志闲少欲,心安不惧 泛中医论坛

"Topic separation" should not become a protective shield for the rebound problem.

Topic Separation#

I have previously studied some Adlerian psychology through "The Courage to Be Disliked", and the concept of "topic separation" mentioned in it has enlightened me, helping me reduce a lot of pain that I shouldn't have borne. Here, I will briefly introduce what "topic separation" means in my own words:

Every person is an individual and constantly faces different problems at every moment. These problems that need to be solved are "topics". Differentiating between which topics need to be solved by oneself and which topics are unrelated to oneself is "topic separation". After achieving topic separation, one can focus on solving their own topics and not worry about others', thus reducing their own pain.

For example, parents often feel frustrated about their children's poor academic performance, thinking that their pain comes from their children not working hard enough. They try every day to find ways to improve their children's grades, but both the parents and children end up feeling miserable. However, the child's academic performance should be solved by the child themselves; it is their own topic, and parents do not need to worry about it. In this scenario, the real topic that belongs to the parents themselves is "What should I do if my own child is not as good as others?" Similar topics include "What should I do if my salary is not as good as others?" and "What should I do if my house is not as big as others?". The solutions to these topics should come from within oneself, rather than trying to change others.

Topic Derivation#

Topic separation is a great way of thinking, but based on this, I would like to propose another concept called "topic derivation". Recently, I have encountered some situations where when others come to me with their problems, I use the concept of "topic separation" to push the problems back because they are troublesome. I believe that other people's topics indeed belong to them and do not require my concern, but when others come to me with their own topics seeking help, a new topic that belongs to me has already emerged and needs to be solved.

Let's continue with the example of parents and children. For various reasons, one day the child suddenly feels that their academic performance is not ideal and is very distressed, so they come to their parents for help. How should the parents respond? "Ah, this is your own issue, deal with it yourself, don't bother me." This is using theory as an excuse, pushing the problem away because it is too difficult. But in reality, when the child comes seeking help, a topic that belongs to the parents has already arisen: "My child is feeling very upset, what should I do?" The parents' task is not to worry about the child's poor grades, oh my, there's only one year left until the college entrance examination, how can we improve their grades? What the parents should do is face this topic that belongs to themselves: the child is feeling very upset, what should I do? Find ways to comfort them, face it together, support them, encourage them, do everything they can. Even if the final grades are still not ideal, so what? What we want is for the child to be happy. Even if we haven't achieved it, so what? We have done everything we can.

Theory is a method used to guide reality. Reality is complex and ever-changing. When theory abstracts commonalities from complexity, it will inevitably filter out a large number of individual elements. However, the reality that each of us faces is composed of both commonalities and individuality. We cannot simply rely on theory to live; we must constantly maintain our thinking and construct our own mental framework.

I heard in a podcast episode of a mother-daughter conversation that the daughter tried to convince her mother with theory, but the mother hit the nail on the head and pointed out that the daughter only knew how to argue with these theories, but her inner self was empty. I have also experienced similar situations, where I arrogantly spew out advanced theories, leaving the other person confused, and then they agree with my viewpoint. Let us all take this as a reminder.

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