Dealing with Life
Life's been pretty tough for most of humankind's existence. War, torture and genocide were much more common to primitive man than even during the severe bloodlettings of the twentieth century. (See Steven Pinker's War Before Civilization and his latest book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined).
Poverty has been the norm, xenophobia (fear of the "other") has been not just pervasive but necessary to survival (if you saw someone who looked different from you in primitive times, it likely meant somebody was going to try to kill you... or worse.), and life expectancy was a fraction of what it is today.
Somehow, we survived and flourished and created the nearly miraculous civilization that we now enjoy – at least in the West.
But somewhere along the way, we began to think of ourselves as fragile. Nowadays it seems that any setback is a tragedy, any distress a trauma, and any minor injustice a case for legal action.
Children are commonly given psychoactive medications for any and all fluctuations in mood, or any deviation from what somebody in a position of authority considers to be the norm.
Couples are told that they must resolve all of their conflicts in order to have a functional relationship.
People who experience a traumatic event are told that they must experience and express what they went through with a therapist in order to heal from the trauma.
Schools are told to protect their children's fragile self-esteem by not keeping score in games or giving honest feedback for work poorly done.
How on Earth could we have possibly survived before the advent of modern psychology?
The truth is we survived very well, thank you; and I fear that we've lost something in our – very admirable – pursuit of improving our quality of life.
Let's consider psychoactive drugs. I have known people whose lives were saved because they were given antidepressants. There is a place for these. But I believe that they have been vastly overprescribed, particularly to one group of people: children.
In our universities today, the incidence of mental health problems has skyrocketed since I was in college a few decades ago. How can that be, when we have come so far in our ability to treat such troubles as depression and anxiety?
I suspect that it could have something to do with the over-prescription of psychoactive drugs to children.
When we are growing up, for most of us, we are in the care of people who love us, protect us, and help us to deal with the struggles and challenges of maturing. Our parents take care of us, worry about things that we don't even think about and help to soften the impact of a sometimes harsh world.
This is one reason why many of us look back to the era in which we grew up as a golden age – the music of that time tends to stick with us, the world events of that time seem to have been less troublesome or more meaningful than they are now. This is because somebody else was worrying about them – our parents and caregivers who were adults.
This is also a time when we get to learn how to deal with whatever psychological or emotional troubles or eccentricities we came into the world with. If you have a tendency toward depression, or anxiety, or obsession/compulsion, or control of your impulses, or sleep problems, or strong emotions, or thin skin, the time while you are growing up, likely in the care of people who love you, is the ideal time to learn how to deal with these.
It is a central function of maturing that you learn how to cope with hardship and challenges; and your internal world is no exception.
When we medicate kids in order to take the edge off of their depression, or their anxiety, or their hyperactivity, or whatever else makes parenting, teaching, or otherwise shepherding them through this time of life challenging, we are depriving them of the opportunity to learn how to cope with these tendencies.
Then they get to college, forget to take their meds – or suffer from the long-term side effects of those meds – and they become flooded with overwhelming emotions and psychological issues, all at a time when they are alone in the world, away from familiar territory, and with others who may be struggling poorly with their own issues.
These kids never learned to deal with themselves, to cope with their shortcomings and challenges, and to overcome the daunting challenges that such troubles can present. And to make matters worse, sometimes the medications, which change the structure of the brain, create challenges all their own.
This is not a blanket condemnation of medication. You may have kids who have needed such an intervention. There is a place for it and, as I said earlier, it can sometimes save a life.
But as with many trends in psychology, practitioners get caught up in the wave of the treatment of the day and indeed such treatment becomes the standard of practice. Before you know it, that treatment becomes spread out well beyond the populations for whom it was intended or could genuinely help.
Then it becomes a cultural issue. And our culture has been suffering from a fragilification of our people.
Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) is another example: For people who have experienced a trauma such as a natural disaster, a crime, or a horrible event, the accepted intervention has been to get them, right away, to come into a group and talk about their experience and their feelings about it. The idea is to catch them before the trauma sets in so that they can heal from it and get on with life.
But the truth is most people heal from trauma all by themselves over time. It's not that the trauma doesn't affect them or that they forget all about it. Such an event will become part of who you are – you cannot make something not have happened that happened.
But most people find ways of coping, of integrating the experience, and of carrying on.
What CISD does for a certain percentage of people is to freeze the traumatic memories in place, so that they actually suffer more from the trauma and are less able to cope, integrate and carry on to a functioning life.
This is, again, an intervention that assumes our fragility, and serves to make us more fragile in the process. As Henry Ford said: Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right.
Another example is in relationships. Many of the theories that I was taught as a graduate student in psychology proposed that couples must resolve their childhood issues and actively resolve their day to day conflicts with their partner in order to have a good, functioning relationship.
Again, we are made fragile. We are broken, and must be fixed continuously in order to function.
The most successful relationships have plenty of conflict. It is not the absence of conflict that defines a successful relationship; it is how you both deal with that conflict that counts. If you think of yourself as fragile, if you believe that you must resolve everything, that your partner must communicate a certain way and that you cannot have anything troubling you from your past in order to love somebody and be together with them, your ability to be together with them will be severely undermined.
What's more important is that you are able – as a couple, as friends, as allies – to find ways to negotiate the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows, the good times and the bad times, with grace, humor and respect.
You are not as fragile as you've been told. We as a species and as a culture are not as fragile as we have been made out to be. We are strong, resilient critters. We are imperfect, complex, troubled, difficult beings. Our capacity to learn to deal with these qualities is part of what makes us so magnificent.
Sometimes it can certainly help to have a guide – a therapist, a coach, a marriage counselor, a teacher or mentor or dear friend – to help us learn to deal with our world. But the struggle to cope, to face our inner challenges and to deal with our troubles is not something that should or can be taken from us.
It is our consciousness, our choices and our ability to find solutions to problems – including our own – that makes us human. This is hard, it is messy, it is imperfect and it is the stuff of life on this Earth.
Joel F. Wade, Ph.D. is the author of Mastering Happiness
Posted by chad2 on 01/09/12 04:11 PM
Number one) You never responded to my first key point that we are spirit and not just reason/emotion. The spirit is a physical thing just like reason! Do you see reason? Do you taste reason? Do you smell reason... Get it? But yet there it is! In like manner the spirit. It's not emotion either, this I know with reason is different. So, until you find your spirit and attempt to use it you can't undestand the entire bible no matter how many times you read it. Don't get me wrong, I hope you do! I have read the bible as you and got little from it, but THEN my spirit kicked in through prayer and humility and there God was! Why would I lie to you? It would profit me nothing. Like we Christians get some kick back or something or like we enjoy being different... We just see something you have not yet percieved, so like find Him and stop attacking Him!
Number 2) Yes, there are many religions but only one truth. When you grasp number 1 you will also learn that there is AN ENEMY!! And the enemies goal is simple! To deceive and to make you not come to the knowledge of God in spirit and in truth. It's okay, we were all deceived before, so don't take it personally, just understand that you are in deception right now and get out of it. News flash: I make mistakes! You do too! Right it! Pray, be humble, seek the truth and the spirit in you will connect to The Spirit and you will know and you will finally get The Bible.
Jesus please just open the eyes, Amen.
Posted by rossbcan on 01/07/12 09:13 AM
Musing to myself, perhaps the only one eyed king in the civilization of the blind:)
To those who are on top of their intellectual game, the "I don't know" statement above is as significant as the invention of zero in mathematics since it linked the positive and negative real number domains into one continuum. Zero has discrete value / meaning, just as "I don't know" does. In fact, this is basis of manipulative "fear of the unknown / other"
Why is "I don't know" significant? Because our Machiavellian manipulators forcefully INSIST that we comply with one side of their Hegelian position (decreed / forcefully imposed "truth") when the correct position on a vast number of issues is "none of the above".
This pertains to civilized and civilization. Be peaceful. Be neither predator nor prey and, withdraw consent (oppose) those who attempt to manipulate you to be either.
Focusing on preventing and opposing those who take this agnostic position attracts a lot of elite opposition, because, it is from the "I don't know and NEITHER do YOU" intellectual position that elite defeat will come.
Posted by Friend_of_John_Galt on 01/06/12 09:25 PM
I have read the Bible more thoroughly than you might imagine ... I was exposed very thoroughly through the 8 years of primary education in a non-Catholic religious school.
Yes, the "Bible is the only Word of God" -- if you believe it. The key is belief. I don't care to believe in things for which there is no proof, thus I am not a person who can have faith.
I see NO DIFFERENCE between the Christian god, the Islamic god, the Jewish god, (which are claimed to really be the same god) ... but I also see no difference between the Pacific Northwest Indians god(s), nor the Indian/Asian god(s), or even the god(s) of ancient Greece or Rome.
Every one of them claims to be the "only" god or to have the exclusive "Word of the One True God" -- often threatening others with death if they dispute their point of view.
To me, it's all fairy tales. I put just as much "faith" in "The Bible as the only Word of God" as I do in Grimm's Fairly tales. Nice stories. Some have excellent moral points. There is knowledge to be gained from these works. But I simply don't believe "in" a god. Never did. Made it somewhat difficult for me during my years in the religious school -- but it certainly gave me an education about religious views.
I feel very sorry for you, chad2.
Posted by chad2 on 01/06/12 12:00 PM
"In the end we have emotions and reason." Not true. We are more than this. We have a spirit. This is exactly why you can't understand! You try to rely on emotions/reason but it is the spirit that leads you to the truth! Yes, read Islam. Yes, read Indian thought. But also read The Bible. What you will find, if you seek, if you want to know the truth in all honesty is that The Bible is the only Word Of God. You will arrive at this conclusion not by reason or emotion, but by spirit, by the Spirit. Why is that so difficult to understand?
Posted by Abu Aardvark on 01/05/12 08:27 PM
"In the end we have emotions and reason. We filter our experiences through our emotions -- but it is our reason that we use to process and make sense out of the reality of our experiences."
One could argue that all that is is metaphor. One could even argue that someone said that before me ...
"Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Heres Tom with the Weather.'
? Bill Hicks
Posted by Friend_of_John_Galt on 01/05/12 07:54 PM
I'm sorry, I prefer logic and reason. Humans have reason. We use reason to process and understand the observed reality. I don't need mystics or spiritual advisors or priests to help me make sense of the world. And I surely don't need invisible all-powerful entities ("gods") to create the rules of living.
Ayn Rand has spelled out in considerable technical philosophical detail how "rights" are derived out of reason and human life. (That which affirms human life is "the good.") The philosophy of Ayn Rand is based in the reality we can see, touch, and feel. Her philosophy is a refinement and derivation from Aristotle's teachings -- and a repudiation of Plato's "shadow world." It is also a refutation of the Hegelian/Marxist world view that animates the left.
I am a tolerant person. I don't mind if "chad2" wishes to blame everything on "god's will" -- it's his privilege to believe whatever fairytales he wishes to have. But why is his view of Christianity the correct view? Why isn't Islam the correct view? Or perhaps the Indians of the Pacific Northwest got it right -- "the Raven created the world." It's a funny thing, every religion inoculates itself from asking the essential questions by claiming to be the "one true word of god" -- but why THIS god and not THAT god-- what's wrong with Zeus... or Thor?
In the end we have emotions and reason. We filter our experiences through our emotions -- but it is our reason that we use to process and make sense out of the reality of our experiences.
Posted by chad2 on 01/05/12 07:28 PM
Amazing. Don't judge based on what you've seen others do. Let's see: There were the Christian Crusades: WRONG. There's many errors in the church INSTITUTION (a man made thing). Yeah, there's the guy that said he found Jesus, but didn't. Have you sought after the truth yourself? At the end of the day you must stand for yourself, not what some other guy did or even what I'm saying. I find many never read the bible. Never prayed. Never sought God and yet they wonder why they didn't find Him? Man digs up bones and reads all sorts of worldly books, but many don't seek the Kingdom. If you humbly and fervently seek the Kingdom you will find it. You will know with great assurance. And you will have peace. I have done it! It's just that there's no way to prove it in your way of understanding, as we all must find on our own! What is dangerous is dying without Jesus and trying to justify your faults before a righteous God. Okay, I dust off my feet and retain my peace.
Posted by rossbcan on 01/05/12 06:33 PM
I'll share a bit of youthful high school experience. My entire peer group "found Jesus" and went, IMHO insane. Why should we worry and try? God will take care of matters was the attitude. I could only shake my head, they were "beyond reality". In fact, with all the head shaking I have had to do in life, it is a wonder a screw has not shaken loose, or, perhaps, has:)
Me, I took care of matters myself, exercised my "freedom to not associate" and found another peer group. I prefer to "seize my life" (before someone else does). The "others" are left far behind, in the dust.
"faith" IS DANGEROUS, to self and others. THINK about it:
Click to view link
Posted by Abu Aardvark on 01/05/12 06:20 PM
"Sounds like you know it's the truth"
Of course I know the truth, except when I don't. Not so sure about you, though.
Posted by chad2 on 01/05/12 06:08 PM
Sounds like you know it's the truth, but the other guy didn't appear too.
For the idle reader. The telescope is serious prayer and serious reading of the bible. This is the only way you can see through the telescope and experience Jesus with must power and assurance.
So, the way to 'deal with life,' the point of the original article is to do these things and find peace. I can tell you I have found peace and many have found peace and the only reason people can't deal with life is they refuse to look through that telescope in all humility and seriousness!! The inability to deal with life is simply a calling to bring you to your knees so that you'll look through it!
Posted by Abu Aardvark on 01/05/12 06:00 PM
"You see I know it's the truth"
Sure thing! Who doesn't?
Posted by DwightMann on 01/05/12 05:45 PM
What a breath of fresh air that article was, and I agree wholeheartedly. I was never coddled, or doped up, and I am tough as nails these days, just waiting for the powers that be to rob me of my GOD given rights.
RP in 2012, the only Honest, ethical, unwavering and constitutional PAUL-i-tician lol
Posted by chad2 on 01/05/12 05:44 PM
I'm trying to share the truth that I have experienced. You see I know it's the truth and it's not my opinion. If I were to look through a telescope and view saturn and explain this truth, but another was to look up in his own sight strength and say, "O you have interesting beliefs, but I don't believe there's a planet out there." To which I reply, "Good man, take a look through my telescope and you'll see it!" But if the man refuses to look, is not my truth still the truth for I have seen it with my own eyes?
Posted by Abu Aardvark on 01/05/12 05:29 PM
"The gentleman I responded to denied Him and said logic in natural law was superior"
Really? Where did he say that? But even if he did, why would you want to impose your truth about God and/or the universe on others and attest them a "love for lies over what is plainly true" should they fail to share your views?
Posted by chad2 on 01/05/12 05:00 PM
You exist. Do you believe that? You see, you are soooooo smart that you can't understand the most basic things. This is the end all of secular education: Maddness. I can tell you I'm at peace, the conclusion of Christ. Now you can say I'm lying but that doesn't make my peace go away! How are you 'dealing with life?'
Posted by rossbcan on 01/05/12 04:39 PM
"The gentleman I responded to denied Him"
Correction #1: I am no "gentle" man
Correction #2: I did not deny "Him"
To do so is the logical fallacy of "assertion of proof of a negative", an impossibility.
IMHO, those who pontificate "god does not exist" are as big a fools as those who pontificate "god exists", both without proof. The only good that can come of this is that the fools will exterminate each other, attempting to impose their "beliefs". Good riddance.
I will believe it, when I see it, as opposed to "see it, when believe (faith) it".
Posted by chad2 on 01/05/12 04:15 PM
The gentleman I responded to denied Him and said logic in natural law was superior, this this was the sole way to arrive at conclusions (in short). Natural law is true! But we know by logic that who ever created it is the superior. And we know that nature is so profound that it simply can't be a chance event. You do realize the enemy is without truth and tries to deceive and make up lies about creation? But we know with such simplicity of fact that someone powerful created all we see. This is how to find internal peace! I tell you I have suffered the lies and I have found peace!
Posted by Abu Aardvark on 01/05/12 04:00 PM
"You lift up nature and natural law and bring down Him who created it"
When "he" created nature and natural law, how do you equate cherishing nature and following/proposing natural law to "bringing him down", then?
Posted by chad2 on 01/05/12 03:47 PM
Is it so difficult to understand that an all powerful God would work in a profound way? A mysterious way? That those who think they are big shots would stumble and those that are humble, knowing the power of a God in comparison to man would be saved by simply trusting in His power? That to trust in His power makes Him like you? Is that sooo complex? If you were an all powerful God would you redeem the big headed people or the humble that respect you? This is not entirely without logic, so being intellectual you should be able to grasp this, no? Why do you love the lies over what is plainly true? You lift up nature and natural law and bring down Him who created it, when the creator of such a thing is logically the greater.
Posted by budwood on 01/05/12 02:47 PM
I go along with a lot of this, but at this point kids aren't growing up in the care of people who love and protect and help them deal with the challenges of maturing -- parents are off working, absorbed in their own stuff, and figuring that the school will take care of their kids. Or they're overprotective and the kids don't learn to cope, etc.
And then, pharmaceutical companies come along and what's important to them is the bottom line. And then politicians come along and what's important to them is getting reelected.
Example: my parents taught me about a bank account and how to allocate money for necessities. Now, there's a great, NEW program where they're beginning to teach that in innovative schools -- probably by teachers who weren't taught these things by their parents!!! And since their parents and their parents' parents didn't learn common sense, and they elected politicians w/o common sense to run the country, the whole financial fabric of the world is in danger, and all of us are at risk!
Dorothy Wood, PhD clinical psychology (Click to view link