By the time you read this Rush Limbaugh likely will have announced that he is renouncing his United States citizenship and moving along with his current wife to Costa Rica. The fate of his show is likely unknown but in all reality with modern technology it could continue in his new locale. He announced this move upon hearing the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold what he affectionately refers to as “Obamacare.” Standing proud and holding firm on his previous statements dating back to 2010, Limbaugh likely said his move would commence immediately as he had stated it would should “Obamacare” become law…
Okay, so I am sure this has not actually occurred nor did any sane person believe it would, but it does serve as a good example of why we never recommend clients giving ultimatums or using hyperbolic statements; they tend to lead to a potential breakdown of the relationship and also a reduction in any respect that may have been held for the person giving them. As people we may hold views solidly, strongly but hopefully not blindly nor rigidly. Black and white tends to blend together in shades of gray; few things are clearly right or wrong: many depend on the situation, context etc. in order to be determined.
Statements such as “it is my way or the highway” or “it’s me or the kids, you can’t have both” tend to leave the recipient feeling that the person is unreasonable and quite possibly unstable. It increases the likelihood that stark divisions are being drawn and irrational choices may follow.
Seeing things rigidly such as Democrats are always right (or wrong), Republicans are patriots (or unpatriotic) or my side is always right, the other side is incapable of making a good decision leads nowhere but a battleground where no one wins. In terms of our clients it often leads to divorce, job termination or possibly arrest.
It is easy for one to get up on the bully pulpit and anger up a crowd. It is easy to scream out negative, damning comments but the truly dedicated tries not to destroy but to build stronger. Instead of tearing down walls and dividing, a wise person seeks to first find common ground and build upon what can be agreed upon, build an atmosphere open to compromise and be truly open minded to the thoughts and beliefs of others. If we can help our clients see the views of those they are arguing with, not in an attempt to get them to agree but to increase their understanding as to why they feel that way, we may be closer to building a lasting understanding.
Of course, happiness rarely leads to high ratings and it is a political season (I think the political season started in 1984 and has yet to close) so we cannot count on modern “news” or radio programs to help serve as an example of how to best agree and get along; the need for us to stay neutral, professional and unbiased and to model the best possible behavior has perhaps never been stronger.
No wonder I need all the tractor therapy I can get. ;O)
Warren Corson III (Doc Warren) is a counselor and the clinical & executive director of a community counseling agency in central CT (www.docwarren.org).