Whether as therapist, consultant, friend, husband, father, neighbor, or citizen, my interaction with the world is inspired by two basic truths:
Truth 1: We are temporary beings - This establishes FEAR as our primary emotion.
Truth 2: We are contextual beings - This establishes RELATIONSHIPS as the setting within which we struggle with our fear.
At the intersection of these two truths lies our core conflict in life:
Our struggle with safety
One of the 2 greatest gifts I've given myself is the gift of simplifying my thinking. I think in 1s, 2s, and 3s.
Thinking in terms of 1s
Our core struggle in life is with safety
Any time I am annoyed, frustrated, impatient, stressed, or angry, I am seeking safety. Where my safety comes from, however, determines the outcome of whatever circumstance triggers my fear.
Thinking in terms of 2s
There are only two sources of safety, and this is our struggle:
1. Either safety is internal, or
2. Safety is external
The two rules of a safe, healthy, and functional relationship:
- Rule 1 = I will protect you from me, however,
- Rule 2 = I cannot protect you from you.
Thinking in terms of 3s
While people say, "I feel" a lot, rarely are they communicating emotion:
"I feel like you don't understand." I am pretty sure I do but that's a thought not a feeling.
"I feel like you don't like me." You're right, I don't, but that's a thought not a feeling.
And while saying something 50 different ways is great for creative writing, it is horrible for clear and effective communication.
I teach that there are only 3 emotions:
"But what about anger," you ask. The reason most approaches to anger management are ineffective is because they teach that anger is an emotion.
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