Psychological Self-Help

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49
biases or distortions that take place in the process of perceiving the
situation, from the irrational ideas, i.e. almost instant irrational
reactions we have to that situation, such as "they shouldn't be doing
that" or "I should be doing better than this" or "I can't do anything
about this mess." 
The faulty perceptions occur when our erroneous expectations,
fears, or wishes alter how we see other people and ourselves. We have
a certain mental "set" before the event happens which causes us to
see the situation in a certain way--we give it our own slant. Examples:
a person desperately wants to have a good relationship with his/her
lover, and fails to see the lover's loss of positive feelings and interest.
A person wants to please others so much that he/she isn't even aware
of his/her own needs. A person expects to be inadequate and so sees
only his/her weaknesses and doesn't see his/her strengths or
opportunities. A person has a pessimistic outlook, so every event is
seen as the beginning of a catastrophe. A person has a severe self-
critic, so every action he/she takes is seen as something to be
ashamed of. Many of these faulty perceptions, called "maladaptive
schemas" by Young (1989), arise from emotions or needs and
obviously cause stress. 
The irrational ideas are often an instantaneous judgment that
what is happening shouldn't be happening. Thus, Albert Ellis refers to
"musturbation," i.e. believing that things must go the way I want them
to, and if they don't, I have a right to get terribly upset. This demand
for things--everyone love me, I be successful, don't blame or hurt me-
-is certainly going to produce stress, especially when the demands
aren't met. These demands surely arise from a long history and a
complex variety of emotions, thoughts, needs, fears, and hopes. These
cognitive-emotional demands that life unfold differently produce, in
turn, many new and disturbing emotions. This theory, which is the
basis of Rational-Emotive therapy, will be described extensively in the
next chapter and in methods #3 and #11 in chapter 14. 
Can we handle it?
As mentioned before, the same stressor, such as having to give a
speech, is perceived and responded to very differently by different
people. Jane would want to get out of doing it, be unable to think of
anything worthwhile to say, and be certain that she would mess up
and say stupid things. Another person with no more speaking
experience might be thrilled, be eager to begin gathering material, be
sure she has important things to say, and fantasizes doing well (in
spite of some anxiety). The event has very different meaning to these
two women; their expectations of themselves and others are entirely
different. 
Life is 10% what you make of it and 90% how you take
it.
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