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Negating

No psychological system is viable without the ability to negate. Important differences exist in whether the negation happens chronically or selectively and whether it refers to the behaviour or to a person. The difference between the two sentences, “You are never the daughter you should be!” and “I do not want you to come to dinner with unwashed hands!” could not be greater. If someone experiences that smaller or larger aspects of his person are chronically rejected, shamed, abandoned or devalued, then, in all probability, he will internalise this message. Effectively, he will split internally into an accusing and an accused part, into a persecuting and persecuted part, into a “go away” and a “I am not wanted” part, into a “you ought to” and an “I am trying”, part etc. People internalise rejection of the self. Thus, at this point, the ability to negate is used dysfunctionally. This results in a range of problems regarding self-esteem, self-regulation, self-awareness, relationship behaviour etc. Especially charming is the fact that advice is frequently sought because the self-rejecting representations of the person are not as successful as desired (“I would like to become more secure”) or the rejected parts have collapsed (‘burn-out’). In both cases a ‘repair’ should be carried out. However, by doing that the counsellor would aid the self-rejection in the client. He would do harm if he did not recognise this danger and, in a best-case scenario, would contribute to the postponement of the acute need (unfortunately this takes place rather too often).

That which was caused in clients due to a lack of affirmation and acceptance, cannot be cured without acceptance. Counselling as an improvement strategy for clients continues the drama of a dysfunctional upbringing. Therefore, the ability of the counsellor to meet all aspects of the client with benevolence, acceptance and openness, to explore the function of self-rejection, to create stimuli which enable affirmative impulses once more, and, last, but not least, also the determination with which he leads his client into the avoided areas of self-experience, has great significance.



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