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Author Topic: 8.07 | Ease your pain by reframing your thoughts  (Read 12471 times)
Auspicious
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« on: January 17, 2011, 09:49:14 AM »

Do any of these apply to you?



  • My partner, child, or parent pouts at every family event. It drives me crazy and ruins the event for me. I want him/her to be happy and enjoy the time so I can enjoy it too!


  • My brother, daughter-in-law, or father-in-law doesn't seem to like or approve of me and finds ways to pick at me and put me down. It makes me feel terrible.


  • My ex-partner is giving me the silent treatment, and I want to be friends. It's intolerable!





What do these situations have in common? It may be hard to see, but our pain in these situations doesn't just come from what's happening to us. It comes from how we think and feel about what is happening to us.

How can we change how we think and feel about the situation?  One simple method is the ABC method. OK, so it's really called the Three Minute Exercise and it follows an ABCDEF format, but I'm a simple guy and I think of it as the ABC method Smiling (click to insert in post)

Full attribution - this method comes from Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D.

www.threeminutetherapy.com/exercise.html

www.threeminutetherapy.com/index.html


See the links above ... .basically, it works like this. Our pain comes not just from our experiences, but from how we think and feel about them. If we have irrational beliefs, we cause ourselves pain.

Here's how we might apply it to the silent treatment.

A. (Activating event): She won't talk to me.

B. (irrational Belief): She MUST talk to me.

C. (emotional Consequences): Anger, feeling that this situation is intolerable.

D. (Disputing or questioning): Why "must" she talk to me? What law of nature says that she has to? Am I the only person in the world who should never receive silent treatment?

E. (Effective new thinking): I would prefer that she talk to me. It's certainly an unpleasant feeling that she won't. Still, I can survive unpleasant feelings. People don't always do what's right or what I would prefer that they do.

F. (new Feeling or behavior): Still unhappy about her not talking to me, but it's manageable, not a horror or intolerable.


Give it a try ... .how would you apply this method to various situations? Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2011, 10:09:31 AM »

And... .

G.  Where were you guys a year ago when I need this info?

Smiling (click to insert in post)

The first silent treatment, I cried and fell into a deep depression.  Realized he did not care that I was crying and sad.  Which confused me and I was even more devastated.

As they increased, I became more egg shell walking to try and avoid.

Then I started to become more adjusted to them, I was still upset but started finding things to do with my daughter like bike ride, go on drives, that sort of thing.  My husband became more and more like a roommate less and less like a partner.   I stopped trying to plan things that involved him because he became too undependable with these moods.
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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2011, 12:22:16 PM »

A. (Activating event):

R takes the whole washing machine apart bc it was making 'a noise'... (this is pretty regular... for him)

B. (irrational Belief):

omg he could just take out the agitator and rebalance it w/out taking the whole thing apart... or let me do it and itd take half the time

C. (emotional Consequences):

frustrated... impatient... angry...

D. (Disputing or questioning):

anything that says he cant fix it that way? no... anything that says he cant put it back together better? no... am i sure its the agitator and not something else? no... (pretty sure... but not 100%)

E. (Effective new thinking):

he will get it put together again... and this way he has a project to work on happy for a while... id kinda rather he let me do it... but he doesnt have to... and hes not being destructive... just doing it his way... hes not doing it to spite me...

F. (new Feeling or behavior):

happier/grateful he is willing to help and can fix stuff on his own... even tho sometimes it takes longer... at least put back together its going to be real clean too...
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« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2011, 06:29:02 PM »

the sole fact that you equate the silent treatment with "not talking to me" is beyond troubling to this whole hypothesis... .I encourage at minimum a rethinking of that one
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2011, 05:24:27 AM »

the sole fact that you equate the silent treatment with "not talking to me" is beyond troubling to this whole hypothesis... .I encourage at minimum a rethinking of that one

There are a number of ways to interpret your comment ... .so I'll just take the opportunity to point out a few things to keep in mind:

-Each tool is just one tool in the toolbox. If it's not a nail, don't use a hammer.

-Using one tool does not usually prevent you from using another tool. For example, you can use the ABC tool to challenge your false beliefs and reduce your suffering about a situation, while still taking other actions to materially improve the situation.

-You usually have more power than you think you do to change your situation. What you don't usually have the power to do is to change what other people do.


Specifically about the ABC tool - letting go of irrational beliefs doesn't have to mean that you like your situation. Or that you can't try to change it. It just means that you will suffer less from it.


www.threeminutetherapy.com/chapter4.html

Quote from: Edelstein
The aim of a Three Minute Exercise is not to make you feel that the unpleasant stimulus (the Activating Event) is welcome, or a matter of no account or slight importance. You will usually continue to feel that the Activating Event {... .} is unfortunate, unwelcome, or distasteful. Feeling that way will not unduly disturb you. The object of the exercise is to fully understand and appreciate, at the "gut" level, that, while you definitely prefer that things be different, there is no "must" about this.

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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2011, 05:32:06 AM »

One very common irrational belief is: "everyone MUST treat me nicely all the time."

Calling that an irrational belief (which it is) doesn't mean that everyone shouldn't treat you nicely all the time. Or that you shouldn't, in general, seek out people who will treat you nicely. Or that you shouldn't, in general, remove yourself from un-nice treatment.

But people are human, and imperfect, and they do things that they shouldn't do. So facing the world with a belief that it is absolutely intolerable that everyone is not treating you nicely all the time is a guarantee of frequent, if not constant, suffering.


What are some other irrational beliefs that you deal with?  What situations can you use the ABC method to help with?
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« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2011, 01:11:12 PM »

This is something I use a lot, though I didn't know it had such a spiffy name. One example, related to assuming responsibility for the happiness of another, as I used to do with my uBPD mother a great deal:

A. (Activating event):

uBPD mother displaying signs of being upset or having a bad time at an event I've arranged as a "nice time" with her and my family (sighing, complaining, being silent when conversation would be generally polite, glaring)

B. (irrational Beliefs):

It's my job to ensure she as a good time. I'm doing something wrong and have the power to make her have a good time.

C. (emotional Consequences):

guilty, sad, anxious

D. (Disputing or questioning):

Hmmm... .am I really in charge of whether mom has a good time or not? Are the circumstances generally nice? Anything I can actually do (reasonably) to make them better for her? Is her "having a good time" really about the circumstances or about her mood, which is more internally driven? Why is this my responsibility anyway? She's an adult who can choose to participate and is in charge of her own attitude... .

E. (Effective new thinking):

I've done my best to arrange for a nice event. She'll have a good time, or not, as she's able or chooses. I'm not responsible one way or another.

F. (new Feeling or behavior):

Make reasonable effort with mom--be courteous, for example--but have a good time with my family regardless of her attitude. Cut the event short if she makes a scene but let go of the guilt and other negative emotions around it.
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« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2011, 03:01:48 PM »

Its interesting to read Edelstein's  (Michael R. Edelstein, PhD) explnation of the concept... .

Three Minute Therapy distinguishes clearly between two very different types of difficulties: practical problems and emotional problems. Your flawed behavior, unfair treatment by others, and undesirable situations, represent practical problems. Regrettably, your human tendency is to upset yourself about these practical problems, thereby unnecessarily creating a second order of problems — emotional suffering.

TMT addresses the latter by describing in detail special exercises which enable you to:

1. Take responsibility for your distress. The first lesson in healthy emoting and relating was stated by the Roman philosopher Epictetus more than 2000 years ago, and popularized by Dr. Albert Ellis in the form of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT): only you can upset yourself about events — the events themselves, no matter how undesirable, can never upset you.

Recognize that neither another person, nor an adverse circumstance, can ever disturb you–only you can. No one else can get into your gut and churn it up. Others can cause you physical pain–by hitting you over the head with a baseball bat, for example — or can block your goals. But you create your own emotional suffering, or self-defeating behavioral patterns, about what others do or say.

2. Identify your “musts.”  Once you admit that you distort your own emotions and actions, then determine precisely how. The culprit usually lies in one of the three core “musts:”

   * “Must” #1 (a demand on yourself): “I MUST do well and get approval, or else I’m worthless.” This demand causes anxiety, depression, and lack of assertiveness.

   * “Must” #2 (a demand on others): “You MUST treat me reasonably, considerately, and lovingly, or else you’re no good.” This “must” leads to resentment, hostility, and violence.

   * “Must” #3 (a demand on the Universe): “Life MUST be fair, easy, and hassle-free, or else it’s awful.” This thinking is associated with hopelessness, procrastination, and addictions.

Ascertain what you’re demanding of yourself, of your significant others, or of your circumstances. Not until you have discovered the “must” can you then go on effectively to reduce your distress.

3. Dispute your “musts.” The only way you can ever get undisturbed about adversity is by vigorously and persistently challenging one of these three “musts.” Once you’ve bared them, relentlessly confront and question your demands.

Begin by asking yourself: “What’s the evidence for my ‘must?’ ” “How is it true?” “Where’s it etched in stone?” And then by seeing: “There’s no evidence.” “My ‘must’ is entirely false.” “It’s not carved indelibly anywhere.”

Make your view “must”-free, and then your emotions will heal. The book more clearly lays out effective ways to achieve this most important step.

4. Reinforce your preferences. Conclude, therefore:

   * Preference #1: “I strongly PREFER to do well and get approval, but even if I fail, I will accept myself fully.”

   * Preference #2: “I strongly PREFER that you treat me reasonably, kindly, and lovingly, but since I don’t run the universe, and it’s a part of your human nature to err, I, then, cannot control you.”

   * Preference #3: “I strongly PREFER that life be fair, easy, and hassle-free, and it’s very frustrating that it isn’t, but I can bear frustration and still considerably enjoy life.”

Assuming that you take the above suggestions to heart and thereby greatly reduce your anxiety, hostility, depression, and addictions, what remains? Will you exist robot-like, devoid of human feeling and motivation? Hardly! Without your turmoil, you’ll more easily experience love, involvement, and joy. And without your addictions, you’ll be freer to engage in the gratifying experiences of spontaneity, commitment, and self-actualization.

As you can see, Three Minute Therapy: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life will appeal to you if you relish quickly taking control of your own life, rather than remaining dependent upon a therapist for years. By giving you tools for identifying and overcoming the true source of your difficulties, it will prepare you to act in many ways as your own therapist. And by helping you to reinforce realistic, self-beneficial beliefs, it will enable you to eliminate present emotional and behavioral problems, and to avoid future ones.
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« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2011, 09:46:20 AM »

Our irrational beliefs are often "musty" ... .they often consist of a MUST.

A good way to dispute them is to convert our MUSTs into preferences.

Quote from: Edelstein
Kelly's "Musts"

Once Kelly had grasped the reasonableness of preferences as contrasted with demands and "musts," we applied this principle to her panic attacks. At first she sincerely denied having any thoughts at all preceding and during her panic attacks. So I recounted the most frequently occurring thoughts reported to me by other panic attack victims over the past twenty years. She immediately recognized some of them as her own.

These thoughts included:

    * I MUST know precisely why I'm feeling like this

    * I MUST be certain it's not serious

    * I MUST never lose control or act crazily

    * I MUST not do anything stupid or look foolish

    * I MUST have a rock-solid guarantee I'm not about to die or go crazy

    * I MUST not make myself anxious

I explained to Kelly that all these notions made perfect sense as preferences:

    * I PREFER to know why I'm feeling like this

    * I PREFER to be sure it's not serious

    * I PREFER to never lose control or act crazily

    * I PREFER not to do something stupid or look foolish

    * I PREFER to know I'm not going to die or go crazy

    * I PREFER not to make myself anxious

But by viewing these as "musts," Kelly increased her level of anxiety and her likelihood of experiencing anxiety and panicky feelings. The solution to the emotional problem consisted of Kelly's eliminating these very destructive demands she now realized that she was continually pounding into her head.

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« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2011, 10:28:52 AM »

This is a very helpful tool (thanks!)

The thing that jumped out at me was C, emotional Consequences

I'm good at identifying the Activating event & the irrational Belief but don't usually look at the consequence (which is really important & would motivate me to do D, E, F--Dispute, Effective new thinking & new Feeling)

Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2011, 05:08:12 AM »

This is a very helpful tool (thanks!)

The thing that jumped out at me was C, emotional Consequences

I'm good at identifying the Activating event & the irrational Belief but don't usually look at the consequence (which is really important & would motivate me to do D, E, F--Dispute, Effective new thinking & new Feeling)

Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Good point Smiling (click to insert in post)  Often, we only notice parts of the equation. My kind of brain really needs a simple-to-remember list Smiling (click to insert in post)

I would tend to notice A and C - or sometimes even just C Smiling (click to insert in post)  Carefully identifying B is something relatively new to me.


Got a chance to apply this technique several times yesterday - for situations involving tailgaters, and for people driving too slowly in front of me  Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)

A - someone in front of me is slowing down to 1 MPH just to turn right

B - people driving in front of me MUST not drive irrationally too slow!

C - rising blood pressure, temptation to dangerously tailgate them

D - why "must" people never drive too slow, when they happen to be in front of me? Is there an eleventh commandment that they can't? People make all sorts of decisions that I don't agree with, and it may be annoying, but I can tolerate it.

E - I'd greatly prefer it if the person in front of me weren't driving too slowly (or more slowly than I'd like), but I can live with them doing so. It's an inconvenience, not a cosmic injustice.

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« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2011, 10:03:56 PM »

Skip and Auspicious thanks for this thread. I have branched out on this site and found this thread. I plan on utilizing the "Three Minute Therapy" every time I go into my must thinking. I realized after reading this that I put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect, expect those around me to be perfect and have a hard time when things do not work like I feel they must.

This should all be very basic but when I read it somehow it simplified my thoughts making them more manageable.

Seriously, thank you and I am bookmarking this.
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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2013, 08:48:03 AM »

Tried to refraim, but I'm not succeeding totally:

A. (Activating event): She accuses me of beating her up.

B. (irrational Belief): She MUST speak the truth.

C. (emotional Consequences): Anger, feeling that this situation is intolerable. Scared of my future due to her false accusations.

D. (Disputing or questioning): Why must she speak the truth? Am I the only person in the world who should never get accused falsely?

E. (Effective new thinking): I would prefer that she spoke the thruth. It's certainly an unpleasant feeling that she won't and that I am being falsely accused. Still, I can survive unpleasant feelings. People don't always do what's right or what I would prefer that they do.

F. (new Feeling or behavior): Still unhappy about her lying about me, but it's manageable, not a horror or intolerable. Me being in jail or having my future completely destroyed because of her lies is a totally different story.

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« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2013, 12:17:32 PM »

Me being in jail or having my future completely destroyed because of her lies is a totally different story.

Well of course it is 

That said, letting your pain overwhelm you isn't going to help you any. You'll have a clearer head to take whatever actions you can to help yourself, if you are able to manage your pain.
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« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2013, 01:14:50 PM »

Well of course it is 

That said, letting your pain overwhelm you isn't going to help you any. You'll have a clearer head to take whatever actions you can to help yourself, if you are able to manage your pain.

Thanks Auspicious, I get what you're saying.

What I wanted to say that somewhere there's a thin line where reframing thoughts or meditating or ... .   doesn't help anymore to overcome the things that are happening. You're totally right that a clear mind will help to manage them to our best ability.

My example is one of those things. Another one: before going away to a potentially dangereous event, she wished me I would die... .   That one was the hardest I had ever heard from her, but should be manageble by reframing.

Some time later, again before a potentially dangerous event I noticed that my gear wasn't the way it should be. Although I can not prove that she had anything to do with it, there isn't a thing in the world that could have caused the malfunctioning except for sabotage. Knowing that I didn't do it, it can be nobody other then she.

Working with this gear would be potentially VERY dangereous. Because I followed safety-procedures I noticed, but what if I hadn't checked? This kind of thing isn't reframeble!
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« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2013, 01:53:20 PM »

Some time later, again before a potentially dangerous event I noticed that my gear wasn't the way it should be. Although I can not prove that she had anything to do with it, there isn't a thing in the world that could have caused the malfunctioning except for sabotage. Knowing that I didn't do it, it can be nobody other then she.

Working with this gear would be potentially VERY dangereous. Because I followed safety-procedures I noticed, but what if I hadn't checked? This kind of thing isn't reframeble!

There is a whole toolbox full of tools ... .   use whichever is appropriate.

Boundaries protect you. I presume you have a personal boundary that you can't stay with someone who is trying to harm you?  Good boundary to have Smiling (click to insert in post)

And that said, even if you leave, you still have to find a way to deal with your thoughts and memories. One way or another, if you are managing to go on, that means you have managed to some degree to put things into perspective.
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« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2013, 01:58:58 PM »

Thanks again Auspicious.

I'm reading into the toolbox.

For contact I just need a few ones. We will be divorced soon and I do not ever want any contact with her again.

For getting myself up and running again... .   well an interesting road ahead.
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« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2013, 12:48:03 PM »

Wow Skip,

You advice is phenomenal,  you must be a therapist.  These tools will certainly help me.  I feel sometimes,  we do feel that other people control  our emotions,  and we let them do so. But you are so right... .only we can churn up our own emotions about a situation.  We have the power to turn it off or on.  No one connects us to a machine that says you have to cry,  be upset,  be angry,  or feel life has treated us unfairly.  We must be in control of our own emotions. 

With regards to my own situation,  I focus too much on my son who wants nothing to do with me,  instead of placing my attention on a daughter and two grandsons,  whom love me dearly and would do anything for me.  This my fault!  I can take control of my feelings,  if he doesn't want me in his life,  he will be the looser.  He cannot see the very things he blames me for,  he is doing to himself,  it is up to him to figure that out,  and not for me to be upset over or try to help him see the light. 

I love him,  he has to know that because of all the things I have done to try to love and help him,  if he doesn't it is his problem,  not mine.

Thanks Skip that was great.
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« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2013, 01:00:04 PM »

Great advice  Blackandwhite,

Why is it that we feel responsible for someone else's behavior or  them having a good time. When my pwBPD, comes to a family function I feel that when he ignores me,  and invariable always does... .that it is something I should or should not have done.  I begin to feel sad or anxious,  then angry because I feel fully aware  I've done nothing but try to have a nice conversation with him,  and he angrily finds some reason to walk off from me,  making me feel unloved and rejected for nothing at all... .Or so I feel,

I am wrong,  he is the one that should be feeling that way for treating a mother who loves him so much she would move heaven and earth,  just to see him happy. 

He will no longer control me, or my emotions,  even if he ignores me the whole evening.  He is the one missing out.  He can cut me out of his life all he wants,  but it is up to me to realize it is not about me,  but rather about him!

You people here on this site are so wonderful better than any therapist could be.  You seem to specifically know and understand how each of us feel.

thanks again.
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« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2013, 02:53:12 PM »

Thank you for this thread... .I need time to digest it but it is very helpful... .I think it can help with any situation... .this kind of sound like the pwBPD that has an error in thinking... .example... someone does return a text or call... .therefor they don't like me etc... .I just want to be clear... .this is for us not the person with BPD?
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