Down To Earth Newsletter
Volume 4 – Issue 8 – August, 2005
The Art of Recovery Expo – September 24th – We are very excited to be a part of the inaugural Art of Recovery Expo in Phoenix, Arizona! Join us on Saturday, September 24th at the Civic Center. The website at www.artofrecoveryexpo.com details sponsors, exhibitors and special guests like “The Singing TV Guys,” Mike Chamerlin of Channel 3 and Channel 5’s Chris Coraggio. The expo will be a celebration of recovery and sobriety and will be a lot of fun. Visit our booth and we’ll even decorate you with an awesome temporary tattoo!
Debunking Myths – Is Honesty Truly the Best Policy?
Myth: Our reader, Lori W., from Florida, sends in this question – I don’t think it’s any big deal if I tell a ‘little white lie’ from time to time, but my friend argues with me that it’s just never okay to lie. I only tell my fibs if I think the truth would hurt someone’s feelings, so which is better to do?
Fact: Fine question, Lori, and one that doesn’t have an easy answer. Some folks have taken the hard-line approach that honesty is truly the best policy and that lies should never be told for any reason. Let’s investigate that option first. If your friend asks you what you think of her boyfriend and you actually think he’s a slimy jerk that shouldn’t be trusted, the honesty approach would have you just come out and tell her that. Imagine yourself saying, to your friend, “Yuck, I can’t stand him, he creeps me out, I think you should totally get rid of him.” How well do you think that would be received? Probably not well at all. It would probably hurt or anger your friend and they may never ask you for your opinion again. Not a great outcome.
Another approach would be to go ahead and engage in one of those things you’re calling a ‘little white lie.’ You may choose to say, “Oh, man, I think he’s great. The two of you really seem good together.” Now how will she react? If she’s totally in love with this guy, she’s going to be thrilled that you like him, too, and that you think they have an outstanding future. What’s the harm in that? Well, what if he really is a slimy jerk who has fooled your friend into thinking he’s great? What’s in store for her in a few months? Incredible pain, that’s what, and she’s gonna remember how much you liked him and how great you thought they were together and she’s going to seriously doubt your judgment in the future since it was so wrong about him. You make yourself look foolish when you really weren’t and you helped lead her down a path of pain. Also not a great outcome.
Consider for a moment why she might be asking the question in the first place. What if she’s starting to become suspicious of him and wants to test her own theories out against your opinions, so she asks you what you think of him. What if you tell her you think he’s great? Then she may doubt herself and start ignoring red flags that are precursors to more serious problems. It may become your fault that she becomes even more involved with him. Obviously, a terrible outcome!
So, what is the best approach? My suggestion is that honesty still is the best policy, but there are two great ways to speak honestly and minimize hurt feelings at the same time. I call the first one, “prefacing.” Whenever you must say something that you think the other person may not want to hear, I suggest that you preface the uncomfortable statement with a very loving and kind message that will help them be able to hear you. Something like, “I can see that you really want things to work with him, and he’s really good looking and he makes a very nice living, and I really want you guys to be happy, but I have a few concerns.” You can stop right there if you want. If she is ready for more information and wants more information, she can ask another question and probably will. Another example of prefacing might be to say, “I really care about you, and I know you’re trying really hard, and I respect you for it. I just wonder if you’re making the best choice.”
The second technique is to answer firmly and honestly about something that you can be positive about and soften the truth if pressed. When your friend asks, “How do I look in this?” and you think it is too small for her, just look at it and think of something that is positive and true, like, “I think that color is great with your hair,” or “You’ve got such a great eye for style, you recognize all the coolest clothes.” If she’s truly asking about the size, she’ll notice you didn’t answer the question and she’ll either be able to infer your answer or she’ll flat-out ask you for it. If she comes right out and asks if you think the pants are too small, you can offer something like, “I think another pair might be more flattering.”
When we are honest with our loved ones, even if we have to say things that aren’t easy to say or to hear, the people we care about learn that they can really trust us to tell them the truth and that’s the foundation of all successful relationships – trust.
July Discussion Question: If you could do any ‘kid’ activity again now and no one would make fun of you, what would it be and why?
Donny J., from New Mexico, says: dress up for Halloween.
Tiffany S., an Arizona reader, says: sing out loud.
Those sure are fun things to do! We hope you seriously take a look at what prevents you from doing those things now and try to overcome your fears so you can have more fun in your life. Thanks for your contributions, your Dr. Marlo Fridge Magnets will follow!
August Discussion Question: What do you think is the most important thing to remember when it comes to a first date?
E-mail answers to: firstname.lastname@example.org 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: Meaning can only be conveyed to someone who is paying attention. Talking is not necessary to understanding, but listening is.
FEATURED ARTICLE – Happiness is a Choice
“I just want to be happy!” Isn’t that what we all say? So then, why aren’t we? Unfortunately, the answer is quite simple – we haven’t yet chosen to be happy. What? Like it’s that easy? We just choose to be happy and Voila, we’re happy? Well, it may not be quite that easy, but in reality, that’s what it really boils down to.
If you look around at your life and you are not happy with it, you essentially have two choices – either change your life so that you will be happy with it or change your attitude and be happy with what you have. If you are married to an arrogant, lazy man, you can either divorce him, accept him as he is, or help him improve. Any one of those options will make you happy eventually. You will initially be sad when you divorce him, but you will later be happy to be rid of him. If you simply accept him the way he is, it will stop disappointing you when he continues to be lazy or arrogant. You’ll get used to his personality, stop fighting with him all the time, and he’ll be happier with you as well. That also works. Finally, you could lovingly help him improve himself, if he’s got any interest in doing so. That would also lead to happiness.
However, each one of those approaches requires two things, both a choice, and then some tough action. You must either choose divorce, then go through with it. Not easy. Or, you can choose acceptance and really change your expectations. Also not easy. Finally, you can choose to help him if he will allow that, and work patiently to do so. Again, still not easy. Doing the hard work of making difficult decisions, then acting courageously and boldly to make your life better is very hard.
Now, it is very important to notice that nagging someone incessantly was not an option I mentioned that would lead to happiness. Lots of people think they’re helping someone to improve when all they are really doing is moaning and complaining. That is not helpful. That is obnoxious. That does not lead to happiness. However, it is generally quite easy to do, which is why we choose it so frequently. If you are really not happy with your life, ask yourself what you have chosen to do, change the situation, or merely complain about it. If you find that you’re just complaining, that’s good news. That means there’s a great deal of chance for you to get happiness. Just stop complaining and start making the tough choices and doing the hard work it will take. Happiness can be yours starting NOW!
The Psychology Session – Internet Radio Show – Host Devin Jones and Dr. Marlo were recently interviewed by a reporter for 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. 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: email@example.com.
When all else fails, be silent and listen. –Marlo J. Archer, Ph.D.