Remember, your safe person has heard you take the initiative to ask for the truth. There exists no concrete wall of denial to break through. The more rigorous you are with your own self-examination, the better it goes for you. And the converse is true: the more you minimize your failings, the more your safe people have to work in sharing the truth with you. Get real, get honest, and get working on yourself. X gets pneumonia and is treated with penicillin. As the streptococci are now resistant to penicillin the treatment fails. Mrs. X dies. Who is primarily responsible for Mrs. X's death? Why Mr. X whose negligent use of penicillin changed the nature of the microbe. 1 It was a poignant question being raised by a man who was a hero for millions. It takes a long time to form these mental habits, so it should not come as a surprise that changing them requires hard work and considerable practice. In other words, although there is no such thing as a cognitive magic bullet, it should be fairly easy to see how this type of mental rebooting could help people break out of self- esteem traps. In fact, it is possible to il ustrate how to do that with another thought activity in Box 4. 1a that depicts M during a time when she lost a significant relationship. Afterward, a blank version of the form is given in Box 4.

1b for those who wish to try their hand at building positive mental habits related to the worthiness factor of self- esteem or want to include the activity in a journal. Note that people will usually have a mixture of realistic and distorted thoughts in many situations. In the example, for instance, thinking that things will be different at the end of a relationship is realistic because endings make that happen. Consequently, there is no need to process that thought other than to accept it because it is realistic and allows the brain to treat the thought and accompanying emotions that way. However, since our cognitive, emotional, and physical systems are designed to respond to what is perceived, we often treat imagined realities as though they are real. So, under the Fear Shadow, instead of connecting with our innermost being and the strength of our core values, we lack self-knowledge and are unclear about who we really are. Instead of a naturally positive attitude, we find ourselves locked in negativity. Under the Fear Shadow courage becomes fear, love becomes cold and aloof, simplicity turns to complication, and creativity becomes narrow and unimaginative. Many people get caught in this Fear Shadow. In fact, for some people the Fear Shadow can darken their entire life. As in the story of the snake and the rope, if we spend each day in the dimness of our ordinary awareness, we will encounter many imaginary snakes on our journey. We will live under the Fear Shadow much of the time. To survive, we create a comfort zone around us. Within that comfort zone, we move, act and speak fairly efficiently. We can run a company or a nation, raise a family or coach a football team. People prone to cathartic outbursts tend to find others who use that method, or find it intolerable when people are Clots to them and cathart right back when catharted upon. The yelling never worked, admitted Julie. What's amazing is I couldn't see that until I started yelling at you. For once, rather than ducking or trying to calm me down, I was told to `knock it off. ' You shared how it made you feel, like a real person, not just a shrink.

Your take on catharsis made me realize the things that actually relieve my pain in therapy--the compassion, care, openness--were stifled by the ways I sometimes act out my pain. Ways that, as you said, make me hard to tolerate. The most effective approach to catharsis is just to stop pursuing it. Yet I don't mean an abstinence-only, just say no model. I'm suggesting we mindfully and thoughtfully take our anger off the burner, let it cool down from a boil to a simmer to a lukewarm state, during which we'll no longer want to scald someone. 5 You are not stuck. You, too, can opt out of drama, even when you have created it. Listen to me: your path out is truth. When we shatter all the lies that duct-tape relationships together, tell the full truth, and hear the full truth, healing is possible, even in the most broken connections. It is POWERFUL to admit wrongdoing, ask forgiveness, offer forgiveness, discuss healthy boundaries and learn to respect them, take ownership of your own choices. Powerful! If you have never applied these tools, your relationships have not even sniffed their potential. You are just as capable as anyone to embrace truth and get free. Drama is not a life sentence. Fleming's discovery of penicillin had not only helped the Allied Powers win the war, it had also helped sick people the world over. And after posing the question of what happens when doctors are not cautious, Sir Alexander Fleming provided an answer. Mr. X killed his wife through his negligent use of penicillin. The moral was clear, and Fleming was unequivocal.

If you use penicillin, use enough. 2 The story of Fleming's discovery of penicillin is often recounted as a way to emphasize the concept of serendipity. It runs like this: in August 1928, Fleming was in a rush to go on vacation. In his haste, he later claimed, he had left a window open in his lab. For example, most people tense up in a scary movie even though they know nothing dangerous is going to happen. In other words, if one believes that he or she is a loser and will never be loved again, then the brain reacts to the imagined future as though it were real. Such programming may bias various brain, perceptual, and motivational functions enough to process information in that direction. Consistently being attracted to people who would make poor partners, for ex- ample, is one effective way to lose again. The point is that there is more value in spending the cognitive and brain- based energies wasted in running this type of mental program on healthier projects. In other words, we can NICC these self-esteem traps in their buds. The first step involves stating the problem, which may sound simple but often is not. For example, most of us have had the experience of starting to fix something that needed attention and then suddenly realizing half way through the process that we were actually trying to solve the wrong problem right from the beginning. I, for one, cannot even count the number of times I've experienced this difficulty when doing relatively simple jobs like home repairs, because I always seem to make several trips to the hardware store before this type of insight finally occurs and I can get the job done. However, what happens when we are pushed to the edge of that comfort zone? This is when we are tested. At the limits of our comfort zone, we begin to experience unsettling and uncomfortable feelings such as blame, apathy, fear, anger, excuses and a host of others. We all have our default position. How about the regular meditator who experiences bliss and peace when everything is calm and quiet, but becomes angry and frustrated when their neighbour starts drum practice?

Or the high-achieving young woman who is efficient, competent and hard-working, but becomes paralyzed with self-doubt when a colleague passes judgement on her work. There are talented intelligent people who suffer from social anxiety in new situations. There are brilliant artists who can perform perfectly in the practice studio but find excuses to avoid performing in public. The list goes on. These are people pushed to the edge of their comfort zone. The trick is to express anger, and especially the hurt and fear underneath it, in ways that allow us to hear ourselves and recognize what we feel. Johnny Rotten's immortal words anger is an energy notwithstanding, if you get into an argument, someone cuts you off in traffic, or you get called a cruel name, venting will not energize you, nor will it dissipate the negative energy. It will feel great, yes. Being a Clot can be a blast! However, you must recognize that you'll be having fun at someone else's emotional expense. As McRaney says, While catharsis will make you feel good, it's an emotional hamster wheel. The emotion that led you to catharsis will still be there afterward, and if it made you feel good, you'll seek it out again in the future. This goes back to the earlier explanation of psychological defense in general. Psychological defenses protect us against awareness, but not from the effects, consequences, and influence of whatever emotional experience we are attempting to repress. Not reacting is a big deal in Clottery recovery. Boundaries are potent corrective tools to help transform relationships into their healthiest version. They are also sometimes sifting tools that identify toxic relationships or environments to walk away from. This is your work, sister, your responsibility. Maybe you need to set them. Maybe you need to respect someone else's.