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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001097.txt from 2003/06

From: "Christy Erickson" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Unfixing the words
Date: Sat, 28 Jun 2003 13:54:17 -0400

Tony, I hear you saying that one's thoughts and attitudes can either
influence and enable one to achieve a goal or they can be a hindrance,
depending on whether they are positive or negative thoughts. To some =
this is true. We all remember the story about "The Little Engine that
Could." The bottom line is that the little engine in the story had the
means to achieve the desired goal of propelling itself up that hill and =
needed to remind itself that he could do it. He didn't run out of steam =
the way up the hill or take on an additional load that may have =
him from reaching his goal. He had the basic means to achieve his goal =
simply had to muster up the will and determination to make it.=20
The idea that thoughts influence and control feelings is the theory =
which rational behavioral or cognitive therapy is based. The assumption =
that one can feel differently by thinking differently. I remember =
in an a seminar given by a social worker (back in my social work days) =
being so excited about this new approach that was sure to help my =
cure themselves. All they simply had to do was think differently, or so =
theory promised, and they would be able to solve all their problems. It
seemed like such a great concept at the time. I remember telling the =
I worked with at that time all about this great new theory in a group
therapy session and was quite surprised and disappointed that they were =
as enthusiastic about this new theory as my colleagues and I were. Some
laughed and a few rolled their eyes.
It took many more years and a few more life experiences to =
that in more cases than some seem to think, it is not the thoughts that
control the feelings, it is the feelings controlling the thoughts. I =
hear a few scoffing at this idea as they are reading my note but I know =
to be true.
My son, who has bipolar disorder, is a prime example of this. When =
is depressed, there is no amount of cognitive therapy or positive =
that will pull him out of it. Matthew is only 10 but he has attempted
suicide several times and when he is in that state, there is no amount =
positive encouragement or love that will bring him out of it. =
he has responded very well to a great combination of medications which =
took 3 years to discover. Some people need shock therapy to correct
whatever goes wrong in the brain that causes them to feel so low they no
longer wish to endure that feeling. Brain chemicals have more influence =
feelings than we ever used to think or believe. When my son is not on
medication and he's "up" there is nothing in the world that could =
him life is not good and there would be nothing I could say or do that =
snap him out of it. It is truly frightening to have to accept the fact =
he truly cannot control that feeling, except through the use of =
I can also hear some thinking, "I don't believe that." "Put that child =
my house for a week and I'll change his thinking." I can assure you =
medical science and those in the neuroscience field are slowly, but =
getting around to proving that feelings are influenced by physical =
in the brain and therefore thoughts are influenced by those feelings. =
use of fMRI and neuroimaging studies has helped make it possible for us =
begin to unravel these mysteries. =20
So, you're thinking, why is this lady relating all of these =
My point is, that if you have not been in someone else's shoes, you may =
be able to determine exactly what is a true limitation for a person =
you live inside their body. If there is a true physical or emotional
limitation of some sort that has perhaps gone undetected, you may be =
more harm than good by telling someone they simply need to change their
attitude or try harder. As a teacher, if I have a student having =
with something, I must first ask myself questions such as, is there =
some type of problems with their eyesight, is there a learning =
disability, a
hearing problem, some type of coordination problem or dyspraxia, a
neurobiological disorder, etc... I have been able to detect asthma in
several of my clarinet students and the good news it was completely
correctable with the use of asthma medication. Some of these physical
limitations are correctable and some are not. If I have a student with
dyslexia who simply cannot learn to read music, am I'm doing them any =
by insisting they continue to learn to read it? We could keep trying or =
could perhaps help them make more progress by teaching them to play by =
Now I can, as a teacher perhaps help someone who cannot learn to read =
learn to accept that they may never have that ability. =20
It can be dangerous to assume that someone is limiting themselves
through attitude though unless you have done a very thorough =
into possible causes for it. Some limitations can be overcome but a
limitation can never be overcome if one is unaware of it. There is a =
real danger in assuming that every problem one encounters is simply "in =
head." We've probably all known people with a physical condition that =
doctor could find no physical cause for-only to go to another doctor =
months or even years later and discover that the patient had a very real
disorder or disease all along that had gone undetected. As teachers, we
cannot assume that a limitation does not exist without first =
all the possible causes, some of which are beyond our capability to =
If a student has a particularly bad attitude, ask yourself if its =
that the student may be suffering from depression, a learning =
etc... You could save a life. =20


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