English: Jack and Jill by Dorothy M. Wheeler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jack and Jill go up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack falls down and breaks his crown. Jill skips along to the other side of the hill and continues to take the pale to where it belongs. She does think about Jack and hopes he will dust off and catch up with her. Her wondering is interrupted by a colorful tune from the cellphone and she is soon on the way to drop off the bucket and head over to Sally’s house for lunch. Maybe they would go out later.
Jack kicks around rocks for a while and by mistake attracts a cloud of angry bees. Oops! Apparently, in the middle of all his huffing, puffing and wild throwing he sent a rock flying into a hive. Ten minutes and one hundred bees later, he’s lying on the ground and moaning. The stings produce ugly bubbles with a red prickly center in each all over his face.
Jill is sitting at Sally’s house on the porch laughing it up over the stories of their other friends antics. Jack’s name comes up as well. Both of the girls plan a late night and drink their tea. Doug pulls into the driveway in his hopped up four-wheel-drive work truck and jumps on to the porch; soon adding to the laughter about goofy friends.
Meanwhile Jack is running from a two-hundred-pound wolf. He smacks himself hard against a tree, but manages to get a grip on the lowest limb and climb up to safety. Laying in the upper part of the tree, he starts to wonder where Jill went to. She told him earlier about the possibility that Sally might call. He thinks about punching her in the shoulder later for leaving the hill. His face is burning. Both of them had the task of taking the water to dear old Miss June’s house. She’s been sick lately and paid them the day before to fetch water.
Jack sees that the wolf stops waiting and trots off back into the woods. Jack has to take the chance of getting out of there on his own. He forgot to charge his phone last night. Hell of a moment. But he has to get out of the tree. Jill, Sally and Doug aren’t there with him. It’s either lay around and moan on the big branch or climb back down and run. Then Jack will be able to help make his group of friends into a foursome during a night on the town.
Some people assume that their words have magical powers; like when a father tells his son to concentrate and worker harder. How many times does he have to say this? Does his son’s brain automatically change gears and get right to it? Test the idea and watch what happens. Just stand there and say “work harder and concentrate”. Write down the number of times you can say this in a day and mark down the amount of progress noted. If you have to say it, there isn’t much of a chance, until you do some work.
In order to see new results, we sometimes have to mix in new types of activities and boost our vocabulary. Our brains and bodies have a hard time running on empty when we’re expected to pick up on a different way of doing things. To expect otherwise is like waiting for some magic potion or fairy dust sprinkled, or the wave of a magic wand.
This is why I carry around a kitchen timer and other tools in my therapy bag when visiting the schools. It helps a person to know where the limits are, so we can establish a direction (and get out the timer). If concentration fails after thirty seconds, then we obviously need to work towards a minute. Of course there has to be some personal motivation behind it. Maybe the kid wants to get something done right the first time and not spend hours on homework in detention or after school. But then, maybe he likes this kind of punishment. There maybe some gain in attention from adults in this respect and he likes it.
Nevertheless, this persons brain may not know how to just get with it at will. And so we educate. Knowledge is power right! Yeah, the reader can fight me on this, but he or she may want to know how I help the client with an awareness of their own type of thinking. And this is where the drawing pad comes in handy. Over the course of many sessions, I have observed the results in black, white and color how different people (kids) respond to the directive “make a picture”. The subject of a drawing could be an emotional situation or a simple description of the family. If markings are made all over the paper in an erratic fashion and the picture is not being completed, I will take back the pad and draw an outline of something; number the parts and have him color it in by the numbers: 1-10.
If the child or preteen responds well to competing for stickers, I say “Each part has to be colored in order. If you start with any number but one, you don’t get a sticker”. The task sounds elementary. To some artistically inclined people, the exercise of coloring in parts by correct order probably goes against the virtue of creativity, but let me explain. There is my observation of how relaxed and methodical a person becomes when doing such an activity. The brain, hand and use of coordination has to work in a step-by-step manner. The task gets done and it actually makes sense! And here, we have a prescribed way of doing things many times over. Repetition is the mother of skill.
Fasce Olympians (Photo credit: Marco Crupi Visual Artist)
Ever notice how Olympic athletes bring on the “edge of your seat” level of anticipation when performing a feat which would most likely kill the rest of us? About twenty years ago, I started paying attention to the kinds of events which starred a single athlete either skating to a song or making a death-defying move off the bars. And I have also read about what goes into accomplishment of such moments.
An Olympian eats, breathes and dreams the moves over and over on a daily basis. The practice and honing of moves are a lifestyle and habit. The observer into a period of this athlete’s life would shake his head in amazement and think “Wow. Get a life.”
Why? Because the life of an Olympian is not the life of an average person. Average means influence of emotion and desires. Average has no focused path to follow through on. Reaching sub-goals on the way to achieving an goal is not everyday and mediocre practice. Devoting hours and days to a ritual that gradually trains the body to respond automatically to a certain stimulus, is not for the average life of just getting through the days until the weekend.
Quite a few people who come to my counseling office are familiar with the observer’s stance on the practice of implementing relationship skills. For example, most friends and family members in any given person’s life are casting doubts and surprise when personal boundaries are announced. The new behavior of setting a time-limit on phone calls with negative people is labeled as “selfish.” And the therapy assignment to saying “No” to the usual requests at home or in the company of friends is sometimes met with astonishment, silly questions and the expression of anger. This person is changing the game. He or she (client) is not only working on a healthy relationship goal, but is also refusing to act like the same old piece of furniture in other people’s comfort zone.
In this case, average is not the rule of thumb. The client’s determination to reach a healthier level of response to bullying or co-dependent behavior, will not permit the act of submission. The remark “Well now you’re just being crazy” or some other kind of guilt trip will not influence the training.
First, I will ask the reader to look at the difference between “argue” and “debate.” Quite a few of us in American culture can run into some confusion, because of our pioneering spirit. We cherish our independence. A lot of early training in the families of this country, reflects the value in standing up for what we believe. Otherwise, there would not be much protest against government agencies trying to dictate how to raise the kids and run the household. We don’t like being told what to do, period. I for one, hope that this healthy attitude continues. Human beings are not sheep.
When a person is in debate of an issue, he does best when ready with a convincing set of facts. His platform for debate may not guarantee a win of the most votes, but he can at least pavé the road to a later credible battle. Unlike argument, which is a behavior based on emotional defense, the act of debating serves a purpose. The opponent is invited to share information and the goal here is to clarify the gravity of the issue. A solution is eventually reached. In arguments, there is nothing but an angry push from each person to see who is the strongest. And when emotion is ruling the behavior on each side, the information (if any) is only distorted and both parties are further from a solution. So another day goes by without anything productive happening. It’s just a cycle of futility. To argue needlessly is akin to climbing a mountain made of butter with cellophane shoes.
My way of helping to curb the impulse to argue or be led into an argument is simple and easy. Of course, this works best when there is a personal acknowledgement of the costs about such behavior. The method has to do with using physical cues to help monitor the rate of impulsive acts. Your job is to cut down on the number of times per day, that a disagreement or behavior triggers an emotional reaction. For example, if six-year-old Johnny says the “No T.V. after 7:00 at night rule” is stupid and you are starting in with “No it’s not” then go ahead and put a colored chip labeled “I argued again” in the designated can. I’ve been known to label the cans for this kind of process, with words that remind the client of what we talked about in the session. Bringing a souvenir home from vacation has the same effect.
Ever done the “pocket of rocks” exercise? It entails filling your pockets with rocks and only taking one out to drop it on the ground when you let go of a usual behavior. We’re talking about self-defeating behaviors such as avoiding the person who you have a problem with. In order to get rid of a rock, talk to the person and bring up the issue. There’s no guarantee of you and the person straightening things out right away, but the avoidance is over. The pain-in-the-ass action of hiding your feelings and thoughts is past, at least in this respect. To talk is a way to add dimension to the issue and offer yourself and other people with a choice of what to do on the matter.
Many of us assume that because our thoughts and feelings exist, the other people in our lives will automatically know how we stand on everything. Because of this, we expect these people to behave a certain way. But we end up being surprised and hurt on a daily basis. And it turns out that none of us have acquired the ability to read minds. People young and old, whether you think it’s right or not, are going to go about their business towards needs and wants of the moment. No amount of protest is going to make any lasting difference. An occasional demonstration of anger is much like hearing a car backfire while walking down the street. Some people might feel startled and look in that direction, but are soon continuing to walk on. So a noise was made. Big deal.
Most of us do pay attention to established rules. Rules are based on the costs and benefits of certain behaviors. The cost of my son yelling and screaming while I’m on the phone, is that I’m only hearing part of what the other person says. I’m missing out on information and have to ask the caller to repeat himself. Now I have to spend a longer time on the phone. More time on the phone, means less time doing something else which is important to me and my son. This means we lose all around. New household rule: Quiet when someone is on the phone. The consequence to disobeying this rule is…
The rule is made aware by discussing the costs and benefits with all household occupants and then posting it in a central place. Now it’s out of your head and on paper or poster board. Everyone can see it and you don’t have to rely on the fantasy of mind-reading.
I’m glad you have decided to get over your pansiness and click on this post to read. Desire is a six-letter word that often connotes some sort of carnal lust for a substance or even better, a person. Such a word is seen on the front cover of romance novels and articles, which lead the reader into an underworld filled with the kinds of unmentionable activity between people. I would even put “desire” in the category of taboo conversation. Only because this is the result of a social mechanism we human beings have built to label and shelve our corners of existence.
I use the word “desire” to help put some emotional charge behind my priorities and to establish a point of entitlement in this respect. In order for me to take ownership for what I see as personal goals, there must be an investment on my part. But let’s move on to the reason I titled this piece with “desire.”
My gives me a verbal list of grocery items right before I am about to grab the keys. There are only four items to remember and she knows that I can keep them in mind, all the way to the store. She asks me if I need to right them down anyway. I quickly reply “Oh yes” and go ahead to make a written list. Yeah, I’ve heard and read about all the different ways that we can exercise our minds. There are many benefits to keeping our brains stimulated with memory games and what not. The internet is full of literature on how much better a person can gain in the prospect of health by pushing our mental capacities.
The thing is, I already put my brain to use. One bit of clear evidence is in the making of this article. And this is where the word “desire” comes in. Instead of holding in my memory the list of fruits, veggies, bread and other kitchen items, I desire to exercise my imagination. Or I simply choose to listen to the car stereo and really get into the music. These uses of the brain help me further my goals and enable quality time for projects. My projects bring enjoyment and quality development for life and family. There’s no doubt of my ability to bring up the list in memory once I get to the store, but why waste such effort when it could just be written? A few minutes of writing on paper can buy me an infinite peace of mind. The organizational tools industry makes a bundle for good reason. It’s easier to move on with the important things and move on when we’re writing appointments on a calendar and not letting these items take our memories hostage.