Monday, February 15, 2010

Jumping to conclusions

I mentioned yesterday how cranky some of my buddies got that the civilian internet didn't work for a day and a half. It turns out their crankiness, in part, stemmed from their response to spouses back home who'd jumped to (inevitably) erroneous conclusions as to why they'd not heard from their beloved.

"I thought you were mad at me."

"Are you having an affair? Is that what's really going on?"

"Don't you know that I worry when I don't hear from you? Why do you do this to me?"

The list goes on and on and on, but since I don't want to have to join a 12-Step program concerning that sort of thing (On-and-On-and-On-Anon), I'll just stop there. I think you get the drift.

What is it about us humans, that if given the opportunity, so many of us will immediately jump to the worst of all possible eventualities -- when there's absolutely no evidence to support the conclusion we reach?


At the moment, as I mentioned a short while ago, a number of Soldiers here are pretty spun up because an important decision, which was sort-of announced, has yet to be made. We've heard various deadlines put forward concerning The Announcement, but all have come and gone, so far.

(I'd thought that Army leadership was about making decisions....)

As a consequence of all this, there's been much anxiety and disquiet on the part of Soldiers who have been left in the dark. Not a big surprise there, given what I just mentioned about the propensity to jump to the worst conclusion!

I'll reiterate what I posted not long ago: Stick with what's true right now!

I keep telling my Soldiers here to focus on that, and not on the rumors.

For those back home who got all hot and bothered because their Soldier didn't call home as expected -- take a deep breath. No, take several.

Then, stick with what's true.

Now, take more deep breaths.

What's true, in the situation of expecting a call that didn't come, is that the call didn't come. Period.

All the speculation or recrimination or self-flagellation or condemnation or whatever else might be swirling around the situation merely leads to more frustration in the absence of knowing the whole story. Why do that to oneself, or to one's beloved (or to the children, for that matter)?

Stick with what's absolutely, undeniably, incontrovertably true: No phone call came.

That's it. That's all it is.

Playing out all sorts of dire scenarios in the mind does nothing at all to help the situation -- especially when there's no evidence on which to base those storylines; jumping to those kinds of conclusions only makes for more stress than is already present.

And more often than not, there's plenty enough stress to begin with, so why add even more?

And why is it that those scenarios we manufacture out of thin air are always dire, anyway?

(Now, to be fair, I have to remind you that my opinion in no way reflects any Official Army Opinion, and I have refrained from posting any Official Army Insignia, Crest, Logo, Device, Standard, Banner, Guidon, Ribbon, Medal, or Whatnot on this web page in the hopes that you wouldn't be confused into thinking otherwise.

(Who knew that some people could think that other people could so easily be confused, eh?))
Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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Anonymous said...


Since you didn't say it, I will "What's up with that?!?!?".

It wasn't that long ago that a deployed Soldier might a a phone call home every few days. Technology is a wonderful thing but it has spoiled not only Soldiers, but society as a whole.

It is my pleasure to serve with you. I have the deepest admiration for your service and the service you provide.

Just a Soldier

Anonymous said...

In spite of your intentional omission of official army insignia, you clearly indicate you are an army chaplain. So how does your criticism of your command leadership not equate to insubordination or at least a lack of loyalty. I have finally figured out what personality characteristic you have that drives me so crazy: arrogance. You are convinced you are superior. Why just because you are an old man who has donned the uniform and gone off into service, that gives you the right to stand in judgment over everyone. So much of what you right is nothing but judgment of others from your position of arrogance. And yes, I'm the pot calling the kettle black in that I am criticizing you for being so critical. But I can't stand it when an officer of our military displays such public disloyalty.

Mary Coady said...

There's a great book by David Burns, MD, called "Feeling Good." And it's about the way we make ourselves crazy (that's not how he puts it) by jumping to conclusions, making uninformed judgements--all the things you talk about and more. It's based on cognitive therapy and builds on the work of the talented psychiatrist Aaron Beck, MD (of Penn--yeah! Mom and Sis's alma mater). It's an easy read with worksheets. Not psycho-babble. MTKM on that. You might want to get it from Amazon. At $16 it's a bargain in the world of therapy!

Mary Coady said...

Lots of prayers coming for MMcG and Mrs McG. Sorry to hear that the hard times that have hit some of us have hit such a deserving soldier. And I'm so sorry Mrs McG is having to endure so much surgery. I'll be praying for her, her docs, and that this time everything comes together.

Unknown said...

Father Tim
Thank you for being there and a Blessing to those deployed as well as those at home. You are the best and the words were spot on!!

seg said...

Dear Anonymous Commenter #2,
You are very free with your criticism while hiding behind a blank face so I wonder how much of a coward are you? You dont like what Fr Tim says or how he says it? DON'T READ IT! He is fighting for our country as a prayer warrior and he is free to have his opinions. I don't agree with all of them either but I don't denigrate him personally nor do I hide behind blankness. You are a coward--go read some HuffPo and spout your drivel there. We are here because we care what happens to Tim and his soldiers-not to read your cowardly crap.

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