Feeling Good Together: The Secret to Making Troubled Relationships Work

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9780091929619: Feeling Good Together: The Secret to Making Troubled Relationships Work

We all have people in our lives that we just can't seem to get along with. Whether it's our spouse, co-worker or neighbour, something about the relationship just rubs us up the wrong way, and though our natural instinct is to blame the other person, that can just make things worse. In "Feeling Good Together", renowned US psychiatrist Dr David Burns applies his successful method of cognitive interpersonal therapy to teach us how to take control of our relationships. Building on the principles that he first introduced in "Feeling Good" (over 4 million copies sold), Burns offers innovative techniques designed to improve communication skills and shows us how to cope with different personality types, such as the big ego, the jealous type, the stubborn mule and the critic, and reveals the five secrets of effective communication. This groundbreaking book will identify the behaviours that are sabotaging your relationships and give you the tools to change.

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About the Author:

Dr David Burns is the author of five books including the bestselling Feeling Good and When Panic Attacks. He is an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine and has served as Visiting Scholar at Harvard Medical School. In February 2008 Dr Burns and Feeling Good were featured on the BBC's Imagine series (first episode).

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One
What the Experts Say

   We all want friendly, rewarding relationships with other people, but we often end up with the exact opposite—hostility, bitterness, and distrust. Why is this? Why can't we all just get along?
   There are two competing theories. Most experts endorse the "deficit theory." According to this theory, we can’t get along because we don't know how. In other words, we fight because we lack the skills we need to solve the problems in our relationships. When we were growing up, we learned reading, writing, and arithmetic, but there weren't any classes on how to communicate or solve relationship problems. 
   Other experts believe that we can’t get along because we don't really want to. This is called the "motivational theory." In other words, we fight because we lack the motivation to get close to the people we're at odds with. We end up embroiled in hostility and conflict because with the battle is rewarding.
The Deficit Theory
Most mental health professionals, including clinicians and researchers, endorse the deficit theory. They're convinced that we wage war simply because we don't know how to make love. We desperately want loving, satisfying relationship but lack the skills we need to develop them.
   Of course, different experts have different ideas about what the most important interpersonal skill deficits are. Behavior therapists, for example, believe that our problems getting along result from a lack of communication and problem-solving skills. So when someone criticizes us, we may get defensive when we should be listening. We may pout and put the other person down instead of sharing our feelings openly, or we may resort to nagging and coercion in order to get our way. We don't use systematic negotiation or problem-solving skills, so the tensions escalate.
A related theory attributes relationship conflict to the idea that men and women are inherently different. This theory was popularized by Deborah Tannen in her bestselling book, You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, and by John Gray in his bestselling book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. These authors argue that men and women can't get along because they use language so differently. The idea is that women use language to express feelings, whereas men use language to solve problems. So when a woman tells her husband that she's upset, he may automatically try to help her with the problem that's bugging her because that's how his brain is wired. But she simply wants him to listen and acknowledge how she feels, so she gets more upset when he tries to "help" her. They both end up feeling frustrated and misunderstood. You may have observed this pattern in yourself and someone you're not getting along with, like your spouse. 
   Cognitive therapists have a different idea about the deficits that lead to relationship problems. They emphasize that all of our feelings result from our thoughts and attitudes, or "cognitions." In other words, the things other people do—like being critical or rudely cutting in front of us in traffic—don't actually upset us. Instead, we get upset because of the way we think about these events.

The Ten Distortions that Trigger Conflict
 

1.All-or-Nothing Thinking
Description: You look at the conflict, or the person you're not getting along with, in absolute, black-and-white categories.  Shades of grapy do not exist.
Example: You tell yourself that the person you're mad at is a complete zero with no redeeming features. Or, if your relationship breaks up, you may think that it was a total failure.
2. Overgeneralization
Description: You view the current problem as a never-ending pattern of frustration, conflict and defeat.
Example: You tell yourself, "She'll always be like that."
3.Mental Filter
Description: You catalogue the other person's faults, dwell on all the negative things she or he has every done or said to you, and filter out or ignore all the other person's good qualities.
Example: You tell your spouse, "This is the tenth time I've told you to carry out the trash." Or, "How many times do I have to remind you not to leave your dirty socks on the floor!?"
4.Discounting the Positive
Description: You insist that the other person's good qualities or actions don't count.
Example: When someone gives you a complement, you may tell yourself that he's just being nice and doesn't really mean it. Or, if someone you're fighting with does something positive, you may tell yourself that he's trying to manipulate you.
5.Jumping to Conclusions
Description: You jump to conclusions that may not be warranted by the facts. There are three common patterns:
 Mind-Reading. You assume that you know what makes the other person tick and how they feel about you.
You tell yourself that a friend is totally self-centered and only wants to use you. 
 Reverse Mind-Reading. You may tell yourself that the other person should know what you want and how you feel without having to tell him.
You tell your spouse, "You should have known how I was feeling!"
 Fortune-Telling. You tell yourself that the situation in hopeless and that the other person will continue to treat you in a shabby way, no matter what.
Example: You tell yourself that the person you're not getting along with will never change.
6. Magnification and Minimization
Description: You blow the other person's faults way out of proportion and shrink the importance of his or her positive qualities.
Example: During an argument, you may blurt out, "I can't believe how stupid you are!"
7. Emotional Reasoning
Description: You reason from how you feel.
Example: You may feel like the other person is a loser and conclude that she or he really is a loser. Or, because you feel hurt, angry, and mistrustful, you conclude that the other person is trying to hurt you or take advantage of you.
8. Should Statements
Description: You criticize yourself or other people with "shoulds," "shouldn'ts," "oughts," "musts," and "have tos." There are two common patterns:
Other-Directed Shoulds. You tell yourself that other people shouldn't feel and act the way they do, and that they should be the way you expect them to be. Other-Directed Shoulds trigger feelings of anger, resentment, and frustration when things don't go the way you expected..
"You've got no right to feel that way!" Or "You shouldn't say that. It's unfair!"
Self-Directed Shoulds. You tell yourself that you shouldn't have made that mistake or shouldn't feel the way you do. Self-Directed Shoulds trigger feelings of shame, inadequacy, and depression.
Example: You withdraw and give up instead of solving the problem that's bothering you.
9. Labeling
Description: You label the other person as a "jerk" or worse. You see his or her entire essence as negative, with no redeeming features
Example: "She's such a bitch!" Or, "He's an asshole!"
10. Blame
Description: Instead of pinpointing the cause of a problem, you assign blame. There are two patterns:
Other-Blame. You blame the other person and deny your own role in the problem.
You tell your spouse, "It's all your fault!" Then you get angry, frustrated and resentful.
Self-Blame. You feel guilty and worthless because you blame yourself for the problem, even if it isn't entirely your fault.
Example: You tell yourself, "It's all my fault!" Then you use all your energy beating up on yourself instead of finding out more about how the other person is feeling ad trying to solve the problem.

This theory may resonate with your personal experience. When you're mad at someone, you may have noticed that your mind will be flooded with negative thoughts. You tell yourself, "He's such a jerk! He only cares about himself. He shouldn't be like that. What a loser!" When you feel upset, these negative thoughts will seem overwhelmingly valid, but they actually contain a variety of thinking errors, or "cognitive distortions," listed on pages 4[d1]  – 6.
      One of the most interesting things about the cognitive theory is the idea that anger and interpersonal conflict ultimately result from a mental con. In other words, you're telling yourself things that aren't entirely true when you're fighting with someone. However, you don't notice that you're fooling yourself because the distorted thoughts act as self-fulfilling prophecies, so they seem 100% valid. For example, if you tell yourself that the person you're annoyed with is a jerk, you'll treat him like a jerk. As a result, he'll get angry and start acting like a jerk. Then you'll tell yourself that you were right all along and that he really is a jerk. 
      Cognitive therapy is based on the idea that when you change the way you think, you can change the way you feel and behave. In other words, if we can learn to think about other people in a more positive and realistic way, it will be far easier to resolve conflicts and develop rewarding personal and professional relationships.
This theory sounds great on paper, but it's not that easy to change the thinking patterns that trigger anger and conflict. That's because there's a side of us that clings to these distortions. It can feel good to look down on someone we're angry or annoyed with. It gives us a feeling of moral superiority. We just don't want to see that we're distorting our view of the person we're not getting along with.
      Some experts claim that the most important deficit that leads to relationship problems is a lack of self-esteem. In other words, if you don't love and respect yourself, you'll have an awfully hard time loving anyone else because you'll always be trying to get something from the other person that you can only give yourself. This theory has been popular in our schools. The idea is that if we help children develop greater self-esteem when they're growing up, they'll be able to develop warm, trusting relationships with others and won't be so attracted to violence, crime, and gang membership as they get older.
   Other experts believe that relationship distress results from a different kind of deficit called relationship burnout. You may have noticed that when you aren't getting along with someone, there's nearly always an escalation of negativity over time. You and your spouse may criticize each other more and more and stop doing all the fun things you did when you first met and began to date. Pretty soon, your marriage becomes a source of constant stress, frustration, and loneliness, and all the joy and caring you once experienced has disappeared. At this point, separation and divorce begin to seem like highly desirable alternatives.
   Therapists who endorse the burnout theory will encourage you and your partner to accentuate the positive. For example, you could schedule more fun, rewarding activities together so you can begin to enjoy each other's company again. You might also do several loving, thoughtful things for each other every day, such as calling your partner from work just to say hello, or bringing your partner a cup of coffee in the morning to show you really care.
   Many therapists believe that relationship problems ultimately result from a lack of trust and the fear of vulnerability. Let's say that you're ticked off because of something that a colleague or family member said to you. On the surface, you're angry, but underneath the anger, you feel hurt and put down. You're reluctant to let the other person know that you feel hurt because you're afraid of looking weak or foolish. Instead, you lash out, get defensive, and try to put the other person down. Although the tension escalates, your anger protects you because you don't have to make yourself vulnerable or risk rejection. In other words, the basic deficit is a lack of trust—we fight because of our fears of intimacy. Therapists who endorse this theory will encourage you to accept and share the hurt and tender feelings that are hiding underneath all the anger, hostility, and tension.
   Psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapists believe that all of these interpersonal deficits and problems loving each other ultimately stem from painful experiences and wounds we endured when we were growing up. The idea is that if you grew up in a dysfunctional family, you may subconsciously recreate the same painful patterns over and over as an adult. For example, if your father constantly criticized you and put you down, you may have felt like you were never quite good enough to earn his love. As an adult, you may be attracted to men who are equally critical of you because you feel like your role in a loving relationship is to be put down to by someone who's powerful and judgmental, and you may still be desperately trying to get the love you never got from your father.
 
When I first began treating people with relationship problems, I believed all of these deficit theories, so I naturally tried to help my patients correct the deficits that were causing their conflicts. I enthusiastically taught troubled couples how to communicate more skillfully, how to solve their problems more systematically, and how to treat each other in a more loving way. I also taught them how to boost their self-esteem and modify the distorted thoughts and self-defeating behavior patterns that triggered all the anger and resentment. Sometimes we analyzed the past to try to trace the origins of these patterns.
   I was surprised to discover that none of these techniques worked very well. It wasn't that they weren't ever effective—individuals who learned to listen, share their feelings more openly, and treat others with greater love and respect sometimes experienced immediate and dramatic improvements in their relationships with other people. But these individuals were few and far between. Most of the people who complained about their relationships with other people didn't actually seem motivated to use any of these techniques. In fact, many of them didn't seem interested in doing anything whatsoever to develop more loving, satisfying relationships with the people they were at odds with. They claimed that they sincerely wanted a more loving and satisfying relationship, but what they really meant was, "I want you to agree that my wife (or husband) is a loser."
   These experiences were quite different from my experiences treating people who were suffering from depression and anxiety. They were also plagued by distorted negative thoughts that constantly flowed across their minds, such as, "I'm no good. I'm such a loser. What's wrong with me? I'll never get better." When I showed them how to challenge and dispute their self-critical thoughts, the feelings of depression and anxiety disappeared and they were thrilled. But when I tried to help individuals who were angry and having trouble getting along with...

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Descrizione libro Ebury Publishing, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. We all have people in our lives that we just can t seem to get along with. Whether it s our spouse, co-worker or neighbour, something about the relationship just rubs us up the wrong way, and though our natural instinct is to blame the other person, that can just make things worse. In Feeling Good Together , renowned US psychiatrist Dr David Burns applies his successful method of cognitive interpersonal therapy to teach us how to take control of our relationships. Building on the principles that he first introduced in Feeling Good (over 4 million copies sold), Burns offers innovative techniques designed to improve communication skills and shows us how to cope with different personality types, such as the big ego, the jealous type, the stubborn mule and the critic, and reveals the five secrets of effective communication. This groundbreaking book will identify the behaviours that are sabotaging your relationships and give you the tools to change. Codice libro della libreria AAZ9780091929619

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Descrizione libro Ebury Publishing, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. We all have people in our lives that we just can t seem to get along with. Whether it s our spouse, co-worker or neighbour, something about the relationship just rubs us up the wrong way, and though our natural instinct is to blame the other person, that can just make things worse. In Feeling Good Together , renowned US psychiatrist Dr David Burns applies his successful method of cognitive interpersonal therapy to teach us how to take control of our relationships. Building on the principles that he first introduced in Feeling Good (over 4 million copies sold), Burns offers innovative techniques designed to improve communication skills and shows us how to cope with different personality types, such as the big ego, the jealous type, the stubborn mule and the critic, and reveals the five secrets of effective communication. This groundbreaking book will identify the behaviours that are sabotaging your relationships and give you the tools to change. Codice libro della libreria AAZ9780091929619

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Descrizione libro Ebury Press, 2009. Condizione libro: New. 2009. Paperback. We all have people in our lives that we just can't seem to get along with. This title provides method of cognitive interpersonal therapy to teach us how to take control of our relationships. It offers innovative techniques designed to improve communication skills and shows us how to cope with different personality types. Num Pages: 288 pages. BIC Classification: VFV. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 213 x 135 x 23. Weight in Grams: 310. . . . . . . Codice libro della libreria V9780091929619

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Descrizione libro Ebury Press. Condizione libro: New. 2009. Paperback. We all have people in our lives that we just can't seem to get along with. This title provides method of cognitive interpersonal therapy to teach us how to take control of our relationships. It offers innovative techniques designed to improve communication skills and shows us how to cope with different personality types. Num Pages: 288 pages. BIC Classification: VFV. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 213 x 135 x 23. Weight in Grams: 310. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Codice libro della libreria V9780091929619

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Descrizione libro Ebury Publishing. Paperback. Condizione libro: new. BRAND NEW, Feeling Good Together: The Secret to Making Troubled Relationships Work, David D. Burns, We all have people in our lives that we just can't seem to get along with. Whether it's our spouse, co-worker or neighbour, something about the relationship just rubs us up the wrong way, and though our natural instinct is to blame the other person, that can just make things worse. In "Feeling Good Together", renowned US psychiatrist Dr David Burns applies his successful method of cognitive interpersonal therapy to teach us how to take control of our relationships. Building on the principles that he first introduced in "Feeling Good" (over 4 million copies sold), Burns offers innovative techniques designed to improve communication skills and shows us how to cope with different personality types, such as the big ego, the jealous type, the stubborn mule and the critic, and reveals the five secrets of effective communication. This groundbreaking book will identify the behaviours that are sabotaging your relationships and give you the tools to change. Codice libro della libreria B9780091929619

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