Just Stop It

Posted: September 7, 2013 in Behavior
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Glass Half FullI saw a few related communications this week on various media that I want to pass along. They triggered a fun memory from a Bob Newhart TV scene that seems appropriate to throw into a post on the topic. I’ll end on a deadly serious note.

The first of the items was a Facebook post from my friend, Pat, who shared from someone else a photo of a glass half filled with water along with the following text:

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired:”How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” 

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

Remember to put the glass down.

Pretty good advice, huh?

The second related item came in a morning newscast on TV while I was getting ready for work one day. One anchor was telling a story about people addicted to social media sites and all that some are going through with professional help to address that addiction. When she finished her story, the other anchor said: “or they could exercise self-discipline and log off.” My wife and I both laughed out loud at the simple, down-home advice that stood in stark contrast to the complex remedy for a formal diagnosis just discussed in the story.

Both the glass illustration and the “exercise self-discipline and log off” advice brought to mind a Bob Newhart TV scene from years ago. Take a few minutes and watch it:

Bob’s “stop it” advice makes us laugh, but the truth is that we don’t always want to stop our self-destructive behavior. Maybe we’re more comfortable with our familiar issues than with the unfamiliarity of changing behavior. Maybe we like our sin and don’t want to give it up in spite of the consequences. Maybe we really do need professional help with some behaviors that we honestly would love to stop but have not yet figured out how to do on our own.

I’m not taking lightly actual addictions or diseases. I’ve known too many people whose lives have been torn by the struggles and downward spirals caused by them. I’m no doctor, psychologist or therapist, nor do I play one on TV. It rings true, though, that not every behavioral issue is an emotional or physical illness deserving of a formal diagnosis and professional treatment. Sometimes we have to decide that we’re going to grow up, let go of things which hinder us, do what we know to be right, and move on to better ways of living.

The truth is that I don’t need to blame others or any condition for my bad behavior. I’m knowingly, willingly responsible for it when it happens. I need to accept that responsibility and make better decisions going forward. And for those times when I find it too difficult to do all alone, I know people and Someone higher who can help when called upon.

I’ll close with another video that was in the news this week by Matthew Cordle. He confessed in a YouTube video to driving the wrong way on a road and accidentally killing a man. His behavior was reprehensible, but at least he’s owning up to it and now facing the legal consequences.

Sometimes we need professional help to change our behavior, but sometimes we just need to stop it.

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