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The A-B-C-D-E of Healthy Living
ACTIVATING EXPERIENCE OR EVENT
(I get fired, I get dumped, I get in an accident, I get embarrassed, I fail a test...)
When I feel bad, I need to look for my Irrational Beliefs-IB. This downward spiral contains four levels of IB1) I think someone or something should, ought, or must be different than the way it actually exists. This is called "Musterbating" There are three major categories.
2) I find it awful, terrible, or horrible when it is that way. This is called "Awfulizing."
3) I conclude that I cannot bear, stand, or tolerate that person, thing, or event that should not have been as it is. These are the "I can't stand its"
4) I think that I (or someone else) have made and/or will continue to make horrible errors and that I (or someone else) must not act this way. Because of this, I (or someone else) deserve nothing good in life, merit damnation, and can rightfully be called a failure, a bad person, a turd. This is called "Self damning".
(depression, anger, embarrassment, hurt, worry...)
Disputing: Debating, Discriminating, and Defining1) Debating: These are rhetorical questions designed to disqualify and destroy the false belief. This is a debate between me and me-between my rational and irrational beliefs. It is here we hold all beliefs to the scrutiny of truth.
2) Discriminating: Here we are confronted with similar yet contrary ideas that are brought to light as a result of debating. We discriminate between what is true and what is a lie; we have needs and we have desires; we have good and bad. Undesirable does not mean unbearable; hassles are not horrors; bad times are not end times; difficulties are not damnations; being disliked by one does not imply universal displeasure.
3) Defining: This is semantic accuracy which helps me avoid overgeneralizations about my behavior. Be very careful about the words "always" and "never". They are special words and should be used accordingly. Just because I did something stupid does not mean I will always do stupid things. Statements like "I don't know how" really means "I don't want to" and "I can't" means "I won't". Emotional disturbances do not come about by wishing, wanting, hoping, or desiring, but by commanding, demanding and absolute insistencies that take away the leeway of want versus "I can't live without it and I will never be happy until I get it."
Since we feel the way we think, we can control our feelings by confronting our iB at point D."
This is the goal of "D" - a new philosophy toward life. I can think my way through a situation rather than be ripped apart by my feelings. I do not ignore my feelings as they are crucial to understand where I am at and they give me a place from which to move. The goal is to think accurately which will make us feel good. There is freedom in the truth.
Ellis (1977) Handbook of RET
Copyright © Patty Fleener, M.S.W. All rights reserved.