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|Unlocking the Emotional Brain - Page 6|
"Now keep them in the picture as we add this: on the other side are your father and the other men in your home town. Their jobs are a dead end for them. They feel trapped in those jobs to support their families, and you see and feel their heavy unhappiness. And to you this means that staying in one career is always deadening like that, so you mustn't stay in one. And both images feel really true—that having just one career is deadening, like for your dad, and on the other side, having one career can be really dynamic and alive, as it is for those teachers. And you're aware of both, side by side." I paused for a few seconds and finished with, "How is that for you?"
Waiting for Jason's response was suspenseful for me. If it worked, the ingrained, dreaded meaning of staying in one career would be disconfirmed and rendered null and void as an emotional reality in implicit memory. Juxtaposition seems to correspond not only to step two, the all-important mismatch identified by neuroscientists, but also to step three, the unwiring of the schema (without use of chemicals), because with no further steps taken, schemas wither in response. A potent emotional reality that's been shaping life for decades loses force and falls away.
A frown appeared on Jason's face and he said, "Well, if it is possible to pursue one career and feel really good about it, then these negative expectations that shaped my whole life are phony. That would be pretty upsetting." We stayed with that for the rest of the session. By the end of the session, it was clear that his distress was tolerable for him, so we collaboratively wrote the words of his new recognition on an index card for daily reading: "What?! It is possible to pursue one career and remain vibrant and deeply satisfied? Assumptions that shaped my whole life are phony?" This phrasing would respect his distress and sustain the juxtaposition experience, the awareness of two knowings in sharp contradiction.