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Steps to Self-Help Overview

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Making a formal step-by-step self-help plan, as we're recommending above, might seem foreign and 'stiff' to you, but it is a good idea to work through the process step by step nevertheless. Doing so helps you to be clear on what your plan is exactly. It helps you to make sure that your plan makes sense.

Working through the creation of a self-help plan in step-by-step fashion is a formalization of the way you probably already approach problem solving. You probably already unconsciously go through many of these steps when making decisions that affect your mental health. For instance, you might already choose to avoid the stress of working with someone you find difficult by not volunteering to be involved on committees with that person. You may choose not to travel by air to visit family, but instead to drive, because you fear flying. You might choose to work in a job that doesn't involve much human interaction because you know you don’t have the psychological stamina to deal with a lot of human interaction. You are probably already taking steps to figure your problems out, running through alternatives on how you might handle though problems and then choosing to act on alternatives that make the most sense. By asking you to write your self-help plan down, we're just encouraging you to become more conscious of this self-help planning process so that your plans will be as solid and useful as they can be.

We make self-help choices and decisions all the time, big and small, and on a daily basis. Writing things down and making the process more formal and conscious is a good idea because we have learned from experience that when people do so, they tend to take the process more seriously, and then are able to create better self-help results for themselves. Much of self-help is common sense, but common sense is often exactly what we lack when we're under stress or other emotional strain. Creating a formal plan helps you stick to your own common sense during times when you wouldn't otherwise remember to do it or would otherwise become distracted by conflicting feelings and emotions.