire a new team of experts to restudy the feasibility of compiling an index of all the committees that have in the past inventoried and cataloged the various studies aimed at finding out what happened to all of the policies that were scrapped when new policies were dedded on by someone else.

If you participate in this kind of activity, or find yourself even mildly upset by it, you are victimizing yourself. This kind of evasive talk has been going on as long as man has had coundis, commissions, governments, etc. It will always continue, no matter who stands up and talks about how to eliminate it. Your only escape is to refuse to participate by being quietly effective and simply shrugging at the inanities that rage around you. You can refuse as many committee assignments as possible, and when you
can't avoid them, be a mute member who is a voice of reason whenever you have to break your silence.

You can stop being upset by the workings of the committees and go about performing your own tasks, actively minimizing your participation in the nonsense that so occupies many people. Be you a mechanic, a teacher, a dentist, a cab driver, a florist, or whatever, you are never immune from the victimizing efforts that collectives will attempt to impose on you in the name of progress, democracy, or improved effidency. But when you see the committee neurosis surfacing, you can opt for a quietly effective choice that will not victimize you.

4.  BEING SEDUCED BY THE BUREAUCRATIC MAZE UPON WHICH INSTITUTIONS THRIVE

Institutional bigness creates distance between organizations and the people they are designed to serve.  the larger the organization, the more bureaucratic machinery must be oiled to keep it operating.  The U.S. government is a classic example.  It is run by an endless list of committees, departments, agencies, divisions, and other subgroups.  Each group has departmental chairmen, agency heads and other bureaucrats who want to hold on to their jobs and their power positions.  furthermore, the entire bureaucracy employs thousands of people who do not want to rock the boat and perhaps lose their jobs.  And so you find yourself confronted with fearful functionaries who are loath to give you straight answers because they are being faithful to higher-ups who might chastise them.

You become the victim when you attempt to get service.  Just try to get straight answers from politicians who have been lifelong bureaucrats.  They talk with fuzzballs in their mouths, and respond to simple yes or no questions with answers like, "I considered the alternatives and I've committeed myself to further study."  "I hate to give a possibility of a negative response if other contingencies arise of which I have hertofore not been apprised."

Bureaucrats are paper shufflers who usually send their victims from one office to another with never a firm answer.  I have seen people shuffled around for an entire day when they simply wanted to register their car in a new state.  You know that it's like a deal with unemployment office personnel, or clinics run by the government.  The forms are endless, and the clerks have a very special way of attempting to victimize anyone who wants to be treated with dignity and expeditious service.

5.   FALLING INTO THE JARGON TRAP

The jargon of bureaucracies is indeed something to ponder.  Bureaucrats have invented a language of their own, which is a technique to keep action at bay and to perpetuate the evasiveness upon which their entire institutions function.

Psychological workers talk about human beings in frightening terms. They are quick to pigeonhole people with psychological terminology and forget that they are talking about human beings.  People get labeled manic-depressive, psychopathic, sociopathic, schizophrenic, brain-damaged (or cerebrally dysfunctional), or the like. These labels may serve the therapists, but are dangerous in that they often victimize human beings, who are no longer viewed as people, but as mere collections of symptoms.

Once a person is labeled, he is for all purposes negated as a human being. If you call a child "autistic," and you believe that autism is incurable, then you have given up hope for a human being.  Son Rise, by Barry Kaufman, tells the story of two caring parents who refused to accept the diagnostic label of autism for their young son and invested themselves totally in him, eventually bringing him out of his mysterious walking coma. When they took him back to the many doctors who had labeled him "autistic,"
they were told that he had been misdiagnosed, because autism was incurable. There is the Catch-22 logic that labelers use over and over again in protecting their theories and neglecting human lives. While few professionals do it, nevertheless it is far more functional to label behavior rather than people - for example, "He has  has staying-in-bed behavior, or non-talking behavior," instead of labeling him a depressive or a mute.

Legal language is another prime example. Lawyers have made sure that our laws are written in such a way that the average Joe doesn't stand a chance of unraveling the terms of a contract, and so must hire specially trained decipherers to interpret documents like contracts, leases, deeds and insurance policies. All efforts to simplify our laws are met with keen resistance by legal lobbyists. Citizens' lobbies attempting to simplify divorce proceedings or bring about no-fault-insurance provisions find the legalists blocking the way with the very kinds of arcane obscurities the citizens are trying to weed out, protecting the "interests" of the people who make their livings out of being the only ones who can do such things, and who will do whatever is necessary to keep "untrained" hands out of their pie.

Government agencies are experts at using language to obscure meaning, and ultimately to victimize people who are looking for service. The military is a classic example. The Pentagon, one of the largest bureaucracies within the government, has created its own impenetrable semantic subjungle, with its regulations in quadruplicate for every available contingency, spelled out in such immensely complicated and convoluted language that the average person cannot possibly make any sense out of them.

After years of hacking through bureaucratic semantic thickets at the U.S. Public Health Service, a sixty-three-year-old official named Philip Broughton finally hit upon a sure-fire method for converting frustration into fulfillment jargonwise. Euphemistically called the Systematic Buzz Phrase Projector, Braughtonts system employs a lexicon of thirty carefully chosen "buzzwords"  and is reported directly from the Times magazine, February 9, 1976, page 27, a supplement to Army Times/Navy Times/Air ForceTimes.
 
 
Column I Column 2 Column 3
0. Integrated 0. Management 0. Options
1. Total 1. Organizational 1. Flexibility
2. Systematized 2. Monitored 2. Capability
3. Parallel 3. Reciprocal 3. Mobility
4. Functional 4. Digital  4. Programming
5. Responsive 5. Logistical 5. Concept
6. Optional 6. Transitional 6. Time-phase
7. Synchronized 7. Incremental 7. Projection
8. Compatible 8. Third-generation 8. Hardware
9.  Balanced 9. Policy 9. Contingency

W. J. Farquharson, writing in theTimes magazine, explains the procedure, whereby bureaucrats may simplify their jobs of obscuring the facts. "Think.of any three-digit number, then select the corresponding buzzword from each column. For instance, number 736 produces Synchronized reciprocal time-phase, a phrase that can be dropped into virtually any report with that ring of decisive authority.  No one will have the remotest idea of what your're talking about, but the important thing is that no one is about admit it."

This kind of language game can be played with virtually any institution that has its own jargon - big business, medicine, the law, psychiatry, insurance, accounting, public-service agencies, etc.  The way to escape the bureaucratic victimizing game is largely to avoid it whenever possible; otherwise go into it with a complete understanding of how it functions.  You can avoid being upset by anything you encounter, and you can refuse to deal with bureaucratic clerks whenever possible.  You must ignore the language and other bureaucratic roadblocks, and never allow yourself to be sucked into the same kinds of absurd behaviors.

6.  FAILING TO UNDERSTAND THE INSANITY OF BUREAUCRATIC LOGIC

Besides using direct language as seldom as possible, bureaucrats do not operate on logic; they simply follow the rules and the established precedents, even when they make no sense at all.  Here are two telling examples, both of which are true stories.

*The milk truck.  Joe was a milkman who owned his own truck.  One day to his dismay the truck was stolen.  It was recovered by the police, however, and Joe went to claim it at the local station.  He had no other source of income, so he was desperate.  But he was informed that the truck was being held as evidence for the trial, which might come around in three months.

Joe got the same story from all sides of the bureaucracy.  He could not have own milk truck back, despite the fact that he needed it to make a living - unless he was willing to drop charges against the thief!  If he pressed charges, he had to be victimized by losing his truck for three months.

Joe refused to be a double victim, so he simply dropped charges, and the theif was released.  This is how the bureaucracies of the world often function at the expense of the people they are supposed to serve.  Each person Joe dealth with said he was powerless to do anything, and Joe was shuffled around until he finally had had it, and decided to get the hell out of there before he joined them in their insanity.

 The widow. Nancy's husband died suddenly. As so often happens in such cases, Nancy was forbidden to touch any of their funds, including her very own money, because it was all tied up in estate proceedings. Nancy waited four long years before the estate was
settled. All the bureaucrats who victimized her explained that they were sorry, but that was how things worked. Her very own bank account was frozen/as well as all joint holdings, simply because the mindless bureaucrats in their gray flannel suits wanted to spend four years debating how Nancy's income should be handled. Because of the long delays and the multiple lawyers who had their greedy fingers in the estate, to the tune of claiming sixty per cent of it in legal and handling fees, Nancy had to go out and scrounge up another job to pay her bills. 

The only way to beat these kinds of victimizing occurrences is to be dishonest and not report a death, or to obscure your funds from estate-hungry bureaucrats. The law, which is supposed to serve people, ironically encourages them to circumvent it in order to survive. 

Honore de Balzac once said, "Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies,"  If you are not alert, persevering, and determined not to be victimized with a hatful of strategies, then you may find yourself done in by bureaucrats with institutional, man-eating tentacles that will gobble you up in a moment. Below are some typical ways in which institutions and their representatives attempt to victimize you, along with some very specific suggestions you can implement to keep yourself free from
their clutches.

STRATEGIES FOR ELIMINATING INSTITUTIONAL VICTIMIZATION

Most importantly, you must shift your belief system around to get rid of all ideas that you don't count as much as the company, or that the institutions of the world are more significant than its individuals. Every time you find yourself behaving in a self-sacrificing way wherein your time is being given up for an institution, you should assess if that is really what you want for yourself. You
will entail some risks in eliminating any slave status you may have earned, but first you must accomplish the crucial attitudinal shift whereby you as a person come out on the top of your list of things which command your loyalty.

Assesss your life priorities with the people that count the most to you. Talk with your family about your conduct and what you are seeking. Ask their opinions about your own job responsibilities, and whether they are feeling neglected. Make a list of the things you really want to achieve, and why. Then look at your own behavior. Are you moving toward the personal fulfillment that you covet, or are you digging yourself into a deeper hole? You can only shift things around when you put the whole thing into perspective, and begin living your life a day at a time, in the pursuit of happiness rather than neurosis.

Gradually increase your quiet time, privacy, and chances to do things that are really important to you. You may have to force yourself, at first, to schedule breaks away from the job and take time to be with your children or your spouse, take a nap, go out to dinner with a loved one, or talk with someone you've been neglecting. But if you give yourself minimal times like this at the beginning, they will ultimately grow into regular, healthy, fulfilling habits.

Practice being quietly effective in relieving your mind of the tensions of institutional slavery. Don't tell anyone about your new attitude or program; simply make your mind work in self-enhancing ways. Knock off excessive time you spend in committees, or on trips, or just over-seeing the business. Practice leaving your work behind when you leave the office or the plant. Stop rethinking
everything that happened during the day, and stop being preoccupied with tomorrow's or next year's business. Instead of harping constantly on your own business problems, learn to talk about family members' feelings, their accomplishments, their ambitions. Quiet your mind by just allowing it logo blank for a few minutes. Push out work-related thoughts when you find yourself thinking about pressure and the job.  On vacations, practice enjoying the entire respite from your working world that you've worked hard to earn, rather than wasting the time by worrying about the future or reliving the past. One of the healthiest techniques for career, success is learning to forget about it regularly, which also brings you back to it refreshed, more efficient, and able to view your work in new and better perspectives. 

Get the word retirement out of your vocabulary. Make up your mind that you are never going to retire, that when you leave your current job, you will still be productive and useful, and life will be full of enjoyment. Stop thinking about your future years, and get on with making your present years worthwhile. Regardless of your age, if you believe that you will someday retire and just
sit around watching birds and sunsets, you are fooling yourself. That kind of activity will make you feel useless, though retirement communities thrive on advertising it. You can live every moment you are allotted on this planet fully and freely, and your age will never be an inhibiting factor unless you let it be. If you live now, in every now, there will never 'be a time when you're "retired." So get the concept out of your head. And if you now have a job you hate, and are just staying in it to fulfill pension requirements, reassess if you really want your life to be used up in such a fruitless way. Stop postponing your gratification. Remember, the future is promised to no one. You could drop dead the moment after you've finished sacrificing your entire life for your retirement.

If you dislike an institutional assignment, and you resent working where you do, leave. Don't be afraid of the risks. If you are a dedicated person who wants to fulfill your responsibilities in a job that fulfills you, then you'll never tolerate anything else, and you will soon find a new position. You don't have to stay where you are forever, simply because you happen to be there today and it is
easier to stay than to move on. Risk-taking is at the heart of not being victimized by institutions and bureaucracies.

Live your life as though you only had six months of it left. When you really think about time and its infinite thousands and millions of years, your own life span suddenly becomes breathlessly short.  Six months can look like six inmutes. If you knew that you only had six months to live, what would you do differently? Then ask yourself the very realistic question, "Why in the  hell aren't I
doing it? Now.....Do it!

 Stop using the excused have a responsibility to.. ." to tell yourself why you can't be fulfilled in your own life. And when victimizers try to make you feel as though you owe it to the institution to sacrifice yourself beyond the time or trouble you're being paid for, because you must prove your loyalty to the institution, remember, consiously or not, they are just doing what they are getting
paid for, which is to get the most they can out of you. You can almost always discharge your legitimate responsibilities and have a life of happiness, especially when you stop rationalizing your unhappiness and get on with doing things differently.

Go through each of the characteristics of Type A behavior detailed earlier.(This is not included in this web page) Give yourself some exercises to do that will eliminate the deadline urgency, the fast talking, etc. Slow yourself down and enjoy life a moment at a time.

Don't be seduced byprops of power, such as titles that will be bestowed upon you if you work hard, promotions, decals for your helmet, ribbons, a bigger desk, your name on the washroom door, or whatever. All these prestige symbols are dangled before you to make you believe that you will be more worthy when they are bestowed on you. If you remember that your worth comes from within, then you won't befoiled by the need to collect more and more props of power, which ultimately amount to more
and more "instant approval* from everyone you meet. If you aren't at peace with yourself, then none of the props in the world will mean anything, because your life will be wasted and you will know it.

Simply refuse to partidpate in committee assignments which you feel are worthless. Politely decline to be a member, or if you are assigned, just attend without being an active participant. You will be surprised how much fun it is to avoid being placed on silly committees and worki study groups, and how creatively you can eliminate these little nuisances from your life.

Take away your foolish self-demands for excellence in everything you do, and your demands for the same from your loved ones. Allow yourself the pleasure of just doing. Paint a picture, just for fun.Don't worry about  "not being
a painter" - just enjoy doing it. Take a similarly relaxed, non-competitive approach to as many of your life activities as you can, rather than pressuring yourself to be perfect at everything you do.  Ask yourself why you've put such pressures on yourself, and probably on your family too. You'll find that your competitive edge will be even sharper in the areas where it's useful or necessary when you stop competing in all the areas where it's needless and destructive.

Try throwing away your watch and calendar occasionally. See if you can handle not running your life on a schedule for a day. Let go of the compulsion to run your life against the clock by just doing things like eating, sleeping, talking, etc., when you feel like it, rather than when you are "supposed to."

CONCLUDING REMARKS
Your job can be a source of great delight, but also a fatal source of victimization. Few drop dead from purely physical overwork nowadays, as countless slaves used to do a century ago in some parts of the world, but many Americans now die from overworry and overanxiety, If you are in any way a victim of institutions, whether your slavery is self-inflicted by your excessive loyalty, or comes from institutionally imposed policies which you treat like laws of the land, you can do something about it by vowing
to change your attitudes and your behaviors. You only live once, so why should you live at the mercy of man-made institutions? Obviously you shouldn't, and you won't any longer when you decide to stop being a victim.
 
 

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