Monthly Article Archives: March 2011

“I Think the Cure Is Worse than the Disease”: The Importance of Realistic Expectations and Self-CompassionRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

In our book The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life, Sam Goldstein and I described Larry Whitaker, a man in his early 40s whom I saw in therapy. Larry was overweight and had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. His physician warned him that unless he began an exercise and diet program, he was placing himself at risk for a stroke or heart attack. Larry knew he had to make changes in his lifestyle but had been unsuccessful in the past, which intensified his sense of failure and distress. Larry questioned whether therapy could be beneficial. At our first session he said that he felt “very discouraged and sad.” He explained, “I don’t think I have the energy to try anything new.” He commented that he was hesitant to call me for an appointment and did so only on the strong recommendation of his physician who was very concerned about Larry’s deteriorating health and his level of unhappiness. Larry offered a poignant comment as we discussed his pessimism and sadness. “I think the cure is worse than the disease. I actually feel worse when I try to change because I always seem to have

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