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People are sick, they get the treatment, they get better. And, this happens in thousands of cases. But these are all anecdotal cases, and we must remember that personal experiences can be misleading. What is needed are controlled experiments. So we continue digging through the evidence in search of some rigorous experimental data. A basic foundation of therapeutic touch, that we have an energy field coming from our bodies that can be detected, was tested in a controlled experiment involving twenty-one therapeutic touch practitioners. The design of the study was quite simple, yet elegant. In fact, it was designed by a nine-year-old girl by the name of Emily Rosa for her fourth grade science fair project!19 The practitioners put their hands, palms up, on a flat surface twenty-five to thirty centimeters apart. Emily, who was on the other side of a screen so the practitioners couldn't see her, put her hand eight to ten centimeters above one of the subject's hands and asked them to identify which hand she was above. If the practitioners could detect a human energy field, they should be able to accurately indicate which hand Emily was hovering over. Each subject had ten trials, and the position of Emily's hand was randomly determined each time. Of course, we would expect the practitioners to be right about 50 percent of the time simply by chance alone. Over the course of two different experiments, the average accuracy of the therapeutic touch practitioners was 44 percent--worse than just guessing! And so, a basic proposition of therapeutic touch, that an energy field can be detected by the practitioners, was found to be highly questionable. But if that's the case, what accounts for all the reports of individuals getting better after undergoing therapeutic touch treatment? To have a more balanced and informed opinion about the issue, we have to consider competing explanations. Two hypotheses come to mind. This question is as straightforward as it sounds. What's your goal? What is the target that you're trying to hit?

Perhaps you say, "My goal is to have a sense of peace within myself, an unshakable tranquility that flows from a rock-solid awareness of my own value." Maybe the goal is "a stronger, more loving relationship with my kids." Maybe it's a better marriage or a promotion at work. Whatever the goal is, test your internal response against it: Is the attitude, belief, or thought getting you closer to what you want? Or is it leading you toward or keeping you in circumstances that you don't want? Let's put these criteria into action, using the event that Rhonda is considering. Let's say that Rhonda has adopted the fixed belief that she is dirty, disgusting, and despicable to other people. She feels ashamed about what has happened to her and what she has been a participant in, however involuntarily. She is ready to pass this belief through the authentic criteria to determine whether it is authentic or fictional. Does holding on to the thought or attitude serve your best interest? A possible answer: "It is not only worthless, it is limiting my life. Why would I want to hold on to it? Does it give me courage? Or does it give me weakness? Does it make me happy or sad? Unless I just want to have something that reminds me to feel sorry for myself, I'd better let it go--now." Do your thoughts and attitudes advance and protect your health? A possible answer: "My insisting that I am a disgusting human being may not cause acute death; it certainly does not promote my health. It could certainly cause me to make judgments contrary to my happiness and often times my health." Do your thoughts and attitudes get you what you want? Rhonda might answer: "No, it does not. I want to feel clean and healthy and happy. I want to feel worthy of dignity and respect and not one of my reactions, perceptions, or beliefs leads me to getting what I really want." Looking back over your responses to Step 2, take up each response that applies and test it, using the four criteria we've just talked about. It may be useful to look at your written description of the response and to write a short explanation of how it fails this test of authenticity.

Be thorough. Your application of these four questions, both now and in the future, must be ruthless. Bottom line, don't listen to your own crap anymore. If it doesn't pass the test for authenticity, then dump it, and dump it now. Having committed yourself to finding a way back to your authenticity, you might be saying to yourself: What do I have to do to get past this toxic event? First off, I have to quit taking responsibility for things I didn't control. I need to change my internal dialogue, which is what I'm saying to myself each and every day when I am out in the world. I need to understand what my labels are and challenge those to see if they're authentic. I need to identify what tapes I have that hold me back and what beliefs and judgments I have about myself that cripple me. I've got to identify all of those before I can move on. Having done all that, you say, "Okay, I realize what I'm saying to myself, and I have challenged each one of those responses. Now what happens?" When you test your fictional internal dialogue and when it fails (and it will: It is not true; it doesn't serve your best interest; it doesn't advance and protect your life; it doesn't get you what you want), then it's time for you to do what we'll call Triple-A thinking. To replace the fictional responses, you've got to generate Authentically Accurate Alternative patterns of behavior (AAA). And for them to be AAA, those responses have to meet the four authenticity standards. You must generate these new AAA options, and then use them to replace the ones that do not work. Here's a simple technique that will help you engage in AAA thinking. You're going to make a chart, as follows. First, divide your page vertically. On the left side of the page, list your present fictional beliefs. You now know what to put on that list: You know what is fictional, because you have applied the four-pronged test and know which of your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs have failed the test.

On the right side, do some brainstorming: For each of your present beliefs, list as many alternative beliefs as you can. Then you'll take each alternative belief and (remember Step 3?) test it for authenticity. Those beliefs that pass the test are the truly authentic ones. Notice that MER includes the word "minimal." Your MER is the least thing that you can do that allows you to get emotional closure. As an example of what MER is not, I sometimes hear people who are in pain plotting major events to embarrass someone, when all it would take for them to feel some emotional resolve was an explanation and apology. The concept of MER seeks to satisfy your need for resolution, without creating a whole new set of problems. It aims to conserve your resources. It may help you to consider those ancient warriors who took long deliberations, discussing the most effective actions they might take, for the lowest cost in suffering and blood. They were not out to scorch the earth, but to get maximum results for minimal expense. When it comes to your MER, you are your own counsel. As you consider your own triggering event, and the nature and degree of the suffering you've endured, what is your MER? Maybe you don't feel the need or have the courage right now to do either one of the kinds of things that were contemplated for Rhonda. Maybe what you need to do is write a letter and write down all your thoughts and all your feelings. Maybe that does it for you. Maybe you even need to mail the letter, if your event involves another person. Perhaps, like Rhonda, if you can't mail the letter, then you might need to go to the offender's grave and read it to him or her in the graveyard. Part of what makes an MER effective is the action taken; part of it is the AAA thinking that goes with it; part of it is forgiveness; and part of it is rescripting your life so as to behave your way to success. Let's talk for a moment about one of those, forgiveness. Although every situation is different, I can tell you that forgiveness is the common element I have observed as being at least a part of every successful MER. Forgiveness can be a very difficult step, but one that may be essential to your getting emotional closure.

Understand that when I use the word "forgiveness," I'm talking about something that happens entirely within you. You should also know that when I use the word "forgiveness," I in no way mean that I am asking you to take the position that whatever may have happened to you in your life is now "okay." The reason I believe forgiveness is such an important element is that, without it, you are almost inevitably destined to a life marred by anger, bitterness, and hatred. Those emotions only compound the tragedy. You are the one who pays the price by carrying the negative emotions with you, allowing them to contaminate every element of your current life. Forgiveness is not a feeling that you must passively wait to wash over you. Forgiveness is a choice, a choice that you can make to free yourself from the emotional prison of anger, hatred, and bitterness. I am not saying that the "choice" is an easy one, only that it is a necessary one. Now that we are left only with our critical mobile apps, it's time to make our phones less cluttered and, consequently, less distracting. The aim is that nothing on our phones is able to pull us away from traction when we unlock our devices. Tony Stubblebine, editor in chief of the popular Medium publication Better Humans, calls his phone's setup the "Essential Home Screen." Stubblebine was the sixth employee at Twitter and is fully aware of the way its platform was designed with human psychology in mind. Stubblebine recommends sorting your apps into three categories: "Primary Tools," "Aspirations," and "Slot Machines." He says Primary Tools "help you accomplish defined tasks that you rely on frequently: getting a ride, finding a location, adding an appointment. There should be no more than five or six." He calls Aspirations "the things you want to spend time doing: meditation, yoga, exercise, reading books, or listening to podcasts." Stubblebine describes Slot Machines as "the apps that you open and get lost in: email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc." He recommends rearranging your phone's home screen so it only displays your Primary Tools and your Aspirations. He instructs you to "think of your home page as a group of apps that you feel you are in charge of. If the app triggers any mindless checking from you, move it to a different screen." A few minutes spent rearranging the apps on my phone removed external triggers I didn't need on my home screen. In addition, instead of swiping from screen to screen to locate an app you need, I recommend using the phone's built-in search function. This will reduce the risk of bumping into a distracting app if you begin sifting through all your phone's screens and app folders. In 2013 Apple announced that its servers had sent 7.4 trillion push notifications. Unfortunately, few people do anything to avoid those external triggers. According to Adam Marchick, CEO of mobile marketing company Kahuna, less than 15 percent of smartphone users adjust their notification settings--meaning the remaining 85 percent allow app makers to interrupt them whenever they'd like. It's up to us to make adjustments to suit our needs; the app makers won't do it for us.