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Common Sense
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Common Sense

A few weeks ago, I was doing a therapy session with a couple who was having a very loud argument.  The language was harsh, and they weren’t making any progress towards resolution of the issue.

I jumped in with a piece of advice. The husband immediately turned to the screen and said “Linda, that is just too much like common sense.  I don’t know how to handle common sense because there isn’t any of it in the world anymore”.   Fortunately, we all laughed and that broke the tension.

But what he said was also sad.  Common sense is NOT common, and it definitely doesn’t make sense to everyone. 

People are used to getting advice from outside of themselves and then blaming the source if things don’t go the way that they want it to go.  There are so many social media influences that might not offer truth or wisdom.   Strangers who are posting might not even be telling the truth about their names, age, location or history.   They have nothing to lose by giving bad or inappropriate advice.

The other day I heard a man give a presentation in which he said “If you are a Christian, ask God for advice.  If you are a Muslim, ask Allah.   If you don’t have faith, ask your mother or grandmother because they usually have the answers.”   This made me laugh because there was a lot of truth in this.  I received so much good advice from my grandmothers over the years and am thankful that, as a grandmother I can pass it on to my grandchildren.

There are ways to develop common sense.   Here are a few that I have learned over the years:

  1. Learn to make decisions without running to others for help.  Often, I see individuals in the grocery store who cannot choose a box of laundry detergent without texting or calling someone for direction.  Read the labels, think about the machine you have and make a choice!
  2. Value mistakes. I travelled to California for the graduation of a grandson who had earned his degree in marketing.  The keynote speaker was a professional golfer who told about how she encourages her students to not be afraid to fail.  She took each letter of the word FAIL to define her concept “First Attempt In Learning”.
  3. Be cautious. There is an old expression “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quakes like a duck it is probably a duck!”   Don’t jump into something that feels wrong – no matter who is encouraging you.
  4. Take responsibility. One of the most difficult things that I face is when I try to help people who are “victims” of everyone and everything.  They blame, blame, blame and never see the role that they played in the trouble.  Everyone has been hurt by life at some point and we have all had other people betray us.  Disappointment appears in different forms throughout the years.  Each of us, however, has the ability to make choices and start over- beginning today.
  5. Develop a positive network. Toxic people and activities can drag us down.  We need to have people in our lives who can inspire and help us.  Look for people who have done well.  I never, for example, take financial advice from someone who is poor!  Find those who have succeeded in areas where you want to succeed as they know the path to get you to the goal.
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About the Author

Dr. Hancock has written a regular weekly column entitled “All Psyched Up” for newspapers in two Canadian provinces for more than a dozen years...