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Leanne Fessler, MA RCC | Article

The Wisdom Of Dr. Suess - Therapist For Children And Adults

Many of us have been touched by Dr. Suess – either as children or parents of children. With his unmistakable quirky rhymes, readers continue to be drawn in by his imagination. Reading a book called, “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Suess, I was reminded of some very important life lessons. Dr. Suess is a great (and colorful) therapist!

This month, I’d like to highlight lessons this book seems to teach – some we know, some we may not, and some we may have forgotten. Receive a virtual read of the book on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQRWeZy-S8Q or words at http://denuccio.net/ohplaces.html)

Suess's Lesssons

1. You are capable and deserve good things … and if you don’t get them, it doesn’t mean you are bad or incapable, it means that you are human.

Dr. Suess reminds us that each of us have a “core” self that is separate from all that happens to us, the roles we play and the things we do or don’t do. This core self is deserving of love just for being here and has the tools needed to go “great places!” Often people coming to counselling re-discover this sense of self after it has gotten lost in the shuffle or simply hidden incredibly well, in an effort to protect the self from hurt.

2. You are in control of your life… but not everything that happens in it.

This lesson is both empowering and humbling as Dr. Suess reminds us “bang ups and hang ups” will happen to each of us. In my experience counselling others, knowing the difference between what’s in our control and out of our control can save us a great deal of grief – yet distinguishing the difference isn’t always easy. Learning to let go of what is out of our control leads us to often find a more genuine sense of hope, faith and empowerment. Learning to tell the difference is often a major topic in counselling.

3. You have choices… yet deciding which ones are the best for you can be challenging.

“Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind,” states Dr. S. Sometimes dealing with the responsibility and consequences of our choices can be so daunting that we project our choices onto others (“you didn’t give me any choice,” “you made me feel”). What we are able to view as choices also plays a large role in the state of our mental health. Counsellors often work to help people re-frame what we see as choices and ultimately take full responsibility for them.

4. Go with the flow ….now is the only thing you can be sure of.

Most of us have heard of the benefits gained by living in the present moment as an antidote to worry and anxiety. “Time travelling” in our minds (and effectually body and emotions) to the past or future robs us of recognising choice points that are presented in the moment. When we are too busy paying attention to information from the past or trying to predict the future, we miss out on these opportunities. In Dr. S’s words, “Don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.”

5. You will have highs and lows...and while you will feel them, you need not become them.

Life brings us plenty of ups and downs within our situations and our relationships with others. Often people come to counselling because they feel like they are on an emotional rollercoaster, deeply impacted by the external events around them. Learning how to internally regulate our emotions effectively has become a major focus of the latest therapies, along with the recognition of when we are confusing feelings with factual information.

6. Sometimes you’ll feel invincible, other times incredibly vulnerable…or both in a matter of minutes.

7. Sometimes, you’ll feel very dissatisfied with the moment and try your best not to be in it ...when in the moment is just where you need to be to affect change.

8. You are your one true life partner…the sooner you decide you are awesome, the happier your life-long marriage will be.

9. Movement starts when you face up to our problems… and when you do Oh The Places You’ll Go!