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We manifest externally that which is prominent within us. Reality is what one perceives it to be. Irrational thoughts and beliefs need to be identified and challenged in order to grow and change. Harboring perceptions that produce a negative view of the Self and the environment produces anxiety. It is at this time that people utilize their ego-defense mechanisms to provide relief from anxiety. Defenses serve to deny and distort reality, at times promoting the participants avoidance of reality. It is important to note that ego-defenses do not help resolve the core of the conflict, which is to find a sense of purpose and meaning. Once found, anxiety is alleviated.
An individual's reality can be transformed by gaining a new perspective on a past experience. Changing perspectives allows the freedom to relearn behaviors that were a direct result of the false perspective. The true lessons become attainable and can be used to gain understanding of the self. Once the lesson is learned, it is then time to move on to the next phase.
As we go through various stages in our lifetimes, each is important because we must build on what was previously learned. This viewpoint does much to destroy guilt and judgment about oneself and to encourage objective consideration of what transpired. It is important that the experience is remembered accurately, in the feelings and thoughts that revolved around the perceptions of the experience. To understand that patterns of behavior learned early in life are being repeated in the present is to understand that the original lesson has not yet been learned. Once the true meaning of the experience is realized, there is no longer a need to control the anxiety that is produced by distorted lessons. By understanding each experience and its place in the individuals development, he or she will become more accepting of all experiences, both positive and negative. It is never too late to understand the teachings of previously unlearned lessons. We are always at the beginning. We are all a work in progress...
© Diane Lee Wing, excerpt from Cognitive Kinetics
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