Psychological Self-Help

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behavior than thoughts (and perhaps it is more accurate to say that an
idea or a belief isn't really affirmed by the person until he/she acts
upon it or tests it out in real behavior). Thus, the Cognitive therapist
asks the patient to behaviorally check out his/her dire "it's hopeless"
predictions or conclusions, or the Rational-Emotive therapist directs
the shy client to find out it isn't awful to be turned down for a date, or
Bandura helps a snake phobic with a "I can't do it" attitude to
gradually approach a small snake and learn for certain "I can handle
it," etc. Thus, these therapists, especially the Social Learning theorists,
concentrate on building a sense of mastery (by increasing actual
behavioral competence), rather than focusing on reducing the anxiety
or correcting irrational thoughts or changing the self-talk involved in
More specific directions for reducing fears, phobias, and self-
criticism are covered in the "Ways to handle stress and anxiety" and
the "Special anxiety-based problems" sections. How to stop destructive
self-criticism is discussed in Method #1 in chapter 14. 
Thoughts, emotions, and actions are all interrelated
As you can see, all three modalities--emotions, behavior, and
cognition--become impossibly enmeshed in most real life situations,
much like classical, operant, and observational learning are complexly
intertwined (see chapter 4). Therefore, any theory which attempts to
explain any one of the three modalities, say an emotion like anxiety,
without referring to both of the other two is probably questionable. It
is quite believable that our feelings are partially based on our views of
the world--our thoughts, our beliefs. But our thoughts, views, beliefs,
expectations, etc. are surely influenced by our emotions...and our
behaviors. It is not a one way street. Indeed, Bandura himself
provides an impressive list of ways we mentally justify being
behaviorally unkind to others (see chapter 7). These self-serving
cognitions (or excuses) are surely influenced greatly by emotions and
needs. So, which comes first or which is most powerful: the selfish
thoughts, the greedy emotions, or the mean, self-serving behavior? It
is a foolish question. We can assume all three complexly interact and
grow together. As we accept more of the complexity, we may be on
our way to understanding ourselves. I never told you that humans
were easy to understand. 
It will interest some of you that brain researchers, such as Joseph
LeDoux, believe that emotions and thoughts operate on two almost
entirely different nerve pathways; thus, we can fear a snake while
knowing it can't hurt us. The emotional "startle" reaction to a snake
might even be faster than the mental awareness of what it is that
scared us. He also says it is likely that recognizing a person is
processed by a different set of neurons than the ones that produce an
emotional dislike for that person (and, of course, we may like or dislike
a person without knowing why). It is also possible that early emotional
memories are, for this reason, powerful without any cognitive
memories of those experiences. So, we simply don't know much yet
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