Robin’s Agony Column

This example is taken from a recent newspaper article relating a real life problem. It wasn’t published on April 1st, but …….

It struck me that it provided a rather tongue-in-cheek way to knit together various small, safe experiments included on this website:

Extract of Letter

A reader writes (edited newspaper extract):

I find it difficult to fart in front of my boyfriend. Rather than use the bathroom at home, I started relying on the local pub every time I needed to relieve myself.

I’m running out of excuses and feel bad about it but the idea of having a bowel movement in the same building as my boyfriend is just too much to bear.

It’s easy to show a person my sexy traits. Please tell me how can I trust them to see the faintly disgusting bits?

A Comment

My first reaction, being a little old man, was dismissive and a thought of “it’s a sign of the times; pull yourself together“. At my age, I can tell you the need to fart simply gets worse with advancing years.

Then I stopped myself – so there’s the editing safe experiment – in order to feel rather more compassion. Here is my more considered reply:

My Reply

Dear Rebecca,

Thanks for telling me about your friend’s problem, and how you share these dilemmas with her. Do take a look at my website as there are a number of small, safe experiments you might want to consider.

So it may help if I offer you a starting point: what is the level of discount here? You know it exists (level one) and that is significant (level two). You seem stuck between level three – the ‘possibility of change‘ and level four – applying your own personal skills to make the wanted changes. You seem unconfident in your ability to do something just a little bit different, and manage the consequences.

The change you want seems to be: greater trust in others when they hear the “disgusting bits”.

To look the possibilities of change in the eye will benefit from an experiment that explores the options before you. They, in return, require an ability to be curious and to explore a comprehensive ‘list’ of do-able possibilities.

When you have some of those change possibilities, you can decide on which one to choose. Once you have implemented one or more, you will have some results. It may be possible to find out which actions are worth repeating or building on – the small victories – and which ones require some adjustment – the small defeats.

There are several ways to use psychological thinking to further develop your options, and to build increased confidence in your abilities to act differently.

If all goes well, you may build up your own way of letting go and feeling less absorbed with self-control. A tricky issue could arise; what if your boyfriend is troubled by your “disgusting bits”.

This may generate high emotions – for you and for your boyfriend. Maybe he’ll be inclined to control you, rather than help you spend time controlling yourself.

It’s possible to address this together if there is willingness to do so by both of you – but only if both of you can commit to it.

Even so, there are things that might be beyond the individual to manage – without some decisive changes. Sometimes it is not possible to change attitudes, so we may have to change people.

Oh, by the way, it may help to know something about our physiology and neurology in order to accept that it’s OK to let go. That way, it may be possible to make sure a drama does not come out of a crisis and to see how you can look our anxiety in the eye.

Best wishes for an effective journey on your scenic route to come.

Robin Trewartha


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