Of-course I am referring to the Bill Murray comedy “What About Bob”. The Washington post had a great review of this movie. I barrow one quote “Written by Tom Schulman, the screenplay borrows the pixilated myth from "Harvey" that crazy is nicer than cured. Even though Bob is agoraphobic, claustrophobic, hypochondriac, Bob is better off than his psychiatrist because he is capable of expressing his needs. Or as Bob himself puts it to Dr. Marvin: "Give me, give me, give me, I need, I need, I need."
Dr. Marvin is also a bit egocentric and perhaps too enmeshed in the psycho-analytical approach. He can't seem to get rid of Bob who follows this therapist on his summer vacations with his family. He should know that what you resist persists. The more angst Dr. Marvin feels the more unbalanced his own mental health becomes. If one is in the helping profession, you are never off duty. It is our nature to be of assistance and to genuinely care about others.
I can remember being in a personal crisis and having someone ask me a psychic question regarding a new relationship. I had just had a fender bender and was in shock. I gave this person the disclaimer that "I might not be all that psychic right now". Funny thing was, I managed to help them.
Dr. Marvin should have addressed the Bob issue with more compassion. It is true that "boundaries" are important in this line of work. I have grown in my personal understanding of boundaries. My line is drawn when I refuse to absorb negative energy. I call it my purple bubble I reside in. Someone might be living a nightmare by their own admission, however; I am watching it as an observer only. This does not affect my personal space. Bob showing up on my vacation would not necessarily ruin it, I would have handles it much differently. For the sake of comedy, and laughs, Dr. Marvin and Bob play out the opposite roles in the mental healing paradigm.
I think of this movie as a must see. I especially recommend it for off hours telephone answering services. That comment is better understood after watching the movie. Bob manages to wrangle information from these answering service ladies.
But what about the Baby Steps? OK. There is a huge amount of wisdom in that philosophy.
I can think of 3 recent readings where I saw visually and heard myself say, there are many baby steps on the way to your recovery and please celebrate each one of them fully.
Celebrate each small step! You don't have to spend lots of money. Doing a victory lap around the house might work. If you have one of those free calendars...the paper ones you hang on the wall, place a gold star on it and smile! When I was writing my book, I would write and hour a day on week days and then several hours on Sundays. It is so vital to see the progress made and not rush it.
When planning a road trip from Phoenix to Sacramento it is not necessary to be discouraged the whole journey because you were not “there yet”. Planning interesting stops along the way is a great idea. I love movies that highlight all the interesting stops and then the destination is the end of the movie.
I counseled a lady who went through a recent break up and has been so depressed she did not leave the house for weeks. It looked like she had emerged from a dark closet and was taking a few little steps back to her life again. I did not want to throw too many suggestions her way. She asked me how long her depression was going to last. I saw it getting better incrementally and she could help this by volunteering with children (if she chooses to do so). It also looked like getting body work might be very healing and therapeutic. The important thing was to encourage her to take little steps towards re-emerging with a fuller version of herself once more. I could see a future event where she was at a Christmas party, looking radiant in a light blue dress, socializing and singing. That event being several months into the future gave us a time frame and a promise that indeed her circumstances were improving if she chooses that path. There is free will.
With many things in life there is a process that seems to take some time. Quick fixes may not even be possible. One example for me is dieting or weight loss. Bodies seem to change slowly and it can be frustrating. It is probably good not to weigh too often. Baby steps are perfect for losing weight. I think just add some life affirming things to your world. Life affirming and fun things like learning to dance and joining a water volley ball team. That might be just the ticket to taking off a few pounds each month. I am convinced the more I focus on it and the more I deprive myself the less weight I loose. I have lost and gained the same 20 pounds over and over. It has been an expensive 20 pounds as well. I have paid for weight watchers, Ideal Protein, and Nutrisystem and a few other programs. They all made money and I did not keep that weight off. Recently, I started loving my body unconditionally and asking to loose 3 pounds a month. Oddly that works. There is little argument about that slow loss with my inner rebel. That is 36 pounds a year and it will stay off. Baby steps. They say it works with dept as well.
Sometimes life will cause us to run fast and skip ahead but the advice of baby steps works well in most situations. Like Esther Hicks says, just do something that will make you feel a little bit better today. It is hard to go from zero to joy on the emotional scale. Take a small step toward feeling less devastated. From there more progress is made.
I watch What About Bob once a year. I always see some sage advice in it.