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If It’s Raining and You Have an Umbrella, Use It.

If it’s raining and you have an umbrella, use it.

This advice from Psychiatrist, Dr. Shoma Morita, means that when you find yourself in difficult circumstances and there is the possibility of taking any action to relieve or influence those circumstances, then do so.

I suspect that this maxim comes to mind today because I am under the weather. Rarely is there absolutely nothing to be done. This may mean cancelling appointments or making one. We may need to usher in a change of plans, however inconvenient. It may be seeking an opinion or turning over every stone to look for a solution; perhaps a change in medication is required or even a change of Physician. There are so many situations and choices that can arise in daily living and most come with options for intervention. We need to seek those options out.

I find this maxim practical for all manner of difficulties I have encountered. It is the opposite of a victim mentality and encourages me in a proactive stance.

Many years ago, I read a book edited by Claude Whitmyer containing many essays on Mindfulness and Meaningful Work. There were so many gems that have stuck with me over the decades and one was a description of the trap of a “victim mentality” written by Rick Fields. He described it thus:

“The victim mentality ultimately discharges you from any responsibility for your life. Since clearly what is happening to you is not your fault. You don’t have to lift a finger…Now, to be sure, there is a sense in which we are clearly victims, in our culture. We often are at the mercy of forces that we have no control over. A good hurricane (such as Florence, which is zeroing in today on the Carolinas or the super typhoon heading for Hong Kong and the Philippines) or an earthquake will remind you forcibly of that fact. So, will even a moment’s contemplation of what it means to live in a Nuclear Age…

Nevertheless, there is a vast difference between being a victim (which we all are, in some areas of our life) and having the Victim Mentality. Being a victim means there are some areas in my life where I am battling powerful forces, but I will do battle with them. Whereas, having the Victim Mentality means giving up: “what’s the use? Why even try? I have no power at all; the things you suggest may help other people, but they can’t offer any hope to me…”

I want to state a simple truth. And that is, I believe every individual has more control over his or her life than he or she thinks is the case… no matter how much of our life we perceive to be unchangeable, because it is in the control of someone or something else, there is always that part that is under our control, and that we can work on to change, be it 2%, 5% 30% or whatever, it is almost always more than we think.”

One of the guidelines of Dr. Itami’s Meaningful Life Therapy is to be an active agent in your own treatment. Take an interest and inform yourself. Find out things that you can do. The bottom line is to take some action rather than endure unpleasant circumstances, or unnecessary suffering that can be changed, or alleviated in some way.

At times when much of our life can seem out of our control, it is even more vital to take charge of the things –even small things that we can do something about. Never underestimate the impact on our well-being that small steps can make. And notice how often small steps lead to significant change.

Note: I hope you have a lovely September week, the month of fresh starts and brand-new scribblers. See you next Wednesday, Trudy