Psychological Self-Help

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1402
to be irrational manifestations of our own irrational emotions. Another
example: the person who is convinced that his/her marital problems
are caused by the spouse being terribly self-centered may be reluctant
to give up that over-simplified, unsympathetic, angry explanation. If
the person truly explored the complex causes for the spouse's self-
centeredness, he/she might find the spouse not only blameless but the
victim of a long, painful history which necessitated self-centeredness
or self-protection from harm. We have to be willing to give up much of
our strong negative emotions before we can become a thoughtful,
tolerant determinist. In today's culture, we thrive on our resentment of
others; that requires us to stay ignorant and justifies our selfishness. 
Three hundred years ago Leibnitz, a German philosopher, taught,
"Man should accept his lot, and not try to change it." Some people still
believe we are helpless. Similarly, others believe that determinism
means predestination or fatalism--that specific events in the future are
inevitable and that no one should feel responsible for their future
behavior. More rot. The determinist rejects all of these ideas. Consider
this: Is it already predetermined whether or not we will travel to Mars
and cure cancer or Aids? No, of course not, according to the
determinist (but the fatalist would say yes). Laws don't fix the future;
in fact, laws and knowledge must be used to change the future, i.e. to
develop space travel and cures. How wisely laws are used determines
how well future problems are handled. Therefore, each of us assumes
great responsibility for what is going to happen, especially in our own
lives. 
This responsibility for improving the future is complicated by the
fact that we can only know the past and the present. We have little or
no way of gauging with certainty how much influence we are having or
could have on the future. As we try to influence human events, we
have to wait for the future moment that concerns us to occur in order
to know if we were successful. Knowledge of the laws of behavior must
be applied to a future time or event--an unforeseeable event. Thus, an
intelligent user of knowledge is forced to always focus on the future
and to use hindsight: what did I do one minute ago or yesterday or
last year that influenced what just happened? Our answers to such
questions are then used in another effort to influence the future. Thus,
the thoughtful life is a series of informal experiments. We can only
learn more about the laws of behavior by observing what interventions
seemed to lead to what outcomes in the past, but the practical
application of knowledge only involves trying to change a future event.
The effectiveness of an effort to influence the future can only be
known when that future time becomes the present. 
In short, the determinist, who wants to be a practical activist and
effective at influencing the present and maybe the future, must be
future oriented and both understand and use laws ahead of time,
maybe seconds ahead of time or maybe years ahead of time. The true
determinist accepts, enjoys, and learns from the past and the present,
observing the cause and effect relationships, and actually trying to use
the laws in order to change future moments when they arrive in the
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