The other week I was texting back and forth with a client on whether he should do counseling or not. He didn’t see the need to do counseling, but he was willing to do it in order to prove to his wife that he didn’t have a problem. He asked if this was a good reason to do counseling. I explained in no uncertain terms that this was not a good reason to do counseling. He didn’t respond. I then said he would benefit from having his blind spots exposed which would help him avoid problematic traps he gets stuck into. Again, he didn’t respond.
There is much talk of “White Privilege”, “Male Privilege”, “Heterosexual Privilege” or Racial Inequality these days. And the response I usually hear is one of outright denial before the idea is even considered. If you are one of these people I have a few questions before getting into the bulk of this blog. What if it was real? What if there really was a “privilege” granted to someone purely based on their skin color or sex? What if opportunities weren’t being fairly given based on race? And more importantly, why are you so quick to reject the idea? Furthermore, if you are a Christian, I think you have an added responsibility to investigate such claims since there is a clear warrant in Scripture for the righteous to stand up for social justice.
With a world population of 8 billion and growing; you are just a statistic.
In a universe of billions upon billions of stars, planets, solar systems, galaxies and black holes, separated by a billions of light years, expanding out into uncharted space; you are just a speck on a speck.
How could your life possibly matter, make a difference, be counted, and have a significant impact on the lives of others?
The Christian traditional may have an answer.
I was recently listening to one of my favorite podcasts “Freakonomics” with Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt . Its one of my favorite podcasts for the reasons that its funny, interesting, informative about economics and focuses on fascinating aspects of psychology (I’ve also read “Freakonomics” and “Super Freakonomics”). If you know me, you know that I love psychology. And on the episode I was listening to there was a story that stood out to me.
They interviewed psychologist Robert Cialdini who did a fascinating study on the influential power of one’s environment. Put in simpler terms, the influence that a group has on an individual. He discussed a study where PSA signs were set out in people’s yards with their permission throughout different neighborhoods. The message on the signs were geared towards people’s energy usage behavior. They had differing messages pointing out the cost to consumers, the effect on global warming, and the negative effect to future generations all from over consumption of energy. But there was one last sign, which dropped the warnings about cost, damage to the atmosphere or future generations; it simply described the usage behavior of one’s surrounding neighbors.
This month marks my fourth year of practicing counseling professionally, specifically family therapy. As I reflect on the last four years, one aspect of myself that has changes comes to mind. That is my relationship with empathy. But before I go on, it might be helpful if I first explain what empathy is.
My wife, daughter and I recently went to see my family for the holidays. As we were spending time with my family, my dad pulled out some documents of family history. Personally, family history is not that big of an interest for me, but my ears quickly perked up when my dad told me I had a not-so-distant relative who was also poet, and she was published. Her name was Irene Grace Duffield from Nebraska. And the book she published was entitled “Cosmic Dust: Views of a Lifetime, in Poetry”.
I thought this was pretty cool and wanted to see if the book was available on Amazon. To be honest, I had grave doubts the book would be available. Its an old book, published in 1956 by a little known poet. So you can imagine my surprise when I found a copy available by an independent seller on Amazon. I immediately bought the copy. After I told my dad, he asked if I could buy him a few copies. I went back on Amazon and there were literally no copies available. I had just bought the last copy!
I remember my first experience of going to an art museum. Looking at the paintings gave me such a wondrous feeling. I felt a sense of awe at how an object or image could stir strong imagination in me. It was a feeling of warmth and closeness.
I almost felt embarrassed to be in public, surrounded by other people looking at the same art I was. Secretly, I wanted to take all the artwork and sneak away somewhere alone. I wanted to hide away and cherish the tenderness of it. It was as if God descended into my being, into my heart, and touched a very vulnerable part of me. It was a transcendent moment.
Most couples seeking counseling are usually coming 7 years after the problem has started. There are many reasons for people delaying counseling, yet one of the factors is men’s reluctance accessing counseling services.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with a couples where the woman practically dragged the man in or had just given him an ultimatum to do therapy or she’s leaving.
Are children born with a sense of right and wrong or are they taught?
Like most other developmental areas in children, moral development also progresses in stages. But the awareness of justice, discomfort, guilt, conscience, and prosocial behaviors cannot be reduced to simple incremental progression, although the tool of stages gives us a fixed point from which to look.