Minimal Effective Response

Still upset about that clique of popular girls who shunned you in high school? Are you still burning with a desire for payback time with someone who done you wrong way back when? Dr. Phil says that if you want to resolve the emotions generated by these events, you'll have to figure out and carry out what he calls the Minimal Effective Response (MER).

Crucial Word

The word "minimal" here is crucial. You want to identify the smallest possible action you can take that will give you closure so you can let go and move on. Any further actions will bring on a brand new set of issues with which you'll have to cope.

MER is not about plotting complicated revenge or causing embarrassment to the person who hurt you. It may be about receiving an explanation for the behavior that wounded you or perhaps an apology. It's not about meeting pain with pain.

End Goal

The end goal is to close the book on the event forever so that it is no longer capable of causing you pain. If you finish the book and bury it within a shelf full of other finished novels, you'll be able to stop bringing it out daily to read and reread those same sections that have been affecting you for so long.

Use these four steps to identify what you need to do to carry out your MER.

*What action might you take to stop feeling the pain?

*If you were able to carry out the actions you've identified, what would you feel after the fact?

*Are these feelings those you wish to have?

*Is there some other action you could take that would more closely fit the definition of minimal but still give you closure?

Minimal actions are different in different cases. If someone raped you, for instance, the minimal action you may need to take is to press charges, even years after the fact. For someone else, the minimal action may be writing a note that details your feelings. You may not even need to give the letter to the person who hurt you. Writing it all out may be enough. If the person in question is deceased, you may want to visit his grave and read your note aloud.

Once you identify your MER, you must carry out the action. If you still feel unresolved, you may need to rethink your MER or you may need to repeat the action. When you are done, you will feel clean and free. You'll be able to get back to the essence of your own personality, untainted by the pain and irresolution.

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