Therapeutic Distinctions

Intentional vs. Invitational

This is another entry in my ever-increasing collection of "therapeutic distinctions", pairs of words that relate to each other while containing subtle but important differences in meaning. Since I pay very close attention to words I'm constantly on the alert for distinctions that can open up new choices in how to think about a situation. More choices equal more possibilities, and that's where the greatest fun is . (If you want proof of that statement just get a 64-color box of crayons.)

Reasons vs. Excuses

This is another in a series of what I call "therapeutic distinctions", pairs of words that initilly seem to be similar but which actually have subtle but important differences in meaning that are often helpful to consider. One such example is the relationship between "reasons" and "excuses".

Strength vs. Discernment

A common measure of progress in any endeavor is the development of enhanced strength or power.

  • In competitive sports such as wrestling, boxing or football, the person who is physically stronger almost always has an advantage. 
  • It's obviously good for people to be strong enough to withstand dangerous urges or impulses, such as the need for an addict to resist the compulsion to engage in addictive behavior.
  • Similarly, a person with a history of excessive anger must be strong enough to successfully resist the urge to become verbally abusive during an argument.

Last Of The Old, First Of The New

In my working counseling many hundreds of individuals and couples over the past two decades I've noticed that many people are striving to create new paradigms in their lives that are very different from anything they experienced in their family heritage. For example, I've seen countless courageous parents attempting to raise their children in ways that represent a striking departure from the way they themselves were brought up. Many people are making commitments to personal growth throughout their entire life cycle when such effort was unheralded in previous generations.

I consider these people to be pioneers of a new landscape, not just figurative but literal explorers in an uncharted world with few existing guideposts. One of the major challenges to being the "first of the new" is the relative absence of meaningful precedence to fall back on, and this lack of easily accessible guidance has resulted in many people simply "winging it", trying to figure out the best they can how to make their way across unfamiliar emotional and relational terrain. It is as if they are cutting a new trail through a wilderness.


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