Psychological Self-Help

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occurs--that's called contingency management or contracting. That is
this method. 
Many people believe that most things we do voluntarily are the
result of reinforcement, that there are payoffs (or hopes for one) for
everything we do (see method #9). If that is the case, the good self-
controller would surely be (l) busily investigating the behavior-rewards
connections and (2) making certain their good traits (caring, loving,
self-discipline) are well rewarded or performed right before some
pleasurable life event (like eating or going to the bathroom or being
appreciated by others). 
In method #2, we are designing and learning a better behavior for
getting the rewards we want. In this method, however, we (self-
modifiers) are changing the consequences to get the behaviors we
want. Or, we (learners) are agreeing to behave in new (probably
already learned) ways to get some payoff we want. 
Rewards may be viewed as (1) a source of motivation or (2)
reinforcers of the strength of the preceding response as a habit. Both
are accurate views. We use rewards to encourage desired behavior to
occur now and in the future. Chapter 4 has a section explaining more
Self-helpers need to consider the entire context of their
Keep an overall perspective: This method helps you single out a
simple behavior and carefully administer repeated rewards to
strengthen the desired action. However, while trying to change one
minuscule behavior, one must not forget that there are thousands of
other behaviors, some rewarded for years and well established habits,
which are competing with the single behavior you have decided you
want to occur more often. Only the strongest or most reinforced
behavior gains the right to occur. It is important to keep in mind the
universe surrounding you, namely, hordes of swirling habits
accumulated over a lifetime and a myriad of reinforcers ready to be
attached to many behaviors. Consider these examples in which this
morass messes up your self-control. 
(1) Strong old habits are powerful, ask any smoker, any beer
lover, any social or Internet addict, any late night snacker, and on and
on. New habits are weak and need special and frequent reinforcement. 
Naturally occurring powerful reinforcements may often mess up
your long-term self-help efforts. You will have to reduce or control
them. Consider these examples--fast food, desserts and candy destroy
healthy diets; watching TV and drinking a beer make exercising very
unlikely; good tasting soothing cigarettes lead to illness, not health;
anger enables you to get your way but you lose friends and loved
ones; passivity saves you from confrontation but leads to domination;
habitually thinking "I can't ____ " avoids the hard work of trying, etc.
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