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Deep Waters

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no common ground

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I haven’t been taking my own advice.  When dealing with situations that feel harmful, I always say, rather than trying to change the other or others involved, get out of the way yourself.  This is the quickest way to put an end to a bad situation, since the other guy may not see it as you do, or he might ignore your entreaties to stop doing whatever it is you don’t like.  (He has the right to.)

Since the only person you can change is yourself, I always say: Leave.

I still think this is good advice.

But I haven’t been applying it.  That’s because I’ve failed to consider that we sometimes cannot see when a situation is harmful.   Even if we’ve been unhappy, or complaining, trying to resolve conflict or trying to get others to resolve it, we may have never really seen the situation as harmful. 

There are times when we perceive a situation as intrinsically inescapable.

This could be a result of learned helplessness, codependency, enmeshment, and the like.  But it might also be from the…

striving on and non

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There was no trace of seeking, desiring, imitating, or striving, only light and peace
~ Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha


Don’t just do something, sit there!
~ Sylvia Boorstein, in her book by the same name


Many people come into my office feeling despondent for reasons they do not immediately recognize.  Then they uncover a connection to having been bullied by parents, partners or employers, at work, in the school yard, at home or, nowadays, online.

Their reaction is usually some combination of feelings of shame, helplessness, anger and despair.  They feel intense frustration and often become rage-filled when recalling how they were stuck in a situation in which they felt hopelessly tormented, diminished and abused.

One young man expressed it like this:
No matter what I did, the bullying would continue.  Day after day after fucking day, they would pick on me.  They would stop for a while, and that would be a blessed reprieve, but then they would start up again.  I never knew why; could never fi…