Robert Wuthnow, a preeminent sociologist of religion, has written a new book about our region of the country. But this reviewer says he writes surprisingly little of the Christian church’s influence on the culture. Odd.
I had another conversation with my professional mentor last week, and she said something about me and my good friend, K, as we finished the conversation:
… “it’s because you (both) over-function.”
Now, if you have been part of my training in psychotherapy, you would know that over-functioning is not a great thing. It’s not even a good thing. It implies that I regularly do more in my relationships than is necessary or even helpful. I felt the power of her comment today in a session with a couple in which I was working hard, being helpful, resourceful, and empathetic all at once. I was working, but I was working very hard.
But here’s the rub: what’s the difference between doing more than necessary and striving for excellence? Because that’s what I see myself doing. Pursuing professional and personal excellence. My clients count on me to bring a centered self into their time with me, a professional who has done her homework, reflected on their lives with them in session and on my own time, and who is prepared for their questions.
If I don’t bring my best efforts to my sessions, isn’t that the same as me under-performing? In the context of the primary models of family therapy, doing too much in the room doesn’t allow the space or energy for the client to lead their own therapy. I want my clients to lead their own work. I just find, however, that that is only possible when I model what that means in the context of self reflection and critical thinking.
I know one thing for sure: I don’t want to be an under-functioner just to show how flexible I can be. Like most things in the therapy room, I will be looking for the sweet spot of the middle way, doing my best and then, helping my clients succeed, to get out of their way and walk beside them.
One of the most irksome things I’ve heard people say in conversation lately is this little quip: “After all, it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.”
What this says to me is that most people are so convinced of the entrenchment of power in their various workplaces, families and organizations that they would rather move ahead on their own initiative, knowing they will have to repent and grovel for a moment or two when confronted instead of go through the rigamarole and nonsense of trying to get something done the expected or defined way.
I love initiative. I really (REALLY) hate power plays. But just doing something, knowing you will have to apologize later for it, smacks of manipulation to me. It’s much more honest to try to accomplish things by the accepted process, get stopped in one’s tracks, and then decide to act anyway, knowing the consequences, than to act anyway without announcing your intention.
Those whose behavior constantly calls for (planned) apologies are as much to blame for sucky organizational systems as those who hold their power and won’t bend or think outside their boxes. You’re in the dance together when you play these games. You’re just in different corners of the same dance floor.
As someone who collects and uses fountain pens every day, I really value the importance of handwriting and what it does for and with our daily lives. According to this study, even with all the digital tools we now have, no one is about to stop writing by hand any time soon.