Psychological Self-Help

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others. Keep this information in a safe, private place. Sometimes very
secret events can be recorded in vague, non-specific terms, so only
you can understand clearly. One should be cautious. 
This is Madison's suggested outline for an autobiography
1.
A general introduction of yourself: who you are, something
about your family and your position in the family, other
important people in your life at this time, and so on. 
2.
Early childhood memories: outstanding events without regard
to order, any "peak" or "awful" experiences. Just describe a few
events at this point (see later topics), don't analyze for
significance. 
3.
Unusual childhood ideas or misconceptions: we all have had
some strange ideas, such as who are our real parents, how are
babies made, what is death, what caused parents to drink or
fight, what does it mean to "go to work," what does "going
crazy" mean, etc. 
4.
Your self concept as a young child: how you felt about yourself,
abilities or weaknesses you assumed you had, how you thought
others reacted to you (loving? trusting? critical? competitive?).
Were you self-confident or nervous? When you made a
mistake, was your reaction "I'm terrible" or "I need to work
harder?" 
5.
Significant others in your original family and present situation:
for each person, including siblings and others in the household,
describe the general nature of the relationship, earliest
memories, and feelings for each other then and now.
Relationships are the essence of our lives. 
Similarly, Bentz (1989), who has written about Becoming
Mature, asks women to write about significant others in
different stages of their life, e.g. preschool, 6-12, 13-18, 19-25,
and 26+. What did each person think of you (attributions) and
expect of you? How did you react to those attributions and
expectations? What impact did they have on your life? What
effect did organizations, such as scouts or sports, and
institutions, such as church, have on you? Then, with Bentz,
these autobiographies were discussed in groups, where each
person learns to understand and control the "voices" from the
past that influence her adult life. 
6.
How you handled life's developmental crises: considering each
of the stages of personality development in Table 9.1 and moral
development in chapter 3, describe how and how well you got
through those critical periods. 
7.
Describe yourself from different perspectives: how do others
view you, e.g. the opposite sex? your teachers and bosses?
your peers? What do you think you're really like? Ideally, what
would you like to be like? Do you express feelings or suppress
them? Do you take risks or play it safe? 
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