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Posts Tagged ‘Optimist’

The night before last we went out to a fairly new neighborhood restaurant with another couple for an early dinner. Of course, we sat on the patio which was wedged between an apartment building – good news now because the cold spring wind was kept at bay, bad news for the summer, since this trendy patio will eventually become a sauna. We got there early, and our meals were divine though just a bit pricey. Fish was on the menu. We toasted ourselves for getting through the past year, for getting dressed and getting out!

I actually thought for two seconds I might put on heels, but we were walking a few blocks towards the river so my better angel prevailed and I slipped on sandals.

We slipped on our masks in order to leave, and walked through a previously empty bar area. Surprise, surprise it was like 2019. Tons of mask-less young people standing, chatting and sitting jam packed, whooping it up. I don’t mind feeling old, but I hate feeling judgemental. The new CDC guidance on masks – that vaccinated people could chuck their masks indoors and out – had yet to be issued. This morning I’m wondering, were all those young people vaccinated?

In the past, we could all tell who the anti-vaxers were. They would stroll down the middle of the sidewalk, and expect you to give way. They’d tell you they are “sensitive” to vaccines, or they don’t trust them, so they’re going to wait it out. The anti-vaxers are the new smokers, morphing easily from “I can’t wear a mask” to “you can’t tell me what to do.” And in pure irony, they espouse their “Right” to their own bodies. They revel in their rebelliousness.

And NOW we won’t be able to know who’s been vaccinated and who’s passing-posing as vaccinated! I was just telling Bob and my siblings that I’ve finally figured it out – most Republicans were just never told that it’s NOT all about them.

My psychologist brother, Dr Jim, agreed. They may look like 30 something adults, but their emotional development ended at middle school. We were discussing the latest trend in mental health – Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT); and since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to dig deeper. I mean, can a leopard really change its spots?

In DBT, a patient and therapist work to resolve the apparent contradiction between self-acceptance and change to bring about positive changes in the individual in treatment. Part of this process involves offering validation, which helps people become more likely to cooperate and less likely to experience distress at the idea of change.

In practice, the therapist validates that an individual’s actions “make sense” within the context of their personal experiences without necessarily agreeing that they are the best approach to solving a problem.

https://www.verywellmind.com/dialectical-behavior-therapy-1067402

Validating language seeks to understand emotions; it means really listening, asking how do you feel? Asking “What was that like for you?” instead of telling a person how they should be feeling. Sharing emotions with our children, instead of telling them NOT to feel a certain way. Although I agree this may be a good approach to help people cope with strong emotions, I think that actually being vulnerable is part and parcel of being human.

After all, we don’t want to be entirely disconnected from our emotions. Dysphoria or a Mr Spock persona may be the end result.

For instance, if your child is complaining of a stomach ache before school every day, talking and listening to her fears is good, but may not be enough. Is she being bullied? Is the school about to spend a week on standardized tests? The goal is not just to understand why, it’s not to simply take a deep breath and get on with it, unless you’re British. The goal is to learn that strong emotions can signal needed change and we can help them work it out.

We’ve just turned a corner. Some of us may still wear masks in crowded places; some of us may not dine indoors this spring and summer. But the worst of this pandemic is behind us, and yes we may need booster shots, but that’s an acceptable antidote to living with fear. I’m an optimist at heart.

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