Lessons from Sandra Bullock

Lessons from Sandra Bullock

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss lessons that can be gleaned from Sandra Bullock.

First a quick update:

“Color energy portraits”
Joy DiMenna, a highly talented and international artist, has created a new style of painting and art form including energetic portraits of pure color and shapes. Joy has painted a portrait of me which is featured in her new book In Loving Color. In the book, Joy shares with you the messages of Color in stunning paintings, elegant prose, and playful yet profound verse, igniting your Soul, healing your cells, and loving you into your mission. Joy is a friend whom I helped to recapture her love for art her true calling; her newest creation is spectacular.

“Mike Tyson – clarification”
Some readers wrote to me regarding last week’s Success Newsletter: Overcoming yourself. Accordingly, I wish to clarify that I am not suggesting that Mike Tyson – a convicted rapist – be a role model but rather that we recognize that Mike Tyson was beaten and bullied as child and he overcame that to become a great boxer, and, that he is still trying to overcome his deep seated anger as well as his anguish and pain over the tragic death of his four-year-old daughter. Read the article here about Mike Tyson, John Edward Walsh and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Now, let’s talk about lessons from Sandra Bullock.

World famous actress, Sandra Bullock is recognized as Hollywood and America’s sweetheart. Most of the characters she has portrayed on screen tend to have similar characteristics – highly likeable, vulnerable and tough yet tender and compassionate; funny, self-deprecating, brave, feminine yet not afraid to get her hands dirty and work hard; fighting for the underdog and her principles, and maintaining integrity. In almost all of the characters Sandra Bullock has played, she is often seen as the sweet girl-next-door-type.

Why is this relevant?

It is these characters that have endeared Sandra Bullock to so many fans; and these qualities sum up most people’s perceptions of her in real life. And yes, in many ways, Sandra Bullock’s on screen characters reflect her off screen persona.

Accordingly, many people were shocked and angered to learn about the betrayal and multiple affairs of her husband Jesse James. The pain and betrayal extends even deeper when considering that it was Sandra Bullock who was gushing to Barbara Walters in a TV interview that her husband, Jesse, had her back and that it was Sandra who fought hard alongside her husband to win custody of his children from his ex-wife – a former adult actress.

How could such a sweetheart and seemingly loving woman marry such a man that would betray, humiliate and deceive his wife and on such a large scale? How could such a successful actress and businesswoman have made such a grave error in judgment? (Sandra Bullock won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in “The Blind Side” and also owns a highly successful production company, a restaurant, bakery and floral shop.)

And herein lays the one of the key lessons from Sandra Bullock’s painful experience. Sandra made the same mistake that almost every woman makes.

Sandra Bullock fell in love with Jesse James’ potential; his potential as a man and as a husband. While she might have been initially attracted to his wild and bad boy ways, ultimately, knowingly or unknowingly, Sandra Bullock was trying to tame, nurture and develop Jesse James. She was trying to change him.

And this seems to be a recurring pattern and trait amongst women: They fall in love with a man hoping he will change, expecting him to change and even trying to change him; devoting precious time and energy rescuing, reforming or transforming him to reach his potential.

But men do not want to change and they resist change. And when a man finally decides to change it is often too late – she has already begun divorce proceedings or has lost the love and given up on him and the relationship.

Thus, the first lesson from Sandra Bullock’s experience is summed up by something I wrote in my newsletter “Why don’t you change?” in October 29, 2008:

“So, here is my controversial advice:

Women: Stop trying to mother the man by nurturing him to what you want him to be; stop looking at a man and saying “Wow, he would look so good in those pants; I’ll buy them for him and make him wear them.” Love the man for what he is now and not what you think he might one day be, for he may choose to never be that.

Men: Expect that your woman will change and evolve. Don’t expect her to wear the same dress, hairstyle and have the same body that she did when you first met her ten years ago. Embrace her change and embrace change for yourself. Be open to learning from her.”

Yes, while men do not want to change they also expect that their woman will not change and are shocked to learn that she has changed – both internally and externally – physically, mentally and emotionally. Men, who are often like boys, expect and hope that the woman will even look the same – forever.

But could it be that another reason that Sandra Bullock’s marriage turned so sour is because they are so different; don’t opposites attract? Can’t opposites complement each other?

And herein lays the second key lesson:

Opposites in temperament and character attract and can balance each other but, opposites in morals, values and principals spell disaster and doom for any relationship – personal, romantic or business.

Sandra Bullock may be the shy, quiet type and Jesse James may be the loud, extrovert type; and that would work. But their morals and values blatantly clash.

Jesse James stayed true to his tribe; he maintained integrity to who he is. He returned to the world where he felt most comfortable – a world of tattooed adult actresses and performers – a world of people who didn’t care about loyalty, fidelity or commitment – people with whom he shared the same values – his tribe.

My controversial advice here:

When entering a relationship or contract of any kind, ensure that both parties share the same morals, values and principles.

Admittedly, Sandra Bullock claimed that she and husband Jesse James shared the same vision and she mistakenly thought they were not that different but despite his words, his underlying values & customs and her values and customs were vastly too different. Jesse James was still attracted to the world of his past and he could not let go because he could not let go of his old values.

And yes, Sandra was very wrong – Jesse and Sandra were very different. Sandra prized and appreciated family, her work, her happiness, her husband and her children, but Jesse James didn’t prize any of that. Above all, he appreciated self-gratification without thought of consequence.

And this leads to the third lesson from Sandra Bullock’s experience: responsibility and accountability.

When it became public, Jesse James admitted that he had done wrong and he apologized, asked for forgiveness for the pain and embarrassment he caused and even went as far as saying “There is only one person to blame for this whole situation, and that is me.”

And so with those inspiring words, it was expected that Jesse James might accept real responsibility for his actions but instead he cried the same thing that Tiger Woods and Steve Phillips did when they engaged in betrayal, deceit, infidelity and entitlement – victimhood – sex addiction. Comedian and TV show host, Jimmy Kimmel summed it up well when he said that sex addiction is the adult version of “the dog ate my homework.”

Real responsibility and accountability cannot include excuses or cries of helplessness or powerlessness such as an addiction that is not even recognized by the medical or psychiatric community.

Responsibility refers to being answerable or accountable for something within one’s power, control, or management; the capacity for rational thought or action.

Finally and ironically, Sandra Bullock now finds herself in a predicament similar to those she has played on screen. Sandra has played the underdog and fought for the underdog and now she has become one in real life – it’s not even clear what will happen now to Jesse James’ daughter which Sandra raised and loved as her own for five years.

But none of us is perfect; we all make mistakes and we all have plenty to learn from life and our experiences; we all have the opportunity to grow and evolve.

In the movie, “The Blind Side” Sandra plays Leigh Anne, a character that was also pampered, overbearing and self-absorbed but whom helps a poor boy reach his potential as a star football player and achieves insightful self-discoveries of her own. Perhaps, a life lesson for Sandra and all women, is to learn to distinguish the men from the boys; and to awaken and realize that the energy and time to help a boy become a man should be reserved for the real boys in need of nurturing and development – a woman’s children and not her husband or boyfriend.

If you would like to comment on this newsletter, click here.   if you have received this newsletter as a forward and would like to receive all of my newsletters please enter your email address on the home page.

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

Facebook Comments
10 replies
  1. Avatar
    Roshan says:

    Hi Patrick,

    I want to compliment you first of all on your unique brand of optimism and advice. It’s easy to get lost these days in the plethora of self-help gurus out there, but you bring something different to the table, a genuine confidence and healthy attitude. I appreciate that about you.

    I have a question about healthy relationships. For so many of us out there, including myself, a healthy relationship is murky territory. You said that it’s important to align morals, values, and principles with your partner. So let’s take Jesse James, Sandra’s husband for example. You said that he went back to his tribe of people, those who cheat and party and do not expect fidelity from each other. So his values are aligned with those folks. But though they can match their principles and core values, are they in a healthy relationship? It seems like such folks are simply using each other.

    So my question is, Can you establish for us what a healthy relationship is and what it looks like? What do two healthy people ask from each other? Specifically, how do they avoid using each other to get their own needs met?

    Thank you for your time.



    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Roshan,

      first, thank you for your kind words and compliments.
      Second, you are so right! I was laughing when I read your comments. Yes, two people who share the same morals and values which happen to be lies, cheating, betrayal or something else negative won’t necessarily have a healthy relationship; in fact, they won’t at all. So yes, matching morals and values while being highy crucial does not guarantee a healthy relationship. And since you have asked, I will write a Success Newsletter defining what I believe defines and comprises a healthy relationship.
      All the best,

  2. Avatar
    Patrick Wanis says:

    Dear Katrina,

    thank yoy for admitting that women, too, have faults.

    I find it amusing that Denise wrote that I have a “man assertion” problem and you write that I am not holding women accountable for their actions.

    And no, I do not believe that the only mistake women make is “choosing the wrong man” nor do I believe that women are morally superior to men. I have not yet discussed the women who are these mistresses and the wrong that they do – but I will be.

    And yes, I have written here about women cheating and the fact that women cheat almost as much as men.

    All the best,

  3. Avatar
    Katrina says:

    I have been reading your blog for a while and I get the impression that you believe the only thing women ever do wrong in relationships is choosing the wrong man.

    As a woman, while I love to think I am a wonderful person, I am realistic and know I have faults and feel very patronized by your articles.

    I am not saying the scenarios that you write about don’t exist, of course they do. But I don’t see any balance.

    I have seen many women destroy relationships by their cheating, violence and lack of responsibility. Statistically, women and men, cheat and are violent in close to equal numbers.

    Women are not morally superior to men.

    And it is absolutely not true that if women ran the world there would be less wars. Women have and will shame men into war.

    It is also a logical fallacy to go from…most world leaders are men to men rule the world. There are plenty of men who have no power.

  4. Avatar
    Jennifer Rodriguez says:

    This was a very profond and interesting blog post. I think a large number of women suffer from this problem, more than we’d like to admit. The question I have for you now is how can a woman recognize when she is making the error of falling in love with the potential of a man and not the man as he is?
    I find myself in a similiar kind of predicament. I’m crazy about this boy who’s extremely kind, caring and compassionate person but at times, he’s very passive about his life, gives up easily, won’t strive for more or better from life. I find myself wishing these aspects would “change” in him. Should I be expecting that? Or should I just be more patient and realize that these are things that everyone goes through and they will get better at some point in the future? Am I, by thinking like this, setting myself up to be like Sandra Bullock at some point in the future? I really hope you can give me some advice to clear the cobwebs from my head. After reading your blog post, I find myself feeling very stressed out about this.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Jennifer,

      I can understand your concern.
      You described this person as a “boy.” That would be my first concern. How old is he?
      If he is young and yet “he’s very passive about his life, gives up easily, won’t strive for more or better from life”, then you do need to be concerned. A young man usually is bold, adventurous, a risk taker, driven, ambitious and chases what he wants; he usually becomes passive and gives up if he is lived a lot in life and had had many failures and setback. If he is young and is the gives up easily and is passive, then one must ask “why? What has happened in his life? Has he always been this way? Why would you expect that he can change or that he does want to change?”

      Also, please remember two key points:

      First: if he gives up easily and does not fight for what he wants, then he will also be that way in a relationship with you! In other words, he probably won’t fight for you or the relationship when the real challenges surface.

      Second, you may find yourself having to be his driver and pusher – motivating him to pursue his goals. Do you want to do that all of your life in a relationship? He may not grow out of it.

      Finally, you mentioned that he is “extremely kind, caring and compassionate person but…” In other words, you are telling me that these three qualities are very important to you and then, you mention his weakness that troubles you. Therefore, become aware that you are telling me that what really matters to you is:

      finding someone that is “extremely kind, caring and compassionate person but” also someone who is active and assertive about life and strives for more and better from life!

      All the best,

  5. Avatar
    alli says:

    Well-written and straightforward timeless advice!

    I didn’t know that men should expect women to change. Don’t both people evolve in a relationship?…hopefully in the same direction if their values and beliefs are similar.

    I do agree that some men AND WOMEN are good at marketing themselves to a prospective buyer, on the order of what a politician does to get a vote.

    I guess what it boils down to is a question of exercising good judgment when choosing a mate.

    It happens…Many people get overpowered by hot looks, image, wealth and status that they find the real innards of what makes a person a good match such as personality, values, temperament, treatment of their mate, loyalty, etc., to be the “MINOR, BORING” stuff that they will change once the relationship turns into marriage. Nothing could be further from the truth. For the most part, what you see is what you get. I guess that’s the thing with falling in love; it can blind you to serious defects in and incompatibilities with the other person. The question is, do you love the person because you love the person or do you love the person because they love you out of all people, which makes you feel validated, special, and important.

    I remember seeing an old clip on TV about Sandra Bullock saying something to the effect that Jesse James was the only guy who can handle her or something like that. That made me think that she must not really think too much of herself. Wow, it made me go back in my mind to Patrick Wanis 101: You don’t get what you deserve; you get what you think you deserve.

  6. Avatar
    Patrick Wanis says:

    The following blog entry was posted by Denise Swanson in response to “Tiger Woods – The apology and the Fame Factor”

    I am reposting it here as it is a direct response to my newsletter about Sandra Bullock:

    Re: Sandra Bullock your commentary.

    My, my, my….aren’t we the blanket assessor. I’m sorry…. I missed it. You know….the part about we women who want to and think we can change or mold a man. Especially since we have the ability to create and raise them…. but that is an entirely different conversation. However, before you continue to give the “slapping of the hand” reprimand with a little dash of “you girls should now know better” …consider this: It is a consistantly more overt character trait in men than women to: 1. control, 2. deceive, and 3. enjoy getting away with something. Even your best military leaders ‘get off” on creative the plan of deception to capture the enemy. That is the ultimate high-fiver with males. I will not dare though, to bash men….I just want to tap you on your shoulder about the fact that Jesse James clearly represented himself as “a reasonable partner” when in fact he was not anything of what he presented to her ( or many others) from the beginning. I guess without the ‘ultimate background check’ ( which maybe a woman of her means and accomplishment should have considered doing) it obviously never occurred to her that she was potentially a mother needing to distinguish a ‘man from a boy’ and that she was nurturing an underdeveloped being. He comfortably fed her an image to give her no doubt that he was an honorable human being. A premeditated action with the underlying thought process of “half of the fun is getting away with it”. Let’s not forget that it has not been addressed publicly that friends warned her….. that this was a potential ‘bad choice’ of investment, for not ‘all’ extreme image people are mentally cruel deviates. They simply have chosen a different path of expression, not a demonic path. I think she chose to to critique his exterior as ‘self commitment’ but he, in fact, chose to consistantly feed her false information, not reveal his past, and in a preditory manner latch onto someone who would buy it….but she certainly does not deserve to be imaged as someone who deserves this ‘life lesson’ as you dare to call it. I have read only a few or your articles in the past, and it is clear that you exhibit a definite ‘man assertion’ problem. Maybe you need to consider getting a level of counseling for yourself. Are you Patrick, really the person, writer, editor etc. that you portray yourself to be on paper? Or are you someone else and we stupid women can’t see it right now because we so needingly want to nurture and develop a man who is really a boy?

    My reponse:

    Dear Denise,

    thank you for being open. I agree with you on most of all of your points and I would like to clarify what I said in my Newsletter. First, though in response to your opening sentences about women trying to change men, please read my Success Newsletter: Why don’t you change? https://patrickwanis.com/blog/index.php/why-dont-you-change/2008/10/29/

    You said “It is a consistantly more overt character trait in men than women to: 1. control, 2. deceive, and 3. enjoy getting away with something.” I have not seen any studies or statistics to support your contention but you might be speaking out of personal experience. If you read the various blog entries in my “Dealing with emotional vampires” Newsletter, https://patrickwanis.com/blog/index.php/dealing-with-emotional-vampires/2009/06/10/ then you will see that what you are referring to are the qualities that I don’t personally believe are gender specific but rather pertain to personal issues and programming. Interestingly, though, almost all of the blog entries are women complaining about their mothers behaving like Emotional Vampires. I make no conclusions or deductions about that phenomenon.

    With regards to military men and wars, you are right. Older men lead young boys into war. It has often been argued that if women were rulers, we would have less wars. The only challenge to that contention is that former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a powerful leader who also led and won wars. And she ruled with an iron-fist.

    You said “Jesse James clearly represented himself as “a reasonable partner” when in fact he was not anything of what he presented to her ( or many others) from the beginning.” Of course, you are right and that is why I said that he deceived her. Read the blog entry here from Kim and you will hear of her experience with deceit. And yes, I am sure he fooled her with various words, actions and images but that is my very point. You have to take into account his past and see if he has really changed before entering into a marriage. So again, Sandra made a mistake. That doesn’t mean she is bad, nor does it mean that she doesn’t deserve compassion and sympathy. Of course she does. But the entire point of my Newsletter is for all of us to learn from her mistakes. Do you think she will be more careful in the future? Of course, she will.

    I am not sure what you mean when you say that I “exhibit a definite ‘man assertion’ problem.” The whole message of my Newsletter is to empower women – so I am helping women to assert themselves and to be careful not to be betrayed. And incidentally, if you are claiming that I am biased, then please read my Newsletter “Angry nagging men” https://patrickwanis.com/blog/index.php/2010/03/03/angry-nagging-men/

    Also, read any of my Newsletters about Tiger Woods.

    Denise, nowhere in your response did you address the three lessons I proposed:

    1. Do not fall in love with a man’s potential and do not waste your time trying to change him – because men resist change.
    2. Both men and women need to ensure when entering into a relationship that their morals, core values and principals are in alignment
    3. Responsibility for one’s actions is not a cry of addiction i.e. I am saying that Jesse James is not being a real man because instead of admitting why he really engaged in this behavior of deceit, betrayal and infidelity, he attempted to escape judgement by using a false excuse of “I am a sex addict.”

    Thus, I do not see how you think I am singling out women or attacking women.

    I am somewhat amused and perplexed by your closing sentences:

    “Are you Patrick, really the person, writer, editor etc. that you portray yourself to be on paper? Or are you someone else and we stupid women can’t see it right now because we so needingly want to nurture and develop a man who is really a boy?”

    First, I didn’t realize that you and other women are trying to nurture and develop me. How are you doing that?
    Second, I am everything I write and portray: Many times I admit my weaknesses and failings. I even use them as examples for other people to learn from.

    Finally, let’s talk about you. Are you angry at men? And if so, why?
    Did a man deceive and betray you? Did a man try to control, manipulate you or try to get away with something?

    In conclusion, I admit that because I did not clearly write more sympathy and compassion towards Sandra, I can therefore understand why you might be thinking that I am simply ’slapping her on the wrists.” I do wonder though, why do we the public express so much more sympathy towards Sandra than we do towards Tiger Wood’s wife Elin – who has two young children to Tiger Woods? We show more sympathy towards Sandra Bullock because we feel we know her via her films and we feel that she is a sweetheart whereas we do not know Elin and Elin was a model but Sandra is the girl-next door. But both women were wronged and betrayed and both deserve compassion.

    All the best,

  7. Avatar
    kim says:

    Wow, thanks Patrick for a very insightful reality check. I am guilty of marrying potential twice. Of course both marriages ended with enormous amounts of pain and anguish, followed by lengthy periods of soul searching.

    BUT, in my (and Sandra’s) defense, those types of “bad boys” that are soo appealing initially, welcome and encourage change. They tell (and show) us nurturing and emotionally open women all the right things to solidify the relationship. I feel manipulated by both of my ex’s. It took several years to see their “true colors”.

    Any future relationships I may have will be approached very differently. Live and learn.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Kim,

      thanks for sharing your experiences. And yes, you are right also that these bad boys will initially “tell (and show) us nurturing and emotionally open women all the right things to solidify the relationship.” Sandra Bullock said the very same thing when she believed that Jesse James had her back – was taking care of her and protecting her. But the words and even the actions on his part were obviously limited.
      It’s always empowering to learn from your experiences and then know better how to approach the next relationship.

      All the best,

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