Psychological Self-Help

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Be sure to avoid thinking in terms of either-or, e.g. either I go to
college or I don't, either I get married or I don't, either I buy a car or I
travel and so on. Actually, there should be several intermediate
alternatives: going to classes part-time, postponing marriage or living
together or dating around for a while, buying a cheap car and taking a
shorter trip, and so on. 
STEP FOUR: Every decision-maker needs to know the
psychological forces that block intelligent decisions in order to
guard against the pitfalls.
Rubin (1986) describes several unconscious barriers to decision-
making: (1) Being out of touch with our (painful) feelings and
(stressful) values will block clear thinking. This also leads to accepting
the way things are. People become resigned or detached and say "I
don't care" but, more accurately, they are paralyzed, i.e. unfeeling,
unmotivated, uninvolved, and indecisive. (2) Self-doubt, anxiety,
depression, suppressed anger, and a lack of hope interfere with
decisions and may even lead to self-defeating acts. (3) An
exaggerated notion of oneself may also lead to bad decisions, e.g.
unwise decisions may be made just because they make us look
important or "successful" for the moment. (4) Being overly
dependent (desperate to agree with someone, wanting to be liked,
wanting glory for self-sacrifice, or just being afraid to make waves)
handicaps the decision-maker. (5) Wishful thinking in many forms
(perfectionism, wanting it all, wanting simple solutions, hoping
something better will come along) messes up decision-making. (6) If
we abuse ourselves after making a poor decision, we will avoid
making decisions in the future. (7) If certain outcomes scare us, we
may not seriously consider these alternatives although they are good
ones. (8) Sometimes our emotions cause us to rush decisions ("I
have to decide right now about getting married" or "having sex") or
drag them out ("I'll think about it later"). Both can be disastrous.
Chapter 14 has an extensive section about straight thinking, which is
clearly related to good decision-making. 
If a group is making a decision, it should be aware of "groupthink
" (Janis & Mann, 1977). There is evidence that groups can sometimes
solve problems better than individuals alone ("two heads are better
than one"), but at other times groups are very ineffective or
unreasonable ("a camel is a horse made by committee"). Groups make
good decisions if the majority of members are competent and work
well together. When do groups not work well? Group members may be
inhibited by (1) an insulated, overly positive group spirit ("we're the
greatest," "we are running the show," "don't be a pessimist"), such as
being eager to agree with and please "the boss," and by (2) a negative
atmosphere, such as internal fighting and nasty criticism among
members. How can you avoid foolish decisions by groups? Be sure the
group follows the steps in this method: be sure all reasonable
alternatives are carefully and objectively considered. New ideas must
be supported and refined first, then they, like all the other solutions,
must be rationally challenged ("playing devil's advocate"). Sometimes
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