(originally published February 5, 2009)
How did we as a people get so "knee jerk" about going into therapy every time we face a challenge or disappointment?
One caller to my radio program was having her three year old son tested for muscular dystrophy, a devastating illness, and the results wouldn't be coming for two weeks. She wanted to know how to "cope" with the two week wait. I told her that she was simply going to feel stressed and scared - that was normal, and was to be "endured." She, like many others realizing they had to feel some emotional pain for a while, asked if she should go into therapy!
I asked her what she thought the folks who blazed the trail west in covered wagons did when people died of illness or accident, or if the Indians attacked or food got scarce? Did they all line up in front of a therapist's tent to express their pain and look for a magic cure to get through the sometimes unpleasant realities of life, or did they pray, hold onto each other and ultimately....endure?
She laughed, and said, "I see what you mean."
We are sturdier creatures than we take credit for. I am a licensed therapist, and there are, indeed, situations in which individuals cannot endure, due to a distinct compromise in a person's ability to be rational, such as mental illness or severe trauma. In these situations, I refer people to mental health professionals.
But most things in life that we must deal with often are best served with some love, some advice, some prayer, and an acknowledgment that sometimes life just doesn't feel good for a while.
I have told innumerable callers there is no quick fix for a bad situation - and sometimes, there is no "fix" at all. I tell them also to turn to each other (family and friends), rather than turn on each other with resentment, frustration, or anger.
Much of life must be endured. There is still always beauty, such as seeing the flowers among the fertilizer, and there is always light (hope and alternatives).