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A Grammar Lesson in Taking Personal Responsibility

By Michael Barmak
June 11, 2009

Learn how the simple process of substituting periods for commas can change your life! Once you understand how to separate facts from what you are telling yourself about the facts, you are on your way to letting go of the false beliefs that keep you stuck!

Commas and periods.  We all know the difference right?  Just to review.  We use a comma when we're pausing in the middle of a thought and intending to continue our statement.  Catching our breath because we have something we want to add.  Another way to say, 'and.'  It's like going on a trip from point A to point B and making a stop along the way.  My adventure isn't complete until I get to point B.

We insert a period when our thought is completed.  That's it.  No more to say. We're done.  Finished.  Complete.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Time to move on.  Getting back to my trip analogy, no stops.  We just get in the car and drive to our destination. 

You with me so far?  Good.  Now let's look at the relationship between facts and feelings.

Facts are facts.  Feelings are not facts.  Is it possible to take in facts without having any feeling associated with the facts?  Does there have to be an automatic relationship between facts and feelings? Can a fact exist by itself or does it always need to be accompanied by a feeling? 

What we tell ourselves about facts will determine how we feel.  Our inner Loving Adult sees and hears facts.  Our inner Unloving Adult attaches false beliefs to facts which leads to feelings like anger, resentment, depression and anxiety. 

Now let's put 'commas and periods' together with 'facts and feelings' then add Inner Bonding.  What do we get?  We find out that our Loving Adult sees and hears facts and uses periods to separate the facts.  Our Unloving adult loves commas, and attaching false beliefs to facts.  Let me give you some examples. 

Crystal's partner told her he wanted to go over to his mother's home.  He promised he'd be back in one hour.  That was at 7pm.  He stays out all night, doesn't call Crystal to tell her that his plans have changed and comes back at 3am.  Crystal is furious.  She feels unimportant, worthless, unlovable and embarrassed.  Unable to manage her feelings, Crystal relapses and picks up her drug of choice. 

Let's see where Crystal's comma is and what different choices she might make if she replaced her comma with a period.     

Crystal's Present Process:

1. Fact with comma:                             "My partner stayed out all night without telling
                                                          me, so I must be unimportant, unlovable
                                                          and worthless." 

2. Leads to false beliefs                        I am unimportant, unlovable and worthless

3. Leads to unloving actions:                 Uses drug to avoid feelings

Now what would happen if Crystal replaced her comma with a period? 

Crystal's Other Option:

1. Fact with period:                               "My partner stayed out all night without telling

2. Leads to loving action:                      Explores partner's reasons for changing plans
                                                          and not telling her.  Sets boundary with

Let's look at another one of my clients, Leroy. 

Leroy was let go from his job several months ago when his company reorganized.  He hasn't been able to find another position since then. 

Leroy's Present Process:

1. Fact with comma:                             "I didn't get called back for a second 
                                                          interview, therefore no one is ever 
                                                          going to want to hire me."         

2. Leads to false belief:                         No one is ever going to want to hire me.

3. Leads to wounded feelings such as:     Depression, shame and anxiety.

4. Leads to unloving action:                   Stops trying to find a job. 

Now what would happen if Leroy replaced his comma with a period?

Leroy's Other Option:

1. Fact with period:                               "I didn't get called back for a second

2. Leads to loving actions:                     Sends thank you letter to interviewer in case
                                                          another position opens up later.  Calls 
                                                          interviewer for feedback so that Leroy can
                                                          learn from the experience.

You've probably noticed by now the pattern.  Inserting commas after facts can lead to false beliefs which create wounded feelings resulting in unloving actions.  Placing periods after facts create opportunities for learning which leads to loving actions. 

This isn't about only focusing on information and not having feelings.  It's about understanding how easy it is to attach false beliefs to everyday experiences which then lead to feeling miserable.  Once you notice this dynamic you can change how you create your thoughts, your feelings and ultimately your life. 

The next time you are aware of feeling anxious, depressed, angry, unimportant or unlovable see if you can identify where you are putting commas after facts.  Then notice what you are telling yourself the facts mean about you. 

Now replace the commas with periods.  Feel the power of being in control of your thoughts, feelings and actions.  Feel the joy that comes from taking loving actions based on truth. 

Now that's loving. 

© 2009 by Michael Barmak

Michael Barmak, LCSW is a Certified Inner Bonding Facilitator in private practice. He works with individuals and couples in person and on the phone. Michael can be reached at 908-276-8191 or through his website,


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