Treat Yourself Well!
Everyday we make choices that impact our feelings. How do we
heal feelings that are constantly wounded or create choices that
enhance, rather than detract from the quality of our life?
Therapists help us explore reactions to situations and the choices we
make, which are sometimes artifacts of childhood rather than
are products of patterns learned earlier in life. They guide our
sense of safety and rewards. What we learn about ourselves and
how to relate to others is usually a result of childhood experiences
at the hands of powerful influences, such as parents and peers.
These lessons are difficult to learn and become habits, established by
a system of positive and negative rewards. Old habits die hard
and require a firm commitment to be altered.
For instance, occasionally we dislike what is occurring and expect
others to change, perhaps employing anger. Some of us have
learned helplessness and withdrawal from uncomfortable feelings.
They may simply forego their needs and passively please the other to
avoid conflict, pout, or use numbing drugs, alcohol, or overeat.
Frequently, we elect to remain in unrewarding situations, feeling
uneasy and frustrated. Why do people routinely choose these
Seven powerful, unconscious forces that motivate behavior are
Anger helps us feel more
us feel loved and valued.
helps us feel worthy and valued by evading fault and blame
us feel protected from risky situations, which may threaten
Guilt assures us
that we usually behave differently from the action we are currently
us feel superior by judging others as inferior.
Approval-seeking helps us
feel valued and liked by others.
The behaviors described above become an unconscious part of our
personality, perpetuating childhood patterns into adult coping
skills. These personality traits govern our relationships with
family and friends. Self-defeating behaviors and attitudes are
changeable. However, we must take responsibility for our
unconscious choices, rather than blaming others for their own unique
personalities. Few people are true victims; most continue their
own hurt by ignoring their options. These opportunities are
automatically blocked by the unconscious mind, which has long ago
decided how to function in similar circumstances.
Psychotherapists have many approaches and tools for managing the
varied difficulties people present. One way that therapists help
clients is to identify painful patterns and assist them to understand
why they are perpetuated. Clients then evaluate available
options and determine motivation for change, including assessment of
risk, such as rejection. Finally, therapists help clients follow
through with consistency. Most clients achieve their goals more
quickly than anticipated. Misery is Optional!