Saturday, February 19, 2011

Endorse for the effort, not the outcome

Our main goal, of course, is to eliminate nervous symptoms and temper from our lives. All too often we become frustrated, though, when despite our best efforts, they will not go away. We become discouraged and wonder what we are doing “wrong.”

Dr. Low, however, reminds us frequently that we cannot control feelings and sensations—only thoughts and impulses. We must allow our feelings and sensations to rise and fall on their own, using our spotting techniques to reduce their intensity and duration. And perhaps the most important lesson here is to remember to endorse for the effort but not the outcome.

At a recent Recovery meeting, a fellow group member shared her experience of using the Recovery method but not achieving the results she wanted as quickly as she desired. At some point she said she finally "got it" and her symptoms began to abate more quickly. She wasn’t sure what prompted her eureka moment, but I think I know the answer: It’s when she started to endorse for the effort—for spotting, for making her mental health a priority, for learning to endure uncomfortable feelings and sensations without making them into an emergency—and not the outcome (i.e., immediate cessation of symptoms).

Dr. Low stresses that we should give ourselves a pat on the back not because our symptoms are reduced, but more because we are doing something about them. And the more we provide ourselves with these “mini-rewards” for making our mental health a business, indeed the more quickly our symptoms will lessen. But if we focus on the symptoms themselves, we miss the fundamentals of truly becoming well: Changing our lives takes practice, patience, and perseverance. Thus, we celebrate when symptoms reside, but we endorse for all of the work we do along the way.