Traditional psychoanalysis has the patient coming to treatment three to four times a week, lying on a couch and free-associating to whatever comes to mind.
The theory behind this treatment is that free-association increases awareness of what is in the unconscious mind. Once you make the unconscious conscious, patients should, theoretically, become less neurotic.
That type of treatment seemed to work well for the idle rich in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
But does it work well in the digital era?
No way. We want our problems solved quickly. We want solutions to be provided speedily. We savor the power of parsimony. The fewer the words, the more we value them. Short, sweet and to the point is preferable.
Is it possible to take the wisdom of Freud and apply it to the Twitter generation? I’m going to give it a shot. Here goes:
- Quit comparing yourself to the best. You don’t have to be the best to make a valuable, worthwhile contribution to the world.
- Don’t belittle yourself. Quit calling yourself derogatory names. Laugh good-naturedly at your mistakes, but don’t denigrate who you are and what you’re about.
- Avoid sitting on the sidelines, bemoaning your circumstances without taking any action to improve your lot in life.
- Even the best ideas are worthless unless you use your energy to execute them.
- When you’re overstressed and overworked, take a break. Rest. Relax. Enjoy. Be with optimistic people. Then, get back to work.
- Tolerate disappointment. There are days in which nothing works out well. This is a “bad day.” Don’t make it into a life position.
- Allow your interests to emerge in their own way. Don’t attempt to make them fit into the box you (or others) think they should fit into.
- Because a decision didn’t work out as expected doesn’t necessarily make it a bad decision. Reflect on what went wrong, however, before you move on to your next decision.
- Acknowledge what you experienced in your early years. But put your energy toward living in the present where making good decisions can truly enhance your life.
- Keep doing what you enjoy doing even if there’s no immediate reward to it.
- When you believe in yourself, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.
- Success is not an overnight happening. It’s the result of a consistent, driving energy that keeps you engaged, focused and moving forward.
Well, there it is. A dozen pieces of advice — short and succinct. Freud would appreciate, maybe even envy them.
Will just reading this advice allow you to make dramatic changes in your life? I doubt it. Freud was right. It takes time to change ingrained ideas and tenacious habits. But does it take as much time as Freud believed? Absolutely not!
Our sense of time is dramatically different than it was for people who lived 100 years ago. A few months of therapy once a week or even bi-monthly can help people truly change the direction of their lives by clarifying their thoughts, modifying their emotions and expanding their options.
And long-term therapy (still only once a week) is an amazing experience that can transform a life — from one that’s plagued with stress, tension and negativity to one that’s enriched, energized and full of enthusiasm.