Psychological Self-Help

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interact: they over-comply (to avoid criticism?), they become cynical,
mistrusting, and rebellious (to discount any negative feedback?), or
they simply don't interact or disclose (giving no grounds for a negative
opinion?). This suggests that the underlying problem is frequently a
low self-concept or shame (discussed in cause #13 above) within the
inner child (Chopich & Paul, 1990, 1993). 
Lonely adolescents unwittingly adopt harmful ways of escaping the
sadness, including: getting excessively involved with an idol, often a
recording artist, film star, or a sports hero. Another unproductive
coping mechanism is to deny any interest in socializing more or in
relating more intimately: "I'm not interested in having a
girl/boyfriend." Other young people deny that they feel lonely: "I really
didn't want to go out." This self-conning reduces their motivation to
change. Finally, rather than developing social skills and meaningful
relationships, a person can find other forms of gratification or escape,
such as drinking, drugs, partying, TV, reading, and other "fun."
Gaining awareness of these escape mechanisms might help the person
get motivated to learn social skills and build his/her self-esteem. 
When people are asked "What do you do when you get lonely?",
about 50% say: read, listen to music, and/or call a friend. Altogether,
their responses can be grouped into five categories: (1) sad passivity
(cry, sleep, watch TV, drink, take drugs, eat, do nothing), (2) active
solitude (work, read, write, listen to music, exercise, involved with
hobby), (3) spend money, improve appearance, (4) reason with one's
self: "I have had friends," "I have good qualities," "It won't last
forever," "What can I do?" and (5) call or visit a friend, help someone,
join support groups (Rubinstein & Shaver, 1982b; Rook & Peplau,
1982). The first category--sad passivity--is common for the lonely;
they seem to be saying, "I'm sad and helpless; love me, take care of
me." The other categories are pretty good self-help methods. 
Peplau and her colleagues at UCLA (Peplau & Perlman, 1982) have
observed how new students cope with loneliness. Several findings are
of interest. First, the students who were still lonely after seven months
had tried the same behavioral and mental techniques as the students
who had overcome their loneliness. The main differences were these
initial attitudes among the lonely: lower self-esteem, expecting less
out of relationships, and blaming the lack of friends on their
unchangeable personal traits. The same cognitive characteristics found
by other researchers. Second, the people who overcame being
lonesome had developed more friendships, not necessarily more dating
relationships although dating helps. Third, overcoming loneliness
wasn't so much how many friendships one had make, more important
was the quality and depth of the friendships. So, skills at getting
intimate may be more important than skills at meeting people. 
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