Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stressful surprise

A few weeks ago, I went out to the car in the backlane to discover that my rear windshield was in about a million little pieces. My plans for the next hour (preparing dinner!) were put on hold as I called the police, called MPI, started sweeping up the little pieces of debris and sorted things out. Then I had to figure out how I was going to get to work, and figure out carpooling and so forth for the next day. Next morning, I was on the phone to figure out where to take it, and inbetween clients raced home to get my car and drive it, in all it's air conditioned glory to the auto glass place to get fixed. Long story short: my schedule was considerably disrupted with this whole event, and the hours I had been savoring to get caught up on a few things vanished while I scrambled to get things sorted out.

This is but a small scale stress compared to the sudden turn of events in the Canadian politcal scene. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaƫlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, comes home today with all eyes in the country on her. Seems she has to choose between
1. granting the Prime Minister's request to prorogue the government, which is criticized for postponing dealing with a situation in an economic time where limbo isn't helpful.
2. accepting a coalition government, criticized, among other things, for having a group of people lead the country who were not voted into power by the people
3. calling another election, just a few months after the last one. An expensive venture in a recession.

To read the news, it is clear that everybody has an opinion. Seems there are no "good options" here. All eyes are on the Governor General, waiting and wondering about what she will do. A CBC report says: "As representatives of the Queen in Canada, the vast majority of Canadian governors general have lived mostly uneventful constitutional lives." What an unexpected stressful situation she finds herself in--how different than what she would have expected. She essentially has to make the "least worst" decision in this mess. (Knowing that no matter what she does, she will be soundly criticised for the outcome).

Can't help it...I'm a therapist...and where my mind goes is: "What is she thinking? How does she handle it? With whom does she process this with? Can/does she trust them? How does she make a decision with surely many people advocating for their own preference".

I'm often struck by clients who will say, "Thank you for letting me talk, and letting me hear my own thoughts. I wasn't sure what I was thinking because so many people have been helping me by telling me what to do." Therapy is not "advice giving" fact quite the's allowing people to process and explore their own thoughts in a safe and supportive environment, so that they can discover their own voice (or even more often, the various voices inside that speak out of different parts of themselves).

It is important during a time of unexpected crisis to find a place to take a deep breath, calm oneself and explore true thoughts of the remind yourself of what's important, what is real, what your core values and beliefs are. Somehow then, moving into the future, though still not easy, is more "do-able" with the clarity and perspective that comes from being in firmly grounded.

Excuse me, I've got to go pick up some more little pieces of glass from between the seats.

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