Psychological Self-Help

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1505
possibly make intelligent decisions and adjust to the situation? You
don't see things realistically; you don't know your own needs; you
don't respond appropriately. Gestaltists try to help people work
through their "unfinished business." This means becoming aware of old
hurts, fears, needs, and resentments which are still alive but buried in
your unconscious and which continue to distort your view of reality.
Fritz Perls and other Gestalt therapists developed several methods
(experiences) for increasing awareness of these repressed emotional
experiences that secretly disrupt our lives, carry over the past into the
"here and now," cause neuroticism, interfere with decision-making,
etc. Some of these methods are described here for you to try. 
Like all insight therapies, Gestaltists emphasize "know thyself" and
"the truth will make you free." Yet, Gestaltists don't ask their patients
"why did you do that?" because it arouses defenses and encourages
rationalizations. Instead, they ask their patients to experience all of
their selves, to accept all their alienated parts (as in method #1) and,
thus, become whole--a gestalt. Similar to Freud's assumption that
insights will automatically be used, it was an Gestaltist notion that we
humans will intuitively make good decisions if we are playing with "all
our marbles," i.e. if we really are aware of the "unfinished emotional
business" and unconscious drives that are going on inside of us. Thus,
a basic principle of Gestalt therapy is to let your natural wisdom or
intuition flow--stop thinking about what you "should do" or "should
have done" and do what "feels right." Gestaltists suggest other healthy
attitudes: (1) assuming responsibility for all of your self--your traits,
decisions, feelings, and actions, (2) being your true self, your own
person, independent--not conforming to others' expectations, and (3)
living in the here and now--not regretting the past, not obsessing
about why we did something, not trying to plan and control everything
in the future, but being in touch with our feelings and what is going on
right now around us. 
I do my thing, and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you. And I am I.
-Fritz Perls
Gestaltists, while stressing self-responsibility, feel that self-help
procedures and techniques are of little value. Why? Because they
believe that self-improvement pits one part of you, the part that wants
to change, against another part, the part that wants to remain the
same. So even if self-help methods force a change over the resistance
of another part of you, such as weight loss or being more assertive,
you are likely to revert back to being over-weight or passive after the
self-help project is over. Instead, Gestaltists suggest getting to know
both the "I want-to-improve" and the "I-don't-want-to-change" parts
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