Our Children Are Suffering

Susan Pye Brokaw

Founder of the Adlerian Network

I was very disturbed several days ago with what I heard from teenagers.  They think that there is going to be a civil war within the next few years.  One young man who has for years said that he is going to attend the Airforce Academy said, “I’m not going.  I don’t want to have to kill other Americans.”

These kids are scared.  This is the result of our youth observing the riots over the summer, the riot in the capital and the hostile commentary by the media, the politicians and many of us.  What ever happened to civil discourse?

We as therapists know that fighting doesn’t solve anything.  It is only when people treat each other with respect, respect the rights of others to have a different opinion and then sit down and work it out, will any problem be solved.  People also need to understand that they will not always get their way.

Many kids have experienced their parents fighting and then divorcing.  They were very impacted by that experience and now they see the same pattern in our country.  This is not a political issue!  This behavior is demonstrating to our children that when you want something, don’t try to work it out, fight to the finish!

What can we do?  Tell others the Adlerian approach to solving problems.  Help them get on the horizontal plane, write your congressmen, the media and pray!  This is really serious, and it is going to affect everyone’s future if we don’t stop this.

Feb. 6: ASD Through an Adlerian Lens: Part 2 – Practical Applications

This presentation is a follow-up to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Through an Adlerian Lens: Part 1 – An Overview of ASD.   

In Part 2, Meghan Williams will present practical approaches to working with individuals with ASD, as well as how these approaches are in alignment with Adlerian concepts.

Additionally, she will cover how specific Adlerian techniques and concepts, such as life style assessments, early recollections, life tasks, and the Crucial Cs, can be utilized when working with individuals who have ASD. 

Finally, two adult males with ASD will share their stories and what approaches assisted them with moving forward in their lives  while increasing their levels of encouragement and social interest. 

The Adlerian Network meeting on Zoom begins at 9:30 a.m., Central time, Feb. 6.

The meeting is free. Please join us.

Meghan Williams, PhD, LMFT is an Adlerian marriage and family therapist, an AAMFT approved supervisor, and a MN Board of MFT approved supervisor.  Meghan has specialized in working with individuals on the autism spectrum for almost 20 years.  Meghan currently provides coaching and consulting services and post-graduate supervision, and she works from a holistic strength-based approach offering hope, understanding, growth, and encouragement.

The Work Task

By Susan Pye Brokaw, LMFT

Founder, Adlerian Network

Adler stated that work is one of three tasks that every person must deal with.  Work gives a person a sense of self-esteem for their accomplishment.  When out of work, many feel that their value and worth are diminished because they are unable to support themselves and their families.

When I started out as a social worker, I became very aware of the problems when welfare reform was established.  Many will not know of the problems associated with that reform.  I noticed that this reform helped to support families with dependent children.  However, to get that assistance, the father had to be out of the home.  This forced men to leave their families in order to get this assistance.  This was the beginning of the break-up of the family.

The other thing that became apparent to me, based on client reports, was that women could not afford to get a job.  The job paid less than they would get on welfare and they would have to pay for child care.  This forced them to be taken care of by the government when they wanted to support themselves.  

This program did not give people a hand up but instead a handout.  This led to generations of people in poverty, especially minorities.  It affected their self-esteem, their self-worth and broke up families.

Regardless of your political preference, it is important to be grateful that the poor, especially minorities, are going back to work.  There are many new plans that are empowering these people to become financially independent.    

Finally, there are efforts to help people become financially independent, allowing them to increase their self-esteem and feel worthwhile as they take pride in supporting their families.  As there is so much negativity about what is going on in our country, this is something to celebrate.

Suffering for Change

Everyone suffers at times.  There is suffering that occurs due to something outside of one’s control.  I will not address that here.  There is also suffering that occurs due to the choices that are made. 

Many years ago, an older colleague of mine made a profound statement.  He said that through all his years working in mental health, he learned that it is pain that causes change.   Dr. Alfred Adler said it in a different way.  He was working with a  patient and the patient was suffering but was not changing.  Dr. Adler said to him, “I don’t think that you have suffered enough yet.  You need to go home and suffer some more.  When you have suffered enough and decide that you must change, please come back and I would love to work with you.”

There are degrees of suffering from mild to severe.  When there is something that needs changing and it isn’t addressed, the suffering begins.  When nothing is done, the suffering increases over time.  

Think of getting a ticket for speeding as a metaphor.  You made a mistake and the consequence is that you got a ticket.  You suffered for a minute, and threw it aside and forgot it.  Then you were called to court because you didn’t pay the ticket.  You suffered a bit more but decided to avoid the court hearing.  Then one day a police officer arrested you and took you to jail.  Then you started really suffering.  Finally, you decided you didn’t want to suffer like this anymore, so you did your time, paid your fine, decided not to speed anymore and started looking for a new job.  You lost the one you had because you were in jail.

When suffering occurs, it is important to examine the choices that were made that resulted in this suffering.  Dr. Alfred Adler said that you are not a re-actor, but you are an actor in life.  You can’t change others, only yourself. Others make choices about how they will behave and you choose how you will deal with their behavior.  Sometimes several different choices have to be tried until one is found that works.

Clients come to us when they are suffering.  Have they suffered enough?  Are they ready to change?  I read a statement recently that was very profound.  It said that a teacher is responsible for teaching but is not responsible for whether the student chooses to learn.

Some clients are eager to learn and change.  Some need to be taught the lesson many times, and maybe from several teachers, before the learning sticks.  Others  aren’t ready to learn yet.  They would like others to change or life to change.  They don’t understand that they need to learn from their suffering and change themselves and become a better person and help to create a better community.  

Sometimes we, as therapists, will be one of many teachers that they see before their lesson is learned.  Sometimes, we have to be patient with clients who are suffering and help them realize that not changing leads to more suffering.  Some stubbornly refuse to change and we have to honor their decision, as Dr. Adler did.

Susan Pye Brokaw, LMFT

Founder, Adlerian Network

Notice what works

Susan Pye Brokaw, MA, LMFT

Adlerian Network Founder

Adler emphasized that we should work together as equals, cooperating with others for the commonweal (the common welfare).  What I notice during this difficult time is how everyone is concerned with the common welfare and taking action.  People are doing what will stop the spread of the virus.  They are working together to create and produce solutions.  Even the Congress is working together for a change and have quickly passed the much-needed bills to help out.  Amazing!

Let us remember and point out to those around us that this is what works.  Look what happens when we put aside our differences and all work together for the common good.  What amazing things could be accomplished if this was continued after we have gotten through this difficult time.

I’m a grateful American

By Susan Pye Brokaw, MA, LMFT

Adlerian Network founder

I hear all the negativity spoken, on TV, on Facebook and even from some of my friends and colleagues.  This is really profound discouragement that is pervasive in the best country on the planet. It discourages me when I keep hearing it and reading it and hearing it.  Alfred Adler emphasized the use of encouragement. How do we do that in this situation?

I am a grateful American.  I will share one thing that I am grateful for regarding our country.  I started out as a social worker in the ‘60s. I was disheartened as I saw how black and Native American people were given a hand out instead of a hand up.  Welfare was discouraging and it was almost impossible to rise out of poverty under the system that was created. It is hard to feel worthwhile in these circumstances.  The plight of minorities has been disturbing to me for years. Nothing changed until recently.

I am so grateful that unemployment in this country is the lowest that it has been in about 50 years.  Finally, these folks are able to take pride in supporting themselves and their families.

Could we all start expressing on social media our gratitude for the good things that are happening in our country?  What would happen if we all bombarded social media with what we are grateful for in the country? I think it would be a refreshing change and maybe others would join us.  This is a very simple exercise in social interest.  

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Social interest: Adler’s words lead to a blog

Alfred Adler, in his paper entitled  “On the Origin of the Striving for Superiority and of Social Interest,” made the following comment:  “The goal that is best suited for perfection would have to be a goal which signifies the ideal community of all mankind, the ultimate fulfillment of evolution.”

We can do this by ourselves, in our family, at work or in our community.  We can teach our children to do this as well. We should always keep in mind ways that we might contribute.

I have recently cut back to working part-time while all my friends are fully retired.  With some additional time on my hands, I pondered the question of what more I could do.  It came to me that with all the expertise that I have in dealing with ADHD, I could start a blog.  That is rather humorous when you know that I am so technologically illiterate that I know almost nothing about a blog and have never known how to even find a blog.

However, it seemed like that would be a good use of my talent and could help a lot of people who struggle dealing with this condition.  So, I found someone to help me and I launched my blog. I don’t know if many will find it. But I know that those who do will be helped and with help, they can make the world a better place.

We all can ask ourselves if there is another way that we can contribute in a way that makes the world a better place.

If you would like to check out my new blog or know someone who might be interested, go to https://www.adhdexperthelp.com/.  I hope you like it.

Susan Pye Brokaw

Founder, Adlerian Network

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