Do You Have the Guts to Be a Wimp?

I preach and write a lot about looking at your own flaws and leaving other people alone. Nearly every time I do someone says to me, “But there comes a time when you have to stand up for yourself. You don’t want to be a wimp and let people walk all over you.”

Of course there’s a point to that somewhere. But perhaps the reason I lean so far the other direction is because the easiest thing in the world for me to do is “stand up for myself.” When I’m upset or offended, the first thing I want to do is lash out, verbally, and sometimes even physically. I find it takes far more guts to keep quiet than it does to speak out.  

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Mistakes parents make, prt. 1

My wife and I had breakfast this morning with a young couple who have a baby.  They are obviously excellent parents.  It seems that the skills to be a great parent come naturally to some couples, but not to others. Ever seen Supernanny?  Do kids have to be that wretchedly misbehaved before we could agree 1) that parents can be sincere but inept, and 2) that there seem to be some common mistakes parents tend to make? 

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Mistakes parents make, prt. 2

(cont. from previous post)

5. Failing to save kids from themselves.  Years ago when our girls were small, I had been burning the candle at both ends, working, going to graduate school, and raising the kids.  My wife asked me one evening when I was planning on taking a day off.  I brushed her off, but she kept asking, and wouldn’t let it go.  Finally I got angry and said, “Why do you keep harping on this?”  She gently smiled and took both of my hands in hers, looked me deeply in the eyes, and said, “Because you need me to.”  She was right.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was right.  I needed her to save me from myself.  Parents, our kids need us to do that for them.  We can’t let them set the agenda for their lives.  We have to set limits for them: bedtimes, screening certain movies before they watch them, deciding certain movies and TV shows are simply off limits, making them bear down and do their homework, curfews — these things are simply essential if we are going to keep our children from making choices that could mess up their lives.  Parents, if you don’t save your kids from themselves, who’s going to?

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Full immersion counseling

In my last two posts I have talked about deeply transformational counseling. Those posts gave you an idea of what kinds of questions and issues you might expect a therapist to help you work through if your goal is pervasive spiritual transformation. In this post I want to focus on what will be required from your end as a client in order to get the most benefit from the experience. This is what I call full immersion.

In full immersion counseling, you go all in. You’re not there to dabble. You’re not simply using your counselor to see if your feelings of anger towards someone else are justified. It even goes beyond a commitment to go to therapy regularly and work hard. In full immersion counseling, you essentially give up the notion that you are the only judge of whether or not you are “okay.” You do not do this blindly or stupidly. You do it carefully, and only when you have found a therapist you know you can trust deeply.

When that time comes, you surrender completely to the process. This means that on days when you have a scheduled appointment, but you are feeling outstanding, and you don’t think you have anything to talk about in therapy, you go anyway. You go because you have decided to allow another person (your counselor) to look deeply into your life and to ask questions if they see anything they are concerned about.

Full immersion counseling is going to counseling as a discipline. When you are doing full immersion counseling, you realize that the moment you go back to being the sole arbiter of whether your attitudes and actions are “okay,” you have joined the ranks of 90% of the rest of America, who simply assume the rightness of their view of the world and act from that basis.

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Embracing Powerlessness, prt. 2

In my previous post I tried to clearly show that the path to peace is to embrace powerlessness. I showed that we have very little power over most of the things we care most deeply about. The question is how do we actually embrace powerlessness? The answer is as common as it is profound: by acting powerless.

Gestalt Therapy uses a technique called “acting as if.” This is where the therapist tells the client to act as if he/she is already the person he/she wishes to be. If he struggles to speak to women, he should act for a while like men act who do not struggle to speak to women. If she struggles with confidence, she should act like women who have confidence. This is what is often called, “fake it ’til you make it.”

If what I wrote yesterday is true, and we actually are powerless over a great deal of our lives, then the sooner we embrace this the better. And the way we embrace powerlessness is by acting powerless.

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