Mar 4, 2019
If you’re my patient, and you want help, I will ask you what specific problem you want help with. These are the four most common problems I see: depression, anxiety, relationship conflicts, or habits and addictions. Then I’ll ask you to zero in on one specific moment when you were struggling with that problem.
For example, if you want help with depression and low self-esteem, I’ll ask you to describe one moment when you were feeling down. It could be any moment at all—it might even be right now, sitting in my office (or reading this text).
Then I’d ask you to tell me exactly what you were thinking and feeling at that moment. You might be telling yourself, “I’m no good. I shouldn’t have screwed up! I’m always doing that! I’ll feel like this forever.” These thoughts actually cause the feelings of depression, shame, inferiority, and hopelessness.
In contrast, if you want help with anxiety, I will ask you to identify one specific moment when you were feeling anxious, worried, nervous, frightened or panicky. For example, you might have been feeling shy and insecure at a party, or terrified just before you had to take a test or give a talk at work. Or it might have been a moment when you were having a panic attack and feeling like you were on the verge of passing out or losing control and going crazy.
If you’ve been having trouble getting along with a friend or family member, I would ask you to describe one brief interaction you’ve had with the person you’re at odds with, and I’d ask you to write down one specific thing they said to you, end exactly what you said next.
For example, a podcast fan told me that his wife said, “You never listen.” He responded by saying, “That’s not true! I’m listening to you right now.” He was puzzled when she got even more upset and then the argument escalated!
I recently did a one-day workshop on the treatment of unwanted habits and addictions, like procrastination, overeating, excessive cell phone use, or drinking too much. I encouraged the audience members to focus on one specific moment when they felt tempted to procrastinate, binge, or have a drink, or give in to their habit / addiction, and to write down all the Tempting Thoughts that were going through their minds, like:
In each case—of depression, anxiety, a relationship problem, or a habit / addiction—I focus on one brief and specific moment when my patient was upset and having that problem. There are two reason for this concept of Specificity:
For example, if you were having a conflict with a loved one, you will not only learn how to resolve that conflict at that specific moment, but you will learn how to resolve any conflict you have with that person, or with practically anybody.
Fabrice and David link this Specificity concept to the amazing insights of the new branch of “fractal geometry.” Fractal geometry is a revolutionary form of mathematics in which a very simple formula, or shape, gets reproduced an infinite number of times. In the process, it morphs from a simple geometric shape and suddenly becomes a complex picture. For example, it may turn into a stunning green fern, or a gorgeous, multi-colored parrot, or a breathtaking landscape. But if you zero in on the tiniest piece of the picture, it will always look exactly the same—the same simple design that started the process.
Similarly, in “fractal psychotherapy,” we zero in on one very brief moment of your life, but the formula—or error—that caused you to become upset at that moment will always be the very same error you make every time you feet inferior or anxious or angry or tempted. And once you’ve changed at that one brief moment, you really will experience enlightenment! And your entire universe will become enlightened as well!
Fabrice provides another metaphor, that of a hologram. A hologram is a photograph that allows to display a fully 3-dimensional picture of an object. The hologram works differently from a regular photograph. Citing from Wikipedia, “When a photograph is cut in half, each piece shows half of the scene. When a hologram is cut in half, the whole scene can still be seen in each piece.” This remains true as you fragment the hologram into smaller and smaller pieces. So you could say that your problem is a kind of hologram of all the problems in your life, in a single moment so you can see the pattern that is repeated in many other situations.
David provides an example of how this works, using an example provided by a podcast fan we'll call Janine. Janine was convinced that her husband couldn’t deal with feelings because he had “Asperger's / high level autism.” David asked Janine for a brief simple exchange between Janine and her husband. what, exactly, did he say to her, and what exactly, did she say next?
That brief moment is all we need to understand her problem; and things suddenly began to look radically different when we examined how she responded to her husband!
You can see the first two steps of Janine's Relationship Journal if you can click here.
It turned out she was right--someone definitely WASN'T dealing with feelings? But who? You'll see two spiritual principles brought to life in the Relationship Journal.