Thursday, February 27, 2014


Whenever patients are faced with conflicts I encourage them to ask themselves the question, "What is in my best interests at this time of my life?" Sometimes the conflict is a major life dilemma the resolution of which will probably change their life in significant ways. In these instances I tell them that, "This conflict cannot be resolved at the level of consciousness at which it currently exists. A good resolution that is in the best interests of your total personality can only come from a higher level of consciousness by engaging your Higher Self and your compassionate heart". Then I describe to them the technique of The Council. This process of convening a Council to resolve major life dilemmas is described in detail elsewhere in an earlier blog entry, in my youtube videos and in a chapter in my book, "Working From the Heart:A Therapist's Guide to Heart-Centered Psychotherapy?
The question,"What is in my best interests?" is also helpful in resolving the small conflicts of everyday life. Usually my client experiences the conflict as being between two different ideas, feelings or courses of action. I ask them to consider the possibility that each idea or feeling is emanating from a different part of their personality. Each part needs to be heard with compassion and honored. Most commonly my patients will describe one feeling or idea and then say "but" and describe the opposite/different feeling or idea. I then encourage them to substitute the word "and" for "but". I explain that that when "but" is used in these circumstances it tends to negate,diminish or devalue what preceded it. By substituting "and" I am valuing both and helping my patient to find a pathway of allowing the two to coexist in their consciousness with compassion. By using the word "and" my patient learns to respect both parts of their personality and begins to have a tool for containing the tension between them. The longer they contain with compassion the tension between the parts the more they create the possibility of a middle path resolution emerging. It may be a creative synthesis of the two ideas or courses of action. Or it may be a totally different third resolution that serves the needs of both parts of the personality. Or it may be that one part of the personality - after having its voice respected and treated with compassion - will realize that the other viewpoint is better for it too.
By encouraging my patients to more frequently ask themselves,"What is in my best interests at this time?" I am helping them to access their higher consciousness with ever increasing frequency. From my perspective the source of this question is their Higher Self. Someone else might say their personal Higher Power or their Inner Wise Elder. Whenever I use this perspective I hold up my right hand - symbolically indicating higher consciousness - as holding the big question, "What is in my best interests?" In my forty years of doing this therapeutic work it has been quite rare that any of my clients were taught about their higher self or shown any ways of accessing it in their everyday lives.
It is a very rewarding feeling for me to hear how my patients gradually internalize this notion and more frequently ask themselves, "What is in my best interests?"

This entry is based on material discussed in more detail in The Council chapter of "Working From the Heart:A Therapist's Guide to Heart-Centered Psychotherapy"