Who Causes Your Feelings?
We cause our own feelings! This is a very important and powerful belief that can bring peace and control to our lives. Our thoughts determine how we feel.
When something happens, we have a thought about it, and our feelings are caused by our thoughts. A nine-year-old neighbor boy broke both arms on August 17. When I came home from work, he ran over to me - both arms in casts and a BIG smile on his face. "I don't have to do any homework until October!" He beamed. The nurses that set his arms told him he was the luckiest boy in Omaha: "School starts next week and you won't have to do any homework!"
If you or I broke two arms, I bet we wouldn't be smiling. I wouldn't be saying I was the luckiest person in Omaha. I would be thinking about how I couldn't drive, type, etc., and I would be feeling sad. Different thoughts cause different feelings.
Cognitive therapy asks us to examine our thoughts and determine how rational they are. When we are thinking rationally, we can find options and answers much more quickly than when we are thinking irrationally. This will lead to more manageable emotions.
ABCD and E
Act - something happens
Belief (or self-talk) - how we think about the Act
Consequence - the feeling that comes from the Belief
Dispute the Belief - is our belief rational or irrational? (If irrational, what is a more helpful way to think?)
Easier Emotion - thinking rationally helps
The psychologist who drew up the "A-E" outline, Albert Ellis, says there are three main beliefs that are irrational, but almost universal. When we are thinking this way, we will be upset. These beliefs are the following:
1. I must be perfect or it's terrible.
2. Everyone must approve of all I do or it's terrible.
3. Life must be fair and easy, or it's terrible.
When you find yourself upset, ask yourself if you're telling yourself one of these.
Ellis says there are eleven spin-offs from these three that are also very common. Again, when you find yourself upset, ask yourself if you're telling yourself one of these beliefs:
1. I must be loved or approved by virtually everyone in my community.
2. I must be perfectly competent to be worthwhile.
3. Some people are bad and must be blamed and punished.
4. It's a terrible catastrophe when things aren't as I want them to be.
5. Unhappiness is caused by outside feelings and I have no control over them.
6. Dangerous things are causes for great concern, and I must worry about them.
7. It's easier to avoid certain difficulties than face them.
8. I should be dependent on others and must have someone stronger to rely on.
9. The past determines the present, and I can't change that.
10. I should be quite upset over other people's problems.
11. There is always a right or perfect solution to every problem, and I must find it.
These ideas are almost universally present in our society, and they lead to emotional disturbances since they are irrational in some manner. Believing these and acting on them will make a person upset. Thinking rationally about the event will bring peace.
- Bill Rucker