Psychological Self-Help

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1117
Time involved
Little time is required to ask your self if you are hassled and/or
obstructed by an inner critic. If so, it should not take long to see the
logic of trying out another mental attitude. If a new skill is needed to
bolster a more optimistic attitude, that will take more time. 
If the nature of the job needs to be changed to match your
capabilities, it may be something you can do rather easily by yourself
by making it more or less demanding. If the job has to be changed
radically or can't be made to challenge your mind, that may be very
difficult (see chapter 13 for suggestions about choosing a career). 
Common problems with the method
A defeatist attitude is hard to change. Don't confuse this
destructive self-putdown attitude with the demanding attitude of
perfectionists. The tennis pros may have a severe inner critic (when
they get mad at themselves) but they expect to play fantastically well.
The pros also know the importance of "settling down," of "loosing
ourselves in the game (flow)," and of having a good mental attitude.
Some people just can't let go of their self-criticism, perhaps it serves
some important purpose (like avoiding criticism from others). 
Effectiveness, advantages and dangers
Our interpretation of doing poorly (not enough ability or not
enough effort) is known to influence our subsequent performance. In
some cases, our self-evaluations can be easily changed (such as by
reading some self-help material). In other cases, renewed effort
produces convincing results: "I'm damn good at this." There are no
known dangers. We will, in a life-time of testing our limits, of course,
have to occasionally face the conclusion that we are lacking in ability
or that the payoffs are not worth the effort required. The alternative is
to live without knowing our potential. 
Additional readings
Gallwey, W. T. (1974). The inner game of tennis. New York:
Bantam Books. 
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal
experience. New York: Harper & Row.
Develop positive expectations; increase self-efficacy
Self-efficacy is a very old notion (self-confidence or belief in
oneself) but a popular new psychology term (Bandura, 1977b, 1980a).
It influences what we try to do and for how long. Where does a belief
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