My mother once slammed her foot in a car door. X-rays revealed no broken bones, but it felt like raw hamburger on the top of her foot. It was terrible. She got crutches. Finally, Dad got her a wheel chair. Days went by and she wasn't getting better. Finally, she made an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. He was not unsympathetic, but he looked at her and simply told her that there was only one thing she could do to make her foot better, and that was to get up and walk on it. Her foot was awfully sore, and this was terribly painful---but it worked. I wonder how many of our hang-ups, "disorders", past-abuse stories, and psychological baggage would get better, too, if we just decided to get over it, to play hurt if necessary, and to put as much energy into overcoming obstacles as we put into using them for excuses.
I just got off the phone with a friend tonight who is in the process of giving up a good career because he is too "disabled" to continue. So what's the nature of his disability? He explained that he doesn't handle stress very well, and that this disorder makes it so he has physical symptoms when he's really not sick when he's in stressful situations. This is a strong, intelligent young man with a wife and young son.
So my immediate question is, why aren't the shrinks and doctors helping him learn to deal with stress and cope with imaginary illnesses rather than helping him scrap a career and chaining him with a disability-label that will undermine his sense of self-reliance for the rest of his life? Well, they said they could help---but it could take up to fifteen years of therapy, plus major doses of psychotropic medication. Also, they told him he might have to go to his family doctor every two weeks for a battery of tests---since you never can be sure when those symptoms are "for real" and it's better to be safe than sorry. I wish to God I could say I'm making this up, but ever word I'm saying is true.
Then there was the guy on the Internet who said he was having major problems on his job. He hates his job because he is "not a people person" and he "doesn't multi-task" well. The customers are grumpy, and it causes him major stress. Plus, he let me know that he was abused as a child (he's 40), so he's a very sensitive, high-strung nervous person. His job requires him to drive some machinery (he works at Lowes), which is such a bad idea for safety reasons, since he's so nervous and high-strung. On top of this, the job is low-paying, but jobs are scarce where he lives, and he has a bad work record.
I found out that he's only been on this job for one month! I told him that this job might be an opportunity for him to grow---to learn some inner-control, to develop some people skills, and to show some faithfulness and determination. His response? He let me know that what I said was going to cause him severe depression. He cut off the conversation.
Finally, a student asked me for a recommendation to the alternative education program. The alternative ed. program is supposed to be there for students whose circumstances don't allow them to be successful at school. Perhaps a bread-winning parent has become disabled and the kid has to work. Possibly the kid has to live on his own due to a dysfunctional homelife. Well, this boy doesn't fit into any of those categories. He simply chooses not to do his work, and doesn't mind flunking his classes. He's a bright boy who is more than capable of doing his school work, all except for one major problem---he doesn't feel like it. He explained to me that he doesn't LIKE having to listen and be told what to do. (Oh, my breaking heart....) The notion that he should persevere and push himself to do his school work anyway, and that some things are more important than how he feels has apparently never entered his mind.
I'm not unsympathetic, and I'm not hard-hearted, but what ever happened to the concept of manning up? When did men start worrying more about how they FELT that about pushing themselves to do what was BEST? I've heard so much excuse mongering, self-pampering, and psycho-babble "I'm-off-the-hook" talk lately than I'm wondering if we don't need to trade some of this "therapy" in for a good kick in the pants. What ever happened to guys standing on their own two feet, even if it meant pulling themselves up by the bootstraps? Whatever happened to growth through adversity, to not letting one's past dictate one's future, and to using obstacles as stepping stones rather than excuses? The noble ideas embodied in those remarks aren't mere clichés or hackneyed aphorisms---they're the essence of being a man.
Who wussified the guys in our society with psycho-babble excuses? Who told our young men that life was supposed to be free of challenges? Where did we get the notion that we shouldn't have to cope with stress, or that if things didn't come easy, then we didn't have to try? ALL of us have weaknesses, obstacles, and bad-breaks to overcome. And which of us doesn't have to learn to overide his feelings? When we get to the point in society where men can't cope with life and take care of themselves and their families unless they feel good and have nothing to overcome, then we have truly become a nation of pansies. Manhood anybody?