I'm afraid to _____________, ________________,
I'm unable to ____________, ________________,
Do this before reading on; otherwise, you are likely to miss the point.
Now, go back and try substituting these words for the five
I chose to...instead of I had to...(whatever you filled in above)
I won't...instead of I can't...(whatever you filled in above)
I want...instead of I need...(whatever you filled in above)
I'd like to...instead of I'm afraid to...(whatever you filled in
I'm unwilling to work hard enough to...instead of I'm unable
to... (whatever you filled in above)
Do you see how you might actually be denying the responsibility
for many of your choices, wants, fears and weaknesses? It is
important to see how this kind of thinking (and subtle use of certain
words) can contribute to us feeling less free, less able, less satisfied
with ourselves. In this way, we start to believe we have few choices
and little power. We become unrealistically weak and passive. In
reality, we often (but not always) have many choices and much power.
Fritz Perls was a crusty old man who had little patience for people who
"played helpless" to manipulate others. He would say, "Grow up and
wipe your own ass." That puts it bluntly.
STEP FIVE: Working through unfinished business: Uncovering the
repressed feelings that still mess up your life.
Just as you are almost always thinking something, you are almost
always feeling something, even though you "don't pay it much mind."
Furthermore, what you are now feeling is influenced by emotional
"leftovers" from previous experiences. Gestaltists don't analyze
"unfinished business," they suggest you re-experience it, to get in
touch with the "leftover garbage." Examples: a middle-aged woman,
who distrusts men excessively, discovers that the "garbage" from an
irresponsible, rejecting father is still active. A 55-year-old man, who is
tense and sensitive to criticism, realizes that guilt about not providing
better for his ailing parents is very alive. Just like behaviors, feelings
come from somewhere.