You! Yes you! Are you sure that you are not a 3′ tall green space alien?

Sometimes, when working with clients who are dealing with co-dependency, low self-esteem, or anger management issues, I have used an illustration that seems to be an effective part of their treatment. I ask the client if they know what schizophrenia is, and if they have ever seen a person suffering from this illness. If the answer is no, I explain a bit about the disorder, but most of the time people have encountered this somewhere along the line. Then I say to the client, “If you saw someone like this on the street, talking to a lamp, rather disheveled, and clearly not in their right mind, and this person came up to you and said, ‘You are a three foot tall green space alien from Mars’, would you all the sudden become extremely alarmed, agitated or concerned that you were in fact a three foot tall green space alien from Mars? Maybe this was the case all along and you just did not realize it?” At this point there is usually a smile that crosses the client’s face, and their answer is “obviously no”. I reply by commenting that this is a rather extreme example, but the main point is to examine the source.

If a person is insulted and they react with anger, depression, anxiety, or some other unhealthy response, they are giving the power to the other person. Whether it is an adolescent who is being picked on at school, a husband being verbally assaulted by his wife, or a gang member being “dissed” by a rival gang member, the point is the same. Just because someone says something, does NOT mean it is true. Why then act as though it IS?

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