Down To Earth Newsletter
Volume 4 – Issue 9 – September, 2005
The Art of Recovery Expo is in NINE DAYS!!! – It’s time for the Expo! We will be in Booth 311, right between Banner Behavioral Health and Sierra Tucson. Please stop by and be sure to get your awesome Down To Earth Recovery Expo temporary tattoo! This celebration of recovery and sobriety at the Civic Center in Phoenix will be a ton of fun. Come down between 10a and 7p. For more information, go to www.artofrecoveryexpo.com
Debunking Myths – You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ’till it’s Gone
Myth: Is it really true that people have to wait until someone or something is gone to appreciate it? Fact: No, but it does tend to go that way for a very specific reason.
The main reason why this phenomenon occurs is quite biological in nature. We are biologically built to notice and attend to things that are threats, things that could hurt us. That is an instinct we have that helps us stay alive. For example, while you are sitting at home at your computer, you probably are not aware of the temperature or the smell in the room or any of the furniture or the decorations. None of those items are threatening to you, and therefore, you don’t notice them. Likewise, if your husband or wife is sitting quietly nearby, reading the newspaper, again, they are no threat to you and you’re not likely to notice them, either. But, what does get your attention? An e-mail about your car insurance being overdue, the sound of sirens right outside your house, or a noise that sounds like an animal. Any of those things could get your attention because any of them could mean problems for you.
So, while your husband is going to work each day, coming home each day, putting his paycheck in the bank, and taking out the garbage, you are not necessarily biologically programmed to notice him. When your children are sleeping quietly in their beds, your mental alarms are not going off and you may let the children briefly slip your mind. While your work is satisfying and rewarding, you may not be very cognizant of your job, either. However, as soon as the husband fails to come home on time, the bells start going off. You become worried and you take notice of him. When the children are making wheezing noises during the night, you wake up and rush to their assistance. When you believe your employer is exploiting you, you become very aware of the difficulties in your job and focus on what you will do next.
Next, if we understand that phenomenon and we know that anything we ignore will eventually go away or stop happening, we have to make a commitment to ourselves and to our loved ones to consciously take note of them and express appreciation on a regular basis. Sometimes gratitude comes to us quite naturally. If a friend reminds us of an appointment we have that we had forgotten, we are truly grateful to have the chance to make it to the appointment and not be penalized for missing it. When someone catches something that we have dropped before it smashes on the floor, we are instantly thankful. However, most of the time, we have to make a conscious effort to think of the things that people are doing for us and make a concerted effort to express our gratitude to them.
Many people make a practice of being sure to give three compliments a day, either to their loved ones or to strangers. Some people keep a gratitude journal. Others keep 5 pennies in their right pocket and move one penny to their left pocket each time they feel thankful about something, and they tell themselves that they must move all the pennies each day before they retire for the evening. You can find a technique that works for you, but you may have to make a dedicated effort to experiencing and expressing gratitude for the good things and good people in your life, or you won’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.
August Discussion Question: What do you think is the most important thing to remember when it comes to a first date?
Boy, we had some QUICK responses to this one! Brian S. in Iowa had this response to us in just over an hour after the newsletter was sent:
To expand: You’ll only enjoy yourself if you act as yourself. Sooner or later your own personality will come out anyway, it might as well be right up front.
Deb W., a long-time Arizona reader offered this very similar sentiment just a few hours after Brian:
Most people find it hard to be themselves because they have lots of expectations and fears on the line the first time out.
Be you, no matter what.
No regrets to being yourself and being with that other person.
Frequent responder, Peter E., of Mesa, offers these supporting words of wisdom:
The most important thing to remember about a first date: don’t go to extremes. Don’t get ALL dressed up, as if going to a formal event (unless you actually are), don’t wear the most expensive or cheapest clothes, don’t dress like a total slob (unless you are going to be tearing apart an engine, which probably shouldn’t be done on a first date), don’t OD on perfume/cologne/after shave, and don’t be your total self: ease into it!
Finally, Mike D., from Phoenix, follows those suggestions with this caution:
No one is absolutely what they appear to be on a first date, it takes time to get to know someone.
Great Advice! To receive a special Down To Earth premium, e-mail us your mailing address and it will be right on it’s way to you!
September Discussion Question: What do you think is the cause of the ending of most relationships?
E-mail answers to: email@example.com and answers will appear next month. Your state of residence, your first name and last initial will be used unless you tell us not to use them. Anyone who responds and also includes a mailing address will receive a NEW Dr. Marlo refrigerator magnet until supplies are exhausted.
Thought For The Day: New ideas, in and of themselves, are not harmful.
FEATURED ARTICLE – The Fragile, yet Enduring, Nature of Trust
I work with a lot of parents and teenagers where the presenting problem is that the parents no longer trust the child.
What has typically happened is that a kid who was a pretty good student, fairly honest, and a hard worker, has suddenly done something that has mortified the parents and left them reeling. Common behaviors include: ditching school, shoplifting, drinking, stealing from mom’s purse, or becoming sexually active. When outrageous new behaviors like this emerge, parents go ballistic and their trust in the child is completely destroyed. The child usually gets punished for some amount of time, after which, the child considers the event to be over.
However, it is rarely over in the parents’ eyes. The parents remain devastated. They feel betrayed. They wonder how they can ever trust the child again. They may leave restrictions in place for a very long time. They may forbid their teen from hanging out with certain friends or they may no longer allow their teen to go to certain locations where the original trouble ensued. Meanwhile, the teen is writhing about in pain, rolling his eyes, unable to believe their parents are not going to just let go of this situation. They see the parents as unfair, barbaric, and cruel. The parents see themselves as right and justified in their actions.
The problem is that the parents’ trust has been broken and that really hurts. While people are in pain, they tend to behave a bit on the extreme end. When parents hand out punishments while they are feeling betrayed, lied to, or used, they may exceed what is reasonable or logical. There needs to be a consequence for the child’s behavior that fits the crime, but parent’s can’t punish a kid ‘enough’ for breaking the trust. That’s an emotional pain that the parents signed up for when they reproduced. Sorry, folks, that’s part of the deal. Kids do things that break parents’ trust. It’s what they do. It’s how they learn. You can only punish a child for his or her actions, not for how much they hurt you.
Parents must find a way to forgive the child for breaking the trust, and provide the child the opportunity to rebuild the trust. Once you find out that your daughter is having sex, you cannot lock her in a cage until she turns 21. You can impose a consequence, if appropriate, have a discussion, if necessary, and help her sort out her thoughts about the situation, providing her whatever education she might need to prevent more serious consequences, then you must give her the chance to be out in the world again. If your son has stolen CDs from a department store, you can’t prohibit him from ever entering a mall again, but you can make him pay for the CDs, do community service for the store from which he stole, write an apology to the manager, but then you must let him go to the mall again.
Why must you do those things? Because, although you may no longer trust your child, they trust you. They trust you to impose limits on their behavior, enforce those limits fairly, impose consequences when necessary, and give out rewards when deserved, and they trust that you’ll let them try again when they mess up. Your trust in them will come and go during the teen years, but if you play your cards right, their trust in you will endure.
The Psychology Session – Internet Radio Show – Host Devin Jones and Dr. Marlo were interviewed for the December, 2005 issue of the APA Monitor about this show that broadcasts live every Monday from 11:30a-12:30p at www.drmarlo.com/radio. We welcome suggestions for topics or guests we should have on the show. You can also advertise your psych-friendly business on our show for $5 per 15-second spot (e.g., no ads for alcohol, topless bars, gun shops, etc.) E-mail suggestions or inquiries to PsychologySession@drmarlo.com.
Dr. Marlo’s Movie Madness – Entertainment & Education – Join us on the Third Thursday of each month for a free movie with a mental health theme. Interested parties can stay after the movie for a discussion about the movie. One credit informal CE awarded for a $10 fee. Upcoming Features: September 15 – Taking Lives, October 20 – A Day Without A Mexican, November 10 (NOTE: Second Thursday) – I Heart Huckabees, December 15 – K-Pax, January 19 – Monster. Networking at 7:15pm, Movie at 7:30pm, Discussion until 10:00pm. Sign up for Movie Madness updates by sending a blank e-mail with ‘subscribe’ in the subject line to MovieMadness@drmarlo.com.
Not sure if face-to-face therapy is for you? Don’t have time to drive across town to appointments? Just have a quick question or two? E-Therapy is for you! Dr. Marlo provides e-mail consultation and phone sessions. Go to www.drmarlo.com/EasyPay.html to select a 30 or 60-minute phone or live chat session or e-mail consultations. Perfect for people outside of Arizona, people too busy to come into the office, or people who want to investigate therapy a little bit before coming in for face-to-face sessions. Give it a try!
Publish Your Work – Promote your Practice – Two ways to publish – for free as a semi-anonymous author (your state of residence, your first name and last initial will be used), or, for $10, as a professional promoting a mental health practice (your full name, with credentials, address, phone number, and e-mail address will be included). We reserve the right to decline to publish any submissions. Send creative contributions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My prayers go out to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, may they persist and rebuild –Marlo J. Archer, Ph.D.