Turning Bad, Mad And Stubborn Into Positive Personality Traits

Despite decades of pop psychology behind us, the world of mental health remains somewhat elusive to most of us. The Human Potential Movement engaged in popular phrases with vague meanings throughout the 60s and 70s, though hardly anybody knows someone helped by HPM. The famous people from the HPM culture tend to be its practitioners, whose own reputations were sometimes tawdry. What's a focused individual to do when they want to mature and gain insight, plus mastery over their negative emotions and behaviors?

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Many systems exist for making the most of negative emotions, Logotherapy among them. Though "It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness" seems to be a puzzling and contradictory statement, the concept is at the heart of Logotherapy's focus. The system was created by Holocaust survivor Dr. Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist and neurologist. Popularized by his bestselling 1946 book, Man's Search for Meaning, Logotherapy remains a vibrant, popular method for putting negative emotions into perspective.

The critical point is to understand that life continues despite devastating circumstances, that positive goals can be achieved by emphasizing meaning in life. That meaning is gleaned from suffering, as the sufferer gains valuable insights while enduring hardships - including torture. Logotherapy also focuses on the responsibility to something greater than serving the self, that is, to serving humanity in a productive way, finding and improving upon one's sense of purpose. Volunteerism is one method achieving all that. It promotes a sense of emotional and physical well-being.

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Few people, if any, want to spend years retelling old tales of woe, paying big bills to their therapists but not seeing significant improvements in their lives. Talk therapy tends to have its limitations. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, however, remains popular and rather effective, but CBT's short-term workouts at changing how you think are not for everyone struggling to straighten out their life; although it has been said to help with anxiety. Nor does it meet the needs of people who simply want to understand themselves and/or each other better.

An interesting approach to mental health is an ancient tool revived for modern humanity: The Enneagram. A star-shaped diagram with commentary, it is an interesting approach to mental health that indeed meets the needs of people who want to understand themselves and/or each other better. The Enneagram defines 9 basic personality types (designated in numbers 1-9) that can be expressed at ideal, intermediary and troublesome levels.

Those basic personality types are influenced by tendencies toward one of two numbered personality "wings" on either side of a given personality type aka number. The purpose of learning to understand and to use the Enneagram is to learn that a person's characteristics are 'givens,' not a matter of good or bad, just 'givens' to be dealt with in specific ways. The absence of judgmental assumptions and the receptivity to a person's quirks (e.g., the focus on justice, self-preservation, joy, service to humanity, difficulties enjoying life, difficulties with social activities and other raisons d'être) enable people to interact with acceptance and a sense of humor. As long as the people involved are not harming themselves or others, the method can prove very helpful as a tool for emotional growth.

Facebook is full of Enneagram pages for people who fit specific personality types/numbers and want to interact with each other to gain insights into themselves and other people, or to establish relationships. The Enneagram Institute teaches practitioners to use the system for personal plus public improvement. The school and the Enneagram system do not advocate for personality, thought or mood disorders. They are unacceptable, exceptions to the inclusion rule. People with such disorders are referred to mental health care.

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Turning bad, mad and stubborn personality traits into better outcomes and ultimately as positive personality traits is a realistic goal with the methods mentioned above. The process of doing so teaches us that negative emotions alert us to health problems, problematic thinking or judging patterns, relationship issues to be rectified, and other matters that can be improved on with appropriate focus and self-mastery efforts. Indulge in any of the time-honored strategies and see what can improve in your life.


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