I have shared this video before. If you have not seen Bob Newhart’s two-word solution to any problem, take a couple of minutes to watch and laugh.
We laugh because we all know someone who needs to get over themselves and just “Stop It!” We also laugh because, if we are honest, we know we need to do this on occasion.
That said, some things are well beyond our ability to just stop. Let us take a physical example, as we understand the body far better than we understand the mind. Imagine you and your wife take a long hike. An hour’s walk from the car, she gets a blister on her foot. If she demands you carry her back, call for Star Flight, or suggests the two of you need to spend the night – because of a small blister – you have every reason to suggest she needs to grow up, toughen up, and get over it. On the other hand, if she falls and breaks her leg, then you would be all about some way to get her out without her walking. In fact, if she tried to walk you would likely stop her. If there were no good choices, and you knew the weather was going to get bad, you might do the best you could to splint her leg and help her walk out, but that would not be your first choice, and would only be your choice in certain circumstances.
The same thing is true for emotional and mental injuries; some are small and we need to stop whining and get over them; in short, we need to “Stop It!” However, some things are way beyond that. Some things are so big that asking her to keep going is like expecting her to walk on a broken leg that has not even been put in a splint.
The problem here is knowing how significant an injury of the mind is. You cannot see it, and you are dependent on her telling you about it. You probably think you understand the issue better than you do, and you judge it by your abilities. Just as with our bodies, our minds have different pain tolerances, and different strengths and weaknesses. It is very easy to end up pushing her to do something that is far more painful or difficult than you think, and that will not end well for either of you.
What to do?
- Realise there are both “Stop It” and “Fix It” problems.
- Understand that you cannot always tell into which category her problem falls.
- Do not expect her to be like you. She can do some things more easily than you can, while other things are far more difficult for her than for you.
- Give her the benefit of the doubt when she says something is not a “Stop It” problem. Follow up by asking how she is going to fix it.
- Be ready for her to get help if she fails to fix something. Just as a broken leg is beyond what most of us could take care of, some mental and emotional issues require help that most of us cannot give. Support her in getting help if she suggests it, or gently suggest it to her if the problem continues.
- Deal with your stuff. Be it “Stop It!” stuff or “Fix It” stuff, set an example.