Friday 8 March 2013

Dr. Phil's Life Code

Dr. Phil has really been pushing his new book Life Code on his show and something about it is just rubbing me the wrong way.

He talks about the new rules for life and how we can't trust anyone.  He says we need to verify everything and be constantly aware of opportunities for people to abuse our trust.

I'll be honest and say I haven't read the book yet but the way he's presenting his viewpoint is giving me a visceral reaction of rejection.

Perhaps it was because I was raised to be suspicious of outsiders.  My parents were very big on the Stranger Danger lessons.  We practiced me being "lost" in shopping malls and who I could go to for help.  I had to point out all the Block Parent signs on the way to and from school.  I got pop quizes on which way I should run if a car pulled up alongside me (the opposite way the car is pointed, in case anyone is curious) or where a safe spot to hide would be.

Intentionally or not, it left me with an inherently suspicious and fearful view of the world.  In The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker talks about trusting the little voice inside which warns of danger.  Mine warns me all the time, which makes it a less than useful tool.

I've learned to overcome those initial instincts and to make my way in the world.  But I'm trying very hard to get a more realistic balance of being cautious and being comfortable for my children. 

Caution is good.  We should be using our brains rather than blindly trusting.  But to become too suspicious is to drive away the support network we need to keep from being vulnerable.

Hopefully Dr. Phil has a better balance in his book than he's presenting in his show.  On the show, it's coming off as a blame-the-victim approach.  This week, there was a woman whose husband had lied to her for five years about having various jobs.  They even moved to accomodate his fictious employment.  This guy was a very committed liar, building up backstories and corroborations.  The only real gap was never bringing home a paycheque, which he overcame by insisting on exclusively managing the finances after the first few years.

Meanwhile, in that five years, she had to deal with a miscarriage and two house fires.  I can understand concentrating on that rather than wondering if someone you trust is consistently lying to you.

Personally, I think the focus should have been on him and his lies rather than blaming her for trusting him.

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