Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Thinking Your Way Out Of Stress

Who said this? "People are disturbed not by things but by the views they take of them." It's Epictetus' famous pronouncement.

American psychologist, Dr. Albert Ellis, based his psychotherapy approach from that. In the 1960s, he did innovative work in the area of thoughts and perceptions calling his model REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy).

Rina (a pseudo-name), in many of our therapy sessions together, would always sigh and say, "I don't like my self." That is her default thinking. It leads her to automatically perceive events or people around her such as her husband and children seeing her as without value. When she became more deeply aware of this, she started learning that her stress can be reduced or eliminated by reframing or changing her default thinking.

One of the major ideas put forward by Dr. Ellis in his REBT is that it's not necessarily the events in our lives that cause stress. But rather, the following:  a.) the perceptions of those events ("this is catastrophe" versus "it's not really that bad");  b.) your default thinking style (is the glass half-empty or half-full?);  and c.) your attitudes ("He is angry at me" versus "He is possibly preoccupied and needing help").

Speaking of feelings when you're in deep stress, here's an insight that you may find helpful:  How you feel is more dependent on how you think about what happens than on what actually happens!

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