Psychological Self-Help

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1081
your schedule; make a public pledge and so on), (2) permit no
exceptions until the new habit is established, and (3) seize the first
opportunity to act on every resolution you make ("the road to hell is
paved with good intentions" that never get acted on). Well, some
things haven't changed in 100 years. 
William James also gave another bit of advice, a self-help method
called the "as if" technique. He said, "If you want a quality, act as if
you already had it." 
It may be wise to start with an easier situation or behavior and
work up to more challenging circumstances. Get at it. You are building
a stimulus cue (external or internal, i.e. self-talk)--new behavior--
reward sequence. Record and reward your progress.
Try a thing you haven't done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to
learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not.
-Virgil Thomson
Time involved
Developing a new dependable response is seldom easy. It may
take an hour or two to consider new options, especially if you do some
reading or talk to a friend. It may take another hour or so to devise
new self-talk and behavior. It will take more time to practice and try
out the newly learned behavior. Total=2 to 4 hours. Keep in mind that
many, many new responses might be involved in changing from a shy,
scared, quiet, poorly informed person into the opposite. So, the
impossible takes a little longer. 
Common problems with the method
Not sticking with it; pessimistic attitudes; giving up after the first
defeat; deciding you want to do something else when the going gets
tough. And, backsliding when you move on to work on some other
self-improvement. 
Effectiveness, advantages, and dangers
People do change, presumably through some process like this (see
chapter 4). Research has shown repeatedly that people learn new
behaviors from models. An advantage is that this method focuses on
mental and behavioral processes that are related to almost any self-
improvement. 
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