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SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGIST SHELLEY TAYOR'S "POSITIVE ILLUSIONS" Here we meet a tendency opposite to the self-putdowns that are described in detail below. . Intriguingly enough, social psychologist Shelley Taylor has shown that small-scale positive illusions which portray us as a little better than we are and our actions as a little more admirable than they are can contribute to our self-esteem, help us feel better about ourselves, and even act more kindly toward others. (She didn't find the same advantages in repressing painful memories from our past, but that's a subject for a later chapter.)x Taylor's positive illusions are one side of how we use our thoughts to affect our feelings. There is, of course, another side. There are also troubling thoughts that go through our minds. These involves talking to ourselves, or picturing ourselves, in ways that cause us to feel ineffective or defective. When you find yourself stuck in a self-perpetuating negative mental whirlpool, no one else can
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Unformatted text preview: pull you out. Fortunately, there are a number of do-able steps that can help you climb out on your own. (If necessary, an effective counselor, therapist, personal coach, or even an insightful trusted friend can help with that task.) A useful first move is to "step back" and just watch (or listen to) what you're actually doing with your mind, and how. In other words, you train yourself to be aware of what you're doing with your conceptual thinking. You're using a little of your attention to "stand behind yourself" and be a "witness" of your own thinking process. Then you can see when your thinking is taking you places that are not helpful, and switch your thoughts onto a different track that makes it easier for you to feel good or succeed in what you want to do. The technique you just used in the "Clearing Mental Chatter" exploration is one way to do this....
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