7 of 109 episodes indexed
Back to Search - All Episodes


by Lisa Anderson Shaffer, LMFT
October 29th 2020

Hi Friends, I'm Lisa Anderson Shaffer - coach, consultant, psychotherapist, and resident psych enthusiast. And I LOVE psychology! It's the study of human behavior after all and isn't... More

Hi friends and welcome to Joy is Now the podcast where we take a psychologically minded look at life. I'm your host, Lisa Anderson Shaffer coach, consultant, and resident psych enthusiast. Joy is Now is sponsored by listeners like you visit Lisa Anderson Shaffer dot com to join the community and become a one time or recurring patron of the podcast. Why Good Friends Bring a shovel, psychology and the hole, I'm going to tell you a story. The first time I heard this story was on an episode of The West Wing. For those of you who followed the show, it is the noel episode or to be exact season two, episode 10. It is an exchange between the characters Josh and Leo and the story goes like this. This guy is walking down the street and falls into a hole. He watches from below as people pass by on the street, some looking in the hole, most not seeing him only trying to avoid falling in themselves.

As he looks up to people passing by, he sees his priest, he calls out to the priest and says, "Father, I've fallen in this hole. Can you help me get out?" The priest responds, "of course my son," and leans towards the edge of the hole to say a prayer, "May God be with you my child." And then the priest walks away. The guy sees his doctor walk by overhead and yells, "Hey doc, I've fallen in this hole, can you help me get out?" "Of course", says his doctor "use this." And the doctor writes a prescription and sends the piece of paper down the hole. Frustrated, desperate and afraid, the guy notices a friend walking by he yells, "Hey buddy, I fell down in this hole. Can you help me get out?" His friend says 'sure you got it' and quickly jumps in the hole to join him. The guy looks at his friend and says, "now we are both in this hole. Both of us are stuck." The friend says "yeah we're both in the hole but I've been here before and I know the way out." I love this story and I thought about it over the years since the West Wing episode first aired which to be a total fact Nerd was on December 13, 2000.

So almost 20 years, wow, 20 years I've been spinning that story around my head, I've shared it with friends, patients, my daughter and everyone in between. I learned along the way as I shared it with friends in recovery that it is a common story told at 12 step meetings as it provides a well reasoned explanation for the importance of sponsorship to maintaining sobriety. Yeah, totally. Many solutions offered but in the end you need someone who has been down in the hole to understand. Makes sense. I bring it up now because next week, the Sunday before election day, I am releasing a Joy is Now episode about hope and in our discussion this story came up. This is a strange time for hope. I think many of us myself included have felt like we've spent the last four years screaming into the wind. Maybe it's not so much that there has been a way out, but maybe at some point we looked around and acknowledged that there were enough friendly faces in the hole. It wasn't so much about getting out as it was about learning about the hole and how to be down here.

That certainly feels true for the past seven months or so, we have been forced in the hole all of us together. Some have struggled all seven months for a way out and some have decided it feels better to learn about the hole. This is the choice of mindset. We always have struggle or lean into. What I like most about the story is that it acts as a reminder that we all know a hole, we are all that friend, the one who knows the way out. Maybe not every hole, but we know the feeling of the hole. The fear, desperation, grief, struggle. What it feels like to ask for help. And it's not the kind of help we need. Screaming into the wind is how it feels to me. And there has been a lot of that going on over here the past seven months. If we are making this metaphor real, I'm hoarse from screaming into the wind from the depths of a very dark hole. But if we all know a hole and we all have an emotional toolbox, we all have a shovel.
I don't know what will happen on Election Day.

I think we have all learned that despite predictions and exit polls none of us do. It ain't over till it's over. But what we can do in the throes of all this upcoming uncertainty we can remember, we have a shovel, we have all been in a hole of some sort or another and we all know the way out. What I'm asking of myself and of you is to be the friend with a shovel. Be the friend parent, neighbor, teacher, citizen who jumps down into the hole. Have confidence in your shovel, feel it in your bones that you know things. That you know the way out and don't just throw the shovel down in the hole but be willing to jump down there and dig. Dig for those of us who are frightened, struggling, grief stricken. Dig for those who don't know the way out. Or maybe just forgot. Dig for those who simply need a warm body to help them dig in a chosen direction because psychology is always the hole and we all own a shovel.

We just need to be willing to do the work and dig. This has been Joy is Now with me Lisa Anderson Shaffer LMFT. You can find me for hire at Lisa Anderson Shaffer dot com along with patronage support for this podcast and the These Three Things project, You can also follow along with my musings at Lisa Anderson Shaffer on Instagram, See you next time.

replay_10 forward_10