Most people want to have only pleasant memories, and think they’d be much happier if all their bad memories went away. But imagine what your life would be like if you never had any bad experiences! What if you grew up and everything was wonderful all the time? You’d grow up to be a wimp, totally unable to cope; there are quite a few examples in this country.

Once I had a 24-year-old client who had been on valium since he was twelve. The only time he left his house was to go to the dentist, the doctor, or the psychiatrist. He’d been through five psychiatrists, but as far as I could tell, the major thing that was wrong with him was that he hadn’t left his house in twelve
years. Now his mother and father thought he should be out on his own. His father owned a big construction company, and complained to me, “That boy, it’s time he got out on his own.” I thought, “You turkey, you’re twelve years too late. What are you going to do, give him your company so he can support you?” That company would have a life expectancy of about two days^ Since this kid had lived twelve years of his life on valium, he hadn’t had many experiences—until they sent him to me! I made him go all kinds of places and do lots of weird things —either that or I’d beat the stuffing out of him. When he hesitated the first time and said he couldn’t do something, I hit him really hard; that was the beginning of having experience. It was just an expedient way; I wouldn’t recommend that you do this with most people. But there are times when a good rap on the side of the head constitutes the beginning of building a motivation strategy.
Some of you may remember how that works from your younger years. I just put him in a lot of situations where he had to learn to cope with difficulties, and deal with other human beings. That gave him an experiential basis for living in the real world without the cushion of home, drugs, and a psychiatrist. The experiences
I provided were a little more useful and relevant than talking to his psychiatrist about his childhood.

People say, “I can’t do something” without realizing what those words mean. “Can’t” in English is “can not” joined together. When somebody says, “I can’t do it,” he’s saying he “can”—is \ab\c to—”not do it,” which is always true. If you stop and pay attention, and listen to words, you begin to hear things that tell
you what you can do.