Thinking Yourself Happy: Avoiding Self-Fascism

Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus

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Zelda was very intolerant of herself. She was kind and merciful towards others, but the standards she set for herself were severe. She was so hard on herself that she frequently punished herself psychologically ~ or even denied herself everyday comforts ~ if she fell short of her ideals.

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Fascist governments are autocratic, dictatorial and prone to force and brutality. Severe criticisms and cruel condemnations, even for minor infractions, are typical fascistic reactions. When witnessing people treating someone in that harsh manner, most of us feel repelled and disgusted.

But it is not only governments who may be guilty of such inhumane treatment. Have you ever been at a social gathering where one person verbally attacked another? “You stupid fool!” “You selfish pig!” “You ungrateful creep!” Such statements are common put-downs that we term fascistic. They are extremely unpleasant to witness, and the attacker loses respect within moments.

Most people would say: “I’d never speak to anybody like that. I know better than to assault someone’s dignity and self esteem.” However,

• many people who would not dream of talking to anybody else in a fascistic manner, often do so to themselves.

They say things like: “I,m such an idiot! I’m a real jerk! I’m a stupid moron!” Although they would never address someone else like that, they think it is perfectly fine to treat themselves that way. Well, it isn’t fine at all.

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It makes no difference if someone sees you putting yourself down or if they observe you putting someone else down. To them you are another person, and whether such unkindness emanates from someone else or comes from yourself, they are still witnessing another person being subjected to abuse.

Fascism is equally despicable whether you treat others like a dictator or direct tyrannical invectives at yourself.

• It pays huge psychological dividends to talk to and about yourself with the same respect that you normally pay to others.

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Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus is a licensed psychologist, Co-founder and Clinical Director of The Lazarus Institute. In addition to his general psychotherapy practice, Dr. Clifford Lazarus specializes in health and neuropsychology.

Dr. Clifford Lazarus received his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers University where he was a Henry Rutgers Research Scholar.  Seen here are excerpts from one of his books, The 60-Second Shrink – 101 Strategies For Staying Sane In a Crazy World, a book, he co-authored with his father “One of the ten most influential psychotherapists in America”  Arnold A. Lazarus, Ph.D.  For more details on Dr. Clifford Lazarus visit this link to The Lazarus Institute.  Or visit his page here on friendlysuggestions.com.

Books available at Amazon by Arnold and Clifford Lazarus

Direct links to two highly recommended books by Dr. Clifford Lazarus & Dr. Arnold A. Lazarus:

The 60-Second Shrink: 101 Strategies for Staying Sane in a Crazy World 

Don’t Believe It for a Minute!: Forty Toxic Ideas That Are Driving You Crazy

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