Chew on This: Confrontation can be Good! / Free Will is your Superpower
Dear Dr. Hurd,
I went to a friend’s restaurant the other night. He was totally welcoming—he even bought me a drink. But I am now faced with a dilemma: I found…let’s just say…a “foreign object” in my food. It grossed me out, and I couldn’t finish. I made up an excuse about being full, but I didn’t say anything to my friend. I’m not sure what I should have done: Should I tell him about it and risk hurting his feelings (but possibly keep it from happening again), or should I try to be nice and just keep it to myself?
Dr. Hurd replies,
Absolutely tell him! If he’s even remotely civilized and sincere in his desire to run a quality restaurant, then he will want to know. Imagine owning a restaurant. You depend on staff and employees. Who to hire is his own business, but if he’s your friend, and if we’re supposed to treat our friends the way we would want to be treated, then it follows that you must tell him.
It’s fine to soften it. I don’t believe in softening things with falsehoods, but facts are often there. For example, if the food was otherwise excellent, then tell him so. If you’re good at humor, use a little humor. You’ve heard the saying, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” I will extend this to, “Friends don’t let friends who own restaurants remain ignorant about foreign objects in the food.”
Subconsciously, you probably hold beliefs about what will happen if you tell him the truth. I don’t know what those beliefs are, but it’s good to try and figure them out. Most often the answers people give me involve confrontation; a common reason people give for not telling others the truth, even when the need to do so is compelling. Look at this way: There has already been a confrontation between you and the foreign object in your food.
Try to imagine what would happen if he ever found out that you didn’t tell him. That probably won’t happen, but imagine if it did. What would you give as your excuse? If you can’t think of a good one, then you have your answer.
Dear Dr. Hurd,
I’m stressed. I’m sick and tired of the whining, moaning, and groaning on Facebook, Twitter, and the news in general. I know most of it is garbage, and I know I should try to rise above it, but it is actually depressing me. I find that I am less patient with my co-workers and friends and I get angry quicker —especially when I’m driving. It’s becoming harder for me to enjoy myself.
Dr. Hurd replies,
Nutritionists say, “You are what you eat.” The mind is the same way. If you’re putting garbage into your mind then you will end up feeling like…garbage. Yes, it really is that simple. Discover the power of your free will. Get in touch with your freedom of choice. At any moment of your life, you’re free to make one decision or the other. The world is full of people who will tell you that such a thing is impossible, but “impossible” refers to what never happens. Think of the choices you exercise every day. You choose to take one route to work over another. You choose to go to one grocery store over another. Choices are endless and everywhere.
Think of the times you currently forego looking at Twitter or Facebook. You’ve probably made that choice once or twice. Even in that area, choices are possible, and choices made consistently are called habits. Once a choice becomes a habit, it’s still a choice, but you’re on your way. You might even call it “reprogrammed.”
I like your phrase “rise above it,” because that implies that you already know you have choices. But perhaps “rise above it” sounds a little pretentious, and maybe you’re annoying yourself a little bit. Perhaps it’s time to employ a more down-to-earth approach.
Don’t expect any of this to be easy. But there’s no other way around this problem other than making different choices. The most helpful thing I’ve heard about the modern-day smartphone is that it’s really just a small computer. Back when cell phones were only phones, we wouldn’t carry our large (by today’s standards) computers around with us everywhere. We generally had to go home or to another room to view email or surf the Internet.
Consider the radical possibility of leaving your smartphone in one room while you go to another room to do something different. If you’re going out to eat, consider leaving the phone in your car. Place limits on the amount of time you view your Facebook or Twitter feeds. It’s possible those things offer you some value, but it’s the dose that makes the poison. Or you could go “cold turkey” and just end your relationship with social media. Can you do that? It’s your choice.
Life is filled with countless choices each and every day and hour. And therein lies your power.
Michael J. Hurd, Ph.D., LCSW is a psychotherapist and author. His office can be reached at 302-227-2829. Email questions or comments to Dr. Hurd.