Psychological Self-Help

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50
Bandura (1986) as well as Richard S. Lazarus (1984) and his
colleagues believe that stress and anxiety primarily arise when we
believe we can't handle the approaching problem. Obviously, this
involves an appraisal of the nature and seriousness of the threat in
comparison to the kind and strength of coping mechanisms we think
we are capable of using. We can be scared because the stressor
(problem) is seen as overwhelming or because we believe we have no
way to escape or solve the problem. The questions we ask ourselves
are: 
1. Is something important to me at stake? If yes, am I in trouble?
These are complex judgments. But the answers can center on three
areas: (a) seeing the harm as already done, "This is awful, I can't give
a speech," or (b) foreseeing possible losses, "Yes, a threat of _____
severity is coming" or (c) seeing the situation as a challenge, "Giving
the speech will be hard work and scary but it's a real opportunity,
which I can handle." 
All other factors being equal, a threatened person, like Jane, would
probably do more poorly and be more stressed than a less threatened
person. However, as we mentioned earlier and will see in the next
paragraph, that isn't necessarily the case. It is possible that the more
anxious person would work harder on the speech than a more
confident person, and as a result of the thorough preparation do
exceedingly well and feel fairly confident during the speech. In short,
the perceived threats are reduced by seeing solutions (see next step). 
2. "What can be done about this threat?" Coping refers to our
attempts to manage external and internal demands or stress; it
includes our thoughts, attitudes, skills and actions. This book is filled
with coping skills. Our estimate of our own ability to cope is based on
many factors, including previous experience in similar situations,
exposure to self-help information and effective teachers, self-
confidence and risk-taking in general, awareness of how well your
personal coping skills compare to others', and faith in support from
others (Holroyd & Lazarus, 1982). Self-efficacy is discussed later and
extensively in method #9 in chapter 14. 
Some of us are risk-takers and some are not. Siegelman (1983) writes
about risk-taking in important areas of our lives, such as careers and
relationships. Risk-taking is a psychological process involving decision-
making, attitudes about change, self-concept, and fear of failure. She
describes three kinds of risk-takers: (a) Anxious ones who make big
decisions only with difficulty, after lots of time, effort, indecision and
worry. (b) Balanced ones who make big decisions carefully, focusing
on getting a good outcome and not preoccupied with failing or being
perfect. They are flexible, giving more time to important decisions and
handling situations differently. (c) Careless ones who make big
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