Psychological Self-Help

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forward but maybe-unusual-for-you concentration of effort to reach a
goal. We think of ourselves as being in control when we make a special
effort on a project, and we are, but there isn't any magic involved in
increasing our motivation to overcome the temptations or difficulties
we face. There are lawful reasons or causes (usable self-help methods)
for these surges of "determination," e.g. we may have increased our
motivation by thinking about the importance of the project, by
visualizing the possibility and consequences of failure, by confronting
our despicable lack of commitment, etc. 
Clearly, we humans do change our minds and behavior frequently
which makes it seem to us as if we are in control, that we merely "will"
or intend our actions. I think we do change but entirely in accordance
with the laws of behavior set in motion by our genetic and experiential
background, our perspective, and the situation we are in. We don't
just whimsically decide what course of action to take, without any
compliance with the laws of behavior. In fact, there is no evidence that
any of our thoughts or decisions or self-instructions are unlawful or
without necessary and sufficient causes. We certainly act on our own
"volition," i.e. we make decisions (both consciously and unconsciously)
about what to do and act on those decisions. But our volition itself is
caused, it's lawful too. Our "will" isn't totally free; we can't instantly
will ourselves to do just anything (from all possible behavioral
choices); what we will ourselves to do certainly isn't accidental; the
neurons in our brain leading to thoughts and actions are lawful; our
thoughts, intentions, hopes, and our "will" have their causes. These
mental events only seem to occur by magic because we are ignorant
of their causes. No doubt our thoughts and feelings affect other
thoughts and feelings and actions. Thus, we can change our own
minds, thoughts change thoughts, i.e. we can sometimes come to see
things differently (that often also happens without any effort on our
part). But when minds change, it is likely to be due to receiving new
internal or external inputs or arriving at different viewpoints. 
Most of us have no problem thinking of physical objects, such as
an airplane, as operating according to the laws of physics. We know
there are reasons why a plane flies; we have learned it isn't magic.
Likewise, we don't get mad at grass because it grows higher than
three inches, because it is lawful for grass to grow. Likewise, we
believe there are causes for an animal to build a nest, mate, attack
and so on. We don't assume the animal simply "willed" those actions.
But when we get to human behavior, we tend to think of actions as
being caused by the person's intentions, i.e. "he/she meant to do it" or
"he/she is that kind of person," rather than thinking in terms of how
the behavior was genetic, learned from a model, satisfying certain
needs, yielding payoffs, influenced by our thinking and view of the
situation and so on. As discussed in method #8 also, this is called the
fundamental attribution error: believing internal factors, such as
motives, personality traits, and abilities, are more responsible than
environmental factors in causing another person's behavior (Baron &
Byrne, 1987). We get mad at people who are late because we think
they "don't give a damn about us" or "don't have their stuff together."
Children disobeying us drive us up a wall because we think they are
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