Psychological Self-Help

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12
____  get in touch with the conflicts and repressed feelings
inside me (Chapters 9, 12 and 15) 
____  remember and understand my dreams or daydreams
(Chapter 15) 
____  realize the continuing impact of my family life & early
experiences (Chapters 9, 14 and 15) 
____  understand my needs--dependency, aggressive, sexual,
etc. (Chapters 7, 8, 9, 10 and 15) 
Table 2.2: For the Hesitant Self-Helper--How to Move from Avoidance
to Contemplation to Commitment 
Most self-improvement is made by people changing themselves,
not by people seeing therapists or attending 12-step groups. Self-help
is the most common approach with both easy changes and with very
tough ones, including smoking, drinking, and even heroin use (at least
in veterans returning from Vietnam). When these self-improvers are
asked, "How did you do it?" they often say "I just decided." Maybe
there is more wisdom in this comment than we realize at first. It is
quite possible, in certain situations, that "just deciding" is the core of
the problem. Indeed, for some people, once the decision is definitely
made that "I'm going to change," their planning and self-change
skills are quite adequate (or, perhaps, any old plan will work) and they
simply change. The indecision or ambivalence (between changing and
remaining the same) may often, in these cases, be the major problem
(Miller & Rollnick, 1991). 
On the other hand, most tough self-change projects are not just a
matter of deciding "I'll do it." Making significant changes in our habits,
feelings, beliefs or attitudes usually require more than will power,
namely, extensive knowledge about self-help methods (which may be
learned by reading or by trying to change and failing over and over
again). And, we also need to learn how to be well motivated and
optimistic. 
Overcoming the denial of a problem
Denying your problem is appealing because it is easy, there is
nothing to do, you can't fail, you can blame others, and others quickly
see your resistance to changing so they stop bugging you. We also use
a variety of excuses for doing nothing, such as "you can't get better
until you hit bottom," "I've tried everything," and "people can't
change." Amazingly, many people think self-change is impossible,
including an estimated 2/3rds of our physicians. Notice how we expect
experts to change us but not ourselves. That's nonsense. 
What are the barriers we need to overcome in the process of "just
deciding?" For the person who hardly thinks about making a needed
change, the common barriers are (1) a reluctance to admit the
problem ("I'm only 10 pounds overweight," "I'm just big boned," "It
came from having babies," "My wife is overweight too," etc.). (2)
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