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A Language of the Heart

Un libro in lingua di Schultz D. Franklin Ph.D. edito da Rainbow Books, 2005

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From the Introduction: The list of reasons why people come to therapy is really not very long. They are depressed and/or anxious and/or unhappy with their lives and/or are in unsatisfying relationships and they have a broken heart. They come in because their lives seem out of control and they feel hopeless that they will ever be able to direct it themselves. This is not to say that each person does not have a unique life and set of circumstances that led to their difficulty. It’s just the symptoms that are the same. They often come in hoping the therapist will tell them what to do and will magically fix the problem. Some therapists actually take the bait, stepping in with all the answers with varying, though usually poor, results. However, there is another, somewhat more Socratic, approach that is based in the belief that people have a natural capacity to find their own answers and heal themselves. The therapy stories that follow are based in that belief. They have a foundation in several theoretical perspectives, such as object relations and attachment theory. This is because much of the discomfort in the human predicament stems from our experiences between the ages of zero and eighteen, give or take. We learned patterns of thought and behavior that are less than useful or helpful in our current relationships. Some of the stories describe how we came to think and feel about ourselves and the world the way we do and how we came to behave the way we behave. This is not so we can dwell on the injustices of our past, but to provide us with some traction as we try and understand why we do what we do, here and now, in the present. To understand the pattern of our behavior, it is helpful to understand the source, because the patterns repeat themselves. A more traditional object-relations-oriented therapy would help us understand the source of our difficulties and hopefully provide us with a “corrective emotional experience” in our relationship with the therapist that would lead to better functioning. However, we do not have to wait until we have had a “corrective emotional experience” to get on with our lives. These stories suggest a solution to the human predicament that is proactive rather that passive — a solution that in concept is simple but in implementation takes some effort on the part of the client. (Alas, there ain’t no free lunch.) And the solution is that people become self-validated and intentional and learn to live their life with integrity. We learned to be externally validated by the experiences we had in our family of origin, from zero to eighteen. We learned there was a price to pay for the attention (love) we needed; we had to react a certain way or say certain things. As human babies, this probably facilitated attachment and insured our survival. However, in the process of surviving, we forgot who we were inside, or learned that who we were wasn’t good enough. We learned how to interpret behavior and how to react to it to get our needs met. The patterns were predictable, and we assembled a response set that was as satisfying as we could manage with what we had to work with. Yet, as adults, the way we learned to interpret behavior and the pattern of behaviors we learned in response to those interpretations has often left us less than capable of managing our lives in a kind and loving and satisfying way. This is because much of our behavior continues to be reaction to the fear of abandonment or being reminded that we aren’t quite good enough. The solution is to recognize how that happened (awareness), to remember who we really are, and to overcome the fear. In other words, to take steps to become self-validated and intentional.Self-validation, intentionality and integrity are the keys to gaining control of our lives and managing the day-to-day stressors that, in the past, have left us depressed and anxious. And self-validation, intentionality and integrity are absolutely essential for creating a relationship with another that is based in love, respect, compassion and true companionship. Without them, relationships tend to be mere recreations of past relationships, which were not necessarily that satisfying. We recreate past relationships, not because they are satisfying and healthy, but because it is what we know. It is how we know how to behave. When we become self-validated and intentional, we are able to stand back, look at the pattern and choose to respond a different way instead of reacting the way we always have. In so doing, we become able to speak from the heart and with the heart. In so doing, we become able to love unconditionally. And, in so doing, we become able to do what we have always wanted to do, which is to heal our hearts and be connected with others.

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