Psychological Self-Help

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Helplessness and self-efficacy seem to be the opposite ends of the
same dimension; increasing self-confidence in self-control is discussed
in Planning self-improvement (see pages below) and in method #9 in
chapter 14. More details about correcting our faulty initial impressions
are given in method #5 in chapter 14 (straight thinking). Another
excellent but complex (realistic!) example of checking out our
interpersonal perceptions is given by R. D. Laing (see method #7 in
chapter 13). 
Changing the way we see the world is not a quick and easy
process. You will have to check out your views in many situations over
and over. It's hard but if your initial perception of reality is wrong, all
your subsequent thoughts based on those impressions are faulty too.
That's serious. 
Stop irrational thinking --after perceiving the current situation,
we compare what is happening (as we see it) with what we want to
happen or believe should be happening. When we, others, and the real
world are not as good or as satisfying as we had hoped, we get upset.
Thus, the Rational-Emotive therapist says it is our beliefs that cause
stress, self-doubts, shame, depression, anger, and most emotions. We
can learn to recognize our irrational demands and reactions when life
doesn't work out as we would like. Examples: 
Rational-Emotive therapy techniques (method #3 in chapter 14)
will help you to identify a variety of irrational ideas and to think
logically. Example: "It would be awful if ___(Joe) ___ didn't like what I
did" is a common thought. But someone not liking what you did is
merely a temporary nuisance or disappointment, not an awful,
catastrophic life event. Indeed, if you knew the person well, you might
understand exactly why he/she doesn't like it (they are responding
"lawfully" for them). It isn't the reaction you want, but you can handle
We are all prone to automatically think "wouldn't it be awful if I got
fired... if my lover wanted someone else... if I got cancer... " or even
"if she/he turned me down after I asked her/him for a date... if I
flunked this course... if I dented the car... if I said something silly... if
my fly/blouse came open... " The truth is that life goes on and very
few events are truly "awful," most unfortunate incidents are naturally
occurring, often unavoidable, short-term inconveniences (see
discussion of determinism in chapter 14). Also, most worries never
happen! Many therapists ask clients to imagine the worst possible
outcome in their situation, and then ask, "So what would happen, if
that occurred?" Or, the therapist might ask, "What effect will this have
on your life 1 or 5 years from now?" Usually there is a solution or
some outcome that isn't entirely awful forever. 
Besides being upset if things don't go as we'd like, other common
irrational ideas produce stress, such as "if anything could go wrong, I
should worry about it a lot" and "if I or anyone does anything bad, we
should be blamed for it and punished." These thoughts suggest we are
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