Psychological Self-Help

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values, they aren't really your values. If you think you want to be a
people helper but don't eagerly seek out the needed knowledge and
don't feel positive about the hard work involved in acquiring
information about helping, your attitude towards people-helping isn't
consistent; you aren't wholeheartedly committed to being a people
helper. In short, cognitive attitudes or ideals must be scheduled and
acted out routinely. Moreover, the thoughts and actions must be
associated with positive feelings. 
Suppose you have been a perfectionist and have decided to lower
your expectations because you have often been upset by failing to
meet your impossibly high goals. Let's say you have cognitively set
lower goals and accepted the reasoning for doing so. You can also
change your behavior by becoming less driven, less obsessed, and
able to attend to other activities. But whenever you fail to reach the
very high, perfectionistic standards you have sought for many years
(but recently decided to change), you may still get anxious, self-
derogatory, and depressed. Thus, the emotional component is not yet
in line with the cognitive and behavioral aspect of the attitude.
Perhaps you could desensitize yourself to these "failures" (that are a
part of your new rationally set lower goals); you might even need to
plan to have several such "failures" in order to learn to tolerate the
new standards. 
Another example: Beginning students in psychology wanting,
cognitively, to become understanding and tolerant of all potential
clients frequently continue to respond with strong negative or fearful
emotions to psychotics, criminals, abusers, homosexuals, and so on.
These are our clients. Every psychologist must conquer these critical
emotions. Therapists-in-training can use desensitization, expose
themselves so long to such clients that they are no longer bothered,
talk themselves out of having such emotional responses, and/or
become so knowledgeable about such people (and all other types) that
they "understand and accept" such clients. This is the mark of a
learned person; however, in no way should such an attitude imply
approval of the awful actions committed by the violent criminal. 
Some additional ideas about how to change your own attitudes:
once you have decided on what attitude will work best for you,
mentally rehearse thinking, feeling and acting that way until you can
adopt that attitude in real life. If you think your situation is awful, try
to imagine a worse-case scenario, e.g. suppose you haven't just lost a
sale but lost your lover or your sight or your child, or reframe the
situation, e.g. rather than wanting to get drunk to escape being upset,
try to figure out how you could act more constructively. Remember too
that you can change your self-talk: "I-can-handle-it" talk is a lot more
productive than "I-don't-know-what-to-do" talk. Encouraging sayings
can help, such as "I will try for what I want; I will want what I get,"
"every crisis presents an opportunity," "every experience, even failure,
teaches me something," "if what I'm doing isn't working, I'll try
something else," "positive thinking gets me further than negative
thinking," "everything passes," "the situation bothered me but it's
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