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By David D. Burns M.D.

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Additional resources for Feeling Good Together: The Secret to Making Troubled Relationships Work

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Some of them exhibited these mood swings daily: they were full of confidence one moment and overcome with inadequacy the next. Others had week- or month-long mood cycles. A few had decades of success, followed by total collapse. Some had all their self-confidence boxed up into one area of their lives—typically their careers—and failed miserably at everything else. One way or another, the “bitter” part of being a Chosen Child was known to them all. Why this contradictory mix of emotions? Typically, there are several factors involved.

At first glance, her family background also seemed fairly normal. “I don’t have much to complain about,” she said when I asked her about her childhood. ’ My parents weren’t perfect, but they didn’t drink, they didn’t divorce, they didn’t hit us, and they didn’t fight. So why am I such a mess? ” Over the phone, Gwen had told me she was in the middle of divorce proceedings. The year following her first divorce had been really rough, and she wanted to minimize the pain this time around. “Now that I know what your parents didn’t do,” I said with a smile, “tell me what they did do.

It is quite common, for example, to have a distorted or limited view of our childhood. This is understandable given the fact that while we were growing up, we had so little experience outside our homes. Without a basis for comparison, we grew up thinking our families were the norm. Whatever went on in our living rooms became the standard. A client said to me, “I was twenty years old before I realized that my mother was the only one who disinfected new clothes and washed them two times before she’d let them be worn.

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