Progressive Politics Research and Commentary by Janette Rainwater
 
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You're in Charge: A Guide to Becoming Your Own Therapist

Chapter One

Introduction: The Art of Self-Observation                      p.2

The Two Magic Questions

The "how-to" part of this book is deceptively simple. There are two magic questions that you need to ask yourself. The answers that you generate should provide the guidance that you need.

The first magic question: What is happening right now?

And this includes: What am I doing?

What am I feeling?

What am I thinking?

How am I breathing?

The second magic question: What do I want for myself in this new moment?

That is, do I want to continue the same doing/thinking/feeling/breathing? Or, do I want to make some changes? Actually, you will make many changes upon becoming aware of what is without making a deliberate decision to change. For example, the question to another ......"Are you aware of your breathing right now?"......... invariably elicits an immediate change. It's as if the question makes him aware that he is inhibiting a normal, full breathing cycle and allows his body to say "Whew!" in relief, take a deep breath, and then exhale it. And how is your breathing right now, after having read this paragraph?

An important maxim states: Change occurs when you become what you are, not when you try to become what you are not. Change does not occur by resolves to "do better," by "trying," by demands from authority figures, persuasion, or interpretations from Important Others. Paradoxically, change seems to happen when you have abandoned the chase after what you want to be (or think you should be) and have accepted--- and fully experienced--- what you are.

The chapters to come will develop different ways for you to ask yourself these two magic questions. As you become aware of what is, and of what you want, you become cognizant of how you're in charge . . . and of all the alternatives, options, and choices that are yours to make.

Much of the book consists of exercises that I developed rather spontaneously and intuitively in workshops and classes. My suggestion is that you do each exercise at the time it is proposed. You might want to have a special notebook (preferably hardbound) in which to record the results of the exercises. You may choose not to do the exercises but to continue reading or to close the book and do something else altogether. That's fine. I hope that you will be aware that you are making a choice, that you're in charge and perhaps, also, that you can identify the voice within, the subpersonality, that urges you to the course of action that you take.

I'd like to caution you, however, that your major discoveries and changes will come from doing the exercises rather than just reading about them. What you hear, you're apt to forget. What you see, you may remember. What you do, you understand. And you need to do the things you fear if you want to grow.

My own self-observation at this point as I try to visualize those of you who will embark on this course of self-therapy? Pleasure at having finished the manuscript for you and regret at not being able to know you or to watch and enjoy your progress. Being allowed to observe the growth and discoveries of another is the greatest privilege of being a psychotherapist.

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Site last changed November 20, 2001.

© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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