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The Cookie Jar

How to change the habit of being you.

Working with many people in psychotherapy who are attempting to recover from life-altering traumatic events, I am forever looking for new tools for my patients to use. Today I will give you two powerful tools that many find useful: "The Cookie Jar" by David Goggins and "A Conversation Between Your Future Self and Past Self" by Dr. Joe Dispenza.

I first learned of David Goggins over a year ago from a client. Goggins is the author of Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, a former Navy Seal, and an extreme athlete. His story of one of self-transformation from a disadvantaged, traumatized youth with little self-esteem to a man who inspires millions to be more than they are.

The Cookie Jar

David Goggins has been interviewed on many popular podcasts which you can view on YouTube. He has one particular tool he uses on himself which you may find useful as well. He calls it "The Cookie Jar." When you are feeling beat down, defeated, exhausted, depleted, and believe you cannot take one more step into your future, go to your Cookie Jar.

What is the Cookie Jar? Imagine a large jar into which you place all of your past accomplishments—the things you did which you once believed would be too terrifying, too difficult, or too impossible. But you did them anyway. You transcended your own self-limiting belief. Those are the "cookies" you place in the jar.

Then, when you are confronted by obstacles in life that feel too overwhelming, remember to go into your cookie jar and remove cookies of past accomplishments and draw from your past victories. They are placed there to remind you that you can do it.

Past and Future Self Conversation

The second tool is the conversation between your future self and your past self. Imagine the person you desire to be at some future time. What are the self-qualities you desire to have? Do you want to be more confident? Be someone who cannot be ruffled or triggered by past traumas? Be a more loving and giving person? Love yourself more?

Your past self may still be in pain and suffering from the impact of overwhelming life events. It may feel paralyzed by the effects of trauma that were never resolved and never healed. Dr. Joe Dispenza recommends a conversation to see what emerges.

It is similar to the Gestalt psychotherapy technique of the empty chair that was popularized by psychiatrist Fritz Pearls. (However, drama therapists say he actually stole it from them. I tend to believe the drama therapists.) Regardless of who came up with it, the empty chair can result in some insightful clarity into emotional tangles that are blocking movement into a better self.

A Disney movie entitled "The Kid," starring Bruce Willis and Spencer Breslin, may embody this particular technique. Willis plays Russ, a public relations whitewash expert who is living a professionally successful but empty life until he has an encounter with Rusty, his younger self at age 10, who is played by Spencer Breslin. Willis reluctantly enters into a dialogue and slowly develops a supportive relationship with his younger self. His younger self points out to Willis all the things that are missing from his life that need to be there in order for him to be truly happy and fulfilled.

The movie captures the potential benefits of the technique Dr. Joe Dispenza talks about. To learn more, check out his book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.

Happy holidays and thanks for reading my blogs. Your comments are welcomed.

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