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Why the ABC model is an effective tool to develop a healthier mindset

One reason that cats are happier than people is that they have no newspapers. - Gwendolyn Brooks

David Luescher
3 min read

An idea for you to consider

If you take most people - and I guess you are one of them - they rarely take time to actually observe their thinking.

What's the important point here?

Our thinking creates our feelings and our feelings affect our behaviour.

The way we think is the root of all good (or evil).

Hence, adopting healthier ways of thinking is an important lever if we want to lead a more fulfilling life.

Albert Ellis’s ABC Model is a significant part of the form of therapy that he developed, known as Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).

The science and philosophy of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy is a powerful psychological approach to a healthier way of thinking.

It also incorporates the philosophical approach of accepting that every individual has their own set of values and beliefs relating to the world in which they live in.

Ellis's psychotherapeutic approach is based on the following powerful premise:

  • it is not people or events that make a person feel good or bad about a situation
  • it is our thinking that drives the feeling (emotion)

In the ABC model:

  • A represents the activating Event (the trigger so to say)
  • B represents your beliefs (the event causes someone to have a belief, either rational or irrational)
  • C represents consequences (how you feel, the resultant behaviour, also physical bodily effects)

In REBT literature, you sometimes find an extended version of the ABC model called the ABC(DE) model:

  • D Dispute (if one has held an irrational belief which has caused unhealthy consequences, they must dispute that belief and turn it into a rational belief)
  • E New Effect (the disputation has turned the irrational belief into a rational belief, and the person now has healthier consequences of their belief as a result)

Let's have a look at the following scenario and put the ABC(DE) model in action:

A work colleague lends you a book to read for your two-week vacation. As usual, events unfold as life gets in the way of our well-laid plans.

That same afternoon:

A You leave the book in the train on your commute from work and nobody calls your attention to it.

B "How could I be so careless? My work colleague thinks I'm not reliable. She'll never lend me anything again. She's going to ask me after my holiday how I enjoyed reading the book. What will I say?" (irrational belief)

C You are ashamed and embarrassed. You are afraid she might think you are a negligent person at work, too.

Now, what if you challenged your irrational thoughts/beliefs and disputed your original thinking?

D "These things happen. I was tired after a full day of work and was carrying a lot of bags. I'm sure she's left things behind in her life. It's only a book. I can check Amazon's website and order a new one for her if they've got it in stock."

E You feel relaxed and accept that we all make mistakes. You order the book new from Amazon and buy a USD 5 Starbucks voucher as an apology.

As you can tell, by thinking in a more rational (less critical/negative) manner we change how we feel. This in turn leads to a positive change in our behaviour. It's as easy as ABC(DE)!

The ABC model is a powerful tool to adopt a healthier way of thinking and to deal with difficult situations in our daily lives. Use it whenever you find yourself in a difficult situation!

A video for you to watch

This is probably the single best educational video about consent out there. It is fun and takes less than 3 minutes to watch!

If you’re still struggling with consent just imagine instead of initiating sex you’re making them a cup of tea.

A quote for you to ponder

One reason that cats are happier than people is that they have no newspapers. - Gwendolyn Brooks

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