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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Blah Blah Blah 

Fun parties Saturday night – Jol and I made short appearances and I felt no pressure. My whole weekend was all about no pressure. I registered for the workshop that I attended this past weekend because I haven't been following my own primary piece of advice: "Choose to be happy." Or maybe more accurately, I'd forgotten how it was that I'd followed the advice in the past. For the last few years, I've been flailing about trying to approximate similar conditions under which I'd been happy in the past.

This workshop was for a sort of stress-management method of releasing the emotions that bind us to unproductive habits or thought patterns. I met people who've been using the method and say it works. The premise of the method makes sense to me (obviously, since I paid for the course). For some time now, I've been trying to reconcile the idea that people who ignore their past traumas are happier than those who explore them in traditional psychotherapies (specifically as demonstrated in research on holocaust survivors that I mentioned in an earlier entry) with the popular notion that you can't heal unless you uncover old wounds. Additionally, there was the problem of not being able to ignore the past, but constantly reliving it in spite of willful intentions to the contrary.

I have plenty of conceptual problems with traditional psychotherapies: Ok, so you uncover emotional triggers from your past, then what? Your therapist says, "And how do you feel about that?" "Well, I feel like shit." Supportive nod. Great. Now what? Cognitive therapy offered some relief, but I couldn't find anyone in this wasteland of health care practitioners who had any practical notion of what that really is. I'd found some books useful, but I'd felt like I was ready to go further.

I hope this method is that next step. One of my favorite exercises this weekend was to choose an unresolved problem from our lives, then relate the problem to a class partner using only the word "blah". Afterwards our partner responded with 'advice' using only "blah". Oddly, not having to choose words was something of a relief to me, even though I was going through the entire sordid story in my head as I blah blah blah'ed along. Particularly surprising was that the sense of appreciation and helpfulness that I got from blah-blah advice wasn't any less than what I've gotten from 'real' advice. In other words, at least for me, the details are really meaningless.


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