Psychological Self-Help

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89
on challenges, feeling they will learn from the experiences. They
seldom get sick. They were tough. Maddi and Kobasa then tried to
teach less hardy managers to be psychologically tougher using three
methods: problem-solving to reduce the stress (much like the chapter
you are reading right now), focusing (for gaining awareness of hidden
emotions, see method #5f in chapter 15), and self-improvement
projects (to improve self-esteem and a sense of mastery). So, by
learning self-help, you are getting tougher (IF you expose yourself to
tough situations and come out a winner most of the time). You have to
move on from just handling anxiety to taking the many risks involved
in making lots of positive things happen in your life. 
Skills training --if we feel inadequate, one solution is to become
more adequate, even over-compensating for our real or imagined
weakness. Chapter 13 provides a variety of skills which might reduce
stress. Examples are: problem-solving ability, decision-making skills,
social skills, assertiveness skills, empathy responding skills, time
management skills, study skills, leadership skills, etc. 
Cognitive methods
Observational learning and modeling --watch a person similar
to you handle the frightening situation. This is called "guided mastery"
or modeling. Cognitive therapy has repeatedly shown that humans can
learn to overcome fears by observing others, preferably not an expert
and not a person overwhelmed with fear. If you wanted to be
comfortable handling snakes, it wouldn't help much to watch a snake
handler catch and milk rattle snakes. But watching a snake phobic
person cautiously and nervously approach and briefly touch a
harmless, pretty, little snake would help you, with encouragement, to
do the same thing. Modeling is discussed in chapter 4. 
Cognitive treatment methods --if you change your assessment
or interpretation of a scary situation, your emotions in that situation
will often change. That is the basic idea of cognitive methods, but
there is a wide, almost overwhelming variety of ways to alter your
view or interpretation of a situation. Let's see if we can clear this up
somewhat. 
Some cognitive methods consist of changing your self-talk and
thinking, e.g. substituting constructive, positive self-statements for
self-defeating statements to reduce your fears. As we just saw, this is
the essence of stress inoculation, usually called a cognitive-behavioral
method. There are certainly other methods, sometimes called
cognitive, which involve learning how to think differently: learning
problem-solving, skills, and planning methods; using paradoxical
intention and flooding; developing healthy attitudes and toughness;
and gaining insight. Some writers even differentiate between cognitive
methods that simply change your thinking or automatic assumptions
(changing "I will fail" to "I can handle it") and other cognitive methods
that require you to challenge the logic or validity of your own ideas or
conclusions or schemas ("feeling dizzy means I'm going to pass out").
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