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Home > eBooks > Unpublished Manuscripts > The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity > Exercise 5: Resolving to Refrain from Destructive Behavior

The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity

Alexander Berzin
July 1999
Revised February 2003

Part I: Dealing Constructively with Sensitivity Issues

Exercise 5: Resolving to Refrain from Destructive Behavior

The ten destructive actions

  • causing physical harm
  • taking what has not been given
  • indulging in inappropriate sexual behavior
  • lying
  • speaking divisively
  • using harsh language
  • speaking idle words
  • thinking covetous thoughts
  • thinking thoughts of malice
  • distorted, antagonistic thinking

I. While focusing on someone from your life

1. In relation to your general previous behavior

  • Create a quiet and caring mental space with respect to yourself, by using the key sentences
    • "I am not going to make up or tell any stories about myself."
    • "I accept myself as I am."
  • For each of the ten destructive actions, recall an incident in which someone acted in this way toward you
  • Remember how hurt you felt or how you repressed your feelings
  • Recall an incident in which you acted in the same way toward someone else, while looking at a photograph or simply thinking of the person
  • Think of the pain that he or she must have felt
  • Acknowledge your mistake
  • Regret your behavior
  • Determine to rid yourself of it
  • Promise the person to try not to repeat such behavior
  • Reaffirm the positive direction you are trying to go in your life: developing balanced sensitivity
  • Clear any residual thoughts or emotions about the incident, by reaffirming
    • "I am not going to make up or tell any stories about myself."
    • "I accept myself as I am."

2. In relation to your behavior toward specific persons from your life

  • Create a quiet and caring mental space with respect to yourself, as in the previous step
  • Look at a photograph or simply think of someone with whom you have or have had a close, warm relationship
  • Create a quiet and caring mental space with respect to the person, by using the key sentences
    • "I am not going to make up or tell any stories about you."
    • "You are a human being and have feelings."
  • Check if you have ever acted in each of the ten destructive ways toward the person
    • If you have not acted like that toward the person, rejoice in that fact
  • After each of the ten, if you have acted that way
    • Think of the pain you caused
    • Acknowledge your mistake
    • Regret your behavior
    • Determine to rid yourself of the destructive habit
    • Assure the person that you shall try not to act like that toward him or her in the future
    • Reaffirm the positive direction you are trying to go in your life: you wish to enjoy a healthy relationship with the person, based on balanced sensitivity.
    • If you are prone to low guilt and low self-esteem, clear any residual thoughts or emotions about your behavior, either after each of the destructive actions or after a few of them, by reaffirming the quiet and caring mental space toward yourself, as before
  • Fortify your intent, by repeating after the group facilitator, or by saying out loud by yourself, key sentences with common examples of each destructive action
    • "I shall not treat you in a rough physical manner."
    • "I shall not use anything of yours without permission."
    • "I shall not push myself sexually on you or your partner."
    • "I shall not lie to you about my feelings or intentions."
    • "I shall not try to part you from your friends by saying bad things about them."
    • "I shall not verbally abuse you."
    • "I shall not betray your confidence by revealing your private matters to others."
    • "I shall not think jealously about what you have achieved."
    • "I shall not think with malice about how to harm you if you say or do something I do not like."
    • "If you are striving to improve yourself or to help others, I shall not think you are stupid, even if what you have chosen is not my own interest."
  • Repeat the procedure while focusing on a photo or on a thought of a mere acquaintance
  • Repeat the procedure while focusing on a photo or on a thought of someone with whom you have or have had a difficult relationship

3. While focusing on magazine pictures of anonymous people, repeat aloud the key sentences and, after each line, look at the persons one at a time and promise not to act in this way toward him or her

II. While focusing on someone in person

1. While sitting in a circle with a group and focusing on each person in turn at each step

  • While looking downward, create a quiet and caring space with respect to yourself
  • While looking around the circle, create a quite and caring space with respect to each member
  • Repeat the procedure followed while focusing on the magazine pictures of anonymous people

2. While facing a partner

  • Repeating the procedure followed with the members of the circle, one partner repeats the ten key sentences aloud at a comfortable speed, pausing for some moments after each, while the other partner listens
    • The speaker focuses on the sincere wish to try never to harm the other person and on the person's accepting and believing the assurance and trusting him or her
    • Proceeding through the ten points, the speaker feels progressively more responsible for his or her behavior in the relationship
    • The listener focuses on feeling secure and safe with the speaker
  • Let the experience settle by looking downward or closing the eyes and then focusing on the breath
  • Switch roles
  • For each of the ten sentences, the partners alternate: first one gives the assurance and then the other repeats the same words, with both persons focusing on the mutual generation and acceptance of responsibility, security, and trust.

III. While focusing on yourself

1. While looking in a mirror

  • Create a quiet and caring mental space toward yourself
  • Check whether you have acted in any of the ten destructive ways toward yourself
  • If you have not acted like that toward yourself, rejoice in that fact
  • After each of the ten, if you have acted that way
    • Acknowledge the problems and pain you caused yourself
    • Admit that your behavior was mistaken
    • Feel regret
    • Determine to rid yourself of the destructive habit
    • Reaffirm the positive direction you are trying to go in your life: you wish to relate to yourself in a healthy manner, based on balanced sensitivity
  • Promise yourself to try to stop being self-destructive, by repeating after the group facilitator, or by saying aloud by yourself, the key sentences
    • "I shall stop mistreating myself physically by overworking, by eating poorly, or by not getting enough sleep."
    • "I shall stop wasting my money on trivial things or being stingy and niggardly when spending on myself."
    • "I shall stop engaging in sexual acts that may endanger my health."
    • "I shall stop deceiving myself about my feelings or motivation."
    • "I shall stop speaking so obnoxiously that my friends become disgusted and leave me."
    • "I shall stop verbally abusing myself."
    • "I shall stop speaking indiscriminately about my private matters, doubts, or worries."
    • "I shall stop thinking about how to outdo myself because of being a perfectionist."
    • "I shall stop thinking in self-destructive, irrational ways that sabotage my relations with others or my position in life."
    • "I shall stop thinking I am stupid for trying to improve myself or to help others."
  • If necessary, reaffirm the quiet and caring mental space toward yourself

2. Repeat the ten pledges without a mirror

3. While looking at a series of photographs of yourself spanning your life

  • Create a quiet and caring mental space toward yourself as you are now
  • Look at the photos one at a time and create a quiet and caring space toward yourself as you were then, by repeating aloud the key sentences
    • "I am not going to make up or tell any stories about myself as I was then."
    • "I accept myself as I was then."
  • Check whether you have been thinking negatively about yourself as you were then
    • If you have not thought like that, rejoice in that fact
  • If you have thought negatively about yourself as you were then
    • Acknowledge the problems and pain you have caused yourself
    • Admit that your way of thinking has been a mistake
    • Feel regret
    • Determine to resolve your emotional issues about your past
    • Reaffirm the positive direction you are trying to go in your life: you wish to relate to your past in a healthy manner, based on balanced sensitivity
  • Pledge to try to stop thinking negatively of yourself during those periods, by repeating aloud the key sentences
    • "I shall stop thinking with dissatisfaction about how I was then, wishing that I had acted differently."
    • "I shall stop thinking with self-hatred about myself then."
    • "I shall stop thinking I was stupid then for what I did to try to improve my lot or to help others."
  • If necessary, reaffirm the quiet and caring mental space toward yourself as you were then
  • Look downward and, if necessary, reaffirm the quiet and caring mental space toward yourself as you are now

4. Reaffirm the ethical foundation for your behavior toward others and toward yourself, by repeating aloud the key sentences:

  • "I care about myself."
  • "I care about both the short-term and long-term effects of my actions on myself."
  • "I also care about being able to respect myself for how I act, speak, and think."
  • "I do not wish ever to lose my self-dignity."
  • "I care about others."
  • "I care about both the short-term and long-term effects of my actions on others."
  • "I also care about others being able to respect my family, my friends, my gender, my race, my religion, and my country for how I behave."
  • "I do not wish ever to bring them disgrace."
  • "Therefore, I shall try not to act, speak, or think out of attachment, greed, anger, arrogance, jealousy, or naivety."
[ Corresponding Chapter 5  in Developing Balanced Sensitivity]