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Friday, July 13, 2007

The Soap Opera Rule

Sometimes in therapy, when my clients are trying to figure out what decision to make about a personal problem, I invoke the Soap Opera Rule. The SOR is very simple. Figure out what they would do in a soap opera if this situation were to arise--and then do the opposite!

What is the reasoning behind the SOR? Soap operas make money by never resolving problems. The scripts stir up problems with games, self-defeating decisions, addictions, and dramatic interpersonal moves which only serve to complicate situations further. Soap operas do not try to calm situations and resolve them. In real life, dramatic moves interpersonally very often create more tension and problems than they solve. When things are going poorly in our lives, we may long for that major, dramatic action which will cure everything in one fell swoop. But it usually doesn't happen that way.

What generally does work well in real life is calm, deliberate action which is above board and straightforward. It may not be the material for a great novel, but in the end it often accomplishes what we want most--strong interpersonal relationships and success in other areas of our lives.