“I’ve developed a new philosophy…I only dread one day at a time.”
– Charlie Brown
As a psychotherapist, the image of Charlie Brown often comes to mind in dealing with my clients. So many people live like “good ol’ Chuck” with persistent rumination about things out of their reach and control, just like he obsesses over the red headed girl. As lovable and cute as he is, Charlie Brown is stuck in a spiral of negativity — no wonder why he is stuck and never changes! He never can seem to get himself out of the world of low self esteem, along with his continual musings on if onlys and what ifs.
Perhaps the most poignant thing about Charlie Brown is that no matter how many times Lucy pulls the football from him as he is about to kick, he keeps on expecting her to change her ways — and he gets the ball pulled out from him. He doesn’t seem to learn that it is time to shift his strategy and learn from his errors in judgement rather than repeat the same mistakes over and over. Time and time again.
I do believe that Charlie Brown has been one of America’s most lovable cartoon characters precisely because at some point in our lives, we all can relate to him. Who hasn’t kept on trusting, even though our friends, family, and even our spouses have proved untrustworthy or disappointed us? Who hasn’t found themselves focusing on the negative rather than the positive, regarding the negative view as where the “real truth” lies? Despite the fact that we can relate to him and enjoy the humorous take on depressive thinking – since we commonly do get pleasure out of poking fun at our foibles — ruminative and negative thinking is really no laughing matter. It leads to depression, excessive anxiety, and interferes with true growth and healing.
If you find yourself identifying too much like Charlie Brown, here are some tips:
As you consider Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang characters — what character are you most like? How about those that are close to you? There’s the dependent Linus, the narcissistic Lucy, the depressive Charlie Brown, disorganized and sloppy Pigpen, the precocious Schroeder, the know-it-all, insensitive Patti, the loyal Woodstock, the imaginative Snoopy, or the optimistic and sweet Sally?
How about getting an opinion of people who know you best? If you don’t like the answer, you can work on changing it now Learn from Charlie Brown that you are lovable no matter what, but life will be more fun if you choose to stay positive.
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