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Sigmund Freud discovered that there is a remarkable difference between what people will tell you when they are sitting up and looking at you in the eye, and what they will say to you when they lie down on their backs and focus on the ceiling.
In Freud's view, self-ignorance and denial were the ultimate causes of illnesses. He wanted extreme honesty from his patients. Freud also realised that his own presence hindered his clients from being honest about their dreams and fantasies. Hence he decided in 1890 to shift his patients onto a couch.
We perhaps don't realise that seeing another person's face can discourage us from speaking the truth. We may hold back and edit our presentation in the light of their reactions.
With Sigmund Freud's example in mind, we should find our own forms of horizontal conversation. After dinner, we might suggest that we all go and lie down somewhere and become newly conscious of voices and nuances when we don't have to look at others' expressions.
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Some of our most despondent moods are caused by failures of the imagination. Imagination here is the power to envision alternatives. When we're sad, we can't imagine fi...
As grown-ups, we have choices. We are not small children where we have to depend on our parents for everything.
We could work as a bus conductor or retrain as a psychotherapist. We could volunteer in an emergency shelter. We can throw ourselves into learning a new language or take a university degree. We can look up old and trusted friends or make new friends.
To increase our chances of fulfillment, we need to feed our imagination and provide them with endless examples of alternative narratives, so they are more able to come up with plan Bs. We should practice to picture better ways to be.
As part of creative classes, adolescents should be asked to produce narratives like: If I lost everything and had to start up again, I will... They should be asked to make a list of 20 things that currently make life meaningful, then have to cross them all off and find ten more.
Parents, for many of us, are a complicated relationship. They can be a source of joy and can also feel like an emotionally draining ordeal.
Confronting them and making them understand how t...
Even if we feel that we have made our point, painstakingly making our parents understand the time we felt they did us wrong, we erroneously assume that our twenty-minute discussion will suddenly cure them of behavioural patterns that are in effect from several decades.
An outright bad parent is easier to handle, but the problem is complicated when the same parent is also caring, loving and is a genuine well-wisher.
While we may think that our parents are conflicted personalities, we are unconsciously having the same kind of behavioural patterns.
We periodically love and hate our parents, and have them imbibed in our body and mind, right down to mannerisms and quirks. We care for them yet sometimes wish to stay away from them.
Pity is an especially problematic and painful treatment, although it might seem very close to kindness. When someone hears of a problem we have, they may ask us with concern how we are doing; they ...
The pitying person knows how desperate our situation is, but then use their energy to make it clear that our sorrow is ours alone and that any similar horror could not ever touch them.
They need to create a wall between our condition and theirs. Their intentions are sweet, but they will not recognise that they are as open to madness, foolishness, accident, and suffering as we are.
Both the pity-bearing and sympathetic person will recognize our troubles; they both may say 'poor you.' But the pity bearing person does something cruel by implying that the mess we're in is only ours. They must remind us of the distinctiveness of our situation and keep us at arm's length.
The consoling friend is mature enough to know that everything we are suffering from could touch them one day too. This emotional background will lend sincerity to their words of consolation.