You know what bumper bowling is. They put long, inflated tubes in the gutters on either side of the lane so it’s nearly impossible to miss the pins—at least with your first ball!
Die-hard bowlers say that using bumpers is cheating, that only babies should use them.
“Bumpers only encourage people to be reckless and irresponsible because there aren’t any consequences! How will they learn to get better so that they stay OUT of the gutters?!”
I see it differently.
In my mind, bumper bowling can actually help everyone enjoy the game more. How?
· It can eliminate fear of embarrassment. Some of us don’t know how to bowl well, and it can be scary doing something you’re not good at. Bumpers can help calm the fear of trying something new.
· It can build self-esteem. Both the bowler and their friends can feel good that at least one pin was knocked down, especially when bowlers in neighboring lanes are easily getting lots of strikes and spares.
· It can make the rest of the day pleasant. With a better score thanks to bumpers, the bowler won’t be upset or feel guilty about wasting their bowling partner’s time or money getting all ‘zeroes’.
A lot of opinionated people with little mental health knowledge think like die-hard bowlers.
“Accommodating a loved one with mental illness encourages them to be dependent and to shirk their responsibility because life’s too easy! How will they learn to become self-sufficient when you enable them?!”
I see it differently.
In my experience, accommodating a mentally ill person can sometimes help everyone. How?
· It can eliminate fear of embarrassment. Some of us don’t know how to handle common aspects of life, and it can be scary doing something you’re not good at. Accommodations can help calm the fear of trying something new. Eliminating fear in one area can free up a person to stretch in another. Since anxiety (fear) is heightened in mentally ill people, it makes sense to reduce it from time to time.
· It can build self-esteem. Both the mentally ill person and their family members can feel good that at least some progress was made, especially when other relatives, neighbors, and churchgoers are easily getting through life. Those who have to work extra hard just to navigate through life should rightly feel good about any progress, be it slow, infrequent, or minimal compared to others.
· It can make the rest of the day pleasant. With at least some success thanks to the accommodation, the mentally ill person won’t be upset or feel guilty about wasting their family member’s time or money making little or no progress. Daily frustration and guilt driven by lack of progress can be eliminated through careful use of accommodations.
Referring to her mentally ill daughter, someone once told a friend of mine: “You’re enabling her!”
My friend replied: “You bet I am!”
What a great response! My friend chose to accommodate in that situation for all the above reasons, and it helped her and her daughter. True, constant accommodation often causes problems. But when it’s used wisely, accommodation can help a lot of people in a lot of ways.
You might not get to choose your lane, but ignore the opinions of people who have no clue what your lane’s like.