Second Chances: Do They Work?

Some years ago a friend of mine visited the Soviet Union (Russia, actually) back before the “wall” was torn down (by people on both sides who had had enough of that, and who either knew freedom or had a taste of it and wanted more). He happened to have a good deal of experience in treating addictions, especially alcoholism, and was interested in what treatments for alcoholism there were in Russia, and how did they work. So he asked to visit an alcoholism treatment center. Seemed a pretty reasonable request. But he was told (I think with some irritation) there was no treatment for chronic alcoholism. Nothing worked. They just locked them up when they became too unruly or problematic to their society. They hid them away since they didn’t know what else to do with them. What else could they do?

So my friend was directed to a group of Russian psychologists and psychiatrists and physicians, who were frankly shocked (and incredulous) to hear that in the U.S. and other western countries, there were many types of treatment and recovery programs; many of them effective in helping the alcoholics to regain their lives. These Russian “specialists” didn’t believe in second chances. Why try, they reasoned, if nothing worked. Save your money, time and energy.

But things have changed, no doubt, in Russia these days, including giving her people this kind of second chance. It’s a good thing, no?

Not everyone believes in second chances. Kind of like a “sudden death” in a sports overtime contest, or what’s known as ˜single elimination.” One loss, fall or slip and you’re out. Sort of a: “If at first you don’t succeed, don’t try again” (OK, I changed that old saying a bit).

Isn’t it nice that most of us are given second chances at most things in life. We fail at something, we get knocked down, we can get back up. Not that everyone does get back up. Some don’t. Sad. This has a lot to do with personal beliefs about one’s abilities with respect to the circumstances and hope for the future. Did you know that hopelessness about the future is one of the most critical ˜red flag” risks psychologists and counselors look for in those who may be at risk for suicide? It is. When someone loses hope, he or she does not believe in that second chance. And what about those of us who have had many second chances either over the same issue (such as multiple marriages and relationships), or different issues? Is there such a thing as ongoing second chances? Is there a plentiful supply of second chances in life that never runs out, or do each of us have a quota that once we reach it, there is no more chance to overcome, or succeed.

Life provides multiple examples, in a free society such as most of us live in, for an infinite supply of second chance. I once owned a boat that I named “Second Chance” after my own second, second, second chance in life happiness and fulfillment. To this day, there continues to be evidence that it might even be a single, ongoing, never-ending process of second chance. It’s like I can never use up my potential to pick myself up and try, try again. And there are many people around me, unquenchable resources, helpful encouragers available to my life – that are brought across my life path, or can be tapped by me when I reach various levels of deprivation and desperateness.

Many forms of counseling, psychotherapy and intervention have been developed and found helpful with a variety of clinical conditions such as anxiety and depression, addictions and life breakdowns. But what of those of us whose lives are not in some major pathological state of need, but for whom life has become or is not so satisfying or fulfilling. We are at catch-points, perhaps stuck at some crossroads in life and we don’t know what to do or which way to go. There was an old song by Patty Page that described it: Is that all there is (to life)? We’re held up at the “what’s next” 4-way stop.

The Dave Thorpe Experience was developed to especially provide that life analysis and motivational path to personal fulfillment and success. It takes a person from the discovery step of what’s most and least important in life (which only the individual can decide), through to the change process, including accountability to others. You don’t have to wait for things to get really bad, or even hopeless. You can begin this life re-direction, and purpose focus early rather than later, now rather than tomorrow. Think about it: tomorrow never comes, does it? (there is a fish restaurant never where I live that keeps a sign up outside, every day: “Free Fish Tacos Tomorrow.” Sounds pretty good. Except tomorrow the sign is still up. Tomorrow’s not here yet.

Check it out today. And remember the old Fram oil filter commercial saying that you can see me now (change your filter now) or you can see me later (change it sometime in the future) but it’s going go be a lot more expensive later. I like that. The Dave Thorpe Experience may be like doing life maintenance today, not waiting for some harsher tomorrow. And don’t wait for God to send a whale. That can be pretty stinky.

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