Saturday, 31 October 2020

Setting your own goals and making them public

After quitting the horror job with permanent overtime and a devilish boss, quite a few people with depression recovered even without undergoing cognitive restructuring or some other CBT magic. Therapy goals A special feature of behavioral therapy is the definition of specific goals. When a therapist asks a patient in the first session about his or her wished-for therapy results, the answers are often: better sleep, no more anxiety or greater self-esteem - very plausible things. However, in his sweetest fantasies, the behavioral therapist dreams about answers like this one: In behavioral therapy, goals are considered as good, when they are precise, achievable, reaching them depends only on yourself, and the progress is measurable. Good: precise, measurable, and under the own control. The desired outcome: being less anxious in the future. That's because you suck at breathing. Let me teach you how to suck less. The reason you haven't been able to simply breathe your way out of a panic attack is because you haven't effectively practiced breathing. Practice breathing? Imagine that you are playing basketball. In fact, imagine that you are on an NBA team playing in front of a ginormous crowd. Pretty sweet, right? It is until you get fouled and have to step up to the free throw line and remember that you never practiced free throws during training. Now that the heat is on and you don't have that bionic muscle memory that most professional players have, you sure as hell aren't going to be very consistent in your shots. Breathing is the same way. While they listened to the message, participants repeatedly were asked to record the location of an X which appeared at various spots on a screen in front of them. For some participants, the Xs flashed every 15 seconds.

You can imagine that this would be mildly distracting. But other participants had to identify the X every 5 seconds--very distracting. As you can see in FIGURE 8. But participants who were highly distracted were less influenced by the strength of the argument and generally saw the tuition cut as a good idea. The Effects of Distraction on Persuasion In this study, people who were only mildly distracted were persuaded through the central route; But being highly distracted switched them to the peripheral route, and their agreement with the proposal was unaffected by the strength of the argument. A vertical bar graph corelates argument strength with level of distraction of the participants, with vertical axis labeled as Agreement with argument for tuition cut ranging from negative 2 to 1. Being happy unfortunately isn't a thing that's directly under the own control, but can only be achieved indirectly. However, what would have to change in life to make one feel better? Good: a cognitive goal, where it's about changing the usual automatic thinking. Although, it might be more difficult here to measure the progress as in the case of behavioral goals, it is quite typical for CBT. The problem with this goal is not your gigantic nose. It's the unfortunate fact that you only have direct control over your own behavior, but not over the feelings you evoke in others. But how about another goal: getting better at making contact with women, and being able to act assertively? Good: precise goal, with the progress being measurable. Well, whether this is a realistic goal or not may be debatable. There are mothers out there, who would make even Buddha himself freak out. I want you to think of breathing as a tool that you have in your tool belt. In order to effectively use that tool under pressure (like a panic attack), you need to first practice under non-stressful conditions.

Then you keep practicing until it becomes second nature, and you can press that big shiny relaxation button at a moment's notice. Once you achieve that level of comfort and mastery with deep breathing, you will have added another awesome weapon to your anxiety slaying armory. While it probably won't solve the root of your anxiety symptoms, it WILL bring you down a couple notches and help you think more clearly. You can also think of it this way: Say you wanted to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow in order to hunt your food. Well, the first time you decide to go out and practice, it probably shouldn't be when a lion is chasing you down. You will likely shoot wildly and miss your target. If instead you practice your shooting intentionally over time on other objects, you are much more likely to hit that lion exactly where you want to when it does show up. What kind of breathing am I talking about? The graph for participants mildly distracted shows magnitude of blue box ranging from 0 to slightly below 1 while the magnitude of red bar ranges from 0 to slightly above negative 1. Why It Matters Why does it matter which route people take if either one can lead them to change their attitudes? Compared with attitudes formed through the peripheral route, attitudes formed through the central route are stronger--more durable and resistant to contrary information and more likely to determine how people behave (Chaiken, 1980; Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Think about it: If you form an attitude through the central route, you are elaborating on the arguments relevant to the issue, rehearsing them in your head, and considering them in light of other evidence. The resulting attitude is therefore more likely to be supported by a range of knowledge. This means the attitude is likely to remain in your memory even if one piece of evidence in support of that attitude is forgotten or contradicted by other evidence. Attitudes formed through the peripheral route, in contrast, are usually supported by a single, simple association or inference (My favorite celebrity uses this product, so I do, too) and therefore may decay over time. For example, in one study students were presented with a proposal to require psychology majors to participate in research. Why not plan something a little easier first? In his office, a behavioral therapist is confronted with all kinds of different issues.

Sometimes, there comes a wife who basically just wants to rant about her husband, or a husband who basically just wants to rant about his wife. Those people often hope for nothing more than an official confirmation from the expert, that their partner is completely nuts. Every now and then, men show up who recently cheated on their girlfriends, got caught, and were forced by their partners to go to a psychotherapist. Here, the interest in other women is expected to get exorcised, and the cheater to be transformed into a loyal male. However, the motivation for undergoing psychotherapeutic treatment is mostly exclusively on the side of the betrayed. In many cases, there's a desperate guy sitting nervously on his chair, whose face silently expresses the unmistakable message: Help me! Please let me go, friend! There indeed are many instances, where behavioral therapy may not be the best solution to a problem. There are approximately one zillion different kinds of breathing exercises out there (seriously, google it). All of the different techniques have their own merits and most of the ones that I have tried are effective. There's no mystic voodoo here. In my opinion, there are basically two main components that make breathing exercises effective. The first one is obvious; The other is that they trick you into focusing on something other than your sense of impending doom. This sort of breathing is effortful, and if you are trying to keep track of how you are breathing, it is going to help take your mind off of flipping out. Here's one that is quick and dirty, but works wonders for me. It's called 4-7-8 breathing. I don't even remember where I learned this one, but it's come to my rescue for many a close call. Thus, attitudes formed through the central and the peripheral routes to persuasion might be equally favorable or unfavorable immediately following a persuasive message, but which route was used influences whether a change in attitude persists over time. To sum up, following the central or the peripheral route to persuasion orients people toward different aspects of a persuasive message.

We've looked at some of those aspects, such as the attractiveness of a celebrity. Next we consider those aspects in more detail, grouping them into three categories: who says what to whom. First, we'll see how attitudes are influenced by characteristics of the individual or group communicating the message (the who, or source). Then we'll look at the characteristics of the message itself (the what). Finally, we'll consider characteristics of the person or group receiving the message (whom, or the audience). The person or group communicating a message. The person or group receiving a message. SECTION REVIEW Elaboration Likelihood Model: Central and Peripheral Routes to Persuasion The punishment for the Tinder affair with Maria: off to the expert for crazy behavior! Why couldn't it just have been a simple slap in the face? There also exist people who have great difficulties in defining a precise goal for their psychotherapy. In such cases, therapists like to ask the miracle question. It goes like this: Imagine that a fairy comes at night and performs a miracle. By this, the psychic problem, that led you to this psychotherapeutic office, was dissolved. However, you didn't notice it because you were asleep. The next day: what are the things that make you realize that your problem has disappeared? If things go well, then this question inspires people to develop ideas for worthwhile changes in their lives. However, if the answer is I realize the miracle by not needing a therapist anymore, then the question didn't bring much progress. I hope you can count, because that's all you have to do for this one. Breathe in for 4 counts (you can count faster or slower depending on comfort), hold that breath for 7, and then release for 8.

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