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Tag Archives: Mental Health

Women, Protect Your Life: Read The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker

giftoffearEvery so often I come across a book (in this case, it was recommended by a friend) that is worth its weight in platinum. The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker is a dazzling presentation of extensively researched facts, many of them contrary to our popular notions, that provide bright insight into our culture’s epidemic of violence. More importantly, De Becker provides practical and essential guidance for those women who may be suffering from domestic abuse, stalking, or even pushy dates, and also for those who may be wondering whether or not they should stay in a problematic relationship. Mr. De Becker also explores the mystery of why some women stay with abusive men, and provides the insight that can motivate such psychologically trapped women to break free.

Although the subject is dark, Mr. De Becker writes in a respectful yet entertaining style, and even manages to adroitly and tastefully inject humor along the way. Using numerous can’t-put-down-the-book true stories to illustrate his points, De Becker captivates while he educates.

Writing a book is tough work, and as a successful businessman for many years, it is unlikely that Mr. De Becker needed the income. It is one of those books that appears to be a labor of love, with the author motivated by a desire to share his deep knowledge and experience in order to improve the safety of women. Towards the end of the book De Becker teaches us all, men and women alike, on how to avoid over-fearfulness while being alert to danger. An impressive balancing act, successfully accomplished.

-Ed Walker

Note: I do not accept compensation, direct or indirect, for any reviews posted in Engineering Thinking

 

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Family Comes First: True or False?

Boldly Go Where Your Mind Has Not Gone Before: Challenge Your Assumptions! (Part 2)

Engineering Thinking requires that we challenge all assumptions, particularly those that seem to be obviously true. As mentioned before, such challenges may propel us toward conclusions that may, at first glance, seem weird, wacky, or nutty. Nonetheless, we must learn to go where the analysis takes us, so here we go:

In the area of personal relationships, an assumption that is rarely challenged is the one that says, loud and clear, “family comes first.”

Family Comes First: True or False?

The assumption behind “family comes first” is that we have a higher obligation to family members than we do to other folks. This would appear to be reasonable for nuclear parent-child families, where parents have a moral obligation to properly raise their children.

But what about more distant family connections, with cousins, aunts, uncles, and in-laws involved, or cases where the children are grown? Are there any instances where expending the time and effort on family matters may not be morally superior than spending time with others? Here are a few scenarios to ponder:

1. Your only child has grown, who unfortunately has not turned out to be a very pleasant person. You had an evening planned to go out with some rock-solid “non-family” friends you’ve known for twenty years. Your child suddenly drops by with a standard emergency. Should you cancel your outing with your friends?

2. Your family’s gatherings are full of strife, with excessive alcohol, bickering, and tension. Do you feel obligated to attend these family gatherings on every holiday?

3. Like many families, yours has become split by divorce. Do holiday gatherings become an ordeal where some relatives try to use guilt to force you into eliminating or minimizing the time spent with the other side of the family?

If one starts with the premise that true friends — those who appreciate you and consistently treat you with respect — are the definition of true family, you will find clear answers to the questions posed above.

Merry Christmas!

-Ed Walker


 

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ET EXTRA: The Worst Opening Sentence In A Novel

Today’s Engineering Thinking Extra Is A Short Review Of A Fun Topic

It’s been pretty well established that laughter — even smiling — significantly enhances one’s health. Therefore, if you’re not aware of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (“a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels”), now’s your chance to enhance your immune system. You can peruse previous years winners here (the more recent winners are at the bottom).

For my part, I’m not a winner, but I made a valiant effort:

The dawn peeped through Wednesday’s — or was it Thursday’s? — sticky eyelids beneath Cara’s curious hangover as she pushed aside the empty tequila bottles and puzzled over the puzzling array of chicken feathers scattered neatly over the body of the naked dead stranger beside her, and then Cara thought: not again!

If you think you can write more wretchedly, you’re welcome to enter the contest. It’s easy; check here for details.

-Ed Walker

 

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My Spouse Is Too Moody: What Do I Do?

Now that we’ve learned the importance of objectivity — that we should avoid emotional blockages, and be willing to challenge our assumptions — let’s try applying some Engineering Thinking to solve a common problem: a moody spouse.

In solving problems a lot can be accomplished by simply being sure that the same words mean the same thing to both parties. For example, just what is a “moody spouse,” anyway? If you think it means “easily irritated” while your spouse thinks it means “sad,” the ensuing confusion may ignite an emotional argument that makes things worse, not better.

So how do we define “moody”? In fact, is moody even a good choice of words? If you say, “Honey, I want to talk to you about your moodiness,” could that provoke a defensive reaction? Probably, because “moody” is a vague term with negative and judgmental connotations. Since we wish to avoid emotional blockages, perhaps we should use a more diplomatic approach, such as, “Honey, you seem to be tired and stressed a lot lately; is there anything I can do to help?” Voila, we’ve switched the dynamics from what would have likely been a defensive confrontation to one of concerned support.

In the engineering workplace, the managers that I consider to be excellent use the same approach. Instead of scowling, “Ed, you’re behind schedule — again!” they will say, “Ed, I see that you’re not keeping up with the schedule; what can I do to help?”

The Phrase “What Can I Do To Help?” Works Magic

Okay, so now you’re ready to frame the issue constructively. But before you approach your spouse, you should challenge your assumptions. You’re assuming that your spouse has a moodiness issue, but could it be that you’re just too darn ornery? Or perhaps you have some mood issues, too, that are no big deal to you, but might be highly annoying to others? Therefore, when you say, “What can I do to help?” you should be ready for your spouse’s response. In particular, you should be prepared to accept the possibility that you may be viewed as a contributor to the problem. You should be ready to engage in some self-examination, and be willing to modify your own imperfect behavior.

Problems Between Partners Travel On A Two-Way Street

Finally, before your broach the subject, do your research. You should have a good idea of what causes mood swings, and some suggested solutions. A person who tends to be moody may be experiencing adverse reactions to medication, or perhaps they have poor diet and exercise habits. They might have a genetic predisposition to be moody, or perhaps they have psychological issues such as lack of maturity, or destructive behaviors that stem from a bad childhood or a prior abusive adult relationship. In the latter cases the two of you may need professional assistance from a qualified mental health professional. Are you willing to take that step? You should be.

During an engineering development project, sometimes a design team will be confronted with a serious problem that they just can’t seem to solve. In those cases the smarter project manager picks up the phone and calls a consultant. This is absolutely not a negative reflection on the team’s abilities, it’s simply a rational and productive solution to a problem — a qualified consultant offers specialized expertise, a fresh perspective, and doesn’t take sides.

Obtaining The Advice Of A Psychologist To Tune Up Your Relationship
Is No Different Than Seeking The Advice Of A Pro To Tune Up Your Golf Game

(I would like to express my appreciation to my wife, CounselorBarb, who has provided invaluable advice on how to properly present psychological issues within the Engineering Thinking framework.)

Next Post:

My Spouse Is Too Moody: What Do I Do? (Part 2)

-Ed Walker

 

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