by Douglas L. Anderson, PsyD
We are experiencing a period of weather history where extremes are the norm. Extreme derecho winds, extreme temperatures on the high side, extreme drought conditions, extreme amounts of rain in short periods. Lots of extremes. And it can be rather challenging to adjust and acclimate to such conditions. We don’t know what to expect, and therefore our tendency is to trust only what we see with our own eyes.
I suppose life can seem a bit like our current weather patterns at times. When it rains it pours.
Of course, that little proverb can go in both directions. We might say that “in the middle of the drought we had only one rain storm, and it was accompanied by golf ball sized hail. We lost the little bit of corn that the drought had already decimated. And now we also need new shingles on the house. When it rains it pours.”
Or we might say that “we have had the summer of all summers. Soaking rains, cool nights, and warm days with little wind have produced a bumper crop. And our tractors and combine never broke down once! When it rains it pours.”
We all know another common question that asks, “Is your glass half empty or is your glass half full?”
We can’t predict when we will have what we might describe as a streak of bad luck or a streak of good luck. Rain falls when it wants without any input from us. But maybe we can work at having some control of our attitude, what psychology sometimes describes as being agentic creatures (agents) who have a degree of choice about attitudes and actions.
Viktor Frankl spent three years in a Nazi concentration camp. In one of his books he notes that only 1 of every 27 individuals who were imprisoned in his camp survived. In other words, 96% of those imprisoned in his camp died in the camp. Frankl somehow survived.
In his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, written after his experience in the camp, Frankl notes that everything can be taken from a person except for one thing. The individual always has the right or the opportunity to choose his or her attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose his or her own way.
I don’t know what you might be up against right now. You may be in a difficult marriage or a difficult business partnership. You may be unusually anxious or deeply depressed, or maybe you just feel like everything is a bit out of whack, and that life is an unending struggle, a road with unending potholes and unexpected turns.
My experience of healthy farmers and ranchers is that they take the weather “with a grain of salt'' (yes, one more little saying we all recognize). Their attitude is that “it will all come out in the wash.” Okay, enough with the sayings.
But there is a lesson for us here. Sometimes life pours out challenge and pain, and sometimes life pours out blessings and good things. Our task is to find ways to be resilient and to adjust and acclimate to both good and bad moments, both good and bad experiences. We need to discover ways to hold good and bad simultaneously.
If you say this is easier said than done, I concur. But we can find our way to a healthier emotional and relational life if we look for and discover ways to hold both good and bad.
If you would like some help accomplishing that, consider connecting with us. We have competent and caring therapists in all four of our locations - River Counseling Services in Platte, Sioux Falls Psychological Services, and Stronghold Counseling Services in Sioux Falls and in Yankton - who will meet you where you are, offering hope. That is our mission. You may schedule an appointment at the Platte office at 605-337-3444 or meet with one of our Sioux Falls or Yankton based therapists from your computer, smartphone, or in person at any of our clinics. To schedule an appointment, please call 605-334-2696.