Psychological Self-Help

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really important to us. So, the progress chart should also reflect major
outcomes, like: lost 10 pounds this month, got a new dress! Got 3.6
GPA last semester! GI series indicates ulcer healing! (Record
disappointments, too.) 
With a little creativity the progress chart can come alive and be
more than sterile numbers. It can picture, even illuminate your life.
Use symbols (or a secret code) for certain events. Add "before" and
"after" pictures or descriptions. Perhaps the progress chart could
become part of a diary or journal of your life (see chapter 15). 
Devising the counting or rating procedures and progress chart will
take only an hour or two. Less than 10 minutes per day are needed for
counting and recording. Very little time is needed to set daily or
weekly sub-goals and assess progress. The time will be well spent. 
Within many of us lurks a rebellious critter who frequently shows
him/herself when some routine task, like record keeping, needs to be
done. Anything mechanical or clerical will be resisted by about 1/3 of
us in my observation. Another related problem is just forgetting, after
several days, to do the recording and eventually dropping the
recording. Try to keep doing the project even if your record keeping
gets sloppy. 
It has definitely been shown that self-monitoring aids changing.
And setting short-range goals helps. There are several other
advantages from being more objective and accurate in observing and
in self-evaluation. There are no dangers. 
Additional readings
Watson, D. L. and Tharp, R. G. (1972). Self-directed Behavior, chapter 6,
Thorensen, C. and Mahoney, M. (1974). Behavioral Self-control,
New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. 
Birkedahl, N. (1990). The habit control workbook. Oakland, CA:
New Harbinger Publications. 
Record antecedents and consequences; do a behavioral analysis
If we can understand what causes a particular behavior, we are
more likely to be able to change that behavior. One way to better
understand some specific behavior is to carefully observe its
antecedents and consequences, i.e. what occurs just before and right
after the behavior. By using knowledge of learning (see chapter 4) we
should be able to analyze the situation and explain the behavior. 
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