I haven’t watched his show in years, but did I ever pay attention when an article about MER was posted on Dr. Phil’s website and Facebook page.
What’s MER, you ask? Well, the acronym for “MER” stands for “Minimal Effective Response”. And what’s that, you ask again? Well, your Minimal Effective Response is the least (aka. minimum) you should do to acquire emotional “closure” – to make peace with a traumatic event from your past or present that has – or may – continue to affect you in the long run. Typically, these occurrences involve toxic individuals that have caused you this pain and impeded you from developing or proceeding with a happy/healthy life.
Obviously, the MER is difficult to master – especially if you want to avenge anyone who (indirectly or directly) perseveres in corrupting your mind and soul. But, you must remember the key term “minimal”; meaning that it should be adequate to make a significant difference in perspective, but it shouldn’t be hostile or violent or open another can of worms. Subtle and discreet are often the best ways to go with the “MER”.
Of course, there is nothing minimal about aiming to level with any issue – whether severe or “minor”. Maybe a relative abused you, a partner cheated on you, someone harassed you at school and in the workplace, or a friend stole so much money to you to the point of financial distress. Whether it was someone saying or doing something to you, the MER can be many different things on a fine scale between minimum and “too much”.
How do we establish the ideal MER? Well there’s no such thing as perfect. But even though the rise of social media and technology has fueled our obsessiveness and therefore deters us even more from “forgetting” those people we may frequently “creep”, it can also utilize as a very crucial tool in ensuring we fulfill our MER. How so? Well, it wouldn’t be creating a hate group or blog about them online. But because the most recommended MER is the “direct” one: an explanation and apology from the so-called “abuser” at hand, one way to harness your MER is to contact said person and express to them how much they have hurt you and affected your life, hopefully prompting a well-deserved apology or reason as to why they did what they did to you.
Another way to find your MER is to convert those negative emotions utilizing creativity and share them through art – even if on Facebook! Pictures, articles, etc. You can even post a meme or status that isn’t your’s to get your point across! Although I do oppose any subtweets or statuses that may not attain your pursuit’s attention, sometimes you just need to release that energy and channel it on a forum to connect with others who may have gone through similar experiences. It’s necessary to outlet those feelings, especially when bottling in that agony can lead to mental or psychological havoc. Even if you don’t have the courage to specifically contact this person and tell them how you feel, sometimes you need to write it out or put it up as a baby step in preparing you for the real deal – your actual “MER”.
Sometimes, “forgiving and forgetting” isn’t always possible. Even if we try to deny it, the pain – the reactions – we acquire from being bullying or abuse victims ie. squinting, lack of eye contact, slouching, etc. can transform our entire demeanor and manifest into other issues ie. anxiety, depression, addiction, etc. Know that a direct MER may not always receive a desirable response – or response at all. Some people simply haven’t matured or developed enough confidence to take responsibility for their behaviour. But, sometimes just being able to stand up and tell them how you feel – and that what they did was wrong – is the first step in healing, the initial building block in finding peace and moving on with your life – even without that person’s approval.
Dr. Phil outlines your MER steps for action implementing this four-part evaluation, but I’ve paraphrased it to simplify his instructions.
1. What can you do to diminish or eliminate the pain? (This can involve contacting this person directly and also resolving any conflict with them that may still be directly dependent on your self-conflict).
2. If your attempts rendered positive results and fulfilled the purpose of moving on/ending your pain, how would you feel? (Would you feel better? Would you be able to move on your life? Perhaps establish a friendship with this person in the nearby future?)
3. Does this potentially experienced feeling correspond with your desired feeling? (Or would you just feel relieved you got it off your chest, but not completely recovered?)
4. Again, take into consideration the part of MER is “minimal”. If one MER doesn’t work, could you try another MER? (Possibly a less expensive or less draining one?)
Different situations range at different levels of MER, and every person can have a different MER from the other – even just depending on their individual personality or feelings. For example, telling off your bully at a bar may be cathartic if it doesn’t lead to a physical argument. But, taking legal action and successfully charging someone with the crime of assaulting you may be the MER for someone in that specific scenario. In other words, the time has to match the crime (literally or figuratively, although bullying can very well be a crime too).
At the end of the day, everyone has their MER – and may need it to truly find peace within themselves. What are some ideas for a MER? Dr. Phil notes the infamous method of writing a hypothetical letter that can be thrown in the fire or on the doorstep of said person’s house. But I came up with a few of my own. Keep in mind that with these – or any – MER, you have to come to terms with yourself when you know you’ve done everything you could do to move on before and now you need this MER – to forgive, not for someone else but for yourself.
1. Telling That Person How You Feel With Words.
This could be done in person, over a call, text, speech, Facebook, Twitter DM – whatever. Just get it out of your system. Sometimes, saying what you want to say – just simply, with no artistic thought or interpretation behind it – is the easiest way to understand.
2. Reverse Psychology
Ok so this can be done if executed appropriately. Not every time or situation is applicable, but you can give someone a taste of their own medicine in a way where you’re not harming them; all while getting your point across by putting them in the same shoes as you and making them understand how they made you feel. Although this one could require some artistic merit or “acting”, it doesn’t need to be documented or broadcasted as a means of fulfilling the purpose of your MER. That will only humiliate the suspect and reverse the roles, as you stoop to their level.
But, remember that story that made the news? Where a bullied girl-turned-woman was at her high school reunion, and her “bully” supposedly asked her out? But then when he arrived to their “date”, she stood him up with a letter revealing how much his comments impacted her body image and led to her eating disorders, depression, etc. While ditching him may be perceived to some as immature, others may see her MER as justifiable considering the years of happiness and health the bully robbed her of. Fortunately, this specific bully realized the error in his past judgement and apologized for his mistakes.
Despite the social media depression diagnosis of embellishing your life on your profile and comparing your lives to others as you “creep” them in their never-ending, unspoken competition, sometimes a (filtered/non-filtered) pic on Instagram goes a long way! Whether you’re behind the camera or in front, showcasing your skills or hot new bod may be good once a while for just a little mood boost! Even if you just do it for yourself, success is the sweetest revenge all while being your MER simultaneously.
4. Making a YouTube Video/Channel
This goes for any social media platform, even reposting your own video on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. It’s easier to indirectly speak live, than to take the time to write all of it down. So if you prefer this way – or even making a vine, tweet, etc. – why not allow that anger to inspire a potentially viral item and make six figures annually as a YouTube, Vine or Instagram blogger? You may even become famous and earn a verified account. The possibilities are endless!
5. Singing/Creating Your Own Music
Of course, you can do this and become the next Justin Bieber. But even more likely, you can hit up your local karaoke bar and belt out a relevant ballad. Perhaps you can pen your own songs and perform with a band at night, or you can always just pick a song that pertains to your life and a certain person – serenading them with a surprise (unwanted) performance when they arrive. (Thank you, Carrie Underwood).
6. Writing Blogs/Articles/Books
If you don’t know how to depict your personal experiences in writing your own book or blog, perhaps you can try submitting it to a website or publication – such as Thought Catalog. Always works for me!