• Partnering with you on your unique journey.

  • (913) 991 3974

Posts Tagged :

approval

How to Dispute Irrational Beliefs

Albert Ellis is known as the grandfather of Cognitive Behavior Therapy. He combined humanistic, philosophical, and behavioral therapy to form Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) in 1955. A main assumption of REBT is that people contribute to their psychological problems by the way they interpret events. Further, our emotions stem mainly from our beliefs, evaluations, interpretations, and reactions to life situations. REBT assumes that cognitions (thoughts), emotions, and behaviors interact significantly and have a reciprocal cause-and-effect relationship. Additionally, REBT postulates that people are born with a potential for both rational and irrational thinking.

According to Ellis, we have an inborn tendency toward growth and actualization, yet we often sabotage our movement toward growth due to self-defeating patterns we have learned. We originally learn irrational beliefs from significant others during childhood, and we actively reinforce these self-defeating beliefs by repetition, and by behaving as if they are useful. But it is not useful to blame ourselves and others; instead, it is important that we learn how to accept ourselves despite our imperfections. Therefore, a major goal of REBT is to achieve unconditional self-acceptance and unconditional other acceptance; the more one is able to accept him or herself, the more likely he is to accept others.

The therapeutic process involves identifying irrational beliefs, and replacing such beliefs with more rational and effective ways of thinking. Changing one’s thinking results in changing one’s emotional reactions to situations. Ellis succinctly puts it this way, “You mainly feel the way you think.” Some examples of irrational beliefs that lead to self-defeat include: I must have the approval of all the people in my life, or else I am worthless. I must perform all tasks perfectly, or else I am a failure. It is better to avoid life’s difficulties than to try and end up looking foolish.

The A-B-C framework and method of disputing irrational beliefs is central to REBT theory and practice.

A = an event, behavior, or attitude
B = belief about the event
C = emotional & behavioral consequence or reaction (can be healthy or unhealthy)
D = disputing irrational or self-defeating beliefs
E = effective philosophy of replacing unhealthy thoughts with healthy ones
F = a new set of healthy feelings

A (the activating event) does not cause C (the emotional consequence); rather, B (the person’s belief about the event) largely causes C. D is the application of methods to challenge irrational beliefs by detecting, debating, and discriminating irrational (self-defeating) beliefs from rational (self-helping) beliefs. E is the new and effective belief system that consists of replacing unhealthy thoughts with healthy ones. In doing this, F (a new set of healthy feelings) is created.ABC Framework 11

In summary, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy entails the following steps: (1) acknowledge that we are largely responsible for our own emotional problems, (2) accept that we have the ability to change these disturbances significantly, (3) recognize that our emotional problems often stem from irrational beliefs, (4) accurately perceive these beliefs, (5) see the value of disputing such self-defeating beliefs, (6) accept that we need to counteract our dysfunctional beliefs/feelings/behaviors, and (7) practice these methods to improve current and future circumstances.

References:
Corey, Gerald. Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. Belmont. Thomas Learning, Inc. 2005.

Raised by an Addict [Part I]

In her memoir, There was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me, Brooke Shields paints an honest and vivid picture depicting her experience of being raised by an alcoholic mother.

Much of her childhood was filled with chaos, and a lack of structure and stability, which is quite common in families with addiction.

She speaks about the enmeshed, codependent relationship she shared with her mother for many years:

    I never thought I could live without you. I knew and understood you better than anyone else in your life. I became the meaning in your life when it would have served you to find the meaning from within. Your approval meant the world to me, as did your happiness. That was the hard part, because I wanted your approval for my growing up independently of you, yet I feared my independence was the root of your unhappiness. But if I had not fought to differentiate myself from you and from our tight bond, I would not have been able to survive.

There are many themes in her life story that are shared by others who have lived with an addicted or mentally ill family member:

Being constantly afraid and worried for their safety and well-being
Feeling like it’s your responsibility to keep them sober and alive
Becoming panic-stricken when you haven’t heard from them in a while
Desperately trying to control their addiction…AND NOT BEING ABLE TO.

Brooke lacked a sense of confidence and security, despite becoming famous at such a young age. She never felt good enough. How could she, when she wasn’t enough to keep her mother from drinking?

She was not her own person. Her existence and purpose were for her mother, not for herself. How can you be your own person, when you spend all of your energy trying to please someone else? There’s no room for you to discover who you are. Her job was to intuit the moods and needs of her mom: “She was my barometer for joy. If she was happy, I was happy.”

Like many children of addicts, Brooke became parentified, taking care of her mother, instead of getting to be a kid. It affected her as she got older, as well. While others her age were going out and dating, she was afraid to intimately connect with another person, for fear of mom feeling abandoned. As if by loving someone else, she would somehow love her mother less. There wasn’t enough space for anyone else.

[Story Continues in Part II]

The Courage to be Myself – – Sue Patton Thoele

I have the courage to . . .

Embrace my strengths—
Get excited about life—
Enjoy giving and receiving love —

Face and transform my fears—
Ask for help and support when I need it—
Spring free of the Superwoman Trap—
Trust myself—
Make my own decisions and choices—

Befriend myself—
Complete unfinished business—
Realize that I have emotional and practical rights—
Talk as nicely to myself as I do to my plants—
Communicate lovingly with understanding as my goal—

Honor my own needs—
Give myself credit for my accomplishments—
Love the little girl within me—
Overcome my addiction to approval—
Grand myself permission to play—
Quit being a Responsibility Sponge—

Feel all of my feelings and act on them appropriately—
Nurture others because I want to, not because I have to—
Choose what is right for me—
Insist on being paid fairly for what I do—
Set limits and boundaries and stick by them—
Say “yes” only when I really mean it—

Have realistic expectations—
Take risks and accept change—
Grow through challenges—
Be totally honest with myself—
Correct erroneous beliefs and assumptions—

Respect my vulnerabilities—
Heal old and current wounds—
Favor the mystery of Spirit—
Wave goodbye to guilt—
Plant “flower” not “weed” thoughts in my mind—

Treat myself with respect and teach others to do the same—
Fill my own cup first, then nourish others from the overflow—
Own my own excellence—
Plan for the future but live in the present—
Value my intuition and wisdom—
Know that I am lovable—

Celebrate the differences between men and women—
Develop healthy, supportive relationships—
Make forgiveness a priority—

Accept myself as I am now.

People-Pleasing: Is it really such a good thing?

Excerpts from The Disease to Please (Harriet B. Braiker)
Additional annotations by Molly Pierce, MA, LPC, NCC

Has anyone ever told you that you’re a people-pleaser?  Don’t be so flattered…it’s not really a compliment.  It feels better to view people-pleasing as an admirable attribute, rather than look at it for what it truly is: a serious psychological problem. 

In actuality, the “disease to please” is a compulsive — even addictive — behavior pattern in which you feel controlled by your need to please others, and addicted to their approval.  At the same time, you feel out of control over the pressures and demands on your life that these needs have created. 

The Disease to Please is comprised of three components: (1) People-Pleasing Mindsets, or distorted ways of thinking; (2) People-Pleasing Habits, or compulsive behaviors; and (3) People-Pleasing Feelings, or fearful emotions

People-Pleasing Mindset
If you fall into this category, your behavior is driven by a fixed thought that you need and must strive for everyone to like you.  You measure your self-esteem and define your identity by how much you do for others whose needs, you insist, must come before your own.  You believe that being nice will protect you from rejection and other hurtful treatment from others.  You impose demanding rules, harsh criticism, and perfectionist expectations on yourself in an attempt to gain universal acceptance from others.

People-Pleasing Habits
If you fall into this group, you are driven to take care of others’ needs at the expense of your own.  You do too much, too often for others, almost never say “no,” rarely delegate, and inevitably become overcommitted and spread too thin.  And, while these self-defeating, stress-producing patterns take their toll on your health and closest relationships, they maintain a firm grip on your behavior because they are driven by your excessive, even addictive, need for everyone’s approval.

People-Pleasing Feelings
Under this category, your behavior is primarily caused by the avoidance of frightening and uncomfortable feelings. You will recognize the high anxiety that merely the anticipation or possibility of any angry confrontation with others evokes.  (All you conflict avoiders out there — this is you!)  Your people-pleasing behaviors are primarily an avoidance tactic intended to protect you from your fears of anger, conflict, and confrontation.  These fears don’t actually diminish; they intensify as long as the avoidance pattern persists!  (Long story short: you have to face your fears in order to overcome them).  Because you avoid difficult emotions, you never allow yourself to learn how to effectively manage conflict or how to appropriately deal with anger.  As a consequence, you relinquish control too easily to those who would dominate you through intimidation and manipulation.

Living a life of people-pleasing is not the way to go.  Your self-esteem takes a massive toll.  Your identity and sense of self-worth is all tied up in how much you do for others and how successful you are at pleasing them.   It causes your relationships to lose their authenticity; If your niceness prevents you from telling others what is making you unhappy, angry, upset, or disappointed — or from hearing their complaints — there is little chance of fixing what has gone wrong.

Under the surface of your selfless niceness, resentment and frustration will begin to boil and churn, threatening to eventually erupt in open hostility and uncontrolled anger.  It takes a physical toll, as well.  It may come out in the form of migraine or tension headaches, back pain, stomach pain, high blood pressure, or any of a host of other stress-related symptoms.  You will eventually hit the proverbial wall with your energy exhausted and you’ll want to give up, not knowing what else to do.  In the end, your trusty habits of people-pleasing will fail you. So save yourself the trouble, and don’t spend your whole life living hostage to its ways.