It isn’t often that a concept that has the power to alter relationships has a name that is fun to say. Wabi sabi (wobby sobby) is a Japanese term that is difficult to say without smiling that describes a profound way of viewing relationships with oneself, other people, and life in general. Richard Powell the author of Wabi Sabi Simple defined it as, “Accepting the world as imperfect, unfinished, and transient, and then going deeper and celebrating that reality.” An heirloom that has been passed down from generation to generation is prized not despite the signs of use it shows, but because of those marks. Nobody ever claimed Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, or Lead Belly are great singers in the conventional sense of the word, but they are excellent singers from a wabi sabi viewpoint. To be wabi sabi in a relationship with another is more than tolerating that person’s imperfections, it is to find the good in those so-called defects. It is to find acceptance not despite the imperfections, but because of them. The Twelve Step program is an excellent example of wabi sabi in action. The new comer is accepted because of his or her powerlessness and unmanageability, those problems are the very ticket into the program. When someone introduces herself at an A.A. meeting with, “I’m Mary, and I’m an alcoholic,” and everyone responds, “Hi Mary,” that is wabi sabi. The 12 step Al-anon program is another example of wabi sabi. Members are taught to accept the fact that their loved ones have an illness, not to take the behavior associated with that affliction personally, and to respond with love. To be wabi sabi in a relationship with an alcoholic is to give up on trying to “fix” that person, which opens up more time and energy to be together with less conflict. Perhaps the most challenging relationship in which to practice wabi sabi is with oneself. Again the 12 Step program provides guidance. Step one suggests accepting one’s powerlessness and unmanageability, Step five encourages acceptance of one’s wrongs, and Step ten implies acceptance that one will continue to commit wrongs. These “defects of character,” and “shortcomings” are what made us who we are today. They are the psychological, emotional, and spiritual equivalent of the winkles, scars, and laugh-lines on our bodies. We will never be perfect humans, but we can be perfectly human. As Leonard Cohen croaked in his wabi sabi song Anthem, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light get in.”________________________________________________________________________ About Mic Hunter, Psy.D. Dr. Mic Hunter has held Minnesota licenses as a Psychologist, and Marriage and Family Therapist, and as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor. He has been sought out by the print and broadcast media for interviews over 150 times including Oprah, CNN, Newsweek, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He has spoken to mental health professionals and the general public over 300 times in America, Mexico, Mongolia, and England. He has presented at the meetings of the American Association Of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex, and the American Psychological Association. He has been invited to give nine keynote addresses. He has served as a reviewer for The Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, The Journal of Men's Studies, The Journal of Interpersonal Violence, and Violence Against Women. He is a recipient of the Fay Honey Knopp Memorial Award, given by the National Organization on Male Sexual Victimization, "For recognition of his contributions to the field of male sexual victimization treatment and knowledge." In 2007 the Board of Directors of Male Survivor announced the creation of The Mic Hunter Award For Research Advances. Dr. Hunter, for whom the on-going award was named, became the first recipient. It was given to him for his, “ceaseless pursuit of knowledge about male sexual abuse in all its occurrences, of the eloquent dissemination of new knowledge in this area, and of the stimulation for further study and concern about revealing, treating and preventing male sexual abuse.” Mic Hunter, Psy.D. is the author of Conscious Contact: The 12 Steps As Prayer, and Back To The Source: The Spiritual Principles Of Jesus.
Conference season comes to a close... As with any industry, the addiction and recovery community has a conference season that allows treatment professionals the opportunity to meet their peers, learn about the new developments in addiction treatment and ongoing research projects. This past October PACE Recovery Center was pleased to be a Silver Sponsor for CeDAR's Gender Matters, Men Matter Conference. Lenny Segal, Executive Director and Founder of PACE, attended Gender Matters in Broomfield, Colorado, and had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know guest speaker Mic Hunter, Psy.D. We are pleased that Dr. Hunter wanted to share some of his articles with us and we, in turn on occasion as you see below, will publish Dr. Hunter's articles on our blog for our readers to enjoy. Wabi Sabi Your Relationships