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Getting and Staying Present

Janet Foner expands on her longstanding “Five-Point Program for Getting Present and Staying That Way” (found in Recovery and Re-emergence No. 5, p. 36)

How can we use RC to get present? Perhaps more important, how can getting present assist us to better use RC?

I got involved in RC in 1973. For me, an ex-inmate, RC theory and the RC Community were a contradiction to my “mental health” history. Because of that contradiction, my distress was often “up,” in an overwhelming way, and I cried a lot, outside of session, by myself. In the 1980s I began to figure out my five-point program, because I needed to get my attention to the present. Around 1982, Harvey Jackins developed a commitment to focus one’s attention off distress and onto reality. That seemed impossible; so I didn’t try it much. However, starting in 1985, at workshops led by Charlie Kreiner, a former ILRP for Men, I learned more about focusing off distress from his model, especially his ability to treat everyone well. He also demonstrated counseling with attention off distress, which he had had to develop in order to counsel men. Once I understood from watching and being in demonstrations that it was possible to get present, I took on the goal of getting myself present all the time.

HOW I MADE THIS GOAL WORK

When I first got into RC, because of internalized ex-inmates’ oppression I felt I was not that good in the counselor role and felt that others didn’t need sessions as much as I did. After a while, I realized that if I were ever going to stop being restimulated so much, I needed phone sessions when I was restimulated. I made a list of ten Co-Counselors who I knew without a doubt loved me and would not be upset with me if I called them for a session. I discharged about being able to call people when I needed to. I knew that when I was restimulated, calling would feel hard, but I decided that no matter how it felt, I would call people on my list until I reached someone available.

Deciding to do that, and doing it, moved me a long way out of the distress that told me I could not get help, especially when most needed. Later, the steps out of that distress allowed me to see that I could have lots of Co-Counselors. Still later, I saw that I was a good counselor. Much later, I had built enough good relationships with Co-Counselors that I could have sessions so often that I rarely got restimulated.

Recently I realized that one way most ex-inmates and many MHSS internalize MHO stems from our never having gotten help in the MH system. Most of us were in crisis and desperate, needing good Co-Counseling sessions before, during, and after our experiences in the MH system. We didn’t get help when most needed; so we internalized that it is unimaginable to ask for help. Most oppressions discourage getting help; experiences in the MH system exacerbate that distress.

So one small decision to act against the pull of a pattern, followed by discharge and further action against the pattern, can eventually lead one to re-evaluation. I can now think about getting help for myself in a relaxed way, and I can lead others toward getting the help they need.

The five-point program is basically about this same process: building resource for yourself to be able to keep your attention out, to fight the distresses and internalized oppression you carry. It is also about bringing home the ideas that (1) you can have a better life, including, eventually, the life of your dreams; (2) you are in charge of your mind and your life, not led by patterns; and (3) you can create your own resource and team to do this with you. This is a program about how you can live RC, making it central to your life, as well as make rapid re-emergence more possible and more fun to take on.

HAVING A BETTER LIFE

The five-point program allows us to head toward living the lives we really want, circumventing as we go the patterns in the way. We live in an oppressive society that makes people have a harder and harder time. It can feel “tempting” to focus on those hard things or to follow the push to work more and harder, and do everything but what we want. In order to get present, we have to make a concerted effort to fight off the mindset society pushes on us. We have to be able to notice when we aren’t in present time. If we are distracted by distress and overwhelmed in general, we are obviously mostly not in present time and not noticing we’re not.

As you do this program, you have more attention in present time. The pull to focus on distress becomes less compelling and finally pretty much disappears. You figure out how to do the program better, pull your attention out more, and have even more attention to get even more present. As you continue, things will progress increasingly faster in the direction of your having more free attention. While we can’t completely reclaim our minds in the areas in which we have been hurt until we discharge the patterns fully, when we keep our attention in the present, we have access to more of the unhurt parts of our minds and more of our best thinking. We may feel that the patterns can defeat us, but they won’t if we combat them in this fashion.

POINT 0: DON'T LEAVE RC

At an ex-inmates’ workshop a while back, someone suggested a Point 0 on not leaving RC. It seemed funny at the time, but afterwards I realized its logic and importance. The five-point program will not work well if you leave RC. Previously, I could not fathom why, given access to the power of RC, someone would leave. I finally understood that it must mean that a person has been unable to work through some piece of distress and gives up. It is possible to combat the “giving up” pattern by deciding to stay in RC.

Some people, especially some ex-inmates, feel something about RC or their local Community doesn’t work for them. It can seem as though no one in the Area can think well about them; or there is no place for them in the Area; or RC has too many rules and they can’t follow them. Sometimes no one in the Area has, in fact, worked on MHL and MHO. That just means that people need to do that work and become allies to the ex-inmate. The ex-inmate, if not stuck in powerless patterns, could reach out and build those allies. Or the allies, if not stuck in powerlessness, could recognize the ex-inmate’s battle against MHO and reach out. The feeling about rules is internalized MHO, often because in a “mental hospital” irrational rules reign. All these situations can be resolved by doing the MHL work; none by leaving. Sessions (lots) on inmate experiences and internalized MHO may clarify what is real about the situation and what is confusion. Believing the patterns and leaving RC leaves the patterns in place, which means they will resurface elsewhere. No matter how painful working through distresses feels, leaving RC makes it nearly impossible to fully use our natural healing processes to create better and better lives for ourselves and those around us, to move things forward.

POINT 1: LOTS OF SESSIONS AND A LARGE NETWORK OF CO-COUNSELORS AND FRIENDS

Having a network of Co-Counselors and another of friends reminds you that you are connected. There is nothing like another person’s mind to pull your attention from where you are stuck. Others don’t have your patterns. They have viewpoints outside your distress. In addition, the process of building a large set of Co-Counselors and friends around you is key in both developing free attention and also in combating what the society hits us with daily.

Given the amount of distress we have accumulated since before birth, we can’t get as many sessions as would be optimal and still do everything else. However, we can get enough to keep our attention out.

How do you know when you’re not getting enough sessions? You are feeling bad. Or always dragging around overwhelmed. Or functioning without feeling (getting things done, but not in a relaxed manner). Or life seems depressing and other people seem a mess. And so on. Another way to think about it: Note whether or not you are meeting your goals. Are you having enough sessions to handle what you are trying to handle? Are you not getting to things? Or you are, but they’re not moving forward? Sessions will assist you to remember to work on goals and advance them.

How do you manage to set up all those sessions? Fit them in? Counsel in the sessions you have on how you will get the sessions you think you need. The oppressive society tells us there’s not enough time. It says we can’t do anything about how things are. (We actually have to, or societal oppression will run our lives.) You may have to work nine to five, but that needn’t defeat you or keep you from sessions. Sessions seem to “create” more time. They eliminate time wasted on patterns and pattern-related activities. They allow us to think more clearly and thus be more efficient and effective. They anchor our attention in present time.

As children, we had to stuff or ignore feelings. Or, if like me, we got to discharge quite a bit, we were called too “sensitive,” with “something wrong” with us. One way or another, we acquired patterns around help and discharge.

In my early RC days, I felt bad about needing help. However, my Co-Counselor was unperturbed by my tendency to be stuck in distress; he never took it seriously. When I called, he’d answer, “B—‘s mortuary. You stab ‘em we slab ‘em.” He said that if he was too stupid to call me for session time, why should I worry about it? This attitude allowed me to disregard the pull to focus on distress and to instead get sessions. It also led to a maxim I used in early MHSS workshops: When you are feeling like no one would want to help you, like it’s too unimportant or like you can’t get help, that’s a sign that you need a mini-session.

When I transitioned from one session a week to the many I have now, I was rarely restimulated anymore. I have enough sessions to generally keep my attention out, usually two or three in-person sessions a week (one of them an hour and a half each way) and two to four phone mini-sessions a day (fifteen to thirty minutes each way). When hard things happen, even more.

I built my support network in the process of building MHL work in RC, Co-Counseling with potential MHL leaders. Over the years, those people have gotten in close with me and vice versa through sessions and MHL workshops. Now I know I can always get a good session.

In building my friends network, I think about making friends with people who have enough attention to potentially be my Co-Counselors. I have had to discharge on the idea that people may never want to Co-Counsel but are still possible to become close with, often in ways I become close with a Co-Counselor. For instance, I can ask about people’s life stories, about what they find fun, about details of their lives. And I can remember to talk about my own life in those ways. I avoid, however, turning a conversation into a session. The direction to find friends with attention kept me away from people stuck in distress, both new and old friends. I am still building my friends network and challenging myself to go after local Jews (going against my internalized oppression). I am more confident now that anyone I choose can be my friend.

POINT 2: MAKING THE COMMITMENT TO STAY IN PRESENT TIME AND DISCHARGING ABOUT IT

Many commitments have been developed to keep one’s attention in the present. Any or all can be used in this program. The important parts of the commitment are (1) to make the decision repeatedly in session, and (2) to discharge on the decision. You can make up your own commitment as long as it includes the important decision away from distress and toward reality. Harvey Jackins developed the first of these commitments, which many have found useful: It is logically possible, and certainly desirable, to end the ancient habit of paying attention to past distress and to replace it by a new attitude or posture of paying attention to interesting and rewarding concerns, including the present time situation, and so I now decide to do this and will repeatedly so decide until the ancient habit is broken.

For me, a shorter one makes it easier to remember what I am deciding: “I don’t have time to focus my attention on my distress; there are so many things I’d rather do. So I now decide to focus my attention off my distress and onto reality.” Especially when teaching this direction in the wide world, but also sometimes in RC, I often say “pleasant and rewarding reality” or “benign reality,” because many people associate the word reality with the pseudo-reality and think that “reality” means all the bad things that have ever happened. I like my direction because I hate to waste time and know I would rather do other things. That phrasing helps me remember the importance of the commitment.

A commitment must include, “And that means. . . .” That part gets your mind to connect with the decision. You make the commitment, discharge on it, and then say what it means to you (your first thought), even if it is a seemingly irrelevant thought or a statement that goes along with your pattern. Your mind is brilliant. It will come up with what you need to say to “get it” that you have made that decision, or to discharge further so you can make the decision. Whatever your mind brings up, even if it is distress, will usually, when said aloud, allow you to discharge any distress that has been brought up when you said, “And that means. . . .”

To decide to focus off distress without any discharge doesn’t, unfortunately, work. By deciding once, you might focus off the distress for a minute, but the chances that you will stay that way vastly improve with discharge. If you discharge in the direction of staying outside patterns, you’ll get more mileage out of the decision and re-evaluate faster.

The more often you use a full commitment in sessions, the more able you will be to stay outside of distress. Most sessions help you stay outside of distress outside of session, but this tool helps make that happen faster. After two years of sessions on my commitment, I could keep my attention out much of the time.

When distress starts to come up outside of session, you can, even without a Co-Counselor there, repeat the commitment, and unless the distress has become prevalent, can get your attention out. If you are still stuck after saying the commitment a few times, you need a session. 

Why is this type of commitment important? First, getting present effectively combats patterns. Second, sessions will go better. You have more leverage against distress. In a session you might focus on distress; however, the less you do, the more you discharge. If you are focused on distress, it is in your face; you can’t really think outside of it, or contradict it. The counselor has the job of contradicting distress, but so does the client.

Harvey referred to focusing on distress nonstop as “the ancient habit.” Humans had this habit from the beginning. (To realize this helps relieve self-blame. Many feel blamed for focusing on distress.) Humans are programmed to discharge and re-evaluate. The pull to focus on distress comes out of when we got stopped from discharging. Our bodies and our minds repeatedly insist that we need to discharge on our hurts. We were benignly set up to feel bad when something bad happens, then to discharge it and re-evaluate. Our minds are not set up to compensate for being cut off from discharge. We would need to discharge the hurt from being cut off from discharge to be completely free of “the ancient habit.” But so much is piled up that we can’t possibly discharge it all right now. Especially after we start Co-Counseling, we become more aware of distress, and because we get used to bringing it up in session, it comes up more often in and out of session.

We can take charge of our minds and go back and undo the decision that we all had to make when we first got hurt, got our discharge process cut off, and instinctively decided to keep trying to discharge our hurt, all the time. Now we get to make a different, more re-emergent decision: We get to stop trying to discharge something when we don’t have a session, and discharge whatever we need to in sessions. We get to be in charge of when we discharge and when to bring up something to discharge on.

The more you have discharged on the decision to stop focusing on distress all the time, the more free choice you will have to not let a pattern pull on you. Notice this relationship: The more restimulating a situation is to you, the more likely its pull on you to focus on it. Conversely, the more you have made the decision to not focus on distress when you haven’t decided to, the less likely any given situation will restimulate you.

This is a powerful tool.

POINT 3: COUNSELING WITH ATTENTION OFF DISTRESS

Counseling with attention off distress means having sessions with your attention on reality. This point is about keeping your attention from getting swamped by the distress in your session. In the Fundamentals of Co-Counseling Manual, Harvey Jackins talked about balancing the attention between distress and reality. But twenty years later, he realized that most of our attention is already in the distress. You needn’t balance it by putting more attention there.

I use an analogy of a swimming pool: If you think of all your distress as the water, imagine getting into the pool. You don’t want to dive in and hit your head on the bottom (the depths of the distress), but rather to “tread water.” In session, the goal is not to be sunk into the distress so deeply that you can’t remember who your counselor is, can’t notice your counselor, or can’t remember benign reality exists. You have to have done enough work on the rest of this program that you have enough attention to always have somewhere in the back of your mind the knowledge that there is a benign reality. It needs to be not just an intellectual knowledge, but an experiential knowledge. You need to have spent enough time with attention in present time, for at least a few moments, and hopefully longer, that you remember how it was. With that memory strongly in mind as you delve into the difficult areas of your heaviest distress, you will less likely get stuck in such a way that it’s hard to come back to present time at the end of your session.

A recent painful surgery reminded me of (emotional) pain pre-birth, in my early childhood, and in my ten-month “mental hospital” stay. For the first two weeks of recovery from surgery, I had ten half-hour one-way sessions each day. I had to use most of them getting present, recalling what’s good about my life and my connections with people. In the sessions, I would be fairly present. Afterwards I mostly had a hard time. After the two weeks, I was able to discharge heavily about death, disability, and aging. In one session I pictured a thin line, hard to hold onto, between present time reality and distress.

I learned from that experience that the knowledge I have from experiencing extensive periods of present time is exactly the piece that we need to cultivate in our minds as we do sessions on our early heavy hurts or things that were difficult from the “mental hospital” or other hard experiences. We have to be able to grasp and hold onto the reality even when the pull of distress is especially strong and it feels like there is no benign reality. That is the point where we have to “cross over” that “line” into reality, know that reality is there, and remember that we feel this way because we are stuck in a distress pattern.

Being stuck means that the early hurts are so prevalent in our minds at that moment that we are experiencing the hurt as if it were happening now. That’s the point where we have to remember the reality and fight to connect with it.

A number of people after several years of RC start to hate it because they have trouble getting their attention out after sessions. If you get stuck in distress outside of session and can’t get your attention out for days or weeks, to counsel on early hurts at that point will usually be counterproductive. More effective is to work lighter and to use the other points in this program in every session, especially the commitment to focus off distress.

Once your attention is out for a good while, you can then go back and work more effectively on early hurts. It will be especially important while you do to keep at least part of your mind focused on reality.

Keeping attention in reality does not mean “never work on difficult distress.” Facing difficult distress is part of noticing reality and realizing that distress has affected our perspective on reality. We get to discharge our way to figuring out how to separate these two things: our distress about reality and actual reality. Many people have a pull to be in pretense patterns. Because of their background, often middle-class, they feel unable to look at distress. For example, you might say you had a lovely childhood when you didn’t. It’s part of focusing on reality to face that you had a hard childhood.

In a demonstration about discharging on heavy distress with attention on reality, I had the client, who was barely discharging, stop trying to “look good.” People have difficulty distinguishing trying to be present or look present from actually being able to be present. The client said that his mind felt frozen and that being able to say how it felt took the pressure off “having to look good.” I said, “If you never discharge again, it’s okay. The pressure to ‘look good’ in a demonstration keeps you from discharging. For a person who always tries to ‘look good,’ saying that your mind feels frozen is attention off distress. The distress is ‘I have to look good. I can’t say what I’m actually feeling.’” The client could discharge easily at that point.

Tim’s direction for the RC Community about going back to counsel yourself as a young one is another example of counseling on heavy early distress with attention off it. His idea is to counsel yourself as a young one by telling yourself what you needed to hear to contradict the hurt that was happening to you during that time. You’re putting your attention in the present, which includes the fact that you did get out of that hard situation. You are taking on a counselor role, in a way (as client), which also requires attention in the present. You’re also looking at yourself back there, but focusing on the counselor role and the contradiction.

Another example: I’ve focused a lot in sessions on pleasant memories of my childhood. I think about the pleasant memory and cry. I cry because I am discharging the hard things that happened. Thinking about the pleasant memories contradicts the hard events.

Some Co-Counselors can pull your attention out more than others. Choose the subject of your session in relation to who your Co-Counselor is. It probably doesn’t make sense, for example, to counsel on your hardest stuff with your brand new Co-Counselor, because you can’t yet assess their attention.

What we are trying to do in every session is to “dip our toes in the distress a little bit.” What does that mean? It doesn’t mean not to look at distress. A lot of recordings tell us, “You don’t want to go there.” A lot of incidents feel numb: You know they are there, but you wouldn’t get anywhere near them. How do you focus off that distress? Perhaps by talking about the incident, thus contradicting the “don’t-go-there” distress. Saying you are not going to talk about the distress is often enough of a light contradiction to get you laughing. Or the counselor can say, “I wouldn’t talk about it if I were you.” You could also say, “I’m not going there. You can’t make me.” Eventually you can develop the attention to delve deeper. The more attention you have developed, the more the heavy distresses will discharge. That just happens. You get better attention, you have more slack, and more heavy distress will come up. It is a process of getting your attention out over time, and you will use your sessions better and better. The more you discharge, the more room you have to discharge more.

You can often discharge on a story that seems too heavy to talk about by talking about the contradiction. For example, I can now discharge about my “mental hospital” stay by telling hard details. I wasn’t always able to. An early direction was “I would rather go to the beach.” In my head, I was saying “than the ‘mental hospital,’” but I did not need to say that out loud. The direction as a statement of reality very unrelated to a “mental hospital” could keep my attention in the reality while still noticing the “mental hospital” experience.

There are many ways to keep your attention out in your session. One is to notice what is good that is happening now. “I used to have a terrible childhood, and now my life is good.” I have counseled people who have had electroshock by joyfully saying, “I survived!” Another direction I’ve used is “I was born at age twenty-four” (after I had left the MHS).

If your attention gets stuck in a session, you can always go lighter. When you are a counselor trying to help a client get their attention out, going lighter is never a waste of time. Sometimes we feel like crying profusely is the only, or the best, kind of session. However, to push a client who is not ready into heavy discharge makes no sense. Harvey Jackins once made an analogy of a tape recording that has laughter on one end that leads to heavy discharge on the other end.

When working on oppression issues, particularly MHO, have in mind focusing attention off distress. This does not mean that you are not counseling on the heavy hurts. It does not mean you’re not discharging. It does not mean having a session without a counselor. It means you’re taking charge of your mind. People in the wide world think that “mental patients” have lost their minds, or have something wrong with their minds. If you can take charge of your mind and live that, exuding present time connection to people and to reality, you will contradict MHO everywhere just by the way you are. To be a client on those terms makes showing yourself and your distress easier, because you can notice there’s nothing wrong with you.

POINT 4: MAKING YOUR LIFE THE WAY YOU WANT IT

The goal of Point 4 is to set up your life in such a way that you will enjoy it so much that your patterns will be mostly factored out of your life. To put it another way, if your life sucks (is awful), you will never get your attention out. Your life will keep pulling your attention into distress. Conversely, you can make your life one that makes you excited to wake up in the morning, enthusiastic about getting started on your next project.

You might want to completely revamp your life. Or you might want to change just a couple of things. Or just one thing. You might have something you’ve always wanted to do but can’t fit in. So how are you going to fit that in? Your life’s focus can’t be about getting rid of a pattern or about your re-emergence. If you focus it that way, you’re focused on what is wrong with you and how to fix it. Setting up your life to contradict your distress will focus your life on your distress. It’s not that you don’t want to think about your re-emergence, just not that way.

The most useful way to think about this point is to think about what you really want. I, for example, decided to see that MHO is ended, which is a contradiction to my distress. I didn’t think about my not liking to speak in public and then decide to speak in public. Instead I decided I was going to see that MHO is ended, so I had to speak in public. The re-emergence happened as a by-product of my fulfilling my goal.

To set up your life the way you want it, think about your goals. If you don’t have goals, set them. What is going to zoom your life forward? What are you going to be excited about doing? Goals should be based on what you really want to do, not on what someone else thinks or what you were told as a child. Once goals are set, you get to have sessions about how your life is going vis-à-vis your goals.

You can use the discharge process. What do you think about your life? What do you love about it? What isn’t working? Discharge on where your chronic material interferes with understanding your life and knowing how your life is really going. Sometimes your life could feel hard and challenging but actually be going well, because you are trying to meet your goals or you’re carrying them out. You get to figure that out.

As you set up your life to be the way you want it, know that it might take a while and might take upheaval and discharge. It took me about six years, and it was well worth it. I was a full-time artist, painting all day, when I decided to become a full-time MHL leader. I couldn’t figure out how to do it as a painter. Besides, I couldn’t figure out my goals as an artist, and painting by myself had me stuck most of the time in chronic material. Figuring out how to go from graduate school in community psychology to leading in the wide-world psychiatric survivors’ movement wasn’t easy. It meant a lot of discharging and trying things, with one thing leading to another. I tried volunteering in the “mental health” system, but that didn’t go anywhere. I got my degree in community psychology. I tried and failed to get a MH worker job. Eventually, when I co-founded and began co-directing my wide-world psychiatric survivors’ organization in 1990 and in 1992 was appointed ILRP for “mental health” liberation, I had finally reached the life of my dreams. This change in my whole career moved me way outside chronic “loner” and “outsider” material and gave me confidence. It gave me a life that I love and enjoy every day. I still have the goal of ending MHO, and it still pulls my life in a positive direction.

Just having the goal in your mind is not enough. You have to both do something about it and keep counseling about it, regularly, or it won’t bring up the discharge that will move it and change your life in big ways. Otherwise, hopelessness and discouragement patterns tend to take over. When you feel hopeless, if you do something in the direction of your goal, that will move you forward. Even if that step doesn’t work, it will tell you something about what you shouldn’t do or what you should try next. Sessions will help you figure out what to do next. You try something, and you may have to change your goal or amend it. You get to keep moving forward, and things may turn out even better than you had hoped. Or you may decide to do something that you hadn’t planned on.

In graduate school in 1986, I wrote my thesis on something like the Sunrise Center (described elsewhere in this journal), but I never dreamed it would happen. I had to work a lot of things out before it could happen.

The goal is to think, decide, act, and discharge. I used the direction “I decide to remember that I am completely in charge of ‘mental health’ liberation, and I decide to end the oppression.” As your life gets pulled in a good direction, you will be more and more encouraged by your life.

POINT 5: HAVING FUN IN YOUR LIFE

When we were young, most of us knew how to have fun. It was part of everyday living. Becoming adults put a damper on that and focused us on working. In order to reclaim your life and have your attention out, getting fun back is important. Some people shorten this point: “Have fun every day.” Sometimes it feels hard to do that, because we may need sessions on what happened to make us focused all the time on work. Even though it may seem too serious, it’s also useful to think of why fun is important. To do that is one way to combat overwork patterns.

You can reclaim two kinds of fun. One is structured, such as going to a concert or a play, inviting friends for a picnic, doing artwork. The other kind is unstructured, like playing with young people at an RC workshop, having a day off at the beach, or taking a spontaneous walk. Both types are important. The first gets you in the habit of having fun regularly. You can do it with friends, which in itself can add to the fun.

The second type rests your mind from having an agenda, from “having to get something done.” Unstructured fun time allows you to reclaim what it was like to be a child and able to play almost indefinitely. Maybe you can think of other kinds of fun.

The point of fun in your life is to help bring your attention to the present. You can remember more easily what it is to have a great life, which can help you develop your life to be exactly the way you want it (Point 4).

I had programmed my life to include time with friends on weekends and time quilting two afternoons a week. I realized that sometimes quilting, supposed to be relaxing, brought up patterns I have around work: trying to get things done by a certain time, feeling bad if a project doesn’t work out as I hoped, and so on. I decided I needed a “day off” at least twice a month, when for six or eight hours I would do whatever I felt like and I would do things that I never get to do while I’m working. Sometimes I would say to myself, “I would like to_____,” but that item would go  to the bottom of my list and get put off. So on “days off,” I do those things.

It is difficult to stay present if you are continually task oriented. Having times when you just enjoy yourself creates an important balance. They allow you to reclaim your real self as a fun-loving human.

Unless we factor in fun day-to-day, patterns tend to take over our lives, even great lives. If you have difficulty thinking how to have fun, start a list of what you like to do for fun. You may need sessions on what exactly you find fun. It’s different for each person. Doing something that’s fun for others, but not for you, doesn’t make sense. Some people have fun mountain climbing, but for me it would be a challenge and require many sessions; so not fun. I am not saying not to take on challenges in general, but challenges are often not the most fun. Though later, once you get the hang of them (figure out how to do them), they can become fun. What I am talking about is going for what is fun for you right now.

When you are stuck in distress, almost nothing sounds fun. That’s when a list can be useful. You can go down the list and pick out something that seems reasonably fun. If nothing sounds fun, then you can say to yourself, “Well, maybe I’d better do one of these anyway.” Sometimes doing things that you ordinarily think are fun will pull your attention out enough that you start to have fun. Even if the first half hour of the activity doesn’t seem fun, sometimes the second half hour will. That effect has to do with putting your face in reality.

It’s one thing to make your life the way you want it in the big picture, which is Point 4. It’s another thing to remember to enjoy your life every day. You might have the life of your dreams and forget to enjoy it because you haven’t discharged your way out of the “workaholic” patterns that most adults have.

Using this program has been revolutionary in allowing my re-emergence to flourish. The many others who have tried it have also found it useful. Now that I have enjoyed being present much of the time, you could never get me to stop discharging on getting more and more present, or to go back to the sadness of my former life. As we reclaim our minds in this way, we will be able to re-emerge faster. We will attract more people who will help us change the society in re-emergent ways because of the models we provide of how life can be.

Janet Foner

International Liberation Reference 
Person for “Mental Health” Liberation

New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, USA


Last modified: 2018-02-27 03:14:23+00