Many of us have established “being happy” as one of our main goals in life. However, our own self-talk often interferes with our ability to achieve this goal.
We express our beliefs through our self-talk, and these beliefs can be rational or irrational. While rational beliefs are realistic, irrational beliefs are those that don’t accurately represent the world. There are several categories of irrational beliefs, and we’ve all been guilty of having thoughts that fall into one or more of these categories at some point or another.
One of the best ways to increase our happiness is to replace “irrational” self-talk with more realistic and adaptive self-talk.
ABC Model to demonstrate the link between our beliefs, and our feelings and behaviors. Here’s how the ABC Model works:
A – Activating Event(Something happens which is the activating event, or the trigger).
B – Beliefs (You have certain thoughts about the event that occurred; your thoughts are based on your beliefs.)
C – Consequences (As a consequence of the thoughts that you have about the event that took place, you feel certain emotions. These emotions lead you to take some action.)
Here’s an example:
A woman that you met recently at a party, Sarah, passes by you as you walk down the street. You call out a greeting, but she just walks on by.You have the following thought: “She’s ignoring me; she must not have liked me. I must not be very likable.”You feel hurt, sad, and resentful, and you go home and sulk.
Of course, the ABC model doesn’t just end there. The next step is to begin to identify your irrational, self-defeating beliefs–which are rigid, extreme, unrealistic, illogical and absolutist–, and then question and dispute them. In our example of Sarah, you could ask yourself questions such as the following:
Am I sure that Sarah saw me? Could it be that she was distracted?Sarah was nice to me at the party, so what evidence do I really have that she doesn’t like me?What if she was just having a bad day?Even if it’s true that Sarah doesn’t like me, is that really such a big deal?If Sarah doesn’t like me, does that really mean that nobody likes me?Is it really imperative that everyone like me?
The last step is to replace your irrational beliefs with more rational and self-helping ones. Here are some examples:
Sarah must not have seen me.If Sarah did ignore me, that’s a reflection of her need to work on her social skills; it says nothing about me.We all have bad days; I should give Sarah the benefit of the doubt.Not everyone is going to like me, and I’m OK with that. There are plenty of people who do like me.
Basically, you need to develop a more rational and self-constructive philosophy of yourself, others, and the world. By doing this, you can alter your emotional responses to what happens to you and respond to the world around you in a more life-serving and adaptive way. And this will go a long way toward increasing your happiness.