A guy goes into the doctor’s office and begins complaining about his elbow hurting whenever he bends it. The doctor asks him to demonstrate. The man lifts up his arm and then bends it at the elbow . . . the man screams in pain. Then he asks the doctor what he can do to relieve the pain. The doctor tells him, “Stop it.”
My grandmother, God rest her soul, always griped about the shows on the television. She hated watching shows with children actors . . . she hated watching game shows . . . she hated watching sports . . . she complained all the time about the news . . . she moaned and groaned all of the time about whatever was on the television. Nothing made her happy. Being a precocious grandchild I suggested that she just turn it to another channel . . . or, heaven forbid, that she turn it off. I told her to “stop it.”
In college I had a roommate who liked to go out and party really hard on Friday nights, and was always hung over the next morning . . . actually it was usually late afternoon. But he was always hung over and complaining about the room spinning and having a head that felt like a drum being pounded. He would moan and groan while searching for the fastest cure for a hang over . . . something he never found. I’d tell him to “stop it” . . . stop going out and getting plastered every Friday night. Just “stop it.”
When the kids were little they would complain about this or that hurting when they did certain things . . . the wife and I would tell them to “stop it.” It is like when I sit at the table and stuff myself so full that I am uncomfortable and about to burst almost to the point of being sick . . . of course, I complain . . . the wife tells me to “stop it.”
“Stop it.” Such simple advice. Your elbow hurts when you bend it . . . don’t bend it. Don’t like the television show you are watching . . . stop it and change it. Don’t like getting hang overs . . . stop drinking to excess. Overeat and feel uncomfortable . . . stop eating.
I recently saw a short video skit in which Bob Newhart played a rather unorthodox counselor. He charged five bucks for five minutes of counseling . . . all his counseling sessions only lasted five minutes. In those five minutes he would promise that he could solve any problem or issue. Of course, in the skit, he demonstrates this skill with a person seeking his help. The woman explains her problem and he tells her to “stop it.” Stop doing whatever it is that is causing her the issues and problems. That is all the advice he gives . . . to “stop it.”
The man is a genius. I wish I had thought of this when I was in the counseling field . . . stop doing whatever it is that is causing all the problems. It is so simple . . . just “stop it.” Think about it . . . if all of us stopped doing the things that create issues and problems we would have wonderful lives. All we have to do is to stop . . . Had I used this approach when I was actually working in a counseling office I would have been able to see ten times the number of people I saw in a typical day. If only I had known this secret . . .
The only problem is that we are human beings and human beings don’t do things the easy way . . . just stopping is not good enough for us . . .we want to know. We want to know why we do the things that we do that are not good for us. We want to know what makes us over eat . . . what makes us drink to excess . . . what makes us do stupid things that hurt us and others . . . we want to know, WHY!
Just stopping it does not work. I have known many alcoholics who have quit drinking . . . given up the sauce . . . and, they continue to do the behaviors that hurt others and themselves. They stopped the drinking, but didn’t stop the behavior. They were what people refer to as being dry drunks. The reason? Usually because they did not deal with the issues or reasons why they drank to excess in the first place. Unfortunately whatever it is within us human beings that has the need to know why is an important part of actually stopping . . . we’ve gotta know. That is why just taking medicine for a mental health issue is not enough . . . it must include the opportunity to talk . . . to talk and discover the roots of whatever it that makes us want to do the things that hurt ourselves and others. But, it would be so much easier if we could just “stop it” and be done with it once and for all.
It just doesn’t work that way. I wish it could, but it doesn’t. The world would be such a better place if “stop it” was all we had to do to solve all the pain and ills of the world. War—stop it! Injustice—stop it! Racism, genderism, all –isms—stop it! Bullying—stop it! Just stop it once and for all.
It is not that easy no matter how much Bob Newhart promises us it will be if we just stop it. No there is a lot of hard work involved in understanding what it is that makes us do the things that we do . . . a lot of work understanding why our bodies and minds work the way they do . . . a lot of work in coming to know who we are and who others are . . . a lot of work. As much as I like the idea of just “stopping it”, I realize that I could never minimize the anguish and pain that others have when it comes to real issues in their lives that hurt them and others. It is not that easy . . .
I guess I should take Bob Newhart’s advice and just “stop it!” Like the woman in the skit . . . “stop it” doesn’t work when you are you are trying to understand. In understanding the healing begins to take place. Healing is the goal . . . to be made whole and holy once again. That takes work. Just stopping doesn’t hack it. Think about it the next time you are ready to tell someone to “stop it” . . . wouldn’t it be better to just ask, “Can I help?”