Most people are familiar with the iconic Bob Newhart Stop It! video. In case you haven’t seen the old Mad TV skit, it goes like this: Newhart plays a psychiatrist (of course) and Mo Collins plays a neurotic new patient. Bob’s simple but emphatic response to Mo’s litany of mental health problems is, “Stop it.” The gimmick works because we’ve all endured people’s relentless tales of unnecessarily complicated problems. Even though we often think, “oh just stop it” when they complain about predictable and preventable life struggles, we know “stop it” is not the right answer. The right answer is to feign sympathy and confirm that their struggles are epic and too complex for mere human solutions. Inwardly we scream, “stop it” but outwardly we are benevolent and affirming.
So, do professional counselors ever have those “stop it” moments? Oh goodness, yes. Happens all the time. But I usually deliver the message in a nice therapeutic way. Here are a few “stop it” topics that come up quite a bit. There’s more but this is a list of greatest hits.
Stop trying to teach your spouse a lesson. I hear numerous examples of people creatively setting up failure for their spouse as a training exercise. Really, people let that method go. I have zero examples of anyone learning their lesson because a spouse orchestrated a failure. Everybody sees through the approach and rightfully resents it. If you need to teach somebody a lesson, get a puppy or baby seal.
- Stop complaining about your ailments while rejecting every proven solution known to medical science. I get it. You don’t trust doctors. You don’t like medicine. You wear your medical defiance like a badge of courage. You prefer a double handful of herbs and powdered moose antlers to Tylenol. If you really want to cling to your anti-medical position, fine. But please spare the people around you the consequences of your love affair with “remedies” that keep you sick.
- Stop being so cheap. I know you don’t have as much money as you want or deserve. I wish you did. But being so tight that you won’t buy small gifts or occasionally go out to dinner is wrong. Stop it. If nine dollar roses from a grocery store will sink you financial ship, you probably need a new ship. And please stop making stinginess a biblical imperative. It isn’t. The gospel is the most generous gift ever offered. Stop living in a way that inaccurately represents such a magnanimous Savior.
- Stop demanding respect that you have not earned. I know a popular Christian author has told you that you’re entitled to respect for just showing up. I beg to differ. Love is a given. Respect is earned. Step up and be someone who is respectable and respectful and respect worthy. If you get no respect, there’s probably a good reason for it. Respect like integrity is not bestowed like a participant’s trophy.
- Stop arguing with teenagers . Seems like I have this conversation at least once a week. Usually one of the parents understands that reasoning with teenagers is futile. The other half of the parenting duo thinks that because they look like adults, they naturally think like adults. Wrong. They don’t. Still, the “let’s-discuss-this” parent believes that he/she will make such a compelling case that the teenager will say, “Thank you, my esteemed parent. You are right and I am woefully ignorant in this matter.” If you’re holding out for that response, stop it. File this one along with “be your teenager’s best friend” and “don’t discipline your teenager because they don’t like it.” Stop all of those. Immediately.
Here’s a fortnight challenge: This week try stopping one dumb thing that has never worked. Really. Give it up. Sometimes life is harder and more complicated than “just stop it”. But often…it is that easy.
If you haven’t seen Bob’s video, here’s a link to the YouTube version.
And don’t stop enjoying fortnight. It’s a good thing…