Tag Archives: emotions

Low Self Esteem, Self Acceptance and REBT

6 Jan

According to Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), one of the main schools of cognitive behaviour therapy offering a humanistic and philosophic model, low self-esteem occurs when a person makes a demand on himself or herself, others or the world that is not met and then self-depreciates in some way.

The following are examples of themes that are commonly involved in low self-esteem. These themes are inferential in nature and people react to them as if they are true, whether they are or not.

* Failing to achieve an important target or goal.

* Acting incompetently (in public or private).

* Falling short of one’s ideal.

* Failing to live up to one’s standards.

* Breaking one’s ethical code.

* Being criticised.

* Being ridiculed.

* Not being accepted, approved, appreciated or loved by significant others.

 

According to REBT theory, people do not disturb themselves about events because of the assumptions they make about these events; rather they disturb themselves because they hold irrational or unhealthy beliefs about these events. When low self-esteem predominates in people’s problems, their unhealthy or irrational beliefs largely take the form of rigid demands and self-depreciation beliefs. Albert Ellis has argued that self-depreciation beliefs are derived from rigid demands. Rigid demands are essentially non acceptance beliefs.

 

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There are four types of unhealthy or irrational beliefs that disturb you and four corresponding health beliefs that can help you become rational in the face of life’s adversities.

Those beliefs are:

Demands

A demand is the rigid expression of a desire for something and takes the form of an absolute such as ‘must,’ ‘I have to’, ‘I absolutely should’ e.g. ‘I must not fail’.

Awfulising

‘Awfulising’ is an unrealistic rating of how bad it is that your demand has or has not been met. The badness of the situation is rated at 100% or more bad. You believe that it is the worst thing that you can ever experience. e.g. ‘it’s awful that I failed’.

Low Frustration Tolerance

Also known as LFT, this is an irrational rating of your ability to handle or cope with difficulty or frustration e.g. ‘I cannot tolerate failure’.

Self/Other/World Damning

This is a global negative rating of the self, other people and, even, the world around you. The self/other or the world is rated as ‘totally bad’, ‘total failure’ and so on e.g. ‘I am a failure or worthless because I failed’.

Each unhealthy belief will have a corresponding healthy alternative.

According to REBT theory, self acceptance or unconditional self-acceptance is the healthy alternative to self-depreciation or low self-esteem. Unconditional self-acceptance is found when people hold healthy beliefs. These are desires about the way they want themselves, others and the world to be, but which are not then transformed into rigid demands.

At The College of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies we specialise in accredited courses in REBT. To learn more please see more information on our website http://www.cbttherapies.org.uk

Gratitude – is it useful? Apparently, it is.

21 Oct

 “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero argued that from gratitude springs hope, kindness, courage, patience, generosity, wisdom, wisdom and so on. So is it possible that simply by practising gratitude, we could improve our lives? Be more content?

Gratitude has been around in most world religions and philosophy for millennia and science is now catching up. Since Seligman’s announcement of 2000 the American Psychology movement has been researching Happiness of which an integral part of that research, under the direction of Dr Robert Emmons, has been on Gratitude; its nature, its causes and its impact on human health and well-being.

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Here is a brief summary of Emmon’s research findings:

· Those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.

· Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.

· A daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison.

· Participants in the daily gratitude condition were more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or having offered emotional support to another.

· Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families.

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So it seems the evidence is pointing towards the possibility that, when people express their gratitude and are of a grateful disposition, people tend to have higher levels of subjective well-being or happiness and are generally less stressed. They suffer less with feelings of depression or anxiety and self-worth issues. They tend to be more independent, learn well from life’s lessons, develop healthy coping strategies, are more generous, sleep better, have a greater sense of fulfilment. People who exercise gratitude also appear to have less negative coping strategies, being less likely to try to avoid the problem, deny there is a problem, blame themselves, or cope through substance use.

Gratitude has been said to have one of the strongest links with mental health of any character trait. Numerous studies suggest that grateful people are more likely to have higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress and depression. In one study concerning gratitude, participants were randomly assigned to one of six therapeutic intervention conditions designed to improve the participant’s overall quality of life (Seligman et. all., 2005). Out of these conditions, it was found that the biggest short-term effects came from a “gratitude visit” where participants wrote and delivered a letter of gratitude to someone in their life. This condition showed a rise in happiness scores by 10 percent and a significant fall in depression scores, results which lasted up to one month after the visit. Out of the six conditions, the longest lasting effects were caused by the act of writing “gratitude journals” where participants were asked to write down three things they were grateful for every day. These participants’ happiness scores also increased and continued to increase each time they were tested periodically after the experiment. In fact, the greatest benefits were usually found to occur around six months after treatment began. This exercise was so successful that although participants were only asked to continue the journal for a week, many participants continued to keep the journal long after the study was over.

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What makes gratitude the parent of all other virtues? Well if we takea look at Albert Ellis’s model of CBT, Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), it has a strong basis in stoic philosophy and he, as the Stoics, recognised that we disturb ourselves by the beliefs we hold about events. REBT’s theory identifies four beliefs that generally lead us to disturb ourselves. They are:

* Demanding something must or must not be (when it blatantly is).

* Awfulising the end of the world catastrophe when the demand is not met.

* Low Frustration Tolerance to the unberableness of what is happening or is not happening with thoughts like “ It’s unbearable, I cannot stand it”

* Self. Other or World Damming

So practising gratitude helps us to maintain a wider perspective , keeps us from “awfulising” beliefs that lead us to think the world is about to come to an end when the washing machine breaks down. Gratitude helps us to recognise that our first world problems are exactly that, first world problems and our lives do not depend on their resolution. By stopping our “awfulising” beliefs we reduce our feelings of anxiety and experience greater sense of physical ease, in turn we are able to feel more comfortable, reducing our “Low Frustration Tolerance” to discomfort or the unbearableness of our situation.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” ~ Epictetus

Ways to Practice Gratitude

Before you implement a gratitude practice, there are a few things you should know that might help:

Remember, the goal is to actively practice gratitude, not just wait around to feel grateful. It doesn’t matter exactly how often you practice gratitude; what matters is that you do it routinely. Every day, once a week, three times a week–whatever works for you, just keep it consistent.

* Gratitude journal: This is the most common gratitude practice, and one of the most effective according to research. Get yourself a journal and write down 5 things you are grateful for. Try not to repeat items too often. You can do this each night before bed, or once a week, but do it regularly. It’s not how often you do it that counts—it’s how regularly.

* Gratitude Letter & Visit: Think of someone who has made a powerful impact on your life, write a letter of gratitude, and then visit and read it to them in person is the most powerful gratitude exercise you can do according to Seligman’s research.

* Say “Thank You” more often. Just start saying it. For everything. Everyone likes to be thanked, and you will feel more joy just for saying it.

* Write Thank You Notes. When someone touches your heart, write them a note. “Thanks for being a great friend” is simple but very effective. Texts and emails are good second best.

Thank you for reading this

Grief and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)

7 Oct

Grief is an intense and complex emotion. It is the natural and appropriate response to the loss of someone or something significant to your life. When it is the loss of a parent, spouse, sibling or child it can be very difficult to bear. When the death is sudden and unexpected the emotional response can be considered traumatic.

 

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Most people are familiar with Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ five stages of grief, developed when she was working with the terminally ill, and mistakenly apply it to the experience of coping with bereavement. In fact Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ book is called “On death and dying” and the stages she talks about come from the conversations she had with people who were dying rather than the bereaved. She identified the stages as a way of helping people come to terms with their own death.

Applying these stages to bereavement suggests that grief is a liner process and that there is an end. That people will “get over it”.

It is simply not helpful, and it doesn’t happen. What does happen is that in time the bereaved learn to live with their loss

There is no process to grief, it is not linear and there is no time limit on it.

 

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Every day can be a struggle, and the triggers to the emotion of grief are numerous. This is extremely hard to deal with for both the bereaved and the people around them. Albert Ellis, the grandfather of CBT and the founder of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) which is a philosophical model of CBT, has stated life is not easy, it is not fair and bad things happen to good people, and we always have a choice about how we respond to events.

We can demand that the death should not have happened, that the loss is off the scale bad, and that it is unbearable, all of which are normal and natural responses in the immediate aftermath. However, staying in the grip of that irrational belief, no matter how understandable, is unhealthy and unhelpful. It maintains the intensity of the grief at a level which renders the bereaved person unable to function, to eat, to sleep and to look after others in their care. Such a belief maintains the denial of an extremely difficult reality.

The reality of grief is stark, it is painful, uncomfortable and untidy, and it is individual. In the early stages of grief there is no “normal”

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However, accepting that is difficult to accept reality is an important step in getting on with living and is part of grieving. Accepting the reality that this tragic event has happened without demanding that it shouldn’t have will change the present reality. Acknowledging the truth that the death of a loved one is as bad as it gets, and that whilst the world as previously known may have been forever altered, the world has not ended and life does go on. And to fully acknowledge that although it may ‘feel’ unbearable at times it is bearable and as tough as it is to get through each day it is possible to take one step at a time and get through.

This is the attitude that can allow the bereaved to grieve appropriately and healthily, without denial. It is difficult to understand how and why, particularly in sudden or unexpected death. Demanding that it shouldn’t have happened leads to a much greater pain for the bereaved than accepting that it has happened.

REBT is humanistic and existential model of CBT. It is concerned with the person as a whole and the experiences that exist for all of us including suffering. It teaches us how to respond to suffering and adversities in a healthy way.

Are you compassionate?

30 Aug

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Dalai Lama

The two most common emotional problems that people seek help for are depression and anxiety, and both of these emotional problems can be very disabling, and lead to a all sorts of problems in simply getting on with life and dealing with the day-to-day challenges that we all face as we deal with work, relationships, and even our social life. REBT teaches us that when we are depressed and experiencing anxiety symptoms, we also feel bad about ourselves, and talk unkindly to ourselves, berating ourselves for failures, and vulnerabilities which, when not anxious or depressed, we can usually overlook, and allow for. Albert Ellis calls this tendency to criticise, ‘self-depreciation’ or ‘self-damning’ and most of us are familiar with it, as a large majority of us experience these two emotions to a greater or lesser degree at some point in our lives. We are our own worst critics.

Some theorists have divided depression into two categories in this context; self-blame and self-pity. Self-blame usually involves a theme of ‘bad me’. Self-pity, on the other hand usually involves a theme of ‘poor me’, otherwise referred to as ‘victimhood’. When experiencing this kind of extremely exaggerated and biased self-talk, we listen to our own inner voice criticising us, and we don’t for one second judge it to be harsh or biased, and we usually accept such thoughts as being justified and deserved, and reflective of a reasonable evaluation of our worth. In other words we treat ourselves, and talk to ourselves with a marked lack of self-compassion.

Usually, when we talk about compassion, we refer to our compassion for others, both specifically for individuals, but also generally for groups of people. Most of us understand compassion to be a godly virtue and indicative of good character and personality. It is not so common to find people thinking about compassion for ourselves.

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The origins of the word “compassion” are Latin, (com) ‘with’ and (passion) ‘to suffer’, (as in the ‘passion’ of Christ). When we talk of compassion today it is with a meaning of patience, understanding, tolerance, and acceptance. All of this we find difficult enough when it comes to feeling it, practicing it and extending it to others, but we are spectacularly unsuccessful at doing the same for ourselves, especially when we are depressed or anxious. Consequently, and move we can make toward extending compassion to ourselves is part of a healing process, as we return to a more balanced and emotionally even frame of mind.

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy is all about belief change, and is a very adaptive tool when it comes to re-learning some of the compassion we used to feel toward ourselves before we became depressed or anxious, and together with these emotions we can add others which feature a lack of compassion; guilt, unhealthy anger (rage), shame, jealousy, hurt, and envy. Using hypnosis and the CBH process we can learn to be kinder to ourselves and more accepting of our ‘fallibility’ as human beings. It is sometime very surprising how quickly change can take place when we start to talk to ourselves differently and with self-compassion, allowing and accepting our vulnerabilities as evolutionary beings.

Paul Gilbert (author of The Compassionate Mind) repeats frequently, ‘It’s not your fault, so stop blaming yourself’. When we are self-compassionate, we allow for the fact that we are human beings who are evolving in an ever-changing world, and the pace of change is accelerating all around us. Is it any surprise that we struggle to keep up, and have a tendency to blame ourselves for not being as efficient as the technologies we are now producing and using?

Put simply, if we can learn to talk to ourselves with greater kindness, and understanding, tolerance and compassion, our brains quite literally re-wire, and unpleasant and unhealthy negative emotions find it less easy to thrive within us. CBH is one of the best strategies we have for bringing about the changes we can benefit from and so the sooner we start to use it, the sooner we notice changes within our own emotional landscape. Our training in CBH uses the structure and philosophies of REBT which is a humanistic model of CBT. This is then combined with hypnosis where relevant to create emotive, compassionate, goal focused therapy.

Training to Be a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist – My experience

13 Aug

I have just completed my Advanced Diploma exam at CCBT. The journey to this point has taken just over a year to complete taking the fast track route Foundation, Diploma before the Advanced Diploma courses. In this time I have learned huge amounts about myself, my fellow students and people in general. I am now a practicing CBH therapist and believe the courses have equipped me for this demanding and rewarding role. All the staff at CCBT willingly share their wealth of experience (without breaking confidentiality of course), are skilled trainers and are all thoroughly good people. The course materials are packed with pragmatic, useful, and concise information and the course assessments are challenging and thoughtfully designed to embed the underlying principles, core structure and key concepts of CBT / REBT.

Becoming a therapist wasn’t the main motivation for me when signing up for the Foundation course. Initially, the main reasons were personal (I wanted to learn more about self hypnosis and to understand more about depression and anxiety as I have friends and family members with these conditions) and professional (as a learning and development consultant, trainer, coach and mentor, I often work with people who have lost their confidence, have limiting beliefs about their potential and do not have any effective strategies to cope with stress and mental anguish).

 

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With this in mind, whilst being absorbed by the subject matter in and for itself, the main question I always had at the forefront of my thinking was: ‘‘How will this new knowledge be useful to me and how can I apply it?” It quickly became clear to me that the CBH concepts, skills and strategies would help me in relation to: (i) coping with my own challenges, insecurities, irrational demands and unhealthy emotions; (ii) understanding how to help and guide (though not treat) friends when they experience unhealthy, negative emotions; (iii) my role as a learning and development coach and consultant; (iv) my role as a potential CBH therapist.

The course has been fantastic in exceeding my hopes and expectations. On a personal level I have become closer to a family member now I understand her behaviour more and at work there have already been loads of benefits. Recently, for example, I undertook a training event with participants from all over England, called ‘Mindset and Mindfulness’. This was heavily influenced by what I’ve learned on the three CBH courses.

There is a quotation from Abraham Maslow that has always resonated with me; “To learn and not to do, is not to learn”. This has become my guiding principle in relation to CBH. Even though at the moment I am busy with my primary occupation as a learning and development consultant, I have decided to always be working with at least one therapeutic client at any given time, to cement my classroom learning with real therapeutic experience. My short term goal is to help people to cope more effectively with challenging events and psychological conditions. Going forward five years or more, I would love to have the breadth of experience and competence as a therapist to deliver courses of this nature and inspire other people, as I have been inspired by the whole experience at CCBT.

By Bob Craig

Four Levels of Happiness – Aristotle and REBT

15 Jul

Four Levels of Happiness – Aristotle and REBT

National Feel Good Day is launching on 19 July 2013 across the UK, where the entire nation is being called upon to dedicate time to paying compliments to friends, family and strangers alike and to celebrate feeling good.   Doing something for the benefit of another is one way to help your feel happier.

The Greek Philosopher Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) wrote that people strive for happiness and that happiness was the only thing that man seeks for its own sake.  Everything we strive for was for the purpose of happiness.  He said there are four levels of happiness.  This blog briefly looks at these four levels and explains the REBT (Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy) philosophy and view point in each.  REBT is one of the most influential schools of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and the one that underpins the teachings at The College of Cognitive Behaviour Therapies.

 

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Level 1

Aristotle said that the Level 1 happiness is felt when we get instant gratification.  This is feelings based, doing the things that feel instantly good.  Examples of instant gratification include: enjoying a good meal, sexual gratification, buying something we want, watching something we love like Tennis, Football or a Film, and so on.  He said that this type of happiness is short lived.  He also said it is unhealthy if one only pursues this type of happiness. 

This is similar to the REBT concepts of demanding beliefs where a person holds a core belief ‘I must feel immediately happy and therefore must do the things that provoke instant gratification’.  Obviously, wanting instant gratification is fine but insisting that you must have it becomes unhealthy because the demand must always be fulfilled in order to be happy at Level 1.  It can’t always be fulfilled.

 

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Level 2

Aristotle said another way to feel happy is to strive for ‘ego’ gratification.  This is Level 2 happiness.  Examples of achieving Level 2 happiness include: being the best in the class, best looking, wealthiest, most liked, admired or respected, being the most powerful.  Again, there is nothing wrong with wanting these things provided you pursue them in healthy and balanced way.  Aristotle said such pursuits become unhealthy if you only pursue this type of happiness.  In REBT we say pursue your ‘enlightened self interest’, meaning do not demand it and do not define your worth by it.  It’s healthy to want to be the best but it doesn’t mean that it MUST be so.

 

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Level 3 – National Feel Good Day

Another way to help your feel happy is to do things for the benefit of others. This is Level 3 happiness and it is about moving away from doing things just for your and doing something for someone else.  Examples of Level 3 happiness include: commitment, giving, loyalty, care, concern, forgiveness, acceptance, compassion and above all self-sacrifice.  This is a good thing to do and National Feel Good Day is about recognising this and doing it.  You know that you feel good when you receive a gift and also when you give a gift.  Receiving a gift is out of your control because it depends on someone else.  Giving a gift is within your control and it also provokes happiness.

 

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Aristotle also recognised that this can be unhealthy you if this becomes your only way of making yourself happy.  In REBT we say that if you demand this of yourself, put yourself down when you don’t always put others first then you will experience emotional problems.   REBT says give love, you are in control of giving love to a project, to a hobby, people, society, animals but do not demand that it always has to be this way and do not define yourself as worthless if you don’t always give love. 

 

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Level 4

Aristotle said that Level 4 happiness acknowledges that we all desire certain things and we all want life and other people to be a certain way you but there is acceptance of truth.  The truth that we are all imperfect human beings and that life is not always perfect.  Such a person enjoys a great inner peace because he or she no longer needs to be perfect and no longer needs others to be perfect.     This is idea is at the heart of REBT philosophy of healthy beliefs.  REBT says give up the demands.  Accept that you have desires and wants but that you do not need.  Accept yourself as imperfect, accept others are imperfect and accept that life is also imperfect at times.

So, be balanced and do Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 happiness but if you strive for the philosophic Level 4 happiness you will feel better and happier.  Mix it up and for this week let’s all go for Level 3 happiness and do something nice for someone else.

 

 

  

Excess and Moderation

15 Feb

Are you interested in knowing why we find it difficult to be moderate?

When we eat, exercise, work, get praised, challenge ourselves, or do something that benefits someone else, we are achieving goals that trigger positive feelings. When we achieve what we want in life, we feel happy. Therefore a goal of creating balance in life needs to be something that we want to achieve in order for it to be happiness evoking.

Striving for your healthy desires, without needing them is key to achieving a balance.

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We all like to be in state of comfort as opposed to discomfort. This can be tricky because achieving the goal of a balanced and healthy life requires you to do the work in the here and now in order to succeed later. Naturally, this means that working and putting in effort is essential. You may feel uncomfortable at first.

If you focus only on achieving future goals, constantly working and putting in lots of effort, you will not feel happy in the here and now. This usually triggers stress. A philosophy of balance is necessary so that you can experience happiness and enjoyment in the short term while you are working towards long term goals.

It is easy to understand why you want to be in state of comfort, enjoyment, happiness as opposed to discomfort. Comfort feels good. Excitement feels good. Alcohol, for most people feels good, food tastes good, exercise releases endorphins and that feels good and so on.
You grow up knowing that there are certain things you can do or have others do for you that provoke feelings of comfort and happiness. If as a child you feel uncomfortable or fearful, your parents will look after you or remove the object of fear. You grow up learning that if you avoid something that triggers you to feel fear, your feelings of fear will disappear quickly.

This can also be a source of problems for adults. Emotional maturity will not be accomplished if the adult continues to engage in the same strategies of either avoiding things that trigger feelings of discomfort or having a desire to indulge in excess because you need to continue feeling happiness, positivity, joy etc.

Two main reasons why people indulge in excess

1) A strong need for immediate gratification and hedonism e.g. need for enjoyment now, oblivion, joy, happiness, relaxation
2) Low frustration tolerance to discomfort e.g. boredom, effort, negative feelings

Some might see moderation as being middle aged and dull. This assumption is called ‘rationalisation’. This means the person is justifying the behaviour so they can continue it. The real reason is the need for immediate gratification and hedonism.

“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom” William Blake

Avoidance of discomfort is a major coping unhealthy strategy for many people. For example, someone may eat too much because it distracts them from a feeling of anxiety about being alone. Others may play on their Xbox or surf the net because to avoid the discomfort of filling an application form or organising bills.

Unhealthy beliefs stop you from moving forward and creating the balance in life you desire. They provoke feelings like anxiety, depression, guilt, hurt, rage, shame etc. They also provoke unhealthy behaviours like excess and difficulty in moderating gratification. They can also trigger unhealthy behaviours as a means of coping with other problems i.e. they trigger dysfunctional behaviours like excess as a way of avoiding emotions or focusing on problems.

Unhealthy beliefs are unrealistic, rigid or inflexible and sabotage goals.