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Reactive and Core Self-Evaluation
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the last section, we discussed the importance of gaining a personal awareness of
a crisis situation through "stopping" and "starting" or pausing
between the pearls.
In this section, we will focus on
experiencing an increased sense of difference between heart or core self and
your anxious thoughts or reactive self. What do I mean by heart? I of course mean
more than the muscle that pumps blood to your body. I am using the word heart
to refer to a deeper mental level or core.
For some, it can be the source of your
true feelings. You may refer to your heart as your center of calmness from which
events in your world can be viewed without interference. Some people call this
their conscience. Some call it their higher self or higher power. Others call
it just a feeling in their gut or a gut-level feeling or a feeling in their heart.
Some call it a still, small voice. Or your matrix of core values or moral standards,
standards of conduct, principles considered desirable, or ethical principles.
How do you view your heart?
The alternative to getting your
heart's desire from your core values this past holiday season is conflicting with
thoughts that race around in your mind from your reactive self. I will use the
term ego more in an Eastern than a Freudian sense because to some degree, this
is how it is used in everyday conversation for example, "so and so has an
ego problem" or " there are a lot of big egos in this room."
implication is that a fake identity has been assumed and that an unwholesome or
exaggerated persona is being projected. Do you agree that people with "big
egos" are not being themselves, and the effect on them and others is unhappy?
Do you agree that your ego or your false self, reactive perhaps anxious thoughts
is your shabby self-image?
The shadow side of the ego can be a shabby self image you may have for yourself. As such, the self-critical
side of your ego can be constituted of almost pure fear. The shadow side of your
ego or thoughts can be the cornered, crazy, arrogant, agitated part of your mind
which in its misery is always attacking you or someone else.
♦ Recycling Past Emotions
how did the negative thoughts get there in the first place as you took
those bites of Thanksgiving food? You have an experience. You feel an emotion.
This much is simple and at this your thoughts are point automatic and unavoidable.
But what comes next is avoidable. You then remember the experiences of the past
and recycle or regenerate an emotion that may be even been incompatible, inappropriate
or even destructive to the new situation you are now in.
Can you stop recycling
your incompatible, inappropriate, and destructive past programming? In short,
just because you've always hated being at Aunt Hazel's doesn't mean you have to
react, get mad, ticked off, eat too much, drink too much and hate yourself the
next day. Is it at all possible in your own mind that you can play a game and
see a lighter side to what's going on? Even just for a few seconds, even just
a little? It just takes that first step.
In short, have you
taken all the other negative holiday experiences or experiences in general with
these people or in this situation strung together to create your current feeling.
I want to emphasize is that you may have behaved as though you did not have an
alternative to the situation at Thanksgiving time or Christmas Eve. Do you believe
that you have been made angry (scared, depressed, sad, jealous, etc.), and there
is little you can now do about it?
♦ 6-Step "Need
to Be Right" Technique
Here's a good place to start. You might try this "Need
to be Right" exercise.
Step 1: Recall a verbal exchange between
you and another person, a conversation that still seems unfinished, or one that
remains puzzling or in some other way continues as an irritation. If you can,
pick a scene that still comes to mind and is not a happy line of thought. Write
or think of only enough to identify it. A word or short phrase is fine.
Step 2: Take a moment now to remember (but do not write) what the actual
words, gestures, facial expressions, and general tone of the encounter were. For
example, Amy said in a disgusted voice, "I'm tired of shopping for your friends.
I want to go home and call Wendy." Her head was down, dragging the bags on
the floor, trying to look as unhappy as she could. Her red jacket was open with
her scarf dragging on the mall floor as she walked.
Step 3: Write some brief descriptions
of how you would revise the scene if you could. For example, what do you wish
you had said instead? Are there some ways you could have come off better? It is essential to record at least two versions of how it would be different if
you had it to do over again, and if you can put down three or four this will be
Notice that your ego or negative self talk may
not have a consistent answer in mind. It may be conflicted as to just what, if
anything, you should have done differently, this may occur especially if you have
a need to be right. Here's an example of an alternative you may have resisted.
If I had to do the shopping trip over again with my teenage daughter, I would
have respected her wishes to stay at home. Having no company at all is better
than having negative company.
Step 4: Close your eyes,
relax your body, and allow your mind to be lazy, to have not a care in
Step 5: Describe in writing any resistance you may have felt,
especially in the beginning to proposing alternatives to what actually happened.
Did this mental rest period seem silly? Were you fearful (tense) that somehow
you were not doing it right? Did you feel slightly ridiculous for following someone
else's instructions? Perhaps you were so afraid of being manipulated that you
did not follow them. Write down this kind of reaction.
Step 6: Again,
quietly rest your thoughts for a few seconds. Then recall the conversation
once more, only this time stay with your feeling of relaxation and comfort as
you do so
In this section, we discussed how to begin experiencing
an increased sense of difference between heart or core values and ego, reactive
thoughts, or false self.
In the next section, we will examine
various ways that holiday triggers can become recurring times of anguish and how
to recognize patterns of these unproductive habits. You will be provided with
a description of a "Morning Attitude Log."
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Conway, C. C., Zinbarg, R. E., Mineka, S., & Craske, M. G. (2017). Core dimensions of anxiety and depression change independently during adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 126(2), 160–172.
"Reward processing and future life stress: Stress generation pathway to depression": Correction to Mackin et al. (2019) (2019). Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 128(6), 492.
Smallen, D. (2019). Practicing forgiveness: A framework for a routine forgiveness practice. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 6(4), 219–228.
Tocci, M. C., Converse, P. D., & Moon, N. A. (2020). Core self-evaluations over time: Predicting within-person variability. Journal of Individual Differences, 41(1), 1–7.
Vanderhasselt, M.-A., De Raedt, R., De Paepe, A., Aarts, K., Otte, G., Van Dorpe, J., & Pourtois, G. (2014). Abnormal proactive and reactive cognitive control during conflict processing in major depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 123(1), 68–80.
How is the term "ego" used in a non-Freudian manner in this
CD set? To select and enter your answer go to .