Problems or Symptoms?

This month we’ve been talking about being gentle.  Being gentle isn’t always easy. We tend to screw up often and spend too much time beating ourselves up about it.  We deal a lot in the emotions that are associated with anger, frustration, fear, failure, loss and betrayal, all of which are a far cry from being gentle.  But there are very few situations in which a hard hand really does the trick, such as highly at risk teens who still have a chance of turning things around.  In most cases wiping the proverbial slate clean won’t do it.  Why?  Well, let’s take a look at hoarders.

You’re probably familiar with hoarders, they’re people who keep all kinds of stuff, so much so that it impacts their, and their families, lives.  Some people may think that the thing to do is just get rid of all their junk and that will solve the problem.  But that’s not the case for most hoarders.  Hoarding in most people points to a much deeper emotional or mental problem that won’t be fixed by removing all their stuff.  Why?  Because the stuff is the presentation of the issue, not the issue itself.  Yes, the stuff needs to go, but the removal needs to be accompanied with counseling that will continue long after the stuff is gone.

So the next time you’ve got a situation, don’t get out the bulldozer before you know what’s really going on.  Chances are very good that there’s something beneath the surface you’re missing. Take the time to ask yourself some questions or talk with someone else to get a new perspective on the situation.  Sometimes it’s necessary to take quick action, but more often than not quick actions initially mean that you’ll have to fix or redo things later because what you thought was the problem actually was just another symptom.

“That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity. So to get to authenticity, you really keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and the inevitability of something.” Meredith Monk


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