Thursday, May 29, 2014

Clippers vs Mavericks

Clippers vs.

I remember very little from high school biology classes except how badly I
wanted to not be there. There is, however, one image that has stayed in mind since that time 18 years or so ago. It is the image of the cell wall of a leaf. I even remember my teacher telling us about how the cell wall has to be able to take in the good, nutritious stuff like sunlight and carbon dioxide and let out the waste products of photosynthesis and respiration. Not only do they have to let in and let out but they also have to be able to block bad stuff from coming in.

Our bodies are similar. Let in the good, let out the bad and don’t allow entry to anything toxic.
Life is a balance.

Health is a balance too, both physical and mental health require balance.

At one point some genius recommended that people in mourning for the loss of a loved one should be prescribed antidepressants so they don’t feel the pain.

Not good. That’s an example of being out of balance. Just because a feeling is unpleasant does not mean it is unimportant. In case you should feel like arguing I will point out the value of the pain of being burnt. Even though it is unpleasant it also just stopped you from melting your hand to the stovetop.

Most therapists (including myself) agree that a general definition of good mental health is the ability to experience a range of emotions without being taken over (for too long) by any of them. Note that I did not write that the definition of good mental health is perpetual happiness, it’s not.

If you feel like you did not understand the last few paragraphs about balance then read them again. They are supremely important and this concept of balance is the basis of this blogletter and others to follow.

What’s the difference between Donald Sterling and Mark Cuban?

It’s certainly not looks. They’re both pretty ugly in their own special ways.

Let’s take a brief look at what they said:
                The Don: "It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people", and, "You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want", but "the little I ask you is ... not to bring them to my games." (Wikipedia)
                The Cuban: “I know I’m prejudiced and I know I’m bigoted in a lot of different ways,” he said. “If I see a black kid in a hoodie on my side of the street, I’ll move to the other side of the street. If I see a white guy with a shaved head and tattoos, I’ll move back to the other side of the street. None of us have pure thoughts; we all live in glass houses.” (The Washington Post)

One of the major differences that we see here can be summed in a popular therapist buzzword: mindfulness. Mindfulness has a few different connotations but has been defined by some as the ability to think about your thoughts.

Mark Cuban is able to think about what he’s thinking and even make a judgment about it by saying “we all live in glass houses”. Donald Sterling just doesn’t want black people at his games. He doesn’t show any insight in to that thought and he doesn’t make any judgments of his thoughts he just puts them out there.

I’ve never met Mr. Cuban nor did he agree to be interviewed for this blogletter (I didn’t even ask him). So I don’t know his actual intent but I’m going to interpret his words for you anyway:

(Close your eyes and imagine Mark Cuban’s slightly odd voice speaking the following paragraph)
"There is always a balance, extremes are rarely (if ever) healthy. My balance is my recognition that I have some racist tendencies on one side of the great scale and on the other side of the scale is my full intention to not hurt anyone because of those racist tendencies. I am aware of what I do and don’t like and won’t apologize for that awareness. Nor will I make believe that I see everyone equally without bias but I will be sure to try to stay aware and use that awareness to make myself a better person both for myself and for my relationships."

In sum, this author (me) comes out on the side of the Mavericks. Mark Cuban shows his willingness to consider his beliefs and to own his preferences and his fears which is something we could all benefit from. Mr. Cuban also seems to show his reticence about moving toward extremes.

The great Jewish sage and mystic, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, once said: “the whole world is a narrow bridge and the main thing is to never be afraid.”

I urge you, dear reader to the ultimately brave thing and consider those places in your life that you are out of balance or have fallen. What are you ignoring? What do you need to do to get back in balance or back on the bridge? Who can help you do that?

Your friends and family can certainly help you. And so can I. Just give me a call @ 303-803-4832.

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