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Some things cannot be tweaked

Not everything can be tweaked. I am not referring here to the Pollyanna principle in which people identify with every positive statement made about them (and ignore everything else).

An extension of that is to think that everything is wonderful and everything is going to remain wonderful.

By saying that not everything can be tweaked, I am referring to various techniques people use to manipulate the thinking of others. In such an instance “tweak” means to mess with, tinker with, put your finger into and stir around.

In a more positive (dare I say Pollyannaish?) way tweaking can also mean to fine tune something — like an electronic system.

Here is where someone monitors the equipment, watches the oscilloscope, or adjusts the equaliser.

I am also not talking about the street term “tweaking.” That is slang for stereotypical movement often seen in people with drug habits, dementia, or autism spectrum disorders.

Stereotypies may be simple, such as body rocking, or complex, such as self-caressing, crossing and uncrossing of legs, and marching in place.

Psychotherapists and counsellors can tweak as well (I know; hold your tongue if you’re thinking you’ve met a few therapists you thought were demented).

What I mean is that therapists often attempt to alter the dysfunctional thinking of their clients.

Cognitive therapists tweak when they tell someone not to think of something in a negative light but to think of it in a positive light.

That is called “reframing.” Some techniques tweak the way people put their thinking into language; they try to get people to use words with positive connotations, assuming that the way we talk will change the way we live.

The point here is that techniques used by people helpers, whether they be psychotherapists, counsellors, coaches, physicians, or health and fitness consultants are all tweaking the client if they are not respecting the client’s need to be informed and to make a choice out of awareness.

If the people helper is attempting to do something TO the client (and doing something to the way someone thinks is doing something to the person), then it’s tweaking. You might as well have a screwdriver in your hands.

And not every situation can be tweaked. Some are simply terrible. If your spouse had an affair with your best friend, and you decided to get even but had a one-night stand, got pregnant, and came down with an STD …

Well, stand back. Some things can’t be tweaked. You might think that last description sounds like a country-western song, but honestly, I’ve heard some awful things that people have to deal with.

When something can’t be tweaked an experienced therapist knows it. They don’t try to get people not to feel what they feel when they are experiencing a horrible situation.

And this, by the way, is also the lesson for everybody in an intimate relationship.

Quite often the hurting person does not want to be “fixed” (another word for “tweaked”). Somebody else in their life might think they need to be fixed — they need to stop crying, they need to quit considering the damage and loss, they need to start looking up and feeling better, and getting on with life.

However, the smartest man who is supposed to ever have lived (Solomon), said

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

(Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8)

Notice how those are polarities? A polarity is a construction of extreme points on some kind of continuum, and so for health there is the polarity of disease, for functional dysfunctional, for whole shattered, and for happy unhappy.

These things are the parameters of life. Not everything that is real exists at only one end of life.

Not everything can be tweaked, nor should it be. In many cases what is needed is the presence and support of compassionate friends while someone grieves, endures the pain, suffers the loss, endures the humiliation, deals with the guilt, or has to make up the debt.

In Bermuda we’ve just celebrated Mothers’ Day.

I cannot count how many mothers I have personally worked with whose children have died or are in the process of throwing their lives away. There is heartache in that. Heart ACHE.

I will never forget the impact of sitting with a woman who started counting on her fingers the loss of children and friends who had been murdered through gang violence and to see her switch hands and keep counting until she ran out of fingers and her voice trailed off in a sad whisper.

For each one of those who have died, there are many others who seem to be on a conveyor belt headed for the same thing. It’s like a factory of destruction, and what kind of tweaking is going to turn a bad situation like that into something good?

I believe the part of the Bible that says God turns all things to the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, but I have to tell you, He doesn’t do it by tweaking anybody.

Jesus died and His death defeated Satan, and that’s a good thing, but what did Jesus say to the women weeping for Him as He carried His cross through the streets of Jerusalem?

“Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”

Some things cannot be tweaked.

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Published May 14, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 13, 2013 at 5:58 pm)

Some things cannot be tweaked

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