Psychological Self-Help

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situations. It is more complex than implied in most textbooks but you
can understand it easily. 
Therapists and experimental psychologists know quite a lot about
changing. For instance, (1) changing your "environment," including
your expectations and plans, can encourage good habits and
discourage bad ones. (2) Simply observing your actions will often
change them. Disrupting the old unwanted habits and substituting and
practicing new desired responses will help. (3) Rewarding the desired
actions, thoughts, or feelings immediately, while ignoring or punishing
the unwanted behavior, are sometimes useful methods. The last part
of this chapter and chapter 11 show you how to carry out these
methods and many others. The primary focus in this book is on
changing things. 
For a clear understanding of behavior, we need to separate (a) the
process of learning new behavior from (b) the condition of becoming
energized or motivated to act out something you already know how to
do, i.e. learning differs from performance (or motivation). Sometimes
we must learn a new response in order to cope; the mousey person
must learn to be assertive. But much of the time we know how to do
the desired behavior, e.g. study, stop eating, attend to our spouse,
clean the bathroom, control our anger, etc., but the problem is getting
ourselves motivated enough to do it. The only new learning we may
need in these cases is more understanding of how to increase our
motivation or determination. However, in most self-help projects, you
will need to learn new self-modification skills as well as acquiring some
means of increasing your drive towards your goal, for instance
avoiding temptations, persevering for long-range goals, resisting
emotional reactions and so on. Self-help involves mastering self-
modification techniques, increasing motivation, and developing a belief
in yourself as a change agent. 
To understand ourselves, we must comprehend the causes of our
behaviors. Wise observers have discovered many explanations for
behavior which are not obvious and not common knowledge. But this
uncommon knowledge needs to be made common. For instance, (1)
the payoffs for a behavior may be unrealized, e.g. shyness is
reinforced by avoiding social stress; payoffs may be quite delayed,
e.g. a career yields rewards years later; or payoffs may be something
we find hard to believe we want, e.g. to be sick or to fail. Also, the
effectiveness of a specific reward depends on the context, e.g. a bribe
of $10.00 is very different in a very poor family than it is in an
environment offering many rewards. Certainly, the payoffs for the
same behavior, say drinking, may subtly change over the years or
occur only occasionally (called partial reinforcement). (2) Reliance on
or over-emphasis on extrinsic rewards (instead of intrinsic enjoyment
of the activity itself) may be harmful in some situations, e.g. the good
student who comes to say, "I only study because I get $50 for every
A" or more commonly, "I'm only studying so I can get into college."
(3) Our behavior may suddenly change when we realize there is an
alternative way to react or when we recognize long-range
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