$7500+, is only 100 hours or so; a self-help course is 150-200 hours;
but life is over 600,000 hours. No scientist studies your life. No one
knows as much about your life as you do. Thus, you are not only your
own therapist, you are your own researcher. Mahoney (1975)
advocates training students to be "personal scientists." The task is to
find out what self-help methods work for you; that is research!
Science is simply common sense at its best.
One thing to guard against is the tendency (wishful thinking?) to
believe that "things are getting better." Double check your optimistic
subjective impressions by objectively measuring your progress while
trying to self improve. Chapter 2 tells you how to know if you are
really making progress or wasting time. This evaluation of your efforts
is important but not easy, especially if you try, like a good scientist, to
find out if the self-help method is really helping or if some other factor
is responsible for the changes. Such a determination requires you to
record daily or even hourly your efforts to cope and the results of
those efforts (see steps 2 and 7 in chapter 2).
Understanding 6: Honestly looking at ourselves and changing may be
stressful, but we need to do it.
It is often comfortable and easy to stay the way we are. Changing
may be gratifying or stressful and is frequently both. Temporary stress
is a natural, necessary part of recognizing a weakness or feeling we
had previously hidden from ourselves, trying out a new behavior,
facing a fear, releasing a pent-up emotion, and changing. Growing as a
person may take you to new places, provide new challenges, require
leaving old and acquiring new friends, etc. Giving up an old security
blanket is scary; yet, many therapists, based on their experiences,
believe that crises frequently lead to important improvement and
growth in our lives. So, some stress is good and/or can be used to
Understanding 7: Do not hesitate to work on your most serious, meaningful,
and intimate problems.
Self-help is not just for simple behavioral changes, like nail biting
or working harder. You are encouraged to work on any deeper
problems that you may have, too. Examples of these would be
excessive self-criticism and feelings of inadequacy, fear of intimacy
and jealousy, lack of purpose in life, irritation with others, sexual
concerns, and others. Granted, you may want to do some easier
projects first, but don't procrastinate with the tough problems. Self-
help must pay off in meaningful ways for you to keep trying.