When Life Gives You Lemon
Don Lemon controversy
I’m not a fan of Don Lemon’s profession, let alone various news stories I’ve heard him cover. Sincerely, I didn’t care for his support of authoritarian COVID-19 response measures—when millions of United States (U.S.) citizens were forced not to work—though he sat from upon high and chastised the citizenry for wanting lockdowns to end.
Nonetheless, I unconditionally accept Lemon’s fallibility and support his right to free speech. This includes when he reportedly said, “So we have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men,” with which I vehemently disagree.
Lemon’s statement is illogical, as well as offensive. All the same, I support his ability to freely express sentiment with which I disagree.
Now, I find myself in a position whereby I’m defending use of a metaphorical Lemon grenade lobbed by the CNN anchor on February 16, 2023. As Nikki Haley announced her intention to run for the U.S. presidency in 2024, Lemon’s response wasn’t well-received.
Per one source, “Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime, sorry,’ Lemon said, explaining why he was ‘uncomfortable’ with the age discussion. ‘When a woman is considered to be in her prime — in her 20s, 30s and maybe 40s,” is what Lemon remarked.
The anchor’s comments were said to have caused an “uproar,” after which he was reportedly granted permission to return to work following participation in “formal training” and by “continuing to listen and learn”—whatever that means.
Dissecting a Lemon grenade
From a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) perspective, I question the notion of Lemon’s comments as having led to the moral outrage of others. For the uninitiated, REBT considers the Epictetian notion, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
Unlike a deadly grenade that has a casualty radius between 5 and 20 meters, Lemon’s comments do not result in disaster. Rather, what people believe about Lemon’s remarks is what leads to unpleasant consequences (i.e., anger, disgust, outrage, etc.).
REBT uses the ABC Model to demonstrate how beliefs influence thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and behavior. This is referred to as the belief-consequence connection. Here’s how it works:
Action (the event that occurred) – Lemon offhandedly states that women are considered to be in their prime during their 20s, 30s and maybe 40s.
Belief (belief about the action) – Jane Doe hears Lemon’s declaration and thinks, “That’s a bunch of nonsense, because I’m 55-years-old and in my prime. Don Lemon shouldn’t say such stigmatizing things, and because he has, I can’t stand how awful this makes me feel!”
Consequence (consequence of the belief) – Given the self-disturbing belief and preparatory command (“I can’t stand how awful this makes me feel!”), Jane enters into a cycle of pessimistic thoughts, unpleasant emotions, uncomfortable bodily sensations, and she throws herself upon a fainting couch while wailing in agony.
Though a fragmentation grenade detonates and causes injury—using an action-consequence connection, a metaphorical Lemon grenade is essentially powerless over a person’s life. An explosion from the latter requires an individual’s unhelpful or unhealthy beliefs.
Though we may wish people didn’t say things with which we disagree, we can learn to tolerate and accept when they inevitably do. We don’t have to like or love offensive statements.
All the same, we can choose not to allow Lemon grenades the consequential effects of our beliefs associated with actions of anchors, friends, family members, strangers, and others. The way to disarm a Lemon grenade is to challenge the firing mechanism of your own belief.
When life gives you Lemon, you don’t have to suffer a self-induced injury. Would you like to know more about how disarming a Lemon grade using disputation could better serve your interests and goals? I may be able to help.
If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
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