How can Rewrite Your Mind change the way you look at, and react to, the world around you? By using customized techniques to help you implement cognitive behavioral strategies in your daily life.
In the 1950s, psychologist Albert Ellis developed a form of therapy that would evolve into the foundation of many of the approaches used today. Ellis would eventually call his approach Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, or REBT, and REBT forms the basis of the strategies used by Rewrite Your Mind to help you uncover the opportunities that lay ahead of you.
One of the fundamental exercises of REBT is the ABC process, which I often call a road map for change.
The ABC process helps us clearly articulate several things:
Our emotional upsets (unhelpful highs or lows)
How those upsets are affecting us
What we believe, what we are telling ourselves about a given situation, "what's the story"
We take the process further with the letters "D" and "E" -
Once we have identified the various stories we might be telling to help us understand and cope with an event, then we can decide if that story is helping us reach our goal or keeping us from it.
If the story is keeping us from reaching our goal, then we "D" dispute it, and develop new, more "E" effective stories (beliefs) that will ultimately lead to more helpful consequences.
Before starting an ABC, it is often useful to have already gone through a methodical goal-setting process, but that is not a required step. Frequently, we can quickly identify a simple goal that can be used as a measuring stick to determine if our beliefs are helpful or unhelpful.
For example, "to remain calm," or "to have a pleasant evening with my partner," or "to attend an after-hours work event without drinking too much."
The "A" in ABC stands for "Activating Event" - loosely defined as any event (past, present, or future) that causes an emotional upset. Emotional upsets are defined as unhelpful highs or unhelpful lows.
An example of an activating event in one's past could be the remembered argument with a childhood friend. It could also be something that happened just a short while ago, like getting cut off in traffic. That same situation, getting cut off in traffic, could be an activating event in the present, if it is actively happening right now. In a restaurant, a loud, repetitive alarm heard from the kitchen could become an activating event in the present to a diner. Similarly, activating events that are set in the future could include an anticipated visit to a doctor's office, tomorrow's test in school, or next week's client meeting.
For a detailed example of an ABC that addresses the goal of moving beyond disappointment and not getting bogged down in negative thoughts and behaviors,
Any of the situations described above, and countless others, could cause a person to worry to the point of physical illness, lose sleep, have a shortened temper, withdraw from conversations or otherwise isolate themselves, use drugs or alcohol, or make other reckless decisions.
Activating events can be relatively innocuous - spilling a drink on your clothes, for example - or quite significant - like losing a loved one or receiving a difficult medical diagnosis. The ABC process is designed to help us stay even-keeled in the face of all types of adversity, and allows us to name emotions, understand them and where they come from, but not be ruled by them.
Before we look at the "B" (Beliefs), let's look at "C" (Consequences). Consequences usually fall into one of three categories: Emotional (how you feel), Behavioral (what you do), or Physical (what your body does). For example:
Emotional consequence: feel disrespected
Behavioral consequence: use a sarcastic tone of voice
Physical consequence: have an elevated heart rate, flushed cheeks, hot skin, and a clenched jaw
It's a good idea to take note of how you react to an upsetting situation (not everyone reacts the same way!). How do you feel when you are frightened? Does your stomach hurt? How about when you are angry? Do you get quiet? Or loud? How about when you feel embarrassed? Do you laugh a little too much? Giggle? Or lash out in a temper?
Click HERE for a checklist that will help you monitor your physical reactions.
The more you can learn to recognize your own reactions, and those of your body, the better off you will be. Those reactions can become your red flags - the sign posts that tell you it's a good idea to ask yourself, "what's the story?" and do an ABC!
Remember - the goal is not to dismiss your emotions, it is to understand where they come from, and if they come from beliefs that are hurting you, replace them with more helpful ones. We do this by changing our story - rewriting our minds, so to speak.
Keep reading HERE to learn more about the ABC road map.