Go and Do, for Me and You

Verbs, like “go” and “do”
In a recent on-air segment, Jamie and I (he’s the afternoon radio talent for Spirit FM, the local Catholic radio station/Christian pop music station where I’ve been volunteering since 2009) were discussing various social protests. He had asked me how to handle the flood of social media, with people posting/re-posting/re-re-posting, and the pressure to have some sort of opinion/assert some stand on perpetually protesting celebrity.
I try, but don’t always succeed, in preferring action verbs. Like, “go” and “do.” I don’t much care for meetings. I don’t like sitting around talking about how we can help the homeless and severely mentally ill. I went and did (full time work, almost 5 years). Jesus didn’t say, sit around and have lots of committee meetings. He said, pretty much, Go… (He also had something to say about babbling on and on, so I will move along.) I would rather teach than talk about teaching, do art than sit around talking about art…you get the idea.
So my thoughts are, go and do. It would be far more helpful – if, for example, we are talking about the real and obvious pain in poor neighborhoods – to go and do. Mentor a kid. Be a Big Brother/Big Sister. Organize a community watch organization. Do pro bono work in your field. Provide free tutoring. Be a Guardian ad Litem. Etc., etc. Go and do. Standing around getting attention for taking a public position that costs nothing seems a little self-serving.
It reminds me of the time a woman I knew criticized me for failing to wear red on some arbitrary date publicly announced to be the day to wear red to support women’s heart health. The only woman whose heart I have much influence over is my own. I had already exercised, gone to church, had good conversation with my husband, eaten a healthy breakfast – in other words, it was 8 AM and I had done all I could for THIS woman’s heart health. Nothing I was going to do, besides pray and try to set a half-decent example, would help anyone else.
It also brings to mind the big test for reports of visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Such a report requires much evidence, but a primary benchmark requires that Mary points towards Jesus. There is no credibility if the reported vision does not direct people towards Jesus. Such an experience is not something from the Good side. It might be a well-intentioned, innocent delusion, but it is not Mary. Mary doesn’t showboat.
So…if terrible injustice moves you, go and do something concrete, specific and clearly helpful for one particular person. Keep the meme to yourself.
…and more on “Go” and “Do”
Teen and young adult mental health took a drastic, terrifying turn for the worse beginning in 2007 – and the stats keep worsening, especially since 2012. This, according to a lot of research, can be traced back to the smart phone, according to San Diego State University professor, researcher and author Jean Twenge. Her recent book, “iGen: Why Today’s Super-connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood – and What that Means for the Rest of Us,” provides the results of not just her original research but meta-analysis of generations of data on the pattern of mental health and activity for youth.
It seems like constant connectivity has led to less “go” and “do” and more detachment and isolation. It’s a double-dose of negative: the ineluctable distance created by screen-based communication and a deficit of direct experiences. We were not designed to sit and click; we are made to go and do.

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh, LMHC, LMFT, NCC

Posts are for entertainment and not meant to be construed as treatment or professional recommendations. If you need mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

Day 22/Way 22: Make it a great year: Invite your 8-year-old self to visit

In the 2000 Disney movie The Kid, Bruce Willis’ character’s 8-year-old self magically drops into his life. The child is not impressed with his grown-up self’s shallow but successful life. The boy wants to know: where’s their truck? Their dog? And isn’t there supposed to be a lady here?

“So let me get this straight, I’m 40, I’m not married, and I don’t have a dog??? I grow up to be a LOSER,” the 8-year-old shouts to the 40-year old version of himself.

In other words, where are the things I/we wanted when we were kids? Why are you making me settle for so much less (it’s a fancy house in a la-de-da neighborhood with a snazzy sports car, etc., but apparently not fun)?

Would your 8-year-old self be happy with how things turned out? Would you be disappointed?

This is different from the regrettably named “bucket list,” which is a list of things people want to experience before dying. The 8-year-old wasn’t thinking about dying; the 8 year old was dreaming about living. What would your 8 year old self want to say to you about your life? Would your 8 year old self buy any of your reasons (excuses?)? It’s an imaginary conversation that might be worth your while.

…and where IS that dog?

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

Way 20/Day 20: Make it a great year: Mentally stretch

We humans get into ruts.

We decide very early what we’re good at and not good at – probably not accurately. Who knows how many kids decide (wrongly) that they are “not good at math” when the problem is that some well-intended grownup mistakenly tried to force them to understand a concept before their brain was ready for it. Being able to reverse operations, for example (which we need for subtraction) requires children have reached a particular level of brain development, often not attained until age 7.   This is why subtraction used to be 2nd grade material. Abstract thinking – such as in algebra – is attained somewhere between 12 and 14 (if ever – everyone doesn’t get there), so for most kids, doing pre-algebra before that can be pretty discouraging.   After all, if the grownups think you should be able to understand it, and you can’t, well, it can’t be that the grownups are mistaken (or so the child infers). The child decides he or she is dumb. This is not fair.

This sort of experience leads to us cutting ourselves off from whole areas. We have a bad experience in one class and decide history is boring (how can that even be???) or that we “can’t do art,” whatever that might mean.

Make it a great year. Stretch your brain. Try to learn something new; tackle something you once decided you “can’t do” based on some old lesson gone wrong.

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

Way 19/Day 19: Be creative

Not the “creative type?” Not “artistic?”

Well, if you believe you were created in the image and likeness of God, then you must believe that you also have a small, human version of God’s infinite capacity to create.

Creativity requires skill, freedom to express that skill, and the ability to think outside the box and then narrow those options down to select the one(s) to use. A landscape painter views the landscape: so many choices in terms of perspective, detail, what to emphasize, what to change, what to omit. It takes skill and mental flexibility to narrow those choices and begin executing a landscape painting.

Not everyone’s creativity expresses itself in art. Maybe yours is in cooking, or developing tactical plans, or training programs, or solving engineering problems. All these pursuits require skill, flexibility and the freedom to execute your decisions.

Sometimes people develop a creative block. This can be from fatigue, severe stress, and/or becoming afraid of making a mistake. In the latter, the person has become so focused on the final result being perfect that it’s impossible to move forward because every step might be “wrong.” In these cases, I have often recommended to clients that they indulge in creative play in an area outside their expertise. This way their ego is not invested in the end result. Seriously, even if you are an accomplished professional, can you really take making a sock puppet (or clay animal, or finger-painting or decorating cookies – whatever you might choose) seriously? It’s an old sock, for crying out loud…have fun. Allowing creativity to flourish in one area can lead to it spreading to others.

Have fun!

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

 

Way 18/Day 18: Realize that sometimes YOU know better

In the film Love and Mercy, based on portions of Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s life, it is apparent that early in the Beach Boys’ success, when the stress of performing, producing, writing – and a history of abuse – were weighing heavily on Brian, that he knew what he needed. He knew and struggled to express to those around him that he needed to pull back – to reduce external stressors and focus on what was most critical. The pressures from others – his family, investors, hangers-on, his manipulative and exploitative father, and, later, the unethical therapist who became a sort of Svengali/mooch, all professed to “know better” what he needed – led to increasingly intense psychological suffering.

(I don’t know how accurately the film represents any of the characters and am describing the characters as portrayed in Love and Mercy, not on the real people)

Sometimes we know better than other people. It’s hard to discern, sometimes, the voices of those who really have our best interest at heart and those who have their own agendas foremost. Too, some people are well-intentioned and, knowing what would be best for them, presume that it must also be best for others.

Seek wise guidance. Perhaps the greatness of the year comes from careful discernment on what is actually right for you.

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

Way 17/Day 17: Make it a great year – be like Mary Poppins.

Admit it, you’ve seen Mary Poppins and you know all about the spoonful of sugar. Why not take that advice? If you have to do some chore for 10 minutes (or hours), why can’t you have fun chatting with a loved one, singing, playing music you enjoy, or listening to a book on tape?

Be creative – find ways to look forward to some aspect of an admittedly unpleasant task.  Ex:  indulge in an entire season of your favorite show on colonoscopy-prep day (a day that surely needs some sort of pleasantness); borrow a book-on-CD for your next long road trip or to listen to during a major spring/fall cleaning.

Inject some fun and play into work.

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

Way 16/Day 16: Make it a great year – give it 10 minutes

Some tasks are overwhelming and discouraging. Just thinking about tackling that basement, garage or closet can generate a lot of creativity about what you could do instead, right? So, give it 10 minutes. Set the timer and go…just focus on doing what you can in 10 minutes. Maybe on day 1 you set up 3 baskets, boxes or buckets for keep/toss/donate. Day 2 you just pick stuff up and put into one of those piles. Day 3 you do the same…or whatever else makes sense. Just spend 10 minutes and move on. In a week, you’ve spent over an hour. In a month, you’ve given it more than a half-day, made a dent in it, and perhaps feel encouraged to just dig in for a longer time.

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

Way 11/Day 11: Make it a great year – play.

Have fun. Play. Every day.

Go down the sliding board. Get on the seesaw. Play tag with your retriever and let your cat chase you while you scamper around dragging a piece of ribbon on the floor like prey. Do things where the end result isn’t anything in particular so you can let go of being focused on producing something “worthwhile.” A laugh that makes your belly hurt is worthwhile.

Playing means: enjoying an activity for the fun of it, not for the end result. That makes “play” different from sticking religiously to an exercise routine, or letting your competitive side take over and turn a game of kickball into some sort of gladiator blood-sport. It’s doing stuff – so watching other people “play” a sport for money isn’t play. It might be fun, but it’s not play.

If you have a pet or a child in your world, it’s easier. Follow their lead for five minutes or a whole lot more.

Go have fun. Go out and play.

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

Day 3/Way 3: Make it a great year!

Back away from the television…or tablet…or computer…or whatever else electronic screen mesmerizes you during non-work/non-school hours.

The average American is consuming 5 hours or more of non-work/non-school related screen time daily. It’s worse for retirees, who average 43 hours a week. There are lots of ways reducing screen time can make it a much better year. I’ll pick one: the fact that much of what’s on there has an ulterior motive of making you feel badly about yourself and your life. If you weren’t dissatisfied, you wouldn’t be tempted to spend money on whatever is being marketed. Your stuff isn’t as new, your face hasn’t been airbrushed and you didn’t have a staff of five fixing up your hair and makeup so, compared to what you see on television, your life and mine look pretty blah. Even if you’re too smart to think so consciously, that subconscious message is hammering away. Make it a great year: just reduce exposure and do something that will make you feel good about your life, instead.

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

Day 2/Way 2: Make it a great year!

Have a place for quiet and use it daily. Your back steps? Your bedroom window? A chair in the corner? Any place is the right place if it is “your” special place for quiet contemplation every day. The constant beat of artificial lights, mechanical noise and media is an assault on the nervous system. Give yourself a break of quiet. (If you’re addicted to noise and media flashiness, don’t be surprised if 5 or 10 minutes of real quiet makes you feel pretty edgy at first!).

Why this can help make it a great year: it’s refreshing to separate yourself from the racket! Quiet allows us to listen to the subtler messages in life…CS Lewis’ fictional demon, Screwtape, identified constant environmental noise as a means for evil to do its work in our world because the noise numbs us to the quiet stirrings of higher thoughts and feelings.

 

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.