So this young female client comes in to her session with good news as far as her progress in fighting off anxiety, but she still seems troubled.She had used all the tools we had discussed to understand and take control of the conflicts in her life that were triggers for her panic attacks and obsessive thoughts, and she felt strengthened knowing those tools worked. Yet again, she still appeared bothered, almost distant.
When I asked her about what I sensed, she at first reluctantly said she wasn’t sure, but that while we were talking about all she had done to feel more in control of her life, it was dawning on her that there was something else going on at school that was creating conflict, and she had pretty much ignored it until we started chatting.
It seems that while she is attending her college classes, some of the students were able to vie for part-time work for the school. The money was good and it was very convenient to be able to work a few hours a day in-between classes. These jobs were thought to be rather special and rare, so she was thrilled to secure one of them. After a few weeks of working this job, she found that there was nothing much to do. She expected she would be working on some project for her professors,and she was excited to be somehow involved in their programs and research. It would feel good to be a part of something important. But in fact, she was told to just spend the time doing her homework.
She looked around and saw that this was , in fact, what the other students were doing, getting paid to do their homework. It troubled her at first because she always thought of herself as a conscientious person with a good work ethic. She was brought up with a very spiritual and moral foundation.What she realized was bothering her the most was that she easily gave in and followed the crowd. As she sat in front of me, she expressed concern, even showed some tears as she realized how she was too easily acquiescing to a behavior that was very uncomfortable. She was not proud of what she was doing.
This situation created a ethical conflict, and she felt that alarms should have gone off in her head immediately, but they didn’t. Why was she just following ? Why was she just accepting a behavior that was previously unacceptable to her ? She could feel a decrease in self-pride, in esteem. This was a slippery slope, and she was on the precipice. “If I could justify this when it is so against my ethics, what else could I rationalize my way around in life. I am feeling a lack of trust in myself now and it is terribly uncomfortable. I do not like being this vulnerable. ”
Not long after my encounter with this young lady, the mother in another family I have known for years was talking to me about how excited she and her husband were about starting their own business. Carol was a staunch Independent, and spoke quite openly about her disgust for those who live off the system when they are perfectly capable of working. Something changed however, as she and her husband found that they were receiving payments for many of their new company’s services “under the table “. That meant, of course, not having to worry about paying taxes until they were really making bigger bucks. This would allow them to build up a “war chest” of funds that really helped them get a better start with their company.
Then they realized how easy it was to set themselves up to receive “free lunches” for the kids, and then take advantage of free Welfare health services, just until their company got a really good start. All of a sudden, they were able to justify and rationalize that what they once rejected as people living off or scamming the system, was acceptable under “their” circumstances. I voiced my displeasure, but I cannot judge.
The problem is, of course, that greater numbers of people ARE able to justify this kind of behavior, and walk along the edge of that slippery slope where they eventually find themselves dependent on the system, weakened by their own choices, and dependent on a government who would thrive on their dependency. So goes the country !