Psychological Self-Help

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you feel you need total agreement and unfailing support from your parents,
ask yourself why that is needed. Does it reflect some dependency and self-
Try to use your insights into these conflicts. The teenager is trying to find
"his/her own place"--their unique personality and life-style. Look for
unconscious forces: children may delight in driving parents up a wall, parents
may get some secret pleasure from seeing their children fail or make
mistakes in certain ways, a parent's dreams may be frustrated when the
young person decides to "do his/her own thing," parents may be especially
upset when children do things they prohibit but are tempted to do
themselves, etc. Most importantly, the teenager may be slowly "cutting the
umbilical cord" by creating an "uproar" which makes it easier for him/her to
leave the love, warmth, and stifling dependency of home. Viewed in that light,
maybe having a few uproars isn't so bad. Don't let the "fights" become
permanently hurtful. Be forgiving. 
The case of Tony and Jane described at the beginning of this chapter
illustrates the complicated and intertwined nature of anger and fear. Jealousy
is a fear of losing our loved one to someone else. Thus, it involves an
anticipated loss (depression) and a failure in competition with someone else
(anxiety and low self-esteem). In addition, when your partner shows a love or
sexual interest in someone else, there is a "breech of contract" with you and a
disregard for your feelings. When Tony went flirting and dancing with
attractive women, even if it was merely innocent fun, he callously placed his
need for fun over Jane's plea for consideration of her feelings. That makes
Jane mad. Also, if Tony and Jane were married or engaged, Tony seemed (to
Jane) to break a solemn oath to forever "forgo all others" within 10 minutes
of meeting an attractive woman at a party. That too makes her mad...and
distrustful, and rightly so in my opinion. Yet, many of us are jealous without
any valid grounds for feeling mistreated or neglected; we are just afraid of
what might happen. 
Jealousy is discussed at length in chapter 10 (and see White & Mullen,
1989). Concerning Jane's anger, she could try to reduce it either by honestly
disclosing to Tony how upsetting and hurtful his flirting is (coupled with an
assertive request for reassurance and that he stop) or by reducing the
intensity of her anger response. Her anger could be reduced in a variety of
ways, e.g. by desensitization or stress inoculation, by correcting her thoughts
about how terrible it is that Tony flirts, by building her self-esteem, or by
changing her view of Tony's flirting from being an indication of his infidelity to
being a reflection of his doubts about his attractiveness. Other methods for
controlling anger are mentioned in the last section. 
Distrusting Others
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