Do One Thing Different
Bill O'Hanlon


Some years ago, several family therapists were watching a news program that showed protestors on both sides of the abortion debate screaming at each other across barriers.  They suddenly realized that the opposing sides were a lot like the families they were seeing in family therapy.  These families cam into therapy polarized, usually doing a lot of yelling and very little listening.  Family therapy is, in part, the art of getting people who are angry and alienated to sit down in the same room and begin to relate respectfully to one another.  Usually, once that happens, we therapists can help these families solve the problems that brought them in.

These therapists decided to organize a project to bring together the "two sides" of the abortion debate in a respectful dialogue.  What emerged was quite interesting.  Once the opponents started listening to one another, they discovered more common ground than they thought they had.  (For example, they all wanted to keep unwanted children from being brought into the world.)  They also discovered, when they were given the opportunity to explore and converse in a nondefensive atmosphere, that many of them had more complex views than the either-or positions that they first espoused.  (For example, some of the "anti-abortion, pro-life" folks reluctantly admitted that there were circumstances in which they would support the right to abortion and some of the "abortion rights, pro-choice" folks admitted that there were some circumstances in which an abortion should be denied.)

Once they included both the possibility that the "other side" wasn't necessarily all bad or evil and the possibility that there weren't just two sides to the issue, they could begin to work on possible solutions (better prenatal care and adoption and foster care services in their area).  This is an example in which acknowledgement and inclusion helped to bring about some change in a social context.  This book, of course, is more about the personal context  than the social, but individuals who learn to accept themselves and intimate others set the stage for similar breakthroughs among groups, countries, and cultures.

Do One Thing Different.  Bill O'Hanlon
A lot of practical, common-sense suggestions
for dealing with many aspects of your own life,
such as your own perspective, co-dependencies,
etc.  Quite a few step-by-step ideas for dealing with
things that may be bringing you down.  His website
is at if you'd like to learn
more about him or see his other books.


Where there is an open mind there will always be a frontier.

Charles F. Kettering


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