Monday, August 25, 2014

One of These Things is Not Like the Other....

Puppy Girl is getting older.  About two months ago, she stopped eating her regular dog food.  Why?  Was there something wrong with her that made her not want to eat?  All of her other behavior was perfectly normal. I tried soft dog food.  She ate it.  One cause down.  Was there something wrong with her teeth that made eating dry dog food hurt?  A trip to the dentist and lots of money later, we found nothing wrong with her teeth.  Yes, she had a cyst in her mouth, which they removed.  Problem solved?  A week later, she stopped eating the soft dog food.  I started making my homemade dog food again.  She ate and is eating it.  For now.  Maybe, it's just that as she's gotten older, her taste has changed and also her jaw isn't up to the dry food challenge.  Only time will tell.

What I'm doing with Puppy Girl isn't at all unusual.  Parents do it with small children all the time.  They keep asking questions.  The baby's crying?  Is it wet?  Nope.  Poopy?  Nope.  Hungry? No.  Gassy?  No.  Tired?  Yes! It's time for a nap.  Most of us have endless patience with our pets and our children. We keep asking questions until we find the cause and the solution.  Why don't we do it with adults?   I don't know.  All I know is that if we kept asking questions, there might be fewer folks here in the Trenches.

What do I mean?  I can't even count the number of people who come into my office wanting a divorce because their spouse stopped communicating.  Of course, I always ask what they mean.  They tell me their spouse stopped talking to them. They stopped answering their questions.  I ask what they've tried. Most folks look at me a bit blankly.  Well, they asked to go to counseling, but mostly, they did nothing. By nothing, I mean they did nothing different.  They kept asking questions for which they didn't really want the answers.  They seethed.  They assumed. They catastrophized.  What they didn't do was try to approach the problem differently.  They didn't break the new behavior down into components.  They didn't investigate further.  Is it only on Thursdays?  Is it every day?  Only on weekends?  Do they seem angry? Sad? They filled in their spouses blanks for them.  They figured adults, unlike small children and pets, would tell us what was bothering them.  If the death of Robin WIlliams teaches us anything, it's that adults don't always tell us what's wrong and how to solve it.  Yet, client after client assumes they would.  Had Puppy Girl had been their dog, she'd have starved to death.   Here in the Trenches.

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