Dr. Phil speaks with guests about two destructive emotions and how they can control them.
Erin spends most of her time and energy feeling envious of everyone around her and what they have. "I get angry, jealous and bitter about the stupidest things," she says. "Even in the grocery line I compare myself to the mom behind me." Erin is envious of her younger siblings, her older sister, her friends, and has started to avoid seeing some of them because she gets so angry she has to leave the room when she's with them. "I spend so much time, so much energy, trying to be something I'm not, something that doesn't really matter," admits Erin. "It's exhausting and I hope that Dr. Phil can help me get over it. I don't want to feel this way anymore."
For example, while other people seem to have it all, she says, "I have two kids, live in a crappy house and drive crappy cars."
Erin's husband, Ron, sees things differently and says her envy and need for validation are getting old. "She's a strong person. She's a beautiful woman. She has a beautiful family. She has a beautiful house," he says.
Dr. Phil shows the audience a photo of Erin and Ron's house. "I have to tell you, that looks like an awfully warm, nice, cozy house to me," he says. Erin says that it's not like she's not grateful for it, it's just when compared to her sister's house, it's a "crappy" house.
"So you're not grateful for it," Dr. Phil corrects her. He tells her that she has to be honest with him if she's going to be on his stage. "It bothers you that you don't have what your sister has, right?" Erin agrees. "It bothers you that you don't have what the other students have. It bothers you that you didn't get what your siblings got when you were in school. You say their houses are better, your friends' kids' toys are better, and you're even upset when you look at pictures of your own children because you don't like the brown carpet they're on." Erin agrees.
Dr. Phil asks her what she thinks of her husband and Erin says he's a very good husband. "So why is he OK, but everything else is not?" Dr. Phil asks. Erin can't answer that question but explains that she knows it's not reality, it's just her perspective on things.
"But you don't know what it is that you do
want. You just know that whatever it is, it's not what you have," says Dr. Phil. Erin agrees. "So you feel sorry for yourself," Dr. Phil continues. Erin agrees. "And you kind of feel that you've gotten a bum deal. What should've happened in your life that didn't?" he asks.
"That's a hard question," says Erin. "I don't know."
Dr. Phil tells her that the reason these questions are so hard for her to answer is because she's not holding her feet to the fire. "You've been so busy feeling sorry for yourself and whining about what you don't have, that you haven't really asked the question: What's missing? How do you know that you don't have anything that you could ever want if you don't know what you do want?" he asks.
Dr. Phil tells her what he learned from talking to Ron when she wasn't around: "This guy is so in love with you and so devoted to you and so focused on trying to figure out some way to help you that he is absolutely in pain for you." Dr. Phil addresses a question that Ron asked about what he can do to help validate his wife and make her feel better about herself: "The answer is nothing." He explains that Erin is a bottomless pit and no amount of reassurance would help her.
"What I want you to do is start requiring more of yourself," he tells her. He explains that she should get up every day and focus on the things that she's thankful for, the gifts that she's been given, the talents that she has, the family and the opportunities that are before her. "You're a student. You're learning. You're developing your mind. You have these children. You have a healthy body, a bright mind, all of these things," he says.
"You don't have problems. You don't have cancer. Your children don't have dreaded diseases. You're not dealing with some horrible situation that really is a problem. What you're doing is creating a problem out of nothing — out of perception," he says.
Dr. Phil tells Erin that she chose these thoughts and she can make different thought patterns that will challenge what she's been telling herself. He gives her three assignments to change the way she looks at the world:
1) "I want you to get up every morning for one week and write down 100 blessings in your life and I want you to put it in the mail and send it to me every single day."
2) "I want you to find every member of your family in one week, on the phone or in person, and tell them three things that you're thankful for about having them in your life."
3) "At least once in the next seven days, go to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen and volunteer for eight hours. Then I want you to write me a letter about that."
When Erin explains that she has volunteered before, Dr. Phil tells her, "Look. I may be full of crap. Humor me. Maybe it's just possible I have a point of view or perspective that you don't have."