Psychological Self-Help

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student in my class was having difficulty studying because she wanted
to party, relax, and socialize. She diligently tried rewarding studying
by socializing afterwards (which works for many students). It didn't
work for her; she partied all the time. In the meantime, she became
interested in Transactional Analysis (see chapter 9) as a means of
gaining self-understanding. After recognizing her "child's" need to play
and socialize, she started to have fun first (satisfying the "child"), then
she could study (satisfying the "adult"). For most students it works
better to say, "work first, then play." For this unique student, and
contrary to learning theory (on the surface), it needed to be turned
around--play first, then work. Or another way to say it is that she
needed to attend more to her emotions (levels II and V) than to her
behavior. Or, Maslow would say she needed to take care of her social
needs before self-actualizing as a student. Few of our behaviors are
In this chapter, we first looked at how-to-change, i.e. learning new
behaviors or increasing our motivation to act differently. Then, we
considered why behavior is so hard to understand. Now, we will
attempt to apply some of this information to understanding a common
problem--procrastination, i.e. putting off doing something important.
Solomon and Rothblum (1984) found that 65% of college students
want to learn to stop putting off writing term papers, 62% feel the
need to study for exams more promptly, and 55% hope to read their
assignments earlier. Most of us procrastinate some. What are other
signs of procrastination besides waiting until the last minute to do
something? Try these on for size: being reluctant to take risks or try
something new, staying at home or in the same old job, getting sick
when faced with an unpleasant job, avoiding confrontations or
decisions, blaming others or the situation ("it's boring") for your
unhappiness or to avoid doing something, making big plans but never
carrying them out, and/or having such a busy social-recreational
calendar that it is hard to get important work done. 
This list of symptoms suggests that procrastination, which at first
sounds like a simple behavior, is, in fact, quite complex. It involves
emotions, skills, thoughts or attitudes, and factors we are unaware of.
Furthermore, the causes and dynamics of putting off an important but
unpleasant task vary from person to person and from task to task for
the same person. For instance, you may delay doing your math
assignment but fill out an application for school immediately.
Hopefully, understanding how and why we procrastinate will help us
change it. We may even learn more about what is commonly called
"will power." 
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