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on 2 June 2011
I'm a normal everyday person with a few complications in my life. I came across this book by accident and its a little gem. Each chapter is like a mini consultation with a trusted advisor. There are 40 chapters, each about 4 pages long so I make that 40 little lessons. Each chapter is stand alone so you don't have to read each chapter in sequence or in fact read all the chapters. I've read the chapters in a particular sequence helpful to me and not in the sequence they were written. I find one or two chapters a day is about the right pace to absorb and learn from the lesson. If you've ever wondered if it might just be you?....and not someone else...who is responsible for some of the complications in your life, then I recommend this book to you. This book has helped me to change the way I look at and deal with many things in my life. Quite simply one of the best books I have ever bought.
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on 25 December 1998
Dr. Goulston writes with humor, humility, and humanity. You feel like he's been there. It's easy to be open to his advice and act on it.
I related to many of the 40 self-defeating behaviors, but none more than procrastination, which has caused me to miss many boats over many years. Dr. G's insight is that procrastination is related to loneliness, and that if we can find ways to partner with other people, it helps us stop procrastinating. I've been putting that technique to work on writing projects (talking about lonely!) and it has been helping me for the past several months.
When I first read of the relationship between procrastination and loneliness, I told our friend Veronica about it. Veronica is a single parent, the mother of two young girls. She told me that the night before, tired after a full day at work, she had faced the task of cleaning out the kids' closet. She wanted to go to sleep rather than face that closet alone. Instead, she called a friend on her portable phone and talked to the friend for two hours while cleaning out the closet. Veronica overcame loneliness and procrastination, and confirmed Dr. Goulston's insight, all with one phone call.
My wife was also impressed with the book, although she tends to dismiss pop psych books. She says I should definitely use the book to overcome my self-defeating behaviors (I've noticed her employing a few of Dr. G's suggestions as well). Now I'm going to reread it.
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on 6 December 1997
I been getting in my own way all of my life. I just would not admit it to myself until I got this book. A fellow inmate here at Terminal Island took back his copy of Get Out of Your Way, but after I wrote Mr. Goulston, he was kind enough to send me my own copy. I read this book already 4 times and I'm gonna use it in my life when I get outta here so I never have to go back to prison. Thank you Mr. Goulstone.
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on 6 December 1997
Goulston and Goldberg's book is the first self-help book my husband has ever read. He told me it was because it had no psychobabble and gave him steps he could use. (It also helped him to forgive his dad after 20 years). Each chapter is only 3-4 pages so someone like my husband can get in and out of the book in five miutes and get something he can use immediately. He even said he'd read another book by these guys.
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on 18 February 2009
This is a pleasant, easy to read book that gives you 'at a glance' overviews for a vast range of self defeating behaviours. However, the introduction was a little sparse and doesn't really provide enough information on where self defeating behaviours come from or why they endure.

I would say it is ideal as a self help book, but is not in depth enough for clinicians or those on a professional study course who will need more information.
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As I began to read this book, I recalled the core concepts in The Knowing-Doing Gap co-authored by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton. Briefly, they assert that "so many managers know so much about organizational performance, say so many smart things about how to achieve performance, and work so hard, yet are trapped in firms that do so many things they know will undermine performance." Many (most?) people have a "gap" between knowing what to do and doing it, not only at work but in all other areas of their lives. How to close this gap? Mark Goulston and Philip Goldberg believe that a self-defeating attitude results in self-defeating behavior...and I agree.

Goulston and Goldberg identify 40 different examples of self-defeating behavior and briefly discuss each, also including relevant quotations and a "Usable Insight" for each. I immediately identified with several (as will other readers) and, after reading "10 Things You Can Learn from Each" and then the Introduction: "How to Beat Self-Defeat," zeroed in on caught my eye. Here are five:

#6 Behavior: Getting So Angry When you Make Things Worse
Comment: I have far more patience with others' mistakes than I have with my own and really become upset when others are somehow victimized by what I have said or done, albeit unintentionally.
Usable Insight: "Anger makes you wild, but conviction makes you strong." Perhaps.

#16 Behavior: Trying to Change Others
Comment: Psychologists call this the "Rescue Fantasy." It can also be an indication of arrogance. Whatever the explanation, I hate to give up on anyone and become very upset with those who give up on themselves.
Usable Insight: "Don't try to change people; accept them as they are and hope they'll change." Easier said than done, especially with loved ones.

#18 Behavior: Talking When Nobody's Listening
Comment: I wish I had a $10 bill for every time I totally lost the attention of someone in a conversation without realizing it and and continued to babble on.
Usable Insight: "When people stop listening, stop talking."

#25 Behavior: Refusing to "Play Games"
Comment: Although I realize that playing several "games is inevitable (e.g. pretending to enjoy encountering someone in a social situation that you dislike intensely), and that each has its own "rules," I much prefer candor.
Usable Insight: "The best defense against game-playing is to play the game well." OK but only so long as, when doing so, others are not deceived...or their trust betrayed.

#31 Behavior: Holding It All In
Comment: This is a first cousin of #19. Too often, I am reluctant to express either positive or negative emotions in an effort to seem under control in charge, and (yes) vulnerable. When described as a "tough read," I accept that as a compliment.
Usable Insight: "Having the horror heard helps to heal the heart." That's certainly alliterative but, in my opinion, ignores the perils of increasing compression that exacerbates pressures that are already building up.

Goulston and Goldberg offer an abundance of sound advice. It remains for each reader to determine which of the self-defeating behaviors are most relevant to her or him, then make whatever behavior adjustments may be necessary. The authors suggest that the book be read straight through. I chose to take a different approach. Either way is fine. It is imperative to read "10 Things You Can Learn from Each" and then the Introduction: "How to Beat Self-Defeat" first. The extent to which a reader is receptive to improvement of mindset and behavior will determine whether reading this book is a journey of meaningful self-discovery or an extended exercise in self-delusion. Reader's choice.
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on 9 February 2013
This is a fantastic book and I will use it for the rest of my life. The information is very well presented and informative. One of the best self help books out there and I have read alot.
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on 19 June 2016
A good light-hearted read
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on 15 May 2015
Highly satisfactory and good customer service!
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on 25 June 2015
Easy to read, good points. Glad I bought it.
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