The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on May 10, 1970 · Page 84
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May 10, 1970

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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 84

Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 10, 1970
Page 84
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Page 84 article text (OCR)

How You Can Cope With It All John:P. Kildahl. This is the tenth article in a series Picture Magazine is publishing by noted authors. Today's contributor, Dr. John KUdchl,. is a psychotherapist in" suburban New York, where he also teaches and writes. A graduate of St. Olaf College and Luther Seminary, he is also an ordained Lutheran minister. The drawings accompanying this article are by Jerry Warshaw. By John P. Kildahl THE morning of his arithmetic test, Junior has a stomach ache; Is it a virus? Probably not, says his mother, who knows that the pressure cm'her son to do well in arithmetic is enough to cause a stomach ache. Two new facts about our society are revealed in-the way Junior's mother handles his stomach ache: First, mothers are becoming psychologists. Second, even fifth graders feel the rat race. - Don't we all! Fortunately, the post-Sputnik pressures have been matched by important advances in our knowledge of how to cope with pressure. How an arithmetic test can cause a stomach ache is an example of this new knowledge, and we have also learned many things about coping with mothers-in-law, blue Mondays, tyrannical bosses and inferiority complexes. ' • , * A Dozen Practical Guidelines ... To Help You Cope With Pressure^ This article will explore the most important of these new insights. ^ I have been having troubles of my own with all this fresh knowledge in psychology, having just written a book called The Dynamics of Personality together with a distinguished psychiatrist, Dr. Lewis R. Wolberg. Qur^problem was to include in the book all the new stuff qn human behavior that is now emerging, while still keeping it welljjrounded in basic personality theory. Freud, r the old master, was great at digging into the past, and getting at the causes of things. But we Americans, typically, wa _„ action. So we won't stress analysis so much any more. Behavior --^ change, growth, and therapy are the important trends^now, and the last three to five years have been rich in this kind of research. I know I am not nearly so smart as Freud was,-but I think I probably do better psychotherapy in my offke-than Freud did in his. I have read better books and,had better teachers. In sorting through the latest-research it seems to me 12 reasonably understandable and practical guidelines emerge which any one of us can put to work in coping with the assorted pressures of life. < ( Middle-Aaed People Are Like Immigrants in a New World" Seven of these guidelines concern the adjustment each must ^' .^make with his own world. I suppose they will be'.most.useful to the . .1' " "over-SOs among us. The remaining five have-to do with changing one's world—a matter of concern, to everyone but perhaps especially interesting for younger people. I'll start with the seven guidelines on adjusting. * 1. ISOLATE YOUR PAST FROM THE PRESENT, It does not help to blame present troubles on unhappy childhood. You may not have been responsible .for what happened as a child, but you are- responsible for repeating those patterns in the present. Sure, you can remember "terrible experiences when you were a teen-ager: being humiliated, misunderstood and neglected. But if you pity yourself now, you are indulging yourself, and poisoning your present life. PAGE 14-DES MOINES SUNDAY REGISTER—MAY 10, I97Q : "It is literally true thatjinyone in middle life spent his youth in a world that has totally passed away," says Dr. Kenneth Boulding, University of Colorado economist. "We learn about the world, however, in our youth and we seldom change our view of it. Most people therefore are living in a totally unreal world." This warning from an economist makes good psychological sense. Margaret Mead's new book says middle-aged people are like immigrants in a new land, because the world has changed so much in the last generation. No wonder it is so little help to think about our childhood! 2. RECOGNIZE YOUR TENSIONS AND DEAL WITH THEM. Try to find out just when it is that you become tense. A young woman realized she always became upset when she was with a pessimistic older woman. Then she recalled that her own mother had an extremely gloomy outlook about woman's lot in the world, and was free about expressing it. After figuring out the similarity between her mother and this other older woman, she said to herself, "Look, this woman is not my mother and I don't have to accept her dour viewpoint." Her tension lifted. Correct many .elements In your ^environment; adjust to other Irremediable situations. Challenge your inferiority feelings. On the other hand, some tension is inevitable regardless of how mature a person is. From time to time anxiety will cause one to have sweaty palms, or butterflies in the stomach, or an aching back. But these experiences are common to most of the human race, and they do not mean that life is caving in. All of us can remember having made it safely through other such upsets. Most minor emotional upsets are self-healing. 3. LEARN TO LIVE WITH A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF INEVITABLE HOSTILITY. I wonder how many times a day the average person gets irritated. My guess would be a minimum of dozens. It is better to let the anger flow than to bottle it up. But it can be expressed in a way that/does not hurt others or harm yourself. To yell at the children "I am getting angry" is a good example of how this can be done. It can also be done through loud talking when one .is.alone, or through exereise.' Singing in the fcatht-ub, yelling-that the ump is blind, or cursing at snarled traffic are readily available outlets. Understanding the reason for your anger will in itself serve as a release. Conflicts about sex may have been the major problem in Victorian days, but what to do with one's anger is often more crucial in 1970 — especially for a young person. (Clear-cut evidence of anger is visible in an infant by the age of three months, which is a lot sooner than sexual feelings show themselves, according to the research done by K^thrine Bridges.) 4. TOLERATE SOME FRUSTRATION AND DEPRIVATION. The cause of nearly all anger is frustration, say the Yale psychologists, Dollard and Miller. As I walk down the sidewalk,

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