Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

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Mervin’s Dream Betrays Him

The bidding war for Mervin’s first musical score was through the roof. It was too good to be true. Hours before the contracts were to be signed the offers were dropped. It felt like an execution. Mervin gave away his guitar and burned all his original compositions. He started a new life in the food industry. He couldn’t afford to nurture his talent if it betrayed him with such savage blows of disappointment. Mervin sealed the door to his musical skills, axed the desire to compose, and became a workaholic.

Mervin’s Life Looks Like A Hollow Abyss

Two years later a severe respiratory infection turned Mervin’s life upside down. He had to give up the buzz he got as restaurant manager, juggling staff shortages, customer complaints, temperamental chefs and advertising deadlines. The long term effects of stress compromised his immune system and made him sick. Without the adrenalin pumping, and the busy schedules to occupy his every waking moment, Mervin’s life looked like a deep, dark, hollow abyss echoing words of condemnation.

Get Off Your Backside And Find a Job!

“You’re a lazy waste of space, a loser just like your father predicted. You’ll never make it. You ought to be ashamed of yourself lounging around watching movies, sleeping and eating. How can you even think of hanging out with your friends? You haven’t worked in five months. You’re acting like a spoiled brat who lost his favorite toy. Get off your backside and find a respectable job or else your family and friends will disown you, and you will deserve it.”

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Mervin Is Scared Out Of His Wits

Guilt spurred Mervin to beef up his resume and email it to acquaintances in the catering industry. Mervin interviewed with several companies, but his heart wasn’t in it. He was off his game. Working for others to get up the conventional ladder held no appeal. Something else was brewing, that scared the living daylights out of him.

Mervin’s Terrified Of Being Burned Again

Catchy tunes popped into his head, that stuck in his mind. Mervin found himself imagining new riffs and hooks for television shows that he liked. Terrified of being burned again, Mervin went into overdrive. He punished himself with sit ups to quiet the chords in his head. He re-decorated his house, cleaned out his garage and took on delivery jobs. Anything to keep those damn melodies from penetrating his fortress. He was out of luck. Musical conversations flowed through him, reminding him of his talent and longing to compose. They also brought back memories of the dropped contracts challenging him to make a choice.

Is Mervin’s Passion A Pipe Dream?

Mervin was caught between a rock and a hard place. Should he take a risk and write melodies again, or should he play it safe and get a regular day job? His passion was to compose music and lyrics for movies and television shows. But what if he didn’t make it? What if promises got broken again? What if no one liked his stuff anymore? What if he had missed the boat and had to face the hard facts of reality – that his passion was just a pipe dream?

Compromise Feels Like An Agent of Contamination

Taking a regular job would keep the dream alive and untainted. When life looked dreary he could call up the fantasy and imagine the thrill of hearing his music on movie sound tracks. No broken promises could mess with his fantasies. He could turn the volume up when he was sad, and turn it down when he felt good. It was the only safe way of hanging onto the purity of the precious dream. The idea of compromise felt like a contaminating agent that Mervin couldn’t accept.

A Dose of Realism?

Mervin was tortured by his agonizing quandary. Together Mervin and I came to understand how painful it was to give up the image of his dream in pristine condition. As we explored his conflict he came to a crossroads. Was Mervin willing to let the dream come true even if it wasn;t exactly as he wanted it, or was he going to keep the dream safe, as an unsullied fantasy? He grew to realize that his wishes could come true, but he had to include a dose of realism into the mix.

Losing His Job Is A Blessing In Disguise

Adversity helped Mervin come down to earth without having to throw away his cherished dreams. He was able to bring the dreamer and the practical guy parts of himself to the table and hammer out a deal. Losing his job was the catalyst Mervin needed to develop some compromising muscles. He got a paid position that supported him in the short term, while he worked on his real passion. Getting his bills paid took the pressure off, and gave him freedom to compose unfettered by practical worries. Less stressed, he sold his compositions on favorable terms. Losing his job wasn’t such a bad thing after all!

copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you might have while reading the article or implementing the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.