Dr Stewart Hase - Psychologically Speaking

What you dont know probably wont hurt you

I was visiting some friends recently and they asked me to stay for dinner. When it came to deciding on a wine, they suggested a nice drop of cabernet sauvignon. Sadly I am a bit allergic to strong red wines so tend to stick to whites although I can feel a bit off the next day even after a good white. But this may have more to do with volume than the preservatives. The volume issue is an important one and I often get asked by people if I think they are alcoholics. The definition of an alcoholic is someone who drinks more than their doctor so the choice of the latter is vitally important.

Although not white wine drinkers themselves, they pulled a bottle of chardonnay from the fridge. I couldnt help but notice as the wine was being poured that it was a very deep straw colour and not the crisp clear appearance that I would have expected. I mentioned this and my host said the wine had been lying down for about seven years and should be a good drop. It crossed my mind to ask if the poor old thing had been tired because most white wines are drunk when they are young rather than when they have become senile. But I was told they had drunk a bottle of the same vintage the week before and it had been fine.

It was awful but I was too polite to say anything more. My friends thought it was just fine and seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. After a little while I managed to find out they almost never drank white wine and barely knew the difference between a dessert wine and a sauvignon blanc. So, to them the wine tasted fine because they had not experienced anything else.

It occurred to me later that this phenomenon is common in everyday living.

We put up with all sorts of things because we believe that the situation is normal. We accept less than healthy relationships because we know no different and our expectations are set quite low. The same can be said for jobs we might have, the place we live or finding a builder to quote on renovations to the house. Sometimes our expectations are low because we were told repeatedly when young not to expect too much. Or our role models were deeply flawed and we end up believing that what we saw is the way life has to be. A good way to assess things is to rely on your feelings. If it feels bad or not quite right then it probably is bad or less than what it could be and its time for action.

On the other side of the coin it can be quite a relief to realise when things are normal when we thought they were not.

Sometimes, when Im talking to someone who is unhappy, I might mention that I am not surprised that they are sad or stressed-out given what has happened to them. In other words their reaction is quite normal even understandable. The implication is of course that theyll actually move forward and upward. The look of relief on their faces and in their demeanour is worth its weight in gold.

Im taking my friends out to dinner next time Im in Sydney and Im going to buy a lovely bottle of crisp chardonnay. Theyll probably grimace inside but be too polite to tell me they hate it!

Such is life.

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