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|Case Studies Mar/Apr - Page 9|
Building self-regulation skills requires more than insight: what's needed is something along the lines of basic training in the military. Like soldiers, the wife and husband need skills that kick in automatically under fire. These skills must be acquired through conditioning and activated by the earliest physiological experience of anger or resentment. One method of building such a conditioned response is a technique called Heals, a centerpiece of the boot camp.
Heals is short for heals, experience, access, love, solve. It sounds determinedly cognitive, but it's aimed at producing an immediate and unconscious response, one that transforms anger, resentment, or anxiety into focused interest or compassion. I've found that, on average, it takes 6 weeks of 12 repetitions per day to develop a conditioned response that significantly reduces the frequency and intensity of any future waves of anger.
Before clients practice this technique, I ask them to recall an incident that made them angry and to think about it until they actually feel the physical sensations of their anger. The first task of Heals is to disrupt the motivations inherent in anger and resentment. To accomplish this, clients visualize "Heals, Heals, Heals" flashing over the face of the person who made them angry. This starts them on an inward journey to their core value.
Clients then Experience the core hurt that stimulated their anger. They say something like, "I feel inadequate or unlovable," and feel those core hurts for just one second. (Each time they do this, their sensitivity to these core hurts decreases.) They then Access their core value, by remembering the most important thing about them—to be loving and compassionate to loved ones. Next they Love themselves—that is, they make themselves feel lovable by feeling compassion for the core hurt (not their behavior). In the Solve step, they address behavior. I ask clients, "Will you solve this problem better with anger or compassion? Which do you prefer? Which is the real you?" With core hurts regulated, clients have their full mental resources, including perspective-taking, available for finding solutions. As a rule, several occur to them immediately.