Psychological Self-Help

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Rather than being a hostile debater and trying to win, try to
think constructively, i.e. by thinking together perhaps you and
the other person can come closer to the truth. 
STEP FOUR: Develop other skills and methods that enhance your
critical, clear thinking.
We all have learned about scientific methods in many classes
throughout school. These methods help us think straight and,
hopefully, realize there are many possible causes for any event. By
experimentally varying one variable while holding other variables
constant we can find "laws," what causes (contributes to) what. In
everyday life, there may be too many factors and too little control to
draw conclusions, but the idea is still valid: carefully observe the
connections between specific causes and their effects. Ruchlis (1992)
teaches us how to evaluate evidence and how to detect common
For fifty years educators, psychologists and management
consultants have tried to teach creativity, problem solving, and
productive thinking (see section f below). There is evidence that such
skills can be taught; however, thus far the skills taught seem to be
used largely in the subject matter areas in which they were learned
(Mayer, 1984). For example, if you teach students strategies for
solving math or engineering problems, the students do not
automatically learn to use better strategies to solve social or personal
problems. That isn't surprising. Probably very different strategies are
needed in different problem areas, such as math and self-control. 
As mentioned in the introduction, recent findings indicate that good
problem solvers need (1) lots of specific knowledge (e.g. 10 years of
practical experience and lots of research-based information) and (2)
specific instruction and practice on how to use that knowledge in
understanding the problem, setting goals, discovering and organizing a
plan of attack, carrying out the treatment plan, and evaluating the
outcome. In short, there are still no easy ways to become an expert in
any area, including self-management. 
Problem-solving techniques (for self-help) are given in chapter 2.
Decision-making, persuasion, and other thinking skills are taught in
chapter 13. Methods for correcting irrational thoughts that produce
unwanted emotions are given in this chapter. Chapters 5 to 8 help
control emotions that may influence our thinking and attitudes. Self-
understanding methods are given in all the chapters but especially 9,
14, and 15. Self-awareness is surely critical because some of the
major obstacles to clear thinking are within us, i.e. our defenses, our
emotions, our blind spots. 
Also, according to Alice Isen and others, happy, relaxed people in
general think more clearly and creatively than unhappy people
(Hostetler, 1988). However, happy people, in some situations, tend to
over-simplify the problem, use impulsive hunches and guess at the
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