On babies and bathwater

Back up therapist says we all have strengths – the coping mechanisms we’ve drawn on throughout our lives to get through a range of situations, good and bad.

She says that flogging any one of these strategies will get you into trouble. Not only does the strategy stop working for you, but you end up hating it. Often times you end up throwing the strategy away… and sometimes you end up in therapy to find other solutions to your problems.

But back up therapist says we need to be cautious of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

All of my coping strategies have served me in the past – and all can serve me now. I just need to hang on to the good bits, maintain balance, and be more deliberate about which strategy I use and when.

Back up therapist says the same thing about toxic families. Sure, they were toxic, but not everything they did was bad and I shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

She said I need to stop fighting the toxicity all the time. Identify what’s missing from my life because of it and address that, but also keep the good bits from my family. I struggle with the idea that my father’s given me anything positive, but here goes…

Let’s take my work ethic. Both my parents have a very strong work ethic: my mother of the protestant variety, and my father of the post-war immigrant variety. They’ve worked hard all their lives, and my mother still works hard now. This is a little extreme because my father thinks that if you’re not working, then you’re being lazy. No amount of relaxation is acceptable.

Back up therapist says this extreme is unhealthy. But the underlying work ethic is healthy. My parents have instilled this in me and it’s helped me get to this point in my life. So I should keep these good things but ditch the unhealthy aspects.

I understand her points about not throwing babies out with the bathwater, but have a little trouble identifying where the good stops and the toxic begins, in me as well as in my family.

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3 thoughts on “On babies and bathwater

  1. Hi Kerro,

    I’ve thought this before and said it before as well, but I think back up therapist is pretty smart. Some therapists know this stuff and can never teach it this well or simply. Some never know this stuff. And some dnn’t care. You got a good one.

    I think figuring out what to keep and what to reject is one of the big project of healing. You are doing a great job of figuring that out. It takes time and you are well on your way.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

  2. You seem to be learning a lot from your “backup” therapist. I’m happy for you. I am confident you will figure out what you need to cultivate and what you need to get rid of. Paul.

  3. Boy Kerro very well put! I think that distinction (where one stops and the other starts) is part of what we get out of having a healthy relationship with T. Just look how far you have come! Even though I know it doesn’t feel that way….I can see it!

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