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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hanging on or letting go

I watched a presentation the other day entitled ‘How heavy is your glass of water?’ The presentation went as follows:

A psychologist hosted a well-attended workshop about stress management. At one point, she raised a glass of water. The audience assumed that she would ask them the well-known question: ‘Is the glass half full or half empty?’ Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired ‘How heavy is this glass of water?’ The audience called out a range of numbers from 8 ounces to 20 ounces. They were eager to discover why they were asked this question. But to their surprise, the psychologist responded ‘The weight of the glass does not matter. What does, however, is how long you hold it. If I hold the glass for one minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, my arm will ache. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. Your stresses and worries in life are like this glass of water. If you think about them for a while, nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer, and they begin to hurt. But if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed and incapable of doing anything. It’s important to let go of your stresses, your fears, and worries. Early in the evening, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them into the night. Always remember to put that glass down and give yourself a rest.’

When I read stuff like this, I can help but roll my eyes and wonder what people who have lost a parent, a spouse, a child or a pet would say to this psychologist. My guess is that they would say her theory is beautiful but naïve.

I’m sure that a great number of people would like nothing better than to put their burdens down, but it’s not that easy. Any kind of burden is not like a glass of water that you can put down, you carry it with you all the time. Work, sports, and entertainment might give you a break from time to time, but eventually, the burdens come back.

The same for people who have medical problems and had tests done. You tell those people to stop worrying and they might sneer and say ‘That’s easier said than done.’

And what about people who have experienced trauma. I’ll bet it’s not as easy to just forget what they have seen, heard, and experienced. During the day they might find distractions, but the nights … the nights are the worst.

If just forgetting was this easy, people would not be on a variety of medications, wouldn’t be in therapy or wouldn’t seek the company of a self-help group.

Psychologists … most of them don’t have a clue about real life. They don’t seem to know that experiences lead to memories and we might not be able to ever escape from them.

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