Psychological Self-Help

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awareness. It is a physical experience, not a mental or emotional one;
it is what your body really feels. An example of a "felt sense" is the
vague, general sense you have of (a) some situation, say loosing a
relationship, (b) some event, say a serious accident, or (c) someone,
say your mother. For example, in the latter case, it doesn't involve a
mental list of thousands of physical features or behavioral traits or
past experiences you know about your mother; that is too much to
think about at one time; your "felt sense" of your mother is your
global sense of "all about Mom." Vague and non-specific as it is, you
will never confuse the "felt sense" of your mother with a "felt sense" of
someone else. It doesn't involve all the emotions you have ever felt
towards your mother nor even the one dominant emotion you have
recently been feeling towards her; it is a vague sense of your mother
that is broader than a single emotion. This "felt sense" of your mother
entering the room, however, may change your behavior immediately
and without conscious planning. 
Psychological-emotional problems often exist on this deep,
unconscious, bodily-felt level and these problems must, according to
Gendlin, be corrected on this level. When you make a change towards
awareness or a solution, i.e. when progress is made inside, there is a
detectable "felt shift” or a satisfying "body shift." The body seems to
know what makes sense and there is a noticeable easing or loosening
up--a bodily change or shift. Gendlin's example of body shift is a good
one: first, suppose you are shopping and you sense you have
forgotten something but can't remember what. Your body knows more
than your mind, in this case. Next, you may think of certain things you
actually have forgotten but you know they aren't "it." Instantly, as
soon as you think of it, say toothpaste, you know for sure and may
sigh, "That's it!" There is a noticeable physical sensation, a reduced
tension or a certainty we all know. All of this awareness is your "felt
sense" about the situation; the bodily relief and certainty immediately
after remembering is your "felt shift." A change in your "felt sense"
changes you and how you feel. Your "felt shift" is valuable for it says
"you're on the right track." Look for it. Get to know it well. You can use
it for insight and self-understanding in many ways. 
Gendlin believes he has discovered how people change. By letting
the body talk and listening to its wisdom, people can help themselves.
By doing essentially the same thing in therapy, many patients get
better. Gendlin says he can tell within the first couple of sessions of
therapy if a person uses his/her "felt sense" and will successfully
change. Thus, focusing on the "felt sense" comes natural to some
people, but if "you ain't got it" already, the effective method isn't
taught in most therapy. Yet, focusing on the "felt sense" can be taught
rather easily, and, unlike therapy, it feels good. Gendlin teaches his
patients how to do this (see below). 
Gendlin is a very experienced therapist. It was his opinion (before
the Cognitive Therapy movement) that cognitive (problem solving)
attempts seldom solve emotional problems. He says ruminating about
some upsetting experience frequently doesn't help and sometimes
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