Psychological Self-Help

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know or don't believe there are methods for directing our lives.
Perhaps, for the species as a whole, our natural (untrained) but
uncanny ability to problem-solve leads us to the false conclusion that
there is no way or no need to improve our coping skills. How sad. Like
the person who wants to effortlessly be a great conversationalist or
the student who hopes to impress others by doing well on an exam
"without studying," we humans may feel just a little inadequate if we
have to study and work to self-improve. The truth is: effective living
requires hard work, whether it is staying trim and fit or acquiring
expertise in our profession or maintaining a loving relationship. 
An effective mind sets our course. Like the tail of a plane, it guides, with small
movements, the power of all the rest of our body and spirit.
What is not self-help?
It may clarify the concept of "self-help" if we consider what self-
help is not. Examples: it is not habitually, automatically, or impulsively
responding to a situation, even if the response is very effective. It is
not stumbling into a solution by chance or luck. It is not being
oblivious to ways our situation or adjustment could be improved even
if, in our ignorance, we are quite content with the way things are. It is
not going along with or being "pushed" by our emotions in unwise
directions. It is not getting relief by avoiding a bad situation if a better
solution could be found. It is not assuming that we are doing our best
if our coping skills could be improved. It is not living without purpose if
meaning can be found for our life. It is not expecting to fail or feeling
helpless (assuming success is possible). It is not blithely overlooking
the genes, physiological factors, cultural influences, traditions,
perceptual biases, unconscious payoffs and forces, and other factors
that influence our lives in unhealthy ways, if there are ways to become
aware of and counter the undesirable aspects of those factors. It is not
joining a group, going to therapy, talking to a friend, or reading a book
in the hopes of finding someone who will save you. 
On the other hand, a person may join a support or 12-step group
as a way of getting ideas and encouragement to manage his/her own
life better; that is still self-helping. Similarly, reading a book, watching
a talk show, talking with a friend or a counselor can also be used by us
to help us help ourselves. While self-helping, even in a group or
reading a self-help book, we continue to assume the full responsibility
for changing our lives. (Sometimes, of course, our psychological
condition may deteriorate to the point we can't cope, then we must let
someone else take over for a while.) 
As I state repeatedly, self-help is not just dealing with life's crises
(although that's the current emphasis); it should enable us to prevent
problems and find nobler purposes, to be more loving and giving, and
to achieve greater successes than would have otherwise been the
case. Obviously, a highly competent self-helper is aware of many of
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