Psychological Self-Help

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1509
mind. Remember the example of both wanting and not wanting some
self-improvement. The objective is to become aware of all your parts
and the conflicts among these competing urges and wishes, and in this
way free up your thinking. 
Perls, Hefferline and Goodman (1951) suggest imagining things in
alternative or opposite ways. Examples: If you are short, imagine
being tall. If you are honest, imagine lying. If you are a giving, loving
person, imagine being in dire need of help and love. If you are a man,
imagine being a woman. Imagine what might have happened if you
had said "yes" instead of "no" in some important decision. If you
believe something strongly, imagine it isn't so. Imagine disliking a
person you ordinarily like or love. Think about the possibility that one
person's gain is likely to be somebody else's loss, such as your getting
a new job may mean someone lost the job and/or others failed to get
the job, or the more of the company's profits go to the executives, the
less money there is for the clerks' and janitors' wages, or the steel in
your new car may have come from a defaced mountain side, or your
beautiful furniture means a tree was cut, or your lobster dinner means
the death of an animal and less money to reduce world hunger, and so
on. 
Other examples to practice: If you feel inferior, ask if you don't
also feel superior. If you believe you are attractive, look for ways you
think you are unattractive. If you are always sweet and nice to others
(lots of southern hospitality), search for your resentment and distrust
of others. Take a common fantasy, say being committed and devoted
to someone, and look for urges in the opposite direction, say to use
and dump him/her. If you daydream about being a failure, look for
signs of your potential. If you dream of being great, look for
frustrations in your everyday life. Reverse roles with your spouse or
parents. Be flexible. Loosen up. Use your imagination and let your
feelings flow with the fantasies. 
Next, these authors suggest you focus on some specific
troublesome situation. First, get in touch with your usual ways of
perceiving, acting in, and feeling about that situation. Do this long
enough so that your current views and reactions are clear. Second,
completely reverse the situation, i.e. imagine the opposite views (if
you see it negatively, view it positively), the opposite actions (if you
are quiet, be active), and emotions (if you are angry, be indifferent).
Third, after experiencing both ways of seeing and reacting to the
situation, try to find some "middle ground." If possible, stand on this
middle ground between the two opposite reactions without judging
either extreme. Give equal attention to each way of reacting, view
each in detail with sensitivity and appreciation. This is called
"centering." 
The intent of this exercise is to free up your thinking and expose
you to different alternatives, factors, and relationships you had not
seen before. With this greater awareness should come clearer
understanding and better solutions. Perhaps you will also gain some
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