Randy Stepping stones, stumbling blocks, and silver linings.
I’ll be 73 in a month or so. I’m married in a blended family; so I have three kids and my wife has two. I worked at a mental health center for 37 years. I started off doing crisis for families, then I did crisis work for adults. I worked in the school system with what they call EBD, emotionally, behaviorally disabled kids.
What we learn from our family
I love people. People taught me a lot. I really feel that no one is raised or grows up in a void. We learn a lot from our families. We learn we’re extensions of our family. And then that family is usually connected to some community. And so that’s another contact that we learn from and that community goes into society. We’re constantly getting input. We go through life and we test what we learned, whether it’s true or not, valid or not, helpful or not.
Sometimes we grow up with distorted thinking patterns: negative thinking, blaming, catastrophizing, minimizing. Once the client identifies those, then we can approach how we can change that.
Attitude is really a major thing with me in therapy. It’s called re-framing. If something happens to somebody and they’re taking a negative approach, I don’t discount their interpretation or feelings. I validate their feelings. I empathize with them. Once that relationship is established, then I’ll go on to options: “These are things that you can do and it’s a choice.” No one cares how much we know until they know how much we care. So once that relationship is there, which is the most important thing, then I can joke with them and we can have easy conversation therapy. They trust me.
Stepping stones, stumbling blocks, and silver linings
Things that happen through life, you can use as a stepping stone or a stumbling block. And I want to teach skills to use life experiences as stepping stones, no matter how traumatic those things are, even the pandemic.
Every day the grandchildren come over, we have an empty book and they write positive things that they’re thankful for. That’s really important for them, to have control of their attitude. And that’s why I’m teaching them at an early age there’s always something to be thankful for. The silver lining is that I get to spend all this time I normally wouldn’t be able to, to teach them and to interact with them and have fun and play with them.