are influencing your behavior, I would understand you perfectly. I
would see that given your genes and physical condition, given the
effects of past events and your memory (perhaps distorted) of past
experiences, and given your view of the present situation, I would do
exactly what you are doing, no matter how saintly or how evil.
" If true, that is an awesome statement or belief.
If a person can learn to think this way, i.e. that all human feelings
and actions are caused by psychological laws, then all behavior
becomes, in a sense, "acceptable" because it is, at the moment,
unavoidably lawful. The truth is everything is lawful, so far as science
knows. Thus, all behavior, yours and everyone's, is the natural,
inevitable outcome of the existing causes. No other outcome was
possible given the circumstances (causes and laws). Such an attitude
leads logically to tolerance of yourself and others --of all that has
happened in the past. Moreover, a deterministic orientation offers
hope that scientists and other careful observers, including you, will
discover more and more useful knowledge ("laws") for changing the
future. Accept yesterday, influence tomorrow.
A great deal of benefit can result from analyzing in depth the
causes of some action--called causal attribution--and/or from changing
one's views of the causes. Examples: rape victims can be helped to
see the situation realistically and press charges, interpersonal conflicts
can be reduced easier if the reasons for each side's position are
understood, fighting couples can benefit from seeing the causes as
external and temporary (not because the partner is an incurable jerk),
and self-esteem can be raised if one can learn to feel personally
responsible for many successes, capable of improving, and not
responsible for all our failures (Baron & Byrne, 1987).
Determinism has been mentioned already in "the helping
philosophy" in chapter 3, in the section on overcoming guilt in chapter
6, and briefly in the list of methods for reducing anger in chapter 7.
Changing how one explains one's failures is important in coping with
depression (chapter 6) and a poor self-concept (method #1 above).
The last method helped us recognize our irrational thinking.
Determinism is rational thinking, which can be used to replace
harmful irrational ideas. Determinism replaces "awfulizing" and
"musturbation" (see method #3). Understanding the causes of
any upsetting event is a big step towards accepting and
adjusting to that event.
Most of us have pet peeves--different kinds of behaviors,
attitudes, personalities, and circumstances that bother or upset
us. Many of us are deeply disturbed by how we were treated by
parents, siblings, peers, bosses, etc. Adopting a deterministic
attitude or philosophy will help us accept everything that has
happened--it was lawful, not awful. You may, of course, be able