Building upon Saint Ignatius' model, I argue that, drawing from other teachings both in our Christian tradition and in research in positive psychology (a branch of psychology that studies the habits and thinking patterns of emotionally healthy, happy people) can further clarify what consolations and desolations look like. Specifically, consolations always point us toward meaningfulness, intimacy, and virtue. On the other hand, desolations always point us to powerlessness, isolation, and self-pity or self-indulgence. Let me explain where I am getting these distinctions. In our coaching session, we explored the recent past and discovered an important clue. Until the fall everything had been great, and then things started to become strange. I asked what had happened in the fall, and Mary couldn't recall. We looked through her date book and reviewed the month of November day by day. It jumped out at her. November was the month that Dee Dee got married. I asked Mary if this was important, and she replied, "I wasn't invited to her wedding." I asked if she had expected to be invited. She said that it was a small wedding, only the immediate family was invited, and Dee Dee had none the less shared this with her, but her feelings were deeply hurt. She felt left out. I asked her if she ever told Dee Dee how she felt, and she replied, "No, I was too embarrassed to bring it up. What Dee Dee did was understandable, and I was acting childish." What do you need to do to improve your communication skills so you have less conflict and more understanding in your relationships? You have determined which communication skills you need to develop and improve. This is also a to-do list. To enhance your communication skills is very significant as it immediately improves your relationships. In private, record yourself speaking aloud about your feelings. I hurt for people who have ADD and don't know it, or for some reason are not getting help for it.

Once I recognized that I have it, I began to find additional strategies that have greatly helped me. And I began to notice lots of other people who seemed likely candidates for the diagnosis. Each one of us is different, but those of us with ADD tend to have a lot of characteristics in common. Some people who have ADD are not willing to acknowledge it. This has to do with shame, and with pride, especially with us males, who are not supposed to have any `weaknesses'. Regrets could be part of it too, regrets about things we've done or not done, and even about how things might've been different if we'd had some help. If you have ADD, it sure helps to know you have it, to acknowledge it and to get help. Most of us prefer socializing and working with people who share at least some of our beliefs and values, especially outlooks we think are important, such as our religious or moral values. However, ego-centered perfectionism is not merely a preference; rather, it's a perfectionistic demand that other people always, or almost always, agree with your points of view, such as your beliefs, values, desires, interests, preferences, or tastes. We each see the world through our own subjective lens. This subjectivity is shaped by our personal, social, and cultural experiences. Our language, religious indoctrination, demographics, and other social, ethnic, gender, and cultural aspects coalesce with our personal experiences to form a complex belief system through which we interpret the world. So it's understandable that you would be more comfortable with your views of the world than with others' contrasting ones. Let me offer a brief illustration of this in practice. If I was nervous about taking on a new responsibility that I prayerfully believed would, in theory, be good for me, I could "resolve" my anxiety by walking away from the opportunity saying, "Sure, it would be good, but it's just not me." Yet, that response would not be as meaningful as figuring out how to slowly get more comfortable applying my gifts and talents in this new way. In fact, avoiding this good thing would confirm me in a sense of powerlessness. Even though sticking with the good thing and learning how to work through my anxiety to take it on would be difficult, choosing to do so would represent that I am listening to the consolations of the Holy Spirit and cooperating with God's grace more effectively. Because of this, the more I worked on meaningfully engaging this new situation, the more my anxiety would decrease with time, as God worked to heal me through this new experience. On the other hand, refusing to take on this thing that I prayerfully believe would be good for me means I have chosen to listen to the desolation that told me that I was too powerless to be truly up to the task. I would therefore remain stuck in my anxiety, convinced that because I felt anxious, there was nothing else I could do to effect positive change in my life.

The common thread is that somehow your perspectives set the standard for what's real, true, good, healthy, and so forth. This suggests a very curious view of truth or reality that undergirds ego-centered perfectionism. I doubt that you have ever explicitly said, "I set the standard of truth. I am the reality guru!" Nevertheless, for most ego-centered perfectionists, this view is implicit in the way they process others' views when they conflict with their own. I pointed out that this incident, small though it may seem, might be the withheld communication and feeling, that had started all Mary's issues with Dee Dee. A seed was planted that would later bear poisonous fruit. Feelings and thoughts are different. Thoughts, by definition, are rational, reasonable, and logical, and located in the cognitive part of the brain. Feelings by definition are subjective emotional responses that connected to the affective part. Feelings are not right or wrong, they just are what they are. People spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out what their feelings mean, whether they are legitimate or not, when the truth about feelings is that they don't make sense. Childish misunderstandings and miscommunications happen every day. People get hurt, sad, angry, and upset, which is not the issue. The real issue is how we deal or don't deal with the feelings that are ours. What is your mission in this life? You have identified your mission in this life. Your work now is to make certain that your choices and actions support your mission. Like your definition of happiness, post your mission in plain sight or in your wallet or handbag. Spend more time with friends and associates who see you in this way and will be supportive; this will help raise your self-esteem and confidence in your mission. How do you sabotage yourself from fulfilling your life's mission?

You have identified one of the most insidious achievements of your inner terrorist. In my workshops where I present these ten questions, I carefully observe the participants writing down their answers, and this is the answer that people have the least hesitation to write. They need no time to ruminate about it because most of us know exactly how we sabotage ourselves, how our inner terrorist prevents us from shining bright in this world. Your work now is to do everything in your power to support your mission and to make certain that you spend time with those who see you in this way and do not cause you to doubt your path. Harry, another friend of mine, makes lots of mistakes. He's a very nice man, very compassionate. He forgets things, things he's supposed to do. He forgets to do them. A lot. He's very agreeable. He agrees to do a lot of things. But often he doesn't do them. The things he does do, he tends to mess up on. Harry has a good sense of humor. When he has forgotten to do something, or when he messes up, he openly acknowledges it. He gives a little laugh, and says, with a nice smile, "Whoops! Messed up again." He says this a lot. One day I offered Harry something to read on ADD. He was cordial as he declined, but he appeared slightly miffed. He pointed out his substantial academic achievements, implying that they made the possibility of ADD obviously ridiculous.

That was several years ago. He is still saying, "Whoops! Messed up again." A lot. Now, there are degrees to which someone might hold this topsy-turvy theory of truth. In the extreme, there are persons with narcissistic personality disorder, whose level of grandiosity and sense of self-importance is delusional. Fortunately, most ego-centered perfectionists don't suffer from delusions of grandeur. Nevertheless, any tendency to perceive that your beliefs, values, preferences, desires, interests, and tastes are more valid than anyone else's can cause you a lot of personal and interpersonal strife. A nephew of mine just graduated from high school. Late. Barely. He's a gifted athlete, great at every sport he tries: football, baseball, basketball, golf, bowling. He's a personable kid, though shy. But he had difficulty getting up in the mornings, and difficulty getting to school, and difficulty getting to class once he was there. And difficulty doing homework. And difficulty getting the homework to school even if he had done it. He could've done very well in athletics if he'd ever been able to keep his grades up long enough to stay eligible for a team. As I understand it, he did get an evaluation and a diagnosis, but no organized help. He tried some medication, but it gave him side effects and that was the end of it. This is third hand information; it may not be accurate. He did manage to graduate from high school, late, after a great deal of struggle.