Psychological Self-Help

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critical of them. This may temporarily reduce your self-criticism but the negative
feelings towards yourself are still there.
As Namka points out, however, it is quite an achievement if one can detect an
irritating trait or behavior in someone else and then by careful self-observation
recognize that you may have the same trait or behavior tendency. And, more
importantly, recognize that you may have projected (spread around) that emotion
or trait to others in order to make yourself feel a little better. If you can own your
own negative traits, stop getting upset by others, and understand or forgive yourself,
you will be much better at controlling your rants. To deal with the guilt and shame
that you discover you have been trying to conceal by getting angry with others,
please refer to both guilt and shame in Chapter 6. The antidote to guilt and shame is
self-understanding and self-acceptance (See Determinism in Chapter 14).
Namka suggests an exercise designed to make your relationships safer—a place in
which you can openly share your feelings: Step (1) Do a “Feelings Check.” Focus on
any internal feeling that makes you uncomfortable (or you don’t want to have this
feeling). Label this feeling…mad, disappointed, hurt, scared, boiling over, pissed off,
sad (it doesn’t have to be anger). As soon as you have an unpleasant feeling in
mind, just spend some time mentally being with the feeling…you don’t need to
complain about the feeling or figure out what to do about the feeling. Instead, tell
yourself that having the feeling is OK, that the feeling is natural in your situation,
that you can accept the feeling, and that you shouldn’t be ashamed of having the
feeling, and so on. Spend time with the feeling even if you feel a little uncomfortable.
Step (2) Go deeperdescribe your feelings about the feeling in #1…for example: “I
feel ashamed of feeling so angry” or “it would really be scary if I did what I’m
thinking of doing,” or “I feel like crying when I think of the angry feeling,” or “I feel
my hatred of what you did is justified” or “I’m afraid this feeling will never go away”
and so on. You will probably have many feelings about the feeling in step 1. That’s
OK…these feelings are important for you to know about. Your feelings may change as
you think about it.
Step (3) Carefully note your underlying feelings and judgments about the feelings
and judgments that you had in #2 about the original feeling in #1. How accepting
are you about having these various feelings? Do you feel scared, guilty,
ashamed…about the first feeling?…or about the feelings or thoughts about the
second wave of feelings? Do you feel good in some ways about having the #1 feeling
or about having your reactions in #2 to the #1 feeling? What else do you feel—
anxious? shame? proud? Ask yourself if these feelings give you some indication of
how you feel about yourself? Is your self-concept positive or mostly negative and
self-doubting? Are you being hard on yourself? Any way you are feeling is OK. Tell
yourself to be accepting of the original feeling and of all the subsequent feelings.
Step (4) Try to identify your defense mechanisms. Like in this exercise thus far,
when faced with some bad feelings, observe how you try to get away from them.
Namka says the most common ways to defend ourselves from bad feelings are: to fix
them, to change the feelings, to deny or escape from the feeling, to blame someone
else for the bad feeling, and so on. If a person can relieve their bad feelings, they
won’t need to be so defensive and will have more ability to solve the problems. By
watching how you are trying to cope with a feeling, you are gaining self-knowledge
about how you defend yourself. Watch carefully to see what you want to do with an
uncomfortable feeling—ask if you use these possible defenses:
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