keys but can't find them. Your partner says, "Why did you have to lose
your keys now?"
Independent response: "Well, where are your keys?"
Dependent response: "Do you remember where I put them?"
Or: A friend asks you to buy a particular gift for her mother while you
are downtown. However, you buy a different present because the one
she wanted was sold out. She says, "I think it's ugly!"
Independent response: "Then you should have gone yourself."
Dependent response: "I'll exchange it for you."
The subjects were rewarded for choosing the independent
response as what they would actually say. After this brief exercise, the
subjects (dependent males and females) selected more independent
responses during the post-test than they did during the pretest, but it
is unknown if they changed in real life.
A self-helper could make up his/her own situations and think up
good independent or assertive responses. You can practice the
independent responses either overtly or covertly (imagining how you
would handle the situation). It is more effective if you improvise and
add your own details as you rehearse (Kazdin & Mascitelli, 1982). It
would also be helpful to develop self-instructions designed to prompt,
guide, and reward independent action and assertive decision-making
(method #2 in chapter 11).
As you come to recognize your passive-dependent thinking, e.g.
externalizer thinking, poor decision making, and excuses for being
conforming and unassertive, use relapse prevention methods to
avoid reverting to weak, passive-dependent responses (method
#4 in chapter 11). Expose yourself repeatedly to situations where it is
tempting to "just go along" or where someone will take care of you,
but don't give in, make your own decisions, do what you think is best,
and take care of yourself.
If you depend on or defer to specific people, avoid those people
so you have to be self-reliant. Piaget (1991) has written about how to
stop people from running your life.
Level II: Confront fears; vent feelings; face long-term consequences
If you are inhibited by self-doubts and fears, if it is stressful for
you to confront others, if you feel unable to control the situation, if
you'd just rather let others decide, if you are in awe of people in
authority, if you enjoy being cared for and "helped," there are several
things you can do.