Psychological Self-Help

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new Positive Psychologists say childhood experiences just don’t have
that much impact on adult unhappiness, so the bad feelings don’t need
to be dug up in therapy. They prefer the Cognitive Therapy approach
rather than uncovering the past in great depth. They admit, however,
that if bad past experiences are remembered over and over, ruminated
about, and expressed as terrible events, these thoughts could cause
depression. The assumption is that awful experiences will fade away if
they are out-of-mind and not re-lived. Therefore, the cognitive
approach (see my chapters 5, 6 and 14) is different from many insight
therapies (see my chapter 15). Remember—probably the majority of
psychologists believe bad, traumatic childhood experiences often have
a lasting impact, just as the good positive experiences recommended
by Seligman might. 
His next three chapters focus on developing healthy attitudes
towards viewing and accepting your past, being optimistic about the
future, and increasing your pleasures and gratifications in the
thinking about how you actually see the past by giving you three tests:
Satisfaction with Life Scale, The Gratitude Survey, and a Transgression
Motivation scale which measures your need for revenge. Your story of
your life is really your cognitive explanation of your life. What if, as
Seligman argues, childhood experiences have little to do with your
adult life? What if the genes have much more powerful influence than
a critical mother, a distant father, abuse, your parents’ divorce, a
death of a parent, etc.? The dwelling on childhood in therapy would be
pretty much a waste of time! The Cognitive Therapy view is that every
emotion is the result of our recent thoughts. Examples: a thought that
we are going to mess things up causes anxiety and feelings of
insecurity; the thought that someone is going to screw me over causes
anger; the thought that my lover may be interested in someone else
causes jealousy, resentment, and fear of loss. So, effective treatment
involves changing your thinking about your past in the direction of
appreciating good events in your past and understanding (with some
forgiveness) the wrongs done to you. How can you do this? 
Completing the Satisfaction with Life Scale and the Gratitude
Survey on Seligman’s Web site should get you started thinking more
positively about the past. These additional exercises are
recommended: Start keeping a daily diary in which you describe three
to five things that happened to you that day that you appreciated.
Your joy, happiness, and life satisfaction should increase because you
are thinking more about good happenings. Another suggestion is to
write up a one-page description of someone who has made an
important contribution to your life. Arrange to take some time face to
face with this person, express your gratitude, actually read your
testimonial to them and give them a copy, and spend some time
discussing the events, your feelings, and their feelings. The idea is to
learn to appreciate and savor the good parts of your life. 
This may be one of the weakest parts of Seligman’s approach. The
experiential and experimental bases for his therapeutic suggestions
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