Monthly Archives: February 2009

Endurance, Not Therapy, Is The Answer to Some of Life’s Challenges

How did we as a people get so “knee jerk” about going into therapy every time we face a challenge or disappointment?

One caller to my radio program was having her three year old son tested for muscular dystrophy, a devastating illness, and the results wouldn’t be coming for two weeks.  She wanted to know how to “cope” with the two week wait.  I told her that she was simply going to feel stressed and scared – that was normal, and was to be “endured.”  She, like many others realizing they had to feel some emotional pain for a while, asked if she should go into therapy!

I asked her what she thought the folks who blazed the trail west in covered wagons did when people died of illness or accident, or if the Indians attacked or food got scarce?  Did they all line up in front of a therapist’s tent to express their pain and look for a magic cure to get through the sometimes unpleasant realities of life, or did they pray, hold onto each other and ultimately….endure?

She laughed, and said, “I see what you mean.”

We are sturdier creatures than we take credit for.  I am a licensed therapist, and there are, indeed, situations in which individuals cannot endure, due to a distinct compromise in a person’s ability to be rational, such as mental illness or severe trauma.  In these situations, I refer people to mental health professionals. 

But most things in life that we must deal with often are best served with some love, some advice, some prayer, and an acknowledgment that sometimes life just doesn’t feel good for a while.

I have told innumerable callers that there is no quick fix for a bad situation – and sometimes, there is no “fix” at all.  I tell them also to turn to each other (family and friends), rather than turn on each other with resentment, frustration, or anger.

Much of life must be endured.  There is still always beauty, such as seeing the flowers among the fertilizer, and there is always light (hope and alternatives).

Immortality

Kids (naturally) and adults (neurotically) worry about death.  One recent caller’s 12 year old son fretted about death a lot.  He worried that because he is the youngest, all the people who matter to him will die before him and leave him alone.

As a bit of an aside, all vampire movies have at least one scene in which the vampire, an immortal, laments that he’s had to lose every wife he’s had, because they’ve aged and died, while he remained the same:  the emotional pain is horrible.  Many a vampire character has rued not being able to grow old and die with his beloved.

What do these two issues have in common?  Simple.  Immortality cheapens the value and promise of life.  With “all the time in the world,” there are no imperatives, no goals, no sense that every minute is important and should not be wasted.  People tend to procrastinate like crazy when they’re given protracted time to complete something.  One of the most important aspects of life is that it is not infinite.

Since we all have “x” amount of time to live (75 years on the average, without accidents or fatal illnesses), knowing that gives us the incentive to make the most out of each day.

Children need to be reassured, but need more to learn how to “value” life, how to make “purpose,” and not “fear” their focal point, and to enjoy those they love each and every day.

How to Choose A Mate

Recently, a male listener, with a very undeveloped maturity bone, called to complain about his new wife.  It seemed that she was no longer the party girl he dated for two months prior to the well-thought out marriage, and he was upset that she was starting to “nest.”  How utterly disappointing and boring.

I told him he had to dump her and find a drug addicted, alcoholic, promiscuous hussy to marry to keep the party going.   And then I went onto the next caller.  It was that kind of day.

It is important, though, to know what you want when you date; it saves time and emotion.  CNN.com recently posted a blog by Wendy Atterberry entitled, “Seven Traits to Investigate on a First Date.”  The seven were:

1.  Pet situation,
2.  Employment status
3.  Dream vacation
4.  Perfect Saturday night,
5.  Perfect Sunday afternoon
6.  Romantic aspirations … dating for fun or marriage?
7.  Kissing style.
    
My take is that #6 should determine whether or not to even have a date in the first place.  I have told many women on my program that they should inquire as to the long-term intentions of the man before or at the beginning of the first date. “I’m dating to look for someone to share my life with and help raise my 84 children in a forever marriage…and why are you dating?” would be a good start as far as I’m concerned.   If you both want to party, or only one is serious…it’s important to know.

Numbers 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, are interesting and have importance down the line for the sake of mutual interest and compatibility of lifestyle, although a lot of that can change when one is in love.

Number 2, employment status, is another one of those significant facts to know before you agree to a date.  Folks who are flaky, unstable, unmotivated or unprepared for adult lives shouldn’t date.

I was seriously stunned that the most important issues – for example, religion –  were left out.  It is an important bonding agent to have mutual spiritual identities.  Relationship with parents is also important, as it tells you a lot about the health of the extended family.  The desire to have children and about how many is an important issue, as is the determination to raise and love children or pay hired help to “raise” them and watch them grow from a busy distance.  Finances, debts, and philosophy of saving versus spending would be good to know in advance too. 

Hobbies and other activities which can both build interest and mutual experiences, or interfere with the relationship and leave someone lonely are important as well.  Politics and life philosophy discussions would reveal similarities and differences (not always bad) in expectations, preferences, and attitudes    

Am I kidding?  Do I really think you folks should talk this seriously on the first date?  Shouldn’t you just marinate in each other’s furtive, sensual glances?

No, I am not kidding.  Yes…even before the first date if you’re spending some “get to know you” phone time.  And yes…romantic glances are wonderful.