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Poor Problem Solvers


There is a trend in therapy that mirrors society and is resulting in elevated feelings of anger, conflict, and blame. Wives are coming to therapy diagnosing their husbands as "Narcissistic" and husbands are diagnosing their wives as "Borderline." Neither has any idea what they are talking about, yet they are so convinced that their partner has a "mental disease" that this gives them the right to treat the other without concern or compassion. They believe a therapist can fix their marriage by fixing their partner. They are surprised when I tell them their allegations, observations, and convictions just don't stack up.

This behavior mirrors the changes in society where one person can accuse another of something, then force them to pay for reprogramming to undo the allegations against them, even though there is no evidence that the first even has done anything wrong. People all over America are creating problems and then are getting rich by selling the solutions to the problems they created. I think this is poor problem solving as it only creates more problems that need to be resolved and the pattern continues. The accusers get rich and the accused are even more confused than ever.

I can't help society overall (and I doubt they want my help), but I can help couples see the error in their thinking by accepting and changing their own contribution to the problems. True problem solving begins when each person first recognizes their own responsibility and then makes the necessary corrections to negate their poor behaviors. This type of therapy is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. One must think correctly (cognitive) in order to respond correctly (behavior). When our thinking is poor our behavior is poor. When we change how we think and have a positive thought process our behaviors improve as well.

One couple fights like cats and dogs every day in their marriage. They accuse and abuse each other and terrorize their children. Day after day, week after week, year after year the fighting continues. One day they walk into my office after this has been their pattern for decades and expect a quick fix to resolving their poor problem-solving methods. If they are open to change (and thankfully most are), they can change. They learn to stop blaming the other and look at themselves. They learn to lower unrealistic expectations that they hold for the other even while they don't even measure up themselves. They learn to look at their own behaviors that trigger and perpetuates fights. Finally, they learn compassion and how to care for each other with love. This rebuilds the trust that is foundational to a happy relationship.

If only society would take a therapeutic approach to the conflict that is being offered poor problem-solving solutions, we might have better ideas and behaviors that lead that to better outcomes. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Personal integrity means you must BE the person you are asking others to be or you are just standing in judgment over another. One should not demand from others a higher standard than the one they set for themselves. Especially, if they have no right to judge in the first place. The Bible warns us about this double standard for living;

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things."

Romans 2:1


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