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Eleven survival ideas for adolescents

Sol Gordon

Sol Gordon offers these ideas to adolescents. They often work rather well for us too.

  1. Risk intimacy, by telling people about yourself. You thus become vulnerable to being abused and rejected – or being embraced and accepted.

  2. If you can't be somebody you want to be, at least don't be somebody you don't want to be.

  3. If you have a tendency to be self-deprecating, don't tell anyone. it's really boring to be with anyone who is down on him/herself.

  4. If you have advice to give, don't expect anyone to follow it easily (or at all). When was the last time someone told you “not to worry" and you stopped worrying?

  5. If you do something wrong you should feel guilty. Mature guilt is organising, but not long-lasting. You will either make amends or you will not do it again.

  6. If you feel guilty about something that doesn't make sense “like having 'evil' thoughts“ your guilt will disorganise you and be the energy for repeating the unacceptable thoughts (obsessions) or behaviour (oompulsions) over and over again.

  7. If your love for another person is mature, it will energise you and contribute to your feeling optimistic about yourself. If your love is immature it will exhaust you, and generate feelings of depression, anger and jealousy.

  8. If you want to change a behaviour of yours (for example, talking too much or not enough) your initial efforts to change must be forced or mechanical. You must make yourself do something. You are trying to change a behaviour which has become a habit – in a sense it has become a spontaneous, 'natural' response of yours to tension. Upon forcing an alternative response (e.g. not talking so much) you will be 'rewarded' by enormous rushes of anxiety. If you are able to tolerate the 'mechanical' behaviour changes and the related tension, you will be able to change to a more acceptable 'habit'. (Number 8 is heavy – read it again.)

  9. If you are intolerant of someone else's behaviour – like a person who boasts a lot but is not hurting you – you are reacting to something about yourself that you don't like.

  10. The process of not doing what you're supposed to do is much more tiring than doing and getting the most boring tasks over with. The ultimate creative 'busy-ness' is when you have time for almost everything you want to do.

  11. Being criticised by someone you don't respect should have no impact on you. Life is too precious for you to be offended by or react to anyone's ridicule. Remember too, not everything you say or they say is important.

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