Psychological Self-Help

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Parents and teachers train children to be independent and
achievers (Winterbottom, 1958) and to fear failure (Teevan & McGhee,
1972). Being rewarded for striving increases our achievement motive;
being punished for unsatisfactory behavior--and having our successes
disregarded--leads to a fear of failure. To the extent we are self-
reinforcing, we could presumably increase our achievement motivation
by emphasizing our successes and simply using our failures as cues for
us to try harder. 
There have been several successful attempts to train people to
have higher achievement needs (Burris, 1958; McClelland & Winter,
1969). People were taught to have frequent fantasies of achieving,
observe models of successful people like themselves, play games or
role-play situations involving taking risks and being a successful
competitor. These researchers concluded that they were teaching self-
confidence and that "knowledge gives confidence." You could train
yourself in the same ways; schools--and this book--should increase
your expectation of success by teaching you skills (chapter. 13), self-
control, reasonable attitudes (chapter 14), and self-awareness
(chapter 15). 
A high need to achieve is correlated with higher grades (Schultz &
Pomerantz, 1974); however, Raynor (1981) has shown it isn't a simple
relationship. Considering getting B's or higher as important for future
plans and for self-respect was related to grades in school for boys.
Raynor also found that students in the high-needs-to-achieve-and-low-
test-anxiety group did well on the important (to them), relevant
courses but not as well on less relevant courses. Students with low-
achievement-needs-and-high-test-anxiety did about the same as the
above group on less relevant courses but much worse on important
courses. The points seem to be: (a) your need to achieve and self-
confidence won't do you much good unless you convince yourself that
school is relevant to your future and your self-esteem, and (b) a fear
of failure produces failure in the more important courses. The next
chapter tells you how to reduce fears. 
Johnson (1984) summarizes what you can do to keep on striving
for your special goals: (a) break your major goals into manageable
daily tasks and set aside the time, (b) take pleasure from the work
and reward your progress, (c) remember your past successes and
imagine how good you will feel when you accomplish your goal, (d)
also imagine how bad it will feel to give up or mess up, (e) use
competition, especially trying to improve on your best effort thus far,
to arouse interest, and (f) seek encouragement and find "heroes" to
inspire you. 
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was
here first.
-Mark Twain
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