Psychological Self-Help

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the precise prediction of human behavior is very difficult. The
murderer might have run away from the victim or broken down and
cried or killed him/herself, if he/she had waited one more minute.
Thirdly, there are influences on our behavior that we are ashamed of
and deny. Being open-minded to the complex causes and to the
unconscious factors operating might greatly improve our coping with
real problems. 
If we could honestly explore and accept every possible motive,
thought, or feeling within us, regardless of how mean, perverse, or
shameful it is, presumably we wouldn't have Freud's kind of
unconscious, i.e. a pool of repressed threatening, immoral,
inconsiderate, destructive, self-defeating forces that influence one's
thoughts and actions in unknown but usually unhealthy ways. Why
shove scary, evil thoughts out of your mind, if recognizing those
thoughts and handling them will help you understand yourself and
make reasonable decisions? Ask yourself: Who would I feel safer with,
a friend who recognizes his/her resentment or jealousy of your brains
or possessions or love life and monitors his/her thoughts and feelings
to guard against acting on those irrational feelings in hurtful ways or a
friend who was oblivious to his/her feelings and their causes? The
answer is obvious. 
Nevertheless, you may still worry that recognizing all these evil
impulses will cause you to lose control or, at least, cause you stress. I
understand. Indeed, some discomfort is likely, e.g. if you are
homophobic or just have a reaction of "yuck" to imagining sex
between two people of the same sex, yes, it is going to be
uncomfortable to also realize some positive attraction within you to
homosexual activity. Examples of uncomfortable thoughts in this area:
realizing your liking and wanting to be with your best same-sexed
friend has some similarity to homosexual "love," males realizing their
interest in observing and comparing penises, females finding breasts
attractive (and why not, they nursed the same as boys), and getting a
little aroused by an X-rated movie of homosexuals. But, by increasing
self-awareness and going through some stress, you may become less
hateful, less discriminating, more understanding, and more at ease
interacting socially with homosexuals. You are not going to become
homosexual if that isn't your natural and powerful inclination. So, why
be so afraid or appalled? 
It may also be reassuring to remember that having a thought or a
feeling is not the same as carrying out the act. As discussed in chapter
6, thinking of beating up on somebody is not the same as doing it. On
the other hand, repeated thoughts about assaulting people don't sound
too healthy and probably increase the likelihood of undesirable actions.
If Jimmy Baker and Jimmy Swaggart had thought less about
prostitutes and affairs, they probably would have been less likely to
act out. If they had totally denied to themselves any interest in other
women, they might have had other problems--an obsession with
stopping prostitution or topless dancing, condemning all "johns" to
hell, and similar actions, called "reaction formations." A wise self-
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