The method itself is simple. The difficulty is in the application.

It’s a 3 step approach which goes:

  1. Ask
  2. Observe
  3. Decide.

This is the method I used to walk myself through the chaos of unconsciousness that was my mind.

I had never been allowed to think for myself, and like any child raised in an abusive household I believed whatever I needed to believe to avoid punishment.

This lead me to believing heaven was in the moon, Noah’s three sons were all different races, the end of the world was here, and reading children sex cartoons at 5 was normal.

Growing up in a doomsday christian sex cult will fuck you up in more ways than one. I remember sitting in my therapists office years ago when she said “wow they got you on every level”

“What do you mean? “ I asked.

“Well, there are certain functions that make up our lives, there’s emotional function, mental function, attachment function, sexual, and spiritual and they impaired every single one from healthy development.”

I scoffed and shook my head “great, so … I guess that’s it then?”

“Not at all, now that you know where the wound is, you get to decide what you want to heal, or if you want to heal.

I was confused, “of course I want to heal! Doesn’t everybody?”

“Not necessarily. But the ones who want to heal, who truly want to heal, will do the work and usually find a combination that suits their exact needs”

This was useless information for me; having to do the work myself was not what I was in therapy for.

“Can’t you just tell me what to do so I can get better?”

“Well, what makes you feel good? “

Ugh, another question for me and no direction from her. I was annoyed but this question I could answer

“I really like stoicism, it’s the only thing that makes sense to me right now”

“That’s great, keep reading and meditating on that”

I walked out of the session wondering why I was wasting money on someone congratulating me on doing the things I was already doing.

But I went home and thought about what she said, that the ones who want to heal will find a combination that works. I already did yoga and mantra meditation.. so that was one component, I also journaled and had started reading again in the last year.
I picked up the only book that made sense to me during this time: The Art of Living, written by Epictetus translated by Sharon Lebell. I cracked it open to the beginning and saw the words “ First, say to yourself what would you be; then do what you have to do”

I grabbed a pen and journaled a whole page on how those words made me feel and when the flow naturally stopped, I re-read the page and noticed something… I didn’t know who I wanted to be. That was odd, I thought I knew who I wanted to be and I certainly said that I did, but when I looked over what I wrote it was clear… I was confused and unwilling to commit to being anything because I was scared I might get it wrong.

I sat in silence for a while with this new information. I felt discouraged, I was at odds with my own view of myself and if I was wrong about this what else was I wrong about? The thing to do, I figured was to decide who I wanted to be and to back it up with action. After all, If a decision produces no action, it is not an sincere decision.

I began to write down very clearly who I wanted to be, then I branched off into the kinds of actions I would need to be doing in order to maintain this character. At the end of this project — which ended up taking a few hours- I felt grateful to finally have a clear picture in my head of who I wanted to be and a road map of smaller actions that I could take to get there.

So

  1. The question was “what would you be”
  2. The observation was realizing I didn’t know
  3. The decision was making a conscious effort to direct my life, which also reminded me of my autonomy.

I have used this method over and over. I find a detailed question to ask myself, I let my honest feelings show up on the page and observe the pattern that shows itself. Then I decide where to go from there. This method allows me to be curious without judgement, because I know that I am observing towards an end, and there is a reason for this. The decision always involves a roadmap of action, which allows me to be clear in where I am going.

It was my perfect combination and I offer it to you, in the hopes that might contribute to your combination too.

Keep loving yourself into existence.

I grew up in an apocalyptic cult. I tell those stories.