No. 168



The other day I heard a story about this mother who took her young son to visit a church where they had a new minister. After it was over and they were leaving the service, the young lad said to the minister, "That was the worst sermon I have ever heard." The mother, somewhat flustered and embarrassed said, "Oh, don't pay any attention to him. He just goes around repeating what he hears other people say."

Hopefully you understand this is not a true story but it does serve to enhance a concept that if properly understood and applied, could be of real value. The key word in this concept that I would like to illuminate is "repeating" and the danger here is that if we repeat something often enough and for a long period of time, it could turn into a syndrome.

Over the past several years I have heard a lot about the various kinds of syndromes, but do you know what the word syndrome means? The dictionary defines this word as "a group of signs and symptoms that collectively indicate a disease or disorder." In other words, the person who develops a syndrome of one kind or another is sick, at least to some degree. Whether we have been personally affected or not, we all know about "Down's syndrome" and "Parkinson's syndrome."

However, the syndrome that I want to discuss with you here is curable, because it has to do with our human personality. Really and truly what I'm sharing with you here is good news. In recent years the behavioral sciences have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that a human being's personality can be altered and changed for the better.

As a basic premise for this discussion, I believe I'm safe in saying that most people, at some time in their lives have developed "hang-ups" of one kind or another. What I'm referring to here is people who form the habit of thinking in a certain vein for so long that they just do it over and over again until it actually becomes a syndrome. Many years ago I worked for a man who owned a laundry and he used the expression, "on the thing out there" at least 50 times in every conversation. In short, he had developed a syndrome.

As it relates to our own mental health I would like to narrow this discussion down to one particular syndrome that affects many people in a negative way. This is what I call the "why don't they" syndrome. Unfortunately, this is how many people view life. When they don't get the breaks they think they deserve, the all too often question, "why don't they" comes to their mind.

Without being aware of it, is it possible that you may have developed this syndrome? How often do you say, "why don't they?" Here are some questions we have all heard from time to time: "Why don't they like me?"-- "Why don't they treat me better?"-- "Why don't they accept me?"-- "Why don't they respect me as an individual?"-- "Why don't they give me a raise or a promotion?"-- "Why don't they do a number of other things for me?"-- "Bless my poor little heart!!"

Do you see what's happening here? If we are not careful, any of us can fall into the "why don't they" syndrome. What this is of course, is an attempt to transfer the burden of guilt for our failures to someone else. In our mind, it is really someone else's fault rather than our own. We all have our ups and downs and our good days and bad days, but we just need to be careful that our "self-talk" from the bad days does not turn into a syndrome. Please repeat after me, If-It-Is-To-Be-It-Is-Up-To-Me. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)