Psychological Self-Help

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1205
Learn to give self-instructions to control your own behavior and
emotions. This includes self-directions and advice about how to
accomplish the task at hand (see method 2 in chapter 11). It also
includes self-help techniques for relaxing and controlling other
unwanted emotions (see methods in this chapter). For example, as our
body tenses up, if we interpret this reaction as anger or fear, we will
"feel" these emotions immediately and more intensely. On the other
hand, if we learn (by practicing over and over) to interpret tension as
simply a signal to relax, we can avoid unnecessary anger and
excessive fear. 
Many of us feel bad because we say negative statements to
ourselves: "I'm going to mess it up...it will never work out...he/she
won't like me...he/she is so selfish...they make me furious...I can't
stand...." These thoughts are our negative interpretations of other
peoples' behavior and intentions, of sensations inside our own body, of
our own behavior and situation. Our thoughts could be positive instead
and relax us, energize us, lead us wisely, give us hope, etc. Several
Cognitive-Behavioral therapists have listed many coping self-
statements: 
Preparing to meet a stressful situation 
o
"I can handle this. I've practiced." 
o
"I'm OK once I get started. I'll jump right in." 
o
"Don't let the negative thoughts get you down." 
o
"Relax and remember your plan." 
Confronting the situation 
o
"Do one step at a time. It will work out." 
o
"If I start to feel up tight, I can relax." 
o
"Focus on the task at hand, not on the fear." 
o
"It's OK to make a mistake. I'll do my best." 
Handling the emotions 
o
"Take a second to breathe deeply and think about what
to do next." 
o
"Don't get too mad (frightened, passive)." 
o
"I'm going to stand up for my rights now." 
o
"Stay calm, it will be over soon." 
Enjoy the success 
o
"I did it!" 
o
"I can handle my feelings. I can relax away fear (anger,
dependency, crying)." 
o
"Next time it will be easier." 
Make up your own list of coping statements. Repeat them over and
over to yourself and say them with feeling, so they do not seem
foreign to you when you use them under stress. 
The essence of this "stress inoculation" method is the development
of self-instructions that we can use in stressful situations to calm us
down and make us more effective. The above methods and attitudes--
RET, logical reasoning, determinism, optimism, self-instructions, and
anything else that will work--can be utilized in the coping self-
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