Wit & Wisdom by Adam Harbinson

Dr Edith Eger is a clinical psychologist, who at the age of 93 is still living and practicing in America, writes Adam Harbinson, columnist.

She is a holocaust survivor who has developed and teaches a way to deal with grief and she speaks from experience having suffered the horrors of Auschwitz where her young boyfriend and her parents were murdered.

She believes that freedom is all about choice and that we can and should choose: Compassion, Humour, Optimism, Intuition, Curiosity and Self-Expression.

Sign up to our daily NorthernIrelandWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

We all want freedom, or do we? For example, if we feel that someone has wronged us we can choose to forgive or not.

Adam Harbinson.

In Dr Eger’s case she says she forgave those who murdered her family whom she loved and needed, for she was in only 17 when they were ripped from her bosom. But she claims no virtue in her forgiveness, indeed, she describes herself as selfish: ‘If I were to hold on to my anger and hatred, I would still be in that awful prison camp’.

She is a Jewish lady and she tells that on the last evening she saw her parents they celebrated Seder, a Passover Feast, when they re-tell the story of how the Hebrew people were liberated from slavery in Egypt and, being the youngest member of the family, she got to ask four questions.

She explains how in her therapeutic practice almost 80 years later - she uses an adapted version of those same questions to liberate her patients from their victimhood; they can choose to be survivors or victims.

The four questions are: What do you want? Who wants it? What are you going to do about it? When?

Sit in a quiet place, without distractions, and ask yourself those questions.

The first is deceptively simple, but don’t answer by saying what you want for others, give yourself permission to listen to you, and then align you with your own desires.

The second question is also tricky; who wants it? Are your expectations for yourself really yours or are you trying to live up to the expectations of others? Then comes the challenge; what are you going to do about it?

Change is likely to be required and that can be painful, for change calls us to notice what is no longer working and to step out of the familiar. And lastly, when? We can be tempted to take that difficult step tomorrow, but we all know that tomorrow doesn’t exist.

As Dr Eger says: ‘To evolve instead of revolve, take action now!’

More at www.adamharbinsonbooks.com