Posted in after the diagnosis, Caregiving, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity

Saved by the Scruff of Your Neck

As a psychotherapist I spent much of my time in classes studying human nature. I’ve read countless books about personality theory, psychopathology, and human development. I’ve sat with thousands of patients over the past twenty-five years, each time gaining a little more information about the human condition and how our lives are shaped.

I’ve been thinking about the missing link in my education and the only thing I can come up with is the nature connection. What is my recommendation? I’ve started playing with the idea that part of the education curriculum needs to studying the animal kingdom. We’ve become so caught up in technology and industrialization that we’ve forgotten that our primary instincts are embedded in our reptilian brain. Our motivations and survival instincts are not new found ideas, but long standing actions that have been cultivated and reinterpreted to fit modern day society.

When we go through tough times it would be great if we had someone to save us. I was watching a news report about a bear cub that was on the edge of a freeway. The cub’s mother reached over the meridian and grabbed the cub by the scruff of the neck bringing it to safety. The mother instinctually knew how to save her baby. Are humans any different?

I was watching an interview with famous author Anne Lamott. Her history is fascinating and how she has shared accounts of her true life has been inspiring. On an episode of Super Soul Sunday (on the Oprah Winfrey Network) she discussed how she got sober. Lamott shared, “I felt like God picked me up by the scruff of my neck and I got sober.”

What if we all had that safety net? Who’s to say we don’t? There are forces working around us every day that serve that purpose. It may not be what you perceive as the hand of God, but a force that protects you like that of a superhero. Watching the news and Facebook posts there are continual stories of people helping others less fortunate or in dire need of being saved from a challenge whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual.

Developing a sense of community is part of this safety net. When we have a community, a tribe, we can take risks that we believe will further our desire for hope and healing. It gives us the courage to move beyond our self-imposed limits of what’s possible. It’s important because without pushing boundaries we’ll never know how capable we are of achieving personal greatness.

Who’s grabbing you by the scruff of your neck when you need saving? Are there people, agencies, programs that are your safety net? How will you push your personal boundaries knowing you have back up?

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I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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