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This is one of a series of articles in Lesson 1 in
this Web site - free your
to guide you, and
significant false-self wounds. This article offers perspective on
"hitting bottom" - accumulating "too much"
and deciding to make permanent lifestyle
changes to reduce the pain. It proposes why some people hit true (vs. pseudo) bottom, and others don't.
brief YouTube clip previews what you'll read in this article:
This article is for anyone concerned
with managing unhealthy compulsions like
struggling with intolerable relationship, work, depression, and financial,
family, or health problems. We'll explore...
perspective on pseudo
(trial) bottoms, relapses, and hitting
how bottoms relate to
this article more relevant, pause and say out loud any stressful
and/or unhealthy habits you have that persist despite your attempts to change them.
Keep them in mind as you read this...
you ever felt "totally fed up" with some frustrating or
unhealthy habit, relationship, or
situation? Have you experienced a ceaseless inner battle to change (act) and not
change (don't act)? Have you experienced trying to stop an unhealthy
or unpleasant "habit" like using nicotine, over-eating or spending, or binging
on junk foods, and being unable to stop? Do you know anyone who says s/he has "had it,"
"reached my limit," "hit bottom,"
or "hit the wall" about something?
"hitting true bottom" means exceeding some personal
tolerance limit ("I'm 45 pounds overweight and having chest pains!"), and altering some chronic unhealthy or
dangerous attitudes, behaviors, and/or habits.
A popular alternative is
hitting a pseudo or trial bottom - making superficial changes, but not
altering core attitudes or priorities. 12-step
"Anonymous" (addiction-management) programs call this "not walking your talk," "stinkin'
thinkin'," and being a "dry drunk." Most of us grin ruefully when
"broken New years' resolutions" are mentioned. These are vivid,
universal examples of trying to achieve permanent changes
before hitting true bottom.
true bottom happens when a person experiences significant discomfort
"once too often."
Their ruling personality subselves' overwhelming weariness + despair + agony +
disgust + frustration + rage overcome other subselves who fear and resist core
attitude changes Then over time, the person repeatedly demonstrates new attitudes, priorities, and behaviors
- often despite other people urging them to "change back."
bottom is a personal choice, and
can't be done to
satisfy someone else.
People who try to persuade or manipulate others to exercise more; drink, smoke,
or eat less; stop gambling, overworking, overspending, masturbating; lose or gain weight, "go to church," etc. know this never works
can do things that may accelerate a wounded person's hitting true
bottom - like respectfully asserting
their rights, boundaries, and consequences - e.g. "Pat, if you insist on
bringing pornography into our home, I'm going to throw it out from now on. I'm also
going to randomly check our PC history to see what sites you're visiting, and
start attending a 12-step meeting for mates of sex addicts."
Self-esteem, relationships, and serenity suffer until people (like you?) learn
and accept the core reason that blocks ending "bad habits" and making
Personality Subselves and Hitting Bottom
clinical research and experience since 1992, I propose that normal people (like
you) have personalities
composed of semi-independent
''subselves'' or "parts." They're like the
talented players in an orchestra or sports team. These subselves often
disagree with each other, causing inner conflicts..
One group wants immediate
gratification to reduce current discomforts ("problems"), tho this
inexorably increases the discomforts over time. Other subselves
value delayed gratification and greater long-term benefits ("I know I'll
feel better and be healthier if I commit to a regular exercise program.")
People hit true bottom when the balance of power between their
battling subselves changes permanently: i.e. the "delayed
gratification" subselves gain steady control of the host person's thoughts, emotions, and behavior.
The odds of
this shift rise sharply when the wise, resident
true Self consistently guides
in this nonprofit Web site offers effective options for
freeing your Self
(capital "S") to
lead in all situations.
Protective subselves that oppose healthy personal changes distrust the wisdom
of the true Self, and resist giving up control. They're motivated by a powerful mix of
doubts, fears, shame, guilts, and distorted perceptions
- not logic.This is why
you can't "reason with" someone who has unhealthy or harmful habits
to change for their own (or your) good.
implies that to hit true bottom and make healthy permanent personal changes,
a wounded person must want tofree their disabled true Self, and
(b) reorganize and
harmonize their other subselves over time.
Paradoxically, they can't commit to do this without hitting bottom.
Despite this paradox,
many average troubled people DO hit true bottom and
reduce their psychological wounds
- e.g. the millions of people
worldwide who work at 12-step recovery from addictions and maintain sobriety, while others
Implication: attempting to cure "bad
habits" like overeating,
addictions, interrupting others, swearing, gossiping, unhealthy diets, avoiding health checkups, skipping
breakfast, etc. - is often a frustrating waste of time.
These aresymptoms of the real problem:
"instant gratification" subselves overruling other subselves who
want to forgo local comforts to make long-term healthful changes.
recovery is a requisite for psychological-wound reduction ("healing"). Hitting true bottom is required for both of these.
Unaware people whose dominant
false-selves choose pseudo recovery from toxic
compulsions risk repeated relapses, because they haven't freed their
true Self to guide their personalities. "Instant gratification" is another
way of saying "I (we governing subselves) don't care about the future.
Reduce my inner pain now!"
Resist Hitting Bottom
subselves' sole concern is the current comfort and safety of one or more
Inner Children. They have three common strategies for avoiding changes that
scare or threaten young
- e.g. "I/we really don't have to stop eating so much salt, sugar, and fat
rationalization ("Smoking cigarettes is really OK because
it keeps me calm, and I only do it outside the house.")', and...
("Yeah, I probably should stop working 70 hours a week, but I'll
wait until ___ before I do.")
the most common subself blocking permanent healthy changes is the
Shamed Chold. S/He firmly believes s/he is worthless and unlovable, and doesn't
deserve health and happiness. A rigid misconception this young subself
retains from childhood is "I don't
care if I'm neglecting myself - I'm not important." A companion myth is "I'm bad, and I deserve my pain!"
This common Inner Child is often living in the unsafe, painful past -
and doesn't know it.
The concepts of healthy self love and self-nurturance are totally alien to the
Shamed Child and
her or his devoted Guardian subselves. This is specially true for
Grown Wounded Children who have never
felt loved or lovable, and are unable to
bond with (care about) other people or living things.
Abandoned Childand loyal People-pleaser subselves
may contribute irrational fear that if the host person asserts healthy
limits and self-care, key people will scorn and reject the person for being "selfish"
Guilty Childmay add something like "If I focus on my needs instead of other people's
needs, I'm bad." Like normal physical children,typical
Inner Kids steadily focus on short-term safety and comfort. They
haven't learned to defer immediate gratification for long-term rewards.
Have you made that vital shift yet?
Whatever mix of young subselves resist hitting bottom and making core
changes, several common Guardian subselves work diligently together to soothe and
Magiciandistorts reality by creatively making self-neglect and self-abuse
acceptable or "good." The
basic spell this well-meaning subself casts is denial. "We don't really
have a problem - we are and will be OK!" This manifests
as persuasive thoughts justifying harmful behaviors, and minimizing
potential harm - "Come on - have that Dove bar / drink / marijuana joint
/ horse-race bet / _______ - one more won't hurt!"
Another alluring illusion the Magician skillfully provides is
"We can always quit if we want
to [i.e. we can control (our compulsion)! ]" This is why the
first of the 12 addiction-recovery steps centers on
admitting "my life is out of control," and why the
Serenity Prayer suggests identifying what we can't control, and turning it over to our Higher Power.
subselfsoothes upset, anxious Inner Kids by shifting the host-person's focus to
less alarming topics - e.g. "I wonder what's on TV tonight. Let's look."
Procrastinatorjoins in by adding persuasions like "Come on, we can
or go to the health club / doctor / dentist / dietician /
support-group meeting / lawyer tomorrow (or "soon.").
Catastrophizermay evoke vivid images about terrible things that could happen if the
host person makes major (healthy) changes - "If you get a physical
checkup, you'll discover that you have cancer like your ancestors did.
Then we'll simply live each day expecting to die a slow, horrible death.
Don't go for a checkup - it's better not to know!"
A variation of this is the Catastrophizer urging you to
for psychological wounds because "You'll discover...
was really awful, and...
your (idealized) parents did a lousy job,
screwed up, and...
you'll never have what healthy (normal,
unwounded) people have, and...
you'll see that you've completely messed up your kids," or equivalent.
Cynic / DoubterGuardian subself may chime in with warnings like "Ah, baloney! This 'recovery'
stuff is just New Age psychobabble for wackos. It probably won't do
anything good for us, so forget it."
wounded person has a unique combination of young and Guardian subselves like
these - i.e. a unique false self. Can you see how their combined beliefs and urgings - and outdated
distrust of the resident true Self - can defer hitting true bottom for
years? One uncontrollable factor
that offsets their combined power is
aging, and admitting that death is an approaching reality.
Thisoften combines with some traumas like divorce, bankruptcy, job
loss, a law suit, a DUI, a major illness, someone's
suicide, or similar major stressors, to
trigger hitting bottom. This helps explain why many people hit their true
bottom in middle age.
If your instant-gratification subselves are
dominant and avoiding
some personal bottom, you may agree intellectually with what you're reading,
and do nothing about it now. Reading this article will
not cause your subselves to hit bottom, tho some of them may see real benefits to doing so.
Recall why you're reading this. You have several options to meet your needs...
Whatever you need, the
vital keystone option is to assess
yourself honestly for symptoms of (a) one or more addictions and of (b)
(inner pain). Reluctance to do this suggests you may be controlled by a
false self, and probably haven't hit true bottom yet.
If you find significant symptoms, your next option is to learn more
about addiction recovery and inner-wound
reduction. Your third option is to adjust your current life
priorities to include
commitment to addiction and personal-wound recovery as required. Recall that "pseudo
recovery" is a common creative false-self attempt to promote the illusion of
recovery without really risking core attitude and belief
assessing for psychological wounds and deciding what the results mean,
see if you
see your current need/s here:
You're not sure you need to hit bottom.
Clarifying this is a surface need. The real question here is "Do I
need to free my true Self and commit to reducing psychological wounds? Even if
you honestly assess for significant wounds and conclude "Yes, I need
personal wound recovery now," your ruling (instant-gratification) subselves
will probably block you from acting on that until you hit true bottom.
You feel you should hit bottom,
and may have felt you have, several times (pseudo bottoms) - but "something
gets in the way," and you relapse into the old ways. Same comments as above.
Learning about subselves, psychological wounds, and wound-recovery; and
observing people in true wound-recovery, can pave your way...
Someone you care about hasn't hit true bottom,
and you want to promote their doing so. Option - use wounds and recovery terms and phrases when
you talk with the person, without trying to convince her or him to act. That may include your talking honestly about your own wounds and
recovery, without moralizing. See this
article for more perspective and options.
You want someone else to review these ideas and
discuss them with you. The most direct option is to print this
article or ask the person to read this on the Web using the URL address at
the top of the page. You may want to just inform the other persons, or you may have an
possible goal is to interest the other person in personality subselves,
nurturance levels, true Self, psychological wounds , and wound recovery.
Another goal may be to alert the person to the explanation for relapses here,
and get their reaction to it. Another option: bring this article to a family
gathering or recovery support group and discuss the main ideas in it.
You want to break a vexing
impasse with yourself
or another person, and you don't know how. When the impasse gets
stressful enough, you may hit bottom and overcome some cautious
subselves' reluctance to try using "parts work" to identify which of your
subselves are opposed.
try out having your wise Self (capital "S") meet with each opposed subself,
and mediate a compromise. If the impasse is about relapsing and breaking a
"bad habit," expand this option to identify the immediate-gratification and
delayed-gratification subselves who are stuck, and mediate with both groups.
Using the effective-communication skills in
Lesson 2 will raise your success odds!
or you may need...
option is to do none of these, and "keep doing what you've been doing" Consider this observation
therapists Steve and Carol Lankton:
"If you always do what you've always done...
you'll always get what you've always got."
article describes "hitting bottom" - reaching an emotional and mental state
where you (or someone) accumulates "too much"
and decides to make significant
personal changes. The ancient metaphor about
a straw breaking a camel's back symbolizes this
The article also describes "pseudo,
false, and trial bottoms" as well-meant attempts to make lasting changes that fail,
causing "relapses" into the old attitudes and behaviors.
article proposes that average kids and adults are often conflicted between
personality subselves who
want instant gratification (often
and other subselves who want to delay gratification for greater benefits. As
long as the former dominate, the person is apt to hit repeated trial or pseudo bottoms ("I've tried to quit smoking at least four times").
steadily increases frustration, anxiety, and guilt, which amplify
which promotes craving immediate relief (self-medication).
Because this craving is
emotional (irrational), trying to use logical persuasion to induce permanent
change ("You've got to quit gambling because...") will always
cause guilt and frustration. Recall your last broken New Year's resolution...
article closes with a summary of practical action-options, all based on
assessing for significant psychological wounds and committing to reduce them over
time. Committing to long-term self-healing (recovery)
is a core-attitude (permanent)
change, which usually requires hitting true personal bottom. This often doesn't
occur until mid-life. For some wounded people, it never occurs
worksheets, and resources, and the related
"Who's Really Running Your Life?";
perspective on making superficial and primary
changes, and managing change