Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Self-Esteem By Numbers

There's an old theory that life has many complexities and shades of gray. That you could search and search for a needle in a haystack and never find it. That sometimes the harder you search, the more diligently you search, the less likely it is that you'll find it.

I'm setting that theory aside -- mostly in honor of me reading "The Lost Symbol" -- because I now see that the mysteries of the ages can be solved in an single evening with time to spare -- and that life is simply a big "Paint by Numbers" kit -- everything is manageable: Daub, daub, daub, OK we're checking off orange, red, and yellow.

Up till now, in my "Drive for Pride" campaign, as I have pleaded with people to have self-esteem, I've been going on the assumption that individual differences and varying life stories made a difference, that circumstances were at least somewhat determinative of how I needed to respond to them.

But now, I'm working with an entirely different palette of assumptions. It's something I'm calling "Self-Esteem by Numbers." Give me an hour in a cab being chased by the CIA and I believe I could come up with an infallible two layer wheel thing that anyone could dial around to find the problem and the solution.

Like your problem is "Others are better than me," just spin that complaint to the arrow and check the window to read, "No, you're as good as anyone." Or "I'm nothing but a failure," you can easily see it says, "There's different kinds of success." Or "I had a lousy childhood," we can quickly resolve with a spin, to read, "Would you please grow up, already..."

I've heard of therapists who've been nothing but compassion ... to the person's face. The poor schlump is sitting there, a rock solid mass of unhealthy complexes, and the therapist is in professional commiseration mode. "I believe I hear you say that your father killed your mother and you're expecting him back for you at any minute?" In this scenario, the therapist has his eye on the clock, thinking of how much he's making an hour, then will be laughing over the guy's problem later back in the therapists' lounge. "I told him we'd have to meet another 10 sessions at least."

You don't want that. So why put up with it? There's too much baggage with the average therapist. They can't be trusted. But we still want people to be cured. We already have enough Republicans. That's where the new "Self-Esteem by Numbers" steps in!

And it's not "one size fits all." Because you can make small wheels and big wheels. I can picture a very small one, like for mild cases. Let's say it has about four complaints and answers. It's more or less a pep talk. Such as "Yesterday was a bad day," with the answer, "It's past. Live for today." Or "No one loves me," answered by, "Love is highly overrated."

Then we could have really big wheels -- big ones, like three feet in diameter, with however many questions and answers would fit. I think you could solve almost anything with a three foot spinner. A few blurbs there about giving yourself permission to start over. It's a quick fix. And it'd also give you plenty of room to fit in ads for other spinners, like on the subjects of careers, medical advice, and fortune telling.

P.S. -- I'm only halfway through "The Lost Symbol," but this is one haystack where the needle seems larger than life.

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