I was talking to my son once when he was very stressed. It’s hard to tell with him because he’s quite adept at hiding his emotions. But, he does have subtle cues he’s not aware of, and I’m not telling him, so I can continue to pick up on those times when I think he can benefit from some fatherly advice. This was one of those moments.
He was taking an “unexpectedly intensive” six-week course in college during the summer, and after three weeks, he’d gotten significantly behind. Now, that’s stressful enough except that he added to his stress by offering to participate in outside activities the next week, which limited his time to further complete his coursework on schedule. I had one of those classic quotes come to mind, and this was the perfect scenario to use it. I said, “Son, when you’ve dug yourself into a hole that’s over your head, the first thing you do is STOP DIGGING.” I asked about his next week’s activities and if there were any issues with him missing them altogether. Of course, he would rather attend them, but it wasn’t specifically necessary. So, I advised him to let the parties know he wouldn’t be participating due to unforeseen circumstances. As a result, he now had time to catch up on his work and get back on schedule. Initially, he wasn’t happy with my advice, but within minutes of hearing it, I could see he was beginning to feel a sense of relief. Though, he’d never admit it. As a parent, it’s not easy to be the bearer of bad news. But, sometimes, our children (young and older alike) need us to step in and pull them out of their self-created holes in order for them to get back on track in life. In the end, they appreciate it, even if they can’t tell us so. He became motivated to work all weekend and was caught up by the first part of the next week. Problem solved.
In the Hulu presentation of The Quiet Girl, there’s a line that says, “You don’t have to say anything. Many’s the person that missed the opportunity to say nothing, and lost much because of it.” The minute I heard this line, I paused the tape, because this was classic “me.” Saying nothing is like you asking me to hold my breath and then you walk away. But, this line speaks the truth, at least in some instances. Perhaps, in reality, more instances than we’d like to admit to ourselves. Very few wake up the next morning regretting listening too much to the other person the night before. Yet, many of us, I’d say, have been on the other side regretting how much we said. This quote reminds us, we have permission to be quiet, listen intently and, if it’s appropriate, just move on with our lives without contributing. Sometimes, that’s all that’s needed or wanted in that instant from the other party. Consider this a lesson learned (sometimes the hard way).
Based on personal experience, I’ve come to acknowledge that sadness and anger are most often temporary emotions. It’s even been reported that anger, in particular, is just a transitory state of consciousness. It’s important to resist the urge to make permanent decisions or impulsive reactions based on either of these fleeting emotions. We all tend to naturally react in these temporary emotional states, but my advice is to avoid making lasting choices during these times. Unfortunately, the consequences are often regrettable.
In a line from Netflix’s The Lincoln Lawyer, a female character gives advice to her father who was struggling with multiple dilemmas, “Focus on what’s right in front of you. You’ll figure the rest out.” Science has proven, despite our insistence to the contrary, none of us are truly good at multi-tasking (apologies to the mothers out there who would strongly disagree). Our minds are simply not structured to perform efficiently in that manner. We’re better when we focus on one thing, even if for a limited duration before moving to another. This process is more efficient and effective in accomplishing your objectives. Here, the daughter is simply reminding her dad of this, and redirecting his focus to be present, now, with her.
Finally, there’s this quote from J. M. Barrie, Scottish novelist and playwright, best remembered as the creator of Peter Pan. “Not in doing what you like, but in liking what you do is the secret of happiness.”
As we recognize September as Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, I hope you find this “general advice” helpful. And, for those experiencing a situation or emotions beyond their control, remember to seek out help, whether it’s family, friends, counselors or therapists, or another appropriate resource. You were never meant to carry this burden alone. #988
For anyone needing a special pick-me-up at this moment, go online and search for the video – Lucius – Heartbursts (Official Music Video). Then, get your earbuds or headphones and enjoy the journey. You’re welcome.
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