John Foster Elliott: Psychotherapy, Music and Writings
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Directions in Life for the Occasionally Confused
by: John F. Elliott, MFT, author

(197 pages,  self-help psychology)

Over one hundred original metaphors, fables, analogies and more directive instructions are offered here for everyday life. Each written piece contains symbolism and imagery specifically designed to generate personal identification and change. Directions integrates concepts from object relations, psychodynamic and system theory as a guide for personal growth.

Chapters of the book mirror the conflicts and resolutions for the various stages of individual development. The audience is presented with a wealth of information to be read sequentially or randomly scanned for specific problem areas.

Chapters include:

I. Using this Book, where the reader is prepped on learning how to learn;

II. Hope and Trust, which explores dealing with grief and pain of all kinds;

III. Gaining Power and Control, which examines the constructs of strength, shame, and causality;

IV. The Secrets of Identity, describing the process of how an adult self can be created, and pitfalls to avoid;

V. Caring in Relationships, which identifies healthy intimacy and engagement, as well as the necessity for distance;

VI. Becoming Competent, which deals with our struggles to be industrious and capable without loosing the benefits of a “beginner’s mind,” and finally;

VII. Faith In Spirit, which explores the limits of intellectual understanding and the more expansive types of knowing from intuition.

If our theories of human behavior are to be effective in promoting growth, they must also generalize into simple and ordinary language. They must preserve the security of belonging with others and the freedom of self-direction. Directions is one attempt to accomplish this task, with humor, clarity, and compassion -for all of us.

As far as topics go, Here are a few:

  • Learning How to Learn.
  • Why thoughts are like maps and most of us drive blind by taping them to our windshields.
  • How pain is important to experience and equally important to ignore.
  • The significant difference between power and control and how to gain both in your life.
  • Why forgiveness is seldom a one-way street.
  • How the mandatory condition for courage is tremendous fear.
  • That confusion is necessary for discovery and innovation.
  • Why thinking that you’re “more” messed up than anyone else may be really a problem of arrogance.
  • That self-respect and self-esteem as an adult can’t come from anyone else but yourself.
  • How the conflicts between freedom and security are mirrored in the daily strife of our relationships -and how they can be resolved.
  • How happiness doesn’t have a point as much as an arch, -which does explain why smiles are curved.   

Here’s another way to look at using advice... from anyone. Me included.

Rulers and Maps
        When I was just a kid, I could never draw a straight line. So I used a ruler. A ruler is really just this little stick you use to measure. With the ruler you could say that I had a "guide" line. Eventually, some of us learn to draw fairly straight lines without their assistance.

        Of course, that's just one kind of ruler. Another kind is the king, queen, president, pope, younameit type of authority. These rulers draw the lines all by themselves.

        Inside of all of us, well, I believe that we still carry rulers. These help us to be straight, (or gay, depending on your biological imperative). Rulers provide a continuity, associating one point to another, and give us something to measure ourselves by. Or the ruler can rigidly dictate our path of action. We call these ruler "values," or "principles." When you give your word to yourself, and/or someone else about a future action, or even about a past one, you are defining yourself as a certain kind of person. In a way, you are drawing yourself and them a map of who you are for wherever and whenever.

        The difficulty arises in how we are use the map. If we let it dictate to us, period, then, we certainly can feel secure in knowing that we always know the way. So the map says we cross the bridge there to get to our destination.
But when there becomes here, and we see that the bridge is washed out, well, some of us drive straight off the cliff. Our ruler was in command.

        Perhaps we need to remember that the ruler, value or principle is actually just a hired guide or elected help.
You see, no matter well we think we know the lay of the land, it's always changing. And there are always those areas that have never been mapped. So we don't know always. We can only know sometimes.

       We don't have to throw the map away. We also don't have to tape it across our windshield so that it obstructs our vision. We do this at times, and then we think we can see everything. So we drive off with the map completely blocking our view, get into accidents, and blame it on the map. Then we try to get a "better" map, and tape that one up next.

      Perhaps it's best to keep all maps to one side and consult them when we are feeling lost. Perhaps it might be good to have enough room on them to be able to chart new territories found only when we use our common senses.
Directions in Life for the Occasionally Confused

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