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The Life Skills Approach by Marc Lerner offers those with chronic illness a necessary, even vital, tool to live with the effects of the disease.  I work with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to develop and deliver programs in spirituality and wellness, and I find that being diagnosed often sends the individual reeling into an uncertain future, feeling as though there is no terra firma grounding them.  Learning to anchor to the positive self offers an inner resource that helps counter the uncertainty of the illness and provides a connection with one's own spirituality.  This strengthens the individual's own perception of being able to face living with illness which leads to a greater confidence about coping with the effects of the disease.  It also offers a resource for dealing with the overwhelm many people face as they adjust the changes in their lives.  I would recommend this book to clients with chronic illness as well as their family members, and I believe any medical or behavioral healthcare provider will benefit from reading this approach. 

Carolyn Roberts, Ph.D., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC33668)

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I once worked with a veteran who was dealing with nightmares as a part of his PTSD.  He told me that he was in the service for 23 years and became a drill sergeant.  He said that because of this, he was better at giving orders than receiving them.  After showing him how to connect to his Positive Self, I told him to think of it as his Positive Self now being in a position to "give orders" to his Negative Self. And because that "order" is coming from a deeper wisdom, it should be easier to listen to it.  In this light, even those who normally find themselves opposing external authority could learn to obey the wisdom of the Positive Self.  By accepting the Positive Self, we are better able to do our inner work.  The Positive Self has a relationship to our inner wisdom that the Negative Self does not experience.  The Negative Self wants to be in control and resists any connection to something greater than ego.

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I shared this process with a veteran who had grown very close to his Negative Self. He named his Negative Self "Terror." He found pleasure in his ability to deal with "Terror", for in his combat experience it had served him well. But he nicknamed his Positive Self "Ultimate" and found that this was his Real Self. He knew both experiences well, but when sharing with the people he loved, "Ultimate" obviously served him better than.

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I once taught this process to a group of seniors who had disabilities. Some of these incredible people had been in wheelchairs for over forty years. And though their struggle would seem overwhelming to most people, they were active and naturally very positive people. One person I shared this process with seemed especially positive, but when she acknowledged her Negative Self, she uncovered a powerful program that often affected her. She remembered an event where she was overcome by fear, and she named her Negative Self "Coward". Her Positive Self was uplifting and gave her good feelings, and she named her Positive Self "Goodie-Goodie". It seemed as though she was connected to "Goodie-Goodie", but once, when she was shopping, her wheelchair happened to block an aisle crowded with boxes. An impatient woman could not get around her. When the women declared loudly that "those people" (meaning those in a wheelchair) are never "considerate", the statement triggered the "Coward" in her and her instant reaction was to run away.
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I have shared this exercise with my mentally ill group. One of the issues they all must deal with is acceptance by other people. They often feel rejected when others learn about their illness and this causes them many problems. I have tried to show them practically that it is easier to change their self than it is to change all of the other people and their perceptions. The change they need to make is to learn to direct their thoughts to the Positive Self instead of the Negative Self. When they apply this to the issue of being rejected, it is easy to see how the Positive Self is much better able to handle it. One of the participants named her Negative Self "Destructive" and her Positive Self "Happy". When "Destructive" was rejected by others she became very angry, but "Happy" was able to see the rejection as though it was the other person's problem. Simply by changing the habit of where she was directing her thoughts (Positive or Negative Self), she was able to deal with the issue of rejection more consciously.

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Once, at a MS support group, a woman said she was saddened by her "reality". She was suffering from several disabilities, and depressed by her thoughts. I asked her if she understood how her thoughts could create her reality. I believe that reality is separate from thoughts, and wanted her to see that the reality she thought was real was just a creation of her mind. Even though it seemed so real to her, she was reacting to symbols in her mind, which is not "reality".

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This is from the Practical Harmonizing Process

     At the PTSD clinic I was working with an ex-Marine sergeant. He named his problem "Anger" and the ideal Right Brain he named "Mother Theresa". Then he triggered the kindness of "Mother Theresa" being kind to "Anger” by saying, "Serenity". I did not feel he had many opportunities to develop his "Mother Theresa", thus giving to himself the kindness he needed. "Mother Theresa" could deal with the thoughts of his problem much better than "Anger" could, he just had to create a habit of using this part of himself. He did develop the trigger of "Serenity" so by just saying it he saw "Mother Theresa" embracing "Anger". This gave him the power to control "Anger" with the kindness within his own heart.

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     Recently, I had a practical experience of how mental barriers are not acceptable when we may need to find inner kindness.  During a time when I was falling down a lot, I really needed the ability to connect to my inner wisdom without thinking about my struggle.  I was getting ready to go out, and I had just taken a bad fall and knocked everything off of a table in the living room.  The person who was going to pick me up was downstairs, so I was in a hurry to leave my apartment.  When I stood up again I fell, but this time I just said my trigger, and with that I saw my Right brain character embracing the thoughts of my problem.  I still hurt from the falls, but I dealt with my pain so much better.  Later that day I visited a friend who also has MS.  While I was there she fell, but instead of dealing with her fall her Negative Self came out.  After the fall she immediately started judging herself and got very worried about her future.  The added anxiety produced by her Negative Self was easy to understand, but I couldn't accept a negative view about her dilemma because I knew the kindness in her heart was what she really needed. " Before I went to a PTSD program I knew I had PTSD. I knew the feelings I was having were right, I felt I had a right to be angry, but all the program did for me was to validate my feelings. They told me why I had these feelings, they taught me 'anger management', but they didn't teach me how to get to the experience I wanted to have. Then, at our first meeting you taught me how to create an inner harmony and I found that experience. Even though it is only a seed right now, I know how to develop it into a very practical tool so I can control my experiences."

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Another said: "When I was in the chopper going into combat I didn't have PTSD. But when I came home and thought about my combat experiences--I got PTSD. Here are two times I used this process and really benefited from it. I wasn't thinking right when I got the letters from the Agent Orange Payment Board, I was very angry. Then I used the trigger from your process "Harmony" and I triggered harmony and controlled my anger. From that harmony I was able to deal with what I had to do. I then was dealing with my case worker and was having a hard time. She lacked the sensitivity needed to deal with a PTSD patient. She was feeling pressure and had to work within a deadline, it felt as though she was thinking out of a book, and it felt as though she shared her pressure with me. When I felt anger coming on I used your technique, I said "harmony", my trigger, and the harmony I got from this meeting was the harmony I felt within myself."

      One other veteran said:  "When I get angry I say 'the hell with it,' I'll deal with it later."

     To this veteran, I reasoned that this was probably better than getting angry, but it wasn't as good as creating a new program that could instantly connect him to a deeper positive experience. Yes, putting it off instead of getting angry is better than the old program of anger, but the habit of triggering a deep connection to our Self is best.  Usually, thoughts about a problem are not the main problem. It is the lack of balance and harmony in our own brains that is our biggest problem. 

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A word from professionals who understand Life Skills

"Marc has keen insight into the challenges serious illness brings...his methods help patients better understand themselves and be empowered to overcome self-defeating thoughts and behavior. Cancer patients welcome the opportunity to try Marc's self-discover techniques to improve their health...body, mind and spirit. Each of us needs guidance in learning how to help heal ourselves. Marc's methods do just that.”
- Susan Dusseau Director, Cancer Services (National Non-Profit organization)
Midland, Michigan

“In some ways your book is a revolutionary approach to thinking in which could truly have profound effects in all walks of life.”
Dr. - Richard Solomon
Ann Arbor Center for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Life Skills Approach by Marc Lerner offers those with chronic illness a necessary, even vital, tool to live with the effects of the disease.  I work with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to develop and deliver programs in spirituality and wellness, and I find that being diagnosed often sends the individual reeling into an uncertain future, feeling as though there is no terra firma grounding them.  Learning to anchor to the positive self offers an inner resource that helps counter the uncertainty of the illness and provides a connection with one's own spirituality.  This strengthens the individual's own perception of being able to face living with illness which leads to a greater confidence about coping with the effects of the disease.  It also offers a resource for dealing with the overwhelm many people face as they adjust the changes in their lives.  I would recommend this book to clients with chronic illness as well as their family members, and I believe any medical or behavioral healthcare provider will benefit from reading this approach. 

 

Carolyn Roberts, Ph.D., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC33668)

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