consequences hidden to us before. (4) Underlying emotions, which we
only vaguely recognize, may be the major factors producing our
behavior, such as when anxiety causes us to overeat or to be
compulsive. Awareness of these kinds of facts about learning can help
you gain self-control.
If you don't have the capacity to change yourself and your attitudes, then nothing around
you can be changed.
Remember, you will learn, retain, and enjoy reading this book
more if you immediately apply the ideas to your own life--see if the
theories explain your behavior, think about how you could use self-
help methods to change, and imagine trying out the methods yourself
or telling others how to use the methods. If you don't use--or at least
think about using--a new idea within 24 or 48 hours, you are at risk of
losing it forever.
Introduction to Learning
We change (learn) as the result of experience all the time. That
doesn't mean that it is easy to change our behavior, however. If
learning to be good were easy, we'd all be saints! Right? Let's see if
we can understand why self-improvement is often difficult. Perhaps
because there is another paradox, namely, psychologists and ordinary
people know a lot about learning (changing) but there is a lot more we
don't understand. Our ignorance and pessimism about self-control
sometimes overwhelms and paralyzes us.
Consider how mysterious some behaviors are. Why are some very
attractive people shy? Why do some of us eat and eat until we are fat,
unhealthy, and ugly? Why do others refuse to eat because they weigh
95 pounds but think they are fat? Why do some drink until they die of
liver disease? Why might a person smoke cigarettes until they get
throat cancer, lose their windpipe, and even then continue to suck the
smoke through an air hole in their neck? Why do we often hurt the
people we love? Why do we put off studying until the last night before
an important exam? Why are some of us pessimists and others
optimists--some just get lemons while others make lemonade?
Everyone has a life-time of experience with learning, especially
finding out how to get what we want. We seem to have inherited a