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COLUMNS BY
Dr. Bill Austin



What Is Your Bread?

The Power of Quiet Time

Growing The Bottom Line

When

What’s It Like to Retire?

Creating a Safe Relationship

Disease and Relationships

Trying to De-Stress

Stress Reduction

Empathy

Your Dog Can’t Swim

What kind of listener do you want me to be?

Dealing with Criticism

Run Your Own Race, Part II

Run Your Own Race

The Next Chapter in Our Lives

Creating New Normals

Beating the Holiday Blues

Emotional Triggers

“You’re with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company” —Diane Von Furstenburg

The grace of forgiveness

Trying to blend a blended family

The Umbrella Story

How Disease Impacts A Relationship

Overcoming the Holiday Blues

Talking Dog for Sale

Trying to Blend a Blended Family

The Worst Beating I Ever Took

“It’s my fault!”

You had it last!

It's All About Me!

The grace of forgiveness

Cooling the brain

Life's Puzzle-Box Top

Simon Says

Unenforceable Rules

Stone Face

It's All About Me!

You Lost That Loving Feeling

Don't Tell Me What To Do

Do it now

No Opportunity to Repair

The Umbrella Story

How Do We Express Our Love?














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Professional Columns -
Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin





LIFE'S PUZZLE-BOX TOP

A group of us experienced an amazing interpersonal exercise during a seminar, and what we learned from the exercise was an eye opener. A Navy Chaplain gave each of us pieces of a puzzle along with a blank sheet of paper. We were told to study our puzzle pieces looking for clues as to what the larger picture was on the puzzle box.

When each of us had completed our tasks, the Chaplain organized us into small groups. We pooled our pieces and drawings. As a group, we searched for clues that would reveal the larger picture.


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After much discussion, our group drew the picture of what we thought was on the puzzle box. I was convinced that our small group had drawn the correct picture because I believed we had discovered the correct clues.

When all the groups were finished drawing their pictures, each group presented their picture and told why they thought they had the correct clues. Then the Chaplain showed us the puzzle box picture.

We were shocked! We had completely missed it! How could we be so wrong? It was obvious that we had misread the clues; consequently, we had the wrong concept of the big picture. Each of us may have the wrong picture of life because we have the wrong clues! If we have a distorted view of what life is, we may be missing a happy and satisfying life.

Leaving the seminar, we were wondering if we had a true picture of life, ourselves and others. One insight gained from this seminar was that not only individuals can be wrong about life’s puzzle box top but also, more frightening, so can whole groups of people! So the question that challenges us is: How do we know if we have the right clues?

If we have chosen the wrong clues, there is a huge chance that we have misread the actions of others towards us and have formed a wrong picture of who we think they are. The danger is that we are letting a hurtful action toward us say everything about that person. Their hurtful action has become what we believe to be their life’s puzzle-box top.

When we think about or tell how someone has hurt or disappointed us, we focus on the infraction and assign evil intent and personality. By focusing on the hurt, we may be missing the other clues that point to good things the person has done.

We could have the wrong clues about others, about ourselves and about life because of our insecurities, our unrealistic expectations, and prejudices. These things can cloud our ability to select the correct clues. The result is that we will draw the wrong picture on life’s puzzle-box top.

And so we come back to the original question: How do we know when we have the right clues?




Dr. Austin has decades of experience dealing with relationships. He charges clients on a sliding scale according to their ability to pay. His first book, Creating Our Safe Place: Articles on Healthy Relationships, was published in 2004. His second book, Keeping It Safe, was published in 2009 and can be purchased through amazon.com, publishamerica.com, and at the Parrish Book Store in Virginia Beach.  He is also a sought-after speaker at meetings and seminars.

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