Psychological Self-Help

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The self-doubts and putdowns may be obvious--self-critical
statements may run through your head, your stomach may be tied in
knots, you may want to get away. Examples: "I'd never be able to get
an A in chemistry, so forget medical school" or "She'd probably laugh
at me if I asked her to go to the game with me" or "I'm such a terrible
volleyball player, I hope they don't push me into playing" or a good
tennis player might say, "I can't hit the serve hard and get it in" or "I
don't get set before I hit the ball, I'll bet I look awkward." 
The self-statements may not be so clear-cut: you may simply
believe you aren't able to do something and think very little about it.
You may have never even considered the possibility; the self-doubt
has always been there and prevented even a wish or a fantasy.
Examples: Women may think of being nurses, stenographers,
personnel managers, teachers, stewardesses, but never consider being
doctors, lawyers, managers, owners, professors, researchers, pilots,
etc. Men may never seriously consider a more enjoyable line of work
or a promotion based on new skill. 
It may be necessary to ask yourself how you feel about your ability
to handle certain situations, e.g.: 
How certain are you (on a scale from 0% to 100% confident)
that you could and would approach a group of strangers at a
social gathering and join the conversation? ____% 
How confident are you that you would approach a person of the
opposite sex at a party?____% 
How certain are you that you would call them up for a date
later if they hadn't called you?____% 
These are just examples. The questions have to be tailored to your
specific concern. If you have reason to believe that self-doubts stand
in your way, the next task is to reduce the doubts. It is probably clear
to you that doubts will remain until proven wrong, i.e. until you start
performing better, proving you have the ability. As long as you think
you don't have the ability, you will either not try or let the doubts
interfere with your performance. So the assumption that you don't
have the ability has to be tested out which requires you to consider, at
least temporarily, a more hopeful way of viewing your behavior. 
STEP TWO: Make the assumption that your performance can be
improved with more effort, more practice, and/or fewer
The only true test of your potential is to prepare as best you can
and give it a try. However, there has to be some hope before one will
prepare and try. Where does this hope come from? (l) Skills training
often increases optimism (see chapter 13). (2) Insight into attitudes
and self-defeating "games" might help (see Chapters 9 and 15). (3)
Generally feeling better about oneself will increase motivation (see
chapter 14). (4) Talking to someone who has been successful in the
same area or getting encouragement from relatives, friends and others
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