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Working Consistently on Chronics, Together

While counseling me at an Asian leaders’ workshop, Dan Kwong [the Regional Reference Person for Los Angeles, California, USA] asked gently, “What’s the session you needed before this chronic pattern got set in?” Wow. I discharged just hearing the question. Then I thought of an answer, discharged hard, and continued thinking about the question.

I loved the assumptions built into the question: (1) There was a time when I wasn’t hurt in this way. (2) There was a “me” before the chronic pattern seemed to become a part of me. (3) If I had gotten the session I needed, I wouldn’t have this chronic pattern. (4) Years later I can still have the session and get back the person I would have been without the hurt.


I was discharging terror. It’s taken me many years to have access to terror discharge, so when it happens I pay close attention. I also get excited, because there’s a direct connection between the release of terror and the appearance of creative ideas and new thinking.

After staying with this direction for a full month, I could tell [perceive] that deep-seated distresses were shifting. I was becoming calmer about things that had previously triggered my “alert system.”

Prior to the workshop I had been discharging on my early relationship with my mother. After my brother’s difficult birth, she had directed her feelings at the only other person at home during the day: me, a toddler. I had been afraid she was going to forget who I was and kill me. I had stayed vigilant about her moods and hidden under furniture when she’d get angry. My sessions on this had been about going away, or getting my counselors to intervene on my behalf.

After Dan’s question, and Tim Jackins’s direction to work on our most unbearable place, I decided to change tactics, come out from under the furniture, and face my angry mom directly, telling her, “I stay with you!” My immediate thought was, “Death, death. I’m gonna [going to] die, I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die!” One Co-Counselor said, “I can one hundred percent guarantee that you survive this.” Ha, ha ha. Eventually I had a session in which dying wasn’t my first thought, and I kept on discharging. I kept working on this for two more months and continued to see more changes in myself.


Then I decided to take Dan’s and Tim’s directions to our teachers’ and leaders’ class. I described my experience with the directions and told them about the changes I could see from facing down my chronic distress. I gathered [assumed] from the puzzled looks that some members of our Community had not experienced “cracking a chronic”—meaning that they hadn’t picked a chronic pattern, discharged steadily on it, and then been able to see that it was really, truly gone. I told the class that I wanted everyone to know the triumph of cracking a chronic and that I wanted us to work on our chronics together as a Community.


People found it helpful to define a chronic pattern. One definition is that it’s a pattern that plays all the time so you think it is “just who you are.” For example, before doing RC I thought I was inherently shy. But after I’d discharged on being a child of immigrants and on growing up surrounded by white people and my parents’ distress recordings from living through Japanese colonial rule and the war, no one, including me, would pick the word shy out of a list of descriptors. I have discharged my way from being afraid of public speaking to being someone who relishes it. (I have dubbed [called] that project my “RC School of Public Speaking.”)

How do you identify your chronics? (1) Just ask any family member; they will be glad to point them out to you. (2) Notice your relationship dynamics. Do you keep ending up with the same kind of boss, no matter where you work? Or the same kind of partner, over and over again, no matter how many times you rewrite your online profile or try to date somebody different? (3) Is there somewhere you consistently, repeatedly feel bad, beat yourself up [criticize yourself], sabotage yourself? (4) Are you struggling to take care of your health or finances; struggling with addictions or other self-destructive behaviors? (5) Is there a way that you continue to position yourself as a victim?

In the class we did mini-sessions on which chronic pattern we each would choose for the project. Then we did another round of minis to figure out the session we had needed before the chronic got set in. Then we went around the circle and each person shared in the group. I wanted everyone to hear one another’s chronic of choice and the session needed because (1) many people were each other’s regular Co-Counselors, (2) people can instantaneously forget directions against chronic material, (3) accountability (a good kind of peer pressure) can be useful, and (4) sharing with others helps contradict hopelessness recordings.


People also found it helpful to hear strategies for working on a chronic consistently. Some are (1) devoting a certain percentage of every session to the chronic, (2) deciding to work only on the chronic in all of one’s sessions (my personal favorite, as I get more “traction” and can tell I am making progress), (3) designating certain Co-Counselors to work on the chronic with.

I have also noticed that with good directions against chronic material, it’s “in one ear and out the other,” meaning they slip away unless we have some way of keeping track of [staying aware of] them. We can write them down somewhere where we can find them before our next session. Or our counselor can write them down and e-mail or text them to us later. (I love using current technology to fight the tendency to forget effective directions.)


It’s been two years since our class embarked on this journey together, and our Community has been galvanized by the project. The contradiction [to distress] of doing it together as a group has helped bring newer Co-Counselors along. And people now jump at the chance [are eager] to lead, organize, and teach. As Area Reference Person, I sometimes find that my head is spinning from hearing about all the leading, organizing, and planning.

I’m so glad to be in this together!

Cornelia Cho

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list for RC Community members

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00