Tags: Health Topics | Hollywood | nicholson | relationship | narcissistic

'As Good as It Gets' Is Good Enough


(Mike Suszycki/Dreamstime)

By Thursday, 09 July 2020 12:37 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Some years ago, there was a fascinating movie, "As Good As It Gets," with Jack Nicholson playing an obnoxious, OCD character who is forced by circumstances to get to know his gay neighbor, as well as a waitress who puts up with his nastiness at breakfast every day.

The movie revolves around the two unlikely relationships he is attempting to navigate.

It’s a comedy-drama. When the movie ends, you are left hoping that they can all work it out — but in your heart of hearts, you doubt it. It will probably never be great, but sometimes that’s as good as it gets.

I get innumerable calls to my SiriusXM show from individuals who complain about the quality of a relationship with a parent, adult child, relative, or friend.

They don’t let go of those troublesome and disappointing people, but they struggle perpetually, trying to get the relationship to be what they need and want. One woman caller said to me, "But is there no hope." I reminded her I wasn’t in the "hope" business, as my field is psychotherapy.

This is the call that reminded me to use the phrase "as good as it gets."

She got on the air with me and said, "This is my third time calling."

Really? Was it about the same issue? "Oh yes," she said, "it still is about my brother."

Their relationship had been unpleasant her whole life, for many reasons, and here she is, middle-aged, still trying to figure out how to change it.

She started rambling on about more complaints, citing situations and dialogues, and on and on. I stopped her and said I no longer wanted to hear one more complaint about him, and I certainly didn’t want another repeat call rehashing the same problem. I said, "As this is the third repeat call about him, I either failed you or you are quite stubborn, or both."

As I was frankly thinking about discontinuing the call, the memory of that movie hit me.

So I said: "Maybe this is just as good as it gets."

Instead of the usual arguments, complaints and challenges, she quietly started to cry. I realized that this was just the right concept, and she clearly realized its truth.

"You can continue to interact at family functions and such, but you need to understand and embrace that this is as good as it gets," I offered gently.

"You can interact but you just can’t expect."

When she started speaking again, she was, for the first time in three separate calls, calm; sad and calm. That is such a powerful concept, as it gives a finality to the struggle, but does not necessarily result in no contact between people. Another caller was lamenting her adult son.

From birth until he was about eight-years-old, their relationship was amazing.

He never even went through the terrible twos.

Going into adolescent years, it all changed.

By 13 it became clear he was developing a narcissistic personality disorder.

Now, as an adult, he is handsome, charismatic, brilliant — and definitely narcissistic.

The mother had spent almost two decades dealing with his manipulations, lying, critical, and impatient behaviors in order to maintain some semblance of a family relationship. Until one day, she realized that she just didn’t like him. That, of course, was a profoundly sad moment, but also a freeing one. She no longer had to "hope" and "struggle" to make things better. She only had to realize that this is "as good as it gets."

Although this concept results in a tenuous connection, it is still a connection.

One doesn’t have to completely cut a person out of one’s life. One really needs to eliminate completely the hope for a miracle or some magical words which, when spoken, would just change everything. One could let go and float on one’s back, buoyed by the water, and not flail about any longer. This goes for many things in life, not just relationships.

Financial and health issues, sports prowess, and so forth.

At some point, joy is lost because you can’t simply accept that this is as good as it gets.

The key is to realize that it is "good" in itself.

Dr. Laura (Laura Schlessinger) is a well-known radio personality and best-selling author. She appears regularly on many television shows and in many publications. Read Dr. Laura's Reports — More Here.

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One doesn’t have to completely cut a person out of one’s life. One really needs to eliminate completely the hope for a miracle or some magical words which, when spoken, would just change everything.
nicholson, relationship, narcissistic
Thursday, 09 July 2020 12:37 PM
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