Honestly, I think sometimes I make excuses to not deal with pressing issues at hand for fear that someone will remind me of our own defects of character OR I am obsessing over them and unable to stay in the present. This is worth noting for two reasons: 1. It probably means we are not using our tools to actually make peace with our defects of character and deal with them appropriately AND 2. We are missing out on some very valuable crucial conversations.
Recently a mom came in to talk to me about her son’s pot usage. She wanted him to slow his roll and cut back.
I asked a simple follow up question: “What was his response to your request?”
“I haven’t said a word!” She responds with vehemence. “I cannot actually talk to him!!”
“Why not?” I ask.
“Weeelllllll, he knows I smoke too. I would feel like a hypocrite.”
“Do you smoke as often per day as he does?”
“Yes, but he doesn’t know that!!” She answers. (Hmmmm…Interesting…..)
The OBVIOUS issue here if we are going to get all judgy is that she is actually being a hypocrite. But I think that misses the point. My work isn’t to point out the obvious but to instead support whatever work this mom is willing to do to work towards becoming a more healthy family.
If I can pause in my own tendency to judge, I can better see her problem from her perspective. Actually, I see her problems. But I also see a way through the weeds (pun intended). She thinks he is using too much and she wants to address that issue. She is stymied in taking action for obvious reasons. We kept talking about why asking him to moderate his use seems crucial to her and she remained convinced that this was important. From that perspective I was able to offer some suggestions:
She could level with her son and see how he responds. She could express her concern about his dosage and present her perspective without demanding he change. She could even be vulnerable enough to be honest about her own usage and talk about her ambivalence about changing her own dosage. Maybe she decides to first slow her own roll and see what she learns. Maybe invite him to join her in changing.
There are many options here to support this one principle: if it is the right thing to do and you believe it is yours to do, do it even if you do not have your own act together. To be effective, we may have to also address our own issues. But the point for today is this: do not let fear of being confronted with your own issues keep you from doing a right thing. Humility is a beautiful thing. Want to hear what came of this family?
To be continued...