many possible self-control methods for each major problem (see
chapters 4 to 10).
Sperry (1993) makes an important observation: your values and
major purposes for living, if well developed, are perhaps the most
powerful determinants of your major life decisions. Therefore, each of
us needs to take great care in deciding on the values we will live by
(see chapter 3). Moreover, in the absence of a strong, thoughtful value
system, if one starts to believe that he/she is at risk of having little
control or if one becomes extremely emotional when his/her self-
control seems fragile, such a person is at risk of joining others who are
threatened and deciding to seriously harm another group through acts
of greed and by social domination (e.g. seeking power through wealth,
politics and war, or religion). Humans run amuck without effective self-
control and values.
Our attitude towards "self-help" will influence the future of humanity
Joseph Rychlak (1997), one of the best thinkers of our time, says
that unfortunately modern society considers the notion that a person
can responsibly guide his/her own behavior to be an illusion. At least,
it certainly seems that we resist the idea of preparing for personal-
emotional problems until we are in deep trouble. In any case,
humankind is obviously not rushing recklessly towards self-
responsibility and self-control. So, it is no surprise that general self-
help knowledge and classes have not become big business. The
thousands of little crisis books have not shown the general population
that psychology is helpful in every life every day. Likewise, the TV
documentaries or talk shows have not convinced many people to study
self-help techniques carefully (that is certainly no surprise considering
the few minutes the bewildered "experts" on talk shows are given to
solve highly complex, emotional issues). Our limited systems for
distributing useful knowledge to everyone are lousy because they are,
thus far, primarily devoted to entertainment and selling products.
Schools, families, and churches don't support self-help instruction.
Moreover, therapists know a lot but they aren't giving it away (in our
competitive, individualistic culture, who wouldn't want to make $100
an hour?). In short, our society does little to encourage and help us to
self-improve. What can be done about these skeptical or pessimistic
Producing better self-improvement methods, proving the
effectiveness of self-help by research, getting useful information
published in magazines, on TV, or anywhere that honestly reports the
effects of these techniques will eventually persuade enough people to
change the educational system, the media, and the publishing houses.
The real "proof" about self-help accumulates one person at a time--
one successful self-helper at a time. So if you read enough about self-
help that you give some methods a try (and if they work for you), you
will become part of the force that changes human thinking. Your belief
in using knowledge derived from science to control and change your
life will gradually influence other people's attitudes.