What’s an Hour?

Having Reality Therapy as my area of interest, it’s natural that people tell me their troubles. And there are plenty of troubles to hear, ranging from the heart-wrenching to the mind-boggling.

If I’m asked for advice, I usually respond by suggesting some kind of action. Sometimes that’s simple: take a walk or have a talk. It can be more complicated, though. Finally cleaning out the clutter left by a previous relationship, or putting a resume or finances in order can help one turn toward a new, positive direction.

For Harriet, recent years have brought an accumulation of sad facts. With a terminally ill family member at home and her daughter moved away, a black cloud of loneliness weighs her down. Harriet’s friends have witnessed a sad transformation; this once-sunny, energetic woman can now barely face each day. As Harriet sees it, nothing good lies ahead.

What can I say? What can anyone say? From one perspective, she’s right; the future looks bleak. Her daughter is not going to move back home, and more sadness will come as illness progresses.

Of course, there are always suggestions to offer. Make the best of the time you have with your loved one. Stay connected with your daughter; despite the miles you can still have a strong, loving relationship.

I’d also offer the suggestion that Harriet regularly pamper herself with an activity she enjoys for an hour or two. A physical activity or one that involves time with people she enjoys is most effective.

So, go for a swim. Get your hair done. Watch a funny movie. Knit with a friend. Indulge in an hour with a shiny new book…

Harriet has a perfectly valid objection to these suggestions. “What’s the point of feeling better for an hour? My problems are still there when it’s over.”

She’s right. An hour of distracting activities won’t solve her problems. Everything she started with is still there at the end. However, the question is, “Is Harriet still there?” In other words, “Is Harriet the same person that she was?”

What can happen during an hour of distraction? You know the effect of a refreshing night’s sleep; things look better in the morning. It’s not that the problems went away overnight, but our perceptions change. With changed perceptions, we begin to see new approaches to dealing with issues.

So, is Harriet the same person after an hour of fun? It’s best if she answers that herself, after she tries it!

Even if Harriet’s improved spirits are only temporary, is that better or worse than no reprieve at all?

It’s not helpful if one continually uses distractions to procrastinate and avoid dealing with a situation. However, the occasional distraction can give one “time to breathe,” to reduce stress, and just maybe relax enough to come up with effective actions, even for a seemingly impossible situation.

Is scheduling an occasional hour of distracting activity more effective than spending that hour brooding? What do you think?

This entry was posted in Choosing Behaviour and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.