Management of Measurement Constructs
Notebook, October 31, 2005

Get Moving; Take Action

I can remember so vividly, my mother telling me, “Idleness is the devil’s workshop.” --Of course, I didn’t have the faintest idea what that meant! So I would move around and do something. That seemed to assuage mother’s stern admonition.

And notice how our language, in general parlance, urges you, when you’re in a funk, to “get busy”!

Over the years, the sense of this bromide has come into my awareness often.

At the Shivananda Yoga Retreat Center above Montreal this summer, an 82-year-old lithe, active mountain walker was discussing his vitality with me: “Ya gotta keep movin’. That’s all there is to it. If you don’t, you lose it!” --And here he was clearly saying you would lose your life.

Well, I admit I was pretty sedentary at the Retreat, and this walker was monumentally engaged with doing his thing. Each of us was nourishing the spirit differently. –It was a working vacation for me; for him, it was a continuing grasp on life.

And then, there is this statement by psychology Professor Robyn Dawes (House of Cards: Psychology and Psychotherapy built on Myth,New York: MacMillan, Inc. 1994; page 70.): “Much of the success of all therapy may be influenced by the fact that the client is taking action and no longer feels helpless in the face of disruptive emotional pain.” --Taking action.

Think of the times you’ve been down; when something you’ve wanted for a long time didn’t come through; when someone had cut off relationship with you.. –You were probably tightened into inactivity. You became idle, perhaps waiting for someone to show compassion, to offer support, to commiserate. Is that where the “Devil” steps in to make things worse? Is this where “losing it” becomes very real?

The bafflement within catalepsy (catatonic seizure) shows loss of voluntary motion. We can not do anything for ourselves. A situation has stunned us into a rigid state of loss and disorientation.

When things are tough for us, we finally see that we are wasting away, doing nothing. The Devil may have had his due; we may have lost it to drugs, alcohol, etc. But we DO get busy again. We DO recover. We have restored much of our personal integrity (wholeness) by taking action. –Remember the great Yogi wisdom: “When you come to a fork in the road … … TAKE IT!” [See Counseling Insights, Archives, select October 2001, “It Berras Consideration”]

Interesting isn’t it that every textbook teaching therapies for Depression lists highest “doing something you like to do.”

When we are in a consultation with a client caught between a rock and a hard place, there is an obvious suspended animation: a decision must be made, but it seems that a decision can’t be made. –Even the astrological measurements can be conflicting: Saturn on an Angle and Uranus peregrine. “Which will win?” is practically an insoluble question; which can win in the particular situation, with others involved, in a particular cultural setting, etc.

Tough stuff.

I have always maintained that the wiser half of the astrologer-client pair is residually, the client, once the client is given a boost to dig deep, think for herself/himself, and take action. –How can the astrologer get the client to that position?

“OK. Let’s put all our attention on this point: we must take action to move life along. Now, what are the three ways you can explore to determine for yourself the right action to take?

--My goodness, that’s a powerful question! Read it very, very carefully.

In contrast with, “What are you going to do about this?” or “Boy, do you have a decision to make!”, you are implying that there ARE several ways to check out the structure of the decision to be made, and you and the client should review them carefully!

One way might be telephoning three friends, family members, authorities known to the client, connected with the values and pragmatic possibilities within the situation, collecting their opinions, and filtering them though what the client deems best for her or his situation.

Another way might be contacting a professional counselor’s office … someone like Anne Landers. They have storage files of all kinds of situational insight and help.

Another way might be going to the library and studying the parameters of the situation in psychology texts. –Just sitting there with material … even though it may even be inscrutable to the client… will allow a solution to form itself in the unconscious and filter up into awareness.

--The point is, action is being taken. The client feels stronger. Much can happen. And there are many social-psychological tests that point out that even the prescription of a placebo works because the recipient is activated, thinking something will happen. [Isn’t it interesting that the huge industry of subliminal tapes –hidden messages about weight loss, sexual performance, memory gain, etc.—can not be proved efficacious! But people love them, and for these people, taking that action really does work!]

My mother was right!

Next Update: November 30, 2005


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