Discussions on mental health issues, treatments, and other related information. Also, opinions and stories.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
The Psychology of Brer Rabbit: Psychological Resiliency
I know for all four of my readers out there, it is obvious that I have an affinity for many things, Disney. Much of that has to do with its capacity to remind me of childhood, and for the positive memories I have with family and friends. I grew up watching old Disney cartoons on Sunday evenings with my siblings. They were good times and I remember them fondly and hope to give my children similar memories.
Today, I was reviewing the old movie, "Songs of the South" made by Disney. It has been years since it was shown on TV. Despite the reasons for its discontinuation, I find the story of Brer Rabbit to be helpful. You have the main character, Brer Rabbit who was born and bred in a briar patch. When he got to the point where he didn't like it anymore, he left his home and went off to explore the world for himself. He eventually finds himself caught in the middle of a "Tar Baby," or a trap set for him by Brer Fox and Brer Bear. Brer Fox hopes to make a quick meal of him and Brer Bear wants to "knock his head clean off." Though it appears that he is about to meet a gruesome ending, Brer Rabbit convinces the Fox to throw him back into the briar patch where he was born. Though it is a harsh environment, he is familiar with it and able to handle it.
We can look at this in a metaphorical sense. Many people are born into situations that may not be exactly optimal. Life gave them their own "briar patch" to be raised in. However, research demonstrates that life's difficulties can result in a type of psychological hardiness that would not be present if the person had not been otherwise exposed to hardships. That is not meant to say that some difficulties are harder than others, because they are. Simply put, many of life's challenges can become the stepping stones by which we can survive later difficulties. If you buy into Victor Frankl's ideas in "Man's Search for Meaning," he said that it does not matter what we ask of life, but rather what life asks of us. At times, life gives us things that are challenging as if to ask us "what are you going to do with that, now?" We can use our prior experiences, whether they were easy or difficult to work through our own personal "Tar Babies."
Therefore, when in difficult situations, it can be beneficial to think through prior struggles and come up with a plan with reasonable steps to work through it. And, if there are no steps, then leave it alone and see if things will resolve themselves. Of course, if you don't know the answer, that's when you turn to others such as family, a friend, a counselor, and/or your spiritual beliefs to work through them.