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3 Steps to Make Life Count

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Consider the story of Joanne: Although older than most of her peers at nursing school, Joanne looked like any other nursing student. Her personal journey, however, had been more difficult than most. Her parents had been emotionally and often physically absent, and she had largely fended for herself. From ages 10 to 12, she was sexually abused by an uncle. At 17, she was driving drunk on an icy road when she lost control of her car and killed her best friend, who was riding with her. As a young adult, she was diagnosed with lupus. When she came to my office, she was dealing with intermittent symptoms of lupus, as well as with periodic flashbacks to the sexual abuse and the car crash.              She also was burdened by two related and common misperceptions: The first misconception was that all of this was somehow her fault. The second was that somehow it could be changed. Of course, in Joanne’s case, there were powerful external events (absent parents and sexual abuse by an uncle) that assuredly were beyond her control. She also faced cognitive and emotional internal …

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