To consider periodically one's options in a given situation to
determine what are the better alternatives in the long run (so
you keep changing as circumstances change). In some
situations we are meeting our needs in ways that could be
better met by some other behavior, e.g. a specific plan will
solve a problem better than endless worry, a commitment to
helping others reduces feelings of uselessness better than
endless depression, becoming an alcoholism counselor meets
many of the same needs as the drinking met, going back to
school may offer better ways to make a living than continuing
in the same old minimum wage job, etc. In short, you may
need new behaviors.
To develop new and better ways of responding to a situation by
observing models or reading and discussing it with others.
To learn how to utilize self-instructions to modify behavior and
To understand the need for repeated practice of a new
response before we become accustomed to using it and it
eventually becomes an established habit.
This might involve changing your response from being late to being
punctual, from being impulsive to being careful, from criticizing to
giving compliments, from being alone to socializing, from being a late
sleeper to being a 6:00 AM jogger, etc.
STEP ONE: Consider alternative ways of responding; select a
part of your life that needs to improve.
In some cases, it is painfully clear to us that we are failing, goofing
off or hurting, and need to change. In other cases, we may simply see,
hear or read of someone handling a situation well and want to try
doing something better than we have been. On still other occasions,
we may have given no thought to handling a situation differently...but
perhaps we should. Wise observers realize most of us frequently
respond out of "habit" rather than because we have consciously
decided that this is the best way to handle the situation. We are "flying
on automatic" or "set in our ways," even if we are young. Of course,
you can't question every little thing you do. However, it pays to be
open-minded about the possibility of improving.
A few examples might help: suppose you are always agreeable and
compliant and willing to "give in," perhaps you should learn to be more
self-directed and assertive (chapter 13). Suppose a person is very
close to a group of old friends; he/she is very comfortable with these
friends; yet, that person might grow more, experience more, and
become better adjusted and more successful if he/she had other
friends in addition to these. We can become our own worst restricter,