There are NO solutions…REALLY???

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~ I was sitting at coffee with a couple acquaintances the other day and one of them was practically in tears,

“I just feel so overwhelmed. It seems like I’m never able to get ahead” he said

Sadly, I have heard this same thing said by a torrent of people throughout my travels. Feeling “overwhelmed” sucks. The problems in the Western World are immense, and my little blog has been a three year experience in trying to identify the common threads that weave through Western Society and make up the various phenomena which you and I both see; people being stressed out, depressed, lonely, or feeling overwhelmed are among the most common themes that people discuss.

Many of my articles have been written to discuss what the cause of those feelings are; working too much, spending too much time alone, not enough face-to-face connectivity with friends and family, etc. The list is virtually endless when it comes to how much Western Culture has changed and the manner in which our lives no longer look the way people lived hundreds of years ago.

However stepping away from the subject of cause for a moment, what is the solution to these problems that so many people face? What do you think?

We know that people are relational creatures. We were built to be in communion with other humans. Yet technology, the Internet, our jobs, automobiles, and a whole host of other things end up disconnecting us from each other….so what do we do?

If someone is lonely, merely telling them, “Hey buddy, you just need to spend more time with other people” can come off as being trite and insensitive. Many people don’t even know how to spend time with other people apart from using cell phones and the Internet. Many people don’t know how to have a back-and-forth conversation.

If someone tells us they feel “overwhelmed”, what can they really do to change their life for the better? Most likely, they are not in a position to change their job, to move, or to entirely uproot their life and exchange it for another way of life. Most often, when people feel overwhelmed, those feelings are rooted in the reality that they do not have a lot of control over their life.

I’m always weary of armchair counselors who think they can solve another person’s problem by merely giving them their advice. This is why I’m no longer a big fan of professional counseling and psychotherapy. Real life problems are often much more complex and can’t be truly addressed in a 45 minute counseling session.

Ideally, counselors (mentors) would spend time with their mentee within the confines of the person’s day-to-day life. Instead of creating a box in which the counselor meets with them  apart from their life, it would make more sense for a counselor to hang out with the mentee at their house, at their vocation, around their friends, and in numerous situations which would allow the mentor the opportunity to mentor them in much more dynamic ways.

Of course, my little ideal world doesn’t really exist……though it did exist for me. You see, my mentor, a retired therapist and part time minister, got coffee with me every Saturday morning from the time I was 16 years old to when he died (I was 35 when he died). Not only did we have coffee together every weekend, he also would call me up and invite me to dinner occasionally, he would drop in unannounced at my house every month or so, and he would also invite me to go to various events he thought I might be interested in.

You see, my mentor looked for all sorts of opportunities to interact with me in real life situations….outside of the confines of our weekly coffee meetings.

If you had the opportunity to have met my mentor, he would have told you that “Kenneth, is one of my closest friends and he has been a great inspiration and influence on my life”. It was remarkable to me that he believed that about me…..because he was more than forty years older than me, and I was just a young punk kid, what could I add to his life?

But that is how a mentor and mentee relationship works. Even though the younger person is gaining so much out of the relationship with the mentor; the mentor themselves gets a lot out of the relationship as well.

One of the by-products of those nineteen years I spent with my mentor, is my hesitancy to give people advice. Because I remember being someone who struggled with depression and constantly feeling overwhelmed. I remember people all around me who believed they knew it all, and who were constantly trying to tell me what to do.

Yet it was this much older man, a retired therapist, who took the time to simply hang out with me, to sip coffee with me each week that influenced me the most. It was his faithfulness and friendship which ministered to me more than all the various advice that others gave me.

It is easy to tell someone what we think they should do. It is much harder to be their friend, and it is even harder still to be faithful in our friendship to them over the long haul.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,

Kenneth



Categories: Culture & Society

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16 replies

  1. There really is no substitute for spending time with someone who cares but equally we sometimes need space with peace and quiet. That is at a premium these days!

  2. This is so wonderful and needed. I agree with you 100%. Everyday I talk about this lack of human interaction and how the internet and computer age has affected our relationships, or lack thereof. I miss human interaction and have very little of it these days with friends.
    I did try an experiment several years ago by shutting off my text function and announcing it to friends that they must call to get a hold of me. Some did and some didn’t. It was amazing to see the response, but more amazing that I felt so free. If it wasn’t for work I’d get rid of text completely.

  3. I wouldn’t blame technology, because without it YOU would not be expressing these thoughts to the masses and meeting unknown friends like me. I would not be able to express my feelings and get feedback as well. Technology has been a wonderful gift, like any other new contraption we’ve added to our lives. I would bet that people were lonely, confused and sad a hundred years ago, and 4,000 years ago- despite having TOTALLY different living experiences.
    I believe it all comes down to are you in TOUCH with the inner source(s) of Energy that connects us all. A lot of people still try to get their Energy from others, steal it thru control or emotional stealing of it. IF one becomes in tune with the Energy that IS, then they don’t have to look for it outside themselves and be validated or built up by anyone. I AM ENOUGH- good daily mantra- because it’s true. Thanks for letting me ramble, my unknown friend! But, you made me think this am – so good job. I appreciate YOUR mentor-ship today, by causing me to STOP and think for a moment. have a great day!! momentummikey 🙂

  4. Reblogged this on There's Something About Mary and commented:
    I just love this piece and something I have been struggling with as well, the substitution of phones and apps for relationship.

  5. Love and friendship has no age. Life looks like a party to me that we invite lot people where some leave early, some stay up late, some laugh at you or laugh with you and few stay after fun is over to clean up the mess. It’s about who we have in our life that makes a difference in any occasion. Happy Fat Tuesday! 😍😆

  6. If we have problems we look for an answer online.
    After all everything is online. Self diagnoses.
    ANd one can say go out. At that point it hits them. They are alone and our of fear they hide again.

    And when we do not know how to act, we spend hours investigating online what would be appropriate.
    It is that social breaking point we can’t seem to heal ourselves. Or its a threshold we can’t overcome.

    Or something like that. in the end it isn’t about giving advice it may well be have them think about the advice on their own. And thus create their own conclusion. And for that we still need to share our opinions may they be as well advice.

    • “And when we do not know how to act, we spend hours investigating online what would be appropriate.
      It is that social breaking point we can’t seem to heal ourselves. Or its a threshold we can’t overcome”

      I couldn’t agree with you more Tj

  7. You make great points. Being a good friend and just listening can do more for someone that advice can, usually anyway. But I think to totally discount advice is not good either because sometimes we do indeed seek advice. We may not take it, we may not even like it, but sometimes those nuggets of information or perspective can find it’s way into our lives unexpectedly and it can help. Not always of course, but it can. Not everything about the Internet is that horrid either. I mean really, so many of these conversations you speak of started right here on this blog of yours. You’ve had the chance to meet with very interesting people and it’s because you started talking to them on this lil’ blog called The Culture Monk. I generally agree that social norms and courtesy have gone by the wayside because of the ‘Net, etc. I also generally agree that a lot has been lost but a lot has been gained too. There’s two sides to every coin. I suppose some of this is coming from my own personal journey I’m currently on and a new direction I’m trying to take – its not so different than who I am from the get go, but I’ve gotten into such a rut that I know am working to climb out and part of it is taking a different perspective. As for mentors, I totally agree in the way! I was a mentor back in Colorado before I moved to Needles for a teenage girl. Again, I was looking to volunteer in some way, I joined the mentors program and that was excellent. I’d like to do that out here somehow but there isn’t a mentoring program in the same way, which is unfortunate. It’s amazing how just spending time with someone and setting an example can be the “advice” a person needs. Like you’ve said, simple conversation and exchanging ideas can do loads for a person. Sounding boards are awesome. 🙂

    • “There’s two sides to every coin. I suppose some of this is coming from my own personal journey I’m currently on and a new direction I’m trying to take – its not so different than who I am from the get go, but I’ve gotten into such a rut that I know am working to climb out and part of it is taking a different perspective. As for mentors, I totally agree in the way! I was a mentor back in Colorado before I moved to Needles for a teenage girl”

      Great thoughts Jen, there are two sides to every coin, i just tend to prefer the side I call 😉

      but as for mentoring, we are totally on the same page 🙂

    • LOL well duh! Everyone prefers their own side that’s only natural BUT that doesn’t make the other side nonexistent 🙂 Mentoring is definitely a worthy thing and honestly, lots of different groups of people could use it.

  8. “Most often, when people feel overwhelmed, those feelings are rooted in the reality that they do not have a lot of control over their life.” I think you have hit the nail on the head with that sentence. Good post!

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  1. There are NO solutions…REALLY??? – There's Something About Mary

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