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God thought that sounded nice, and he was tired of being harassed, so he let the farmer have at it. The farmer made it rain only the perfect amount of moisture. He brought out the sun just the perfect amount of time. He made the weather perfect all the time, in fact, and the wheat grew so high that it looked like there would be food for everyone for the next ten years. But then, when the wheat was harvested, the people found that there was nothing but inedible chaff. The farmer asked God what happened. God said, Because there was no challenge, no obstacle, no conflict, no difficulty, the wheat could not grow properly. A little struggle is a must. You need the storms. You need the thunder, the lightning. For example, we did no bargaining: Lauren was gone in the same flash with which she'd arrived. We didn't have a chance to beg the gods to take me! No bargaining here whatsoever; I asked Ellen if the anger she felt in any way mitigated her grief or provided a distraction from the enormity of losing her only son. Having the suspect caught changed my focus. I no longer could be distracted by the police search (and remember, I was hoping that his capture would make me feel better). In some ways, I could now begin being really angry at a group of people. But right from the beginning, I always said, What about his mother? What about his family? I never thought we were talking about a monster here;

Seeing each other in our unedited states has changed our online connection. We still communicate similarly, but we see humans where we once saw profiles, and that has made all the difference. Move outside yourself. One of the best things we can do to relax the focus on our own image is to immerse ourselves in other stories. When medical students I work with get caught up in their performance, I remind them to shift their attention to the patient. What is he or she saying? What is it like to be in that person's shoes? This shift not only enhances empathy and diagnostic precision but it takes pressure off the performance. Similarly, research has found that reading literary fiction enhances empathy while travel improves perspective taking--both antidotes to excessive narcissism. As it turns out, self-focus is a lot of work. You need the conflict--it's the only way growth happens. Whatever you're experiencing is necessary. You need to be going through exactly what you're going through, because the conflict you're in right now and the way you handle it is shaping the person you're about to become. The same is true for others. The more you embrace where you are, as well as the perspective that encompasses why you are where you are, the better chance you have to move through what you're experiencing in the most conscious way possible. Give Me Your Temper A student went to the master and told her how troubled he was by his temper. I can't control it. It controls me. I don't want this temper anymore.

How were they managing knowing that their child could commit such a monstrous act? Before you think I was angelic in worrying about other people, a great deal of the time I was so angry that his selfish behaviour could take away my son. And I really hope he is suffering in jail. There, my angel wings are gone. Have I told you how much I honour and admire Ellen's honesty? She also shared this perspective, which I found to be most helpful. My very good friend, who had also lost a child, recommended this: think of a window shade in your mind. When you are strong and calm you can pull it up and look at all the circumstances that surrounded Christopher's death: the fact that he was beaten, run over and left to die on the side of the road. But when that is too much to bear, pull that window blind down, take a deep breath and wait for another day. There were press conferences where all I could do was cry in front of the media and the police force. DESTRUCTIVE DANCE DETOX Dance, magic dance. -DAVID BOWIE, Labyrinth In the 1986 cult classic film, Labyrinth, David Bowie's Goblin King looks nothing like a goblin. The baby's self-preoccupied babysitter and sister Sarah, played by a young Jennifer Connelly, first wishes to be free of the baby, and then, horrified by the actualization of her wish, sets off to rescue him. As she tries to navigate the huge labyrinth leading to his castle, the King uses every means of deception to keep her spinning in circles. After escaping several of his traps, he lures her with fruit that both erases her memory and draws her into a magical fantasy. They are together at a masquerade ball, and he pulls her into the dance. For a moment, they lock eyes, and she moves in step. Sarah is successful, not because she avoids the dance but because she learns through each deception.

The master smiled at the student and said, Give me your temper, and I will fix it for you. But the student was confused and said, I cannot give you my temper, because my temper is not a thing. And the master asked, If your temper is no-thing, then how can it control you? Immediately, the student became enlightened. From that moment on, he understood that his temper would only ever be what he made it to be. The Buddha taught that all problems arise from the mind. The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein declared that there are no real problems in life, only problems in language. Whether these descriptions resonate with you or not, one thing that's difficult to deny is the power and impact that the language of your self-talk has as it moves through your mind. Anger isn't tangible until you act on it. Samurai Strength There were court appearances where cruel harsh details were bickered over by lawyers [and] made me lose my breath. In fact, I didn't even know what the accused looked like; I think I deliberately did not want to know. There were friends who discussed the case and analyzed it, in front of me. You are talking about Christopher! I just sat and cried and screamed inside. Since enduring the horrific ordeal of losing her son and a lengthy and public trial, though, another article has been written in Ellen Hinkley's life story, and it has all of the hallmarks of being the beginning of a happy ending. As Ellen puts it, I think that if there were cracks in the marriage to begin with, they become chasms with the burden of grief. Thankfully, though, that chasm became an opening for happiness to emerge once again into Ellen's life. In 2016, she met someone whom she describes as the light of my life.

As a psychotherapist, I have danced with many fragile bullies. I have had to guiltily admit to myself feelings a therapist is not supposed to have: contempt, a desire to please, a wish to win, an impulse to run. What I learned in my training, however, is that getting caught up in the dance is part of what helps us understand it. My own fallibility has been an important tool. I may be one step removed from the dance, but I'm also in it. The psychoanalytic relationship acts as a template. The patient does what he or she does in relationships (transference), and the analyst feels the elicited feelings and impulses (countertransference). The difference is, the analyst uses the countertransference therapeutically rather than acting on it. But we do get pulled by the momentum, and it can be hard work to keep our footing. When I talk to clients, friends, and family members who are trying to exit a destructive dance, two consistent themes emerge: feelings of failure for being unable to fix the fragile bully, and feelings of shame for staying in the dance. A king called on his best samurai warrior to track down and kill his enemy. The samurai did so. He found the enemy, and he bested him quickly. Just as the samurai was about to kill the man, however, the enemy spit right in the samurai's face. The samurai warrior paused, stepped back, and sheathed his sword. Instead of killing the man, he brought him before the king. The king said, I commanded you to kill him, not capture him! The samurai replied, My king, you commanded me to kill him, but when he spit in my face it angered me, and I realized that if I killed him in that moment, I would have done so out of anger and not out of duty. The samurai had worked too hard on his self-control to allow impulse to defeat him. True toughness is being able to control yourself, not others.