It's All Part of the Dance
It's All Part of the Dance

Sample Stories

Here are three random stories from It's All Part of the Dance for you to sample. Go through them one-by-one, or click a title below to go right to one that intrigues you:

Pull The Plug
Delaying Gratification
Over the Wall



We can be bluffed by our own thoughts. This happens when we take our thoughts too literally or too seriously. They’re just thoughts. Let me repeat that, because it’s important for you to understand. They’re just thoughts. That’s it. They have no particular power or influence over you, that is, unless you decide to invest in them, indulge them, believe them, and allow them to frighten you. This indulgence leads to anxiety or depression.

When I see someone in therapy who believes and emotionally invests in unproductive thoughts, I tell them something akin to the following: “I’m doing therapy with you in this office. You’re telling me about issues in your life. Suppose I suddenly get the thought that I’m going to stand up and jump out of my office window. Now, I can relate to this in a couple of different ways. The first possibility is that I can tell myself that I’m losing my mind or losing control. I can believe that and begin to feel disoriented and on the brink of irrational and impulsive behavior. I begin to feel anxiety and agitation. And, I certainly have lost contact with you as I’ve not been hearing what you’ve been saying. So, I’m doing both a poor job of dealing with my thoughts and being your therapist.”

I continue by telling the person, “But suppose I get that same thought about standing up and jumping out of my office window and I relate to it very differently. Now I simply tell myself that it’s just a thought and I don’t have to believe it. In essence, I pull the plug on it, so there’s no emotional charge connected to the thought. It has no power to influence. It’s just a thought and I’m not bluffed by it. Therefore, I don’t actually fear getting up and jumping out the window. I let the thought go and continue to focus on you and what you’re saying. In this way, I do a good job of both dealing with my thoughts and being your therapist.”

So keep in mind that you don’t have to believe everything you think and you certainly don’t have to indulge anxiety-provoking or depressing thoughts. Pull the plug and be an energy saver. This way you’ll be able to use that saved energy for more productive thoughts and pursuits.



Many moons ago, when I was a fledgling psychotherapist growing up in the counter culture movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s, a great premium was placed on getting patients to be spontaneous. They were urged to “let it all hang out,” “go with the flow,” and to stop thinking and just express their feelings. That was the era of encounter groups, Esalan, and primal scream therapy. That, my friends, was a long time ago.

Spontaneity is not necessarily a good thing. In fact, it can get a person in big trouble. It can also cause a lot of pain for others. Don’t say everything you think. Don’t express everything you feel as you feel it. The value of being spontaneous is overrated. The new mantra is “patience.” Recently, a professor having a few months left to live, gave his last lecture. He passed on his near-death bed wisdom to a packed audience. It included, “Be patient with others.”

You might get a measure of gratification from expressing your frustration, envy, anger, sarcasm, and the like. You might satisfy some needs temporarily by spontaneously overeating, drinking too much, or overspending. The likelihood is your pleasure will be short-lived. A hallmark characteristic of maturity and self-esteem is the ability to delay gratification in favor of long range goals and benefits. It is not in your best interest to say anything you feel like, and it’s not healthy to get everything that you want when you want it. Be patient with yourself and with others. It will make a big difference.

When Albert Einstein and his wife, Mileva, were having serious marital problems, Einstein proposed a deal. He had litte money at the time, but he told Mileva that someday he would win the Nobel Prize. If she agreed to divorce him, he would give her the substantial prize money that came with the award. She thought about the proposal for a week. She accepted. Einstein’s theories were so radical that it took a long time for the Nobel Prize judges to honor him. Seventeen years after their agreement, Mileva collected her money.



Peter Conradi, Professor Emeritus at Kingston University in London, tells a very moving story that is both heart breaking and heart warming. It is hard not to be deeply touched by this story that he heard while living in Poland:

Around 1943, Jews were being rounded up and herded into cattle trucks going to the gas chambers of Treblinka. They knew that death was imminent. The square was filled with horrified, malnourished mothers and their children. They passed their babies over their heads from one pair of upraised hands to another until the babies got close to a high wall that contained them. The babies were then thrown over the wall, where caring Catholic Polish women waited. These Catholic women caught the Jewish babies and brought them up as Gentiles.

Can you imagine what it must have been like for the women to throw their babies over the wall? In their terror, they found the courage and wherewithal to act boldly and decisively. How many conflicting feelings must they have had simultaneously? In the most horrible of times, they were able to make a commitment that saved their babies’ lives. And the Catholic Polish women’s courage, compassion, and commitment were all also necessary to save those lives. Humanity and love transcended the labels of Jew and Catholic.

Tal Ben-Shaher, who teaches a course on happiness at Harvard, poses the following:

Imagine your life as a journey. You are walking, knapsack on your back, making good progress, until suddenly, you reach a brick wall that stands in the way of reaching your destination. What do you do? Do you turn around and avoid the challenge posed by the barrier? Or, do you take the opposite approach and throw your knapsack over the wall, thus committing yourself to finding ways of getting through, around, or over the wall?

The importance of commitment cannot be overstated. If you believe you can get over the wall and make a commitment to doing so, you greatly increase your chances of it happening. If you’ve ever had the feeling that you can move mountains, so to speak, or that the gods were smiling upon you, it most likely stemmed from the decisiveness of bold action. Is there a situation in your life now that is frustrating or confusing? Have you waffled with regard to what to do? Is it diminishing your happiness? Make a decision. Committing yourself whole-heartedly to that decision will turn it into the right decision for you. Go ahead. Throw your knapsack over the wall.

Copyright © 2010 : Dr Alan Gettis - All Rights Reserved : Published by Goodman Beck Publishing -