April 21, 2016

Anything Mentionable is Manageable

Like many of you, I keep a sticky note on my computer to remind me of movies I want to see. For longer than I can remember, my sticky note included, “Mr. Rogers and Me”: a documentary about Fred Rogers, the creator of the iconic children’s television show “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”  I watched it last week.

And while I knew a bit about Fred Rogers from some of his more famous quotations (He is the one who reminded us to “Look for the helpers” in times of tragedy), until I watched the documentary, I had not bumped into the quote that is the title of this piece:

“Anything mentionable is manageable.”

As you’ll learn if you watch the documentary (which I can’t recommend highly enough), topics others considered ‘taboo’ were not off-limits in his neighborhood: death, for example, or divorce.

(This may not sound like much today, but please note this was the late 1960’s: the era of “The Brady Bunch” and “The Partridge Family”, two shows where spouses vanished like they were in a Stephen King novel and yet none of the children ever mentioned those parents again….)

And while the idea behind the sentiment can be found in both Al Anon and AA (where “You’re only as sick as your secrets”), there is an elegance—not to mention a practical application element– to Fred Rogers’ statement that stole my heart.

“Anything mentionable is manageable.” 

So if there is something you are struggling with, please do think about taking that first, small—perhaps stuttering—step of simply mentioning it to someone else.

Because, like Fred Rogers, I believe it’s a step toward it becoming manageable.

Frances Cole Jones

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