Tag Archives: healthy 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

Solitude – why it’s good

23 Sep

“the state of being or living alone; seclusion: to enjoy one’s solitude.”

Most of us lead extremely busy lives these days. We spend at least 1 hour and 30 minutes each week stuck in traffic, over 30 minutes waiting for public transport due to traffic and road works, over an hour waiting in queues and shops, at least an hour dealing with bureaucracy and even longer trying find things we have misplaced at home. On average we spend one working day per week in these time consuming activities. On top of that working days are longer and we have access to many stimulants like the Internet, Twitter, Facebook and computer games. Time for taking a breath is a luxury for most.

Socrates said “An un-reflected life is not worth living”. This may be a tad strong of course but the point is reflecting on one’s life and taking stock every now helps us to grow, be thankful, question if we are happy and hopefully find solutions; to do that we need solitude. Solitude also allows us to just stop and take a breath and just be.

Great ideas and solutions more often stem from being alone with one’s thoughts.

For many people solitude is also a time to connect with greater things, for some it may be God or the higher self, and for others it may be nature or just being. This may be going to a place of worship such as a Church or walking in the countryside or just sitting in a park. For many people solitude is a time for nourishing the spirit.

 

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Why is it hard for some people?

Solitude is hard for some people because they have grown accustomed to a particular life style where being busy or being engaged in something external like Twitter or Facebook or the Internet is a buzz. Children are growing with over stimulation as a result of fast moving action packed games. The child grows into an adult who is unaccustomed to being OK with quite alone time.

For others it has become a luxury due to long working hours as well as having a busy family life.

For others it triggers anxiety. This is rather common. Some people think ‘I have to be doing something, being productive, because if I’m not it’s unbearable and proves I’m lazy’. So some people link it to their self worth and have low frustration tolerance to it.

For others it triggers anxiety about being alone. We have worked with many people, using Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) model that it based on Laws of Nature, whose anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia would make it impossible to sit alone and enjoy the solitude. The anxiety disorder itself is an obstacle to having solitude.

 

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How to achieve helpful solitude?

If someone does not get anxious about being alone, then there are many practical things to do. The most important step in creating time alone and solitude is setting a goal and then committing to it. It is vital that solitude is seen as a beneficial state first. You have to think of the benefits of solitude and make it significant. It has to be your personal goal.

1) Make solitude a goal and commit to it

2) Think of options available to you e.g. meditation classes, sitting in the park on for half an hour, walking, spending time alone in your home reflecting and so on.

3) Choose one or two

4) Do it regularly and consistently.

You don’t have to do this daily even though some people do of course. You can choose whether it’s once, twice, three times a week or even every other week. That too would be beneficial. You may decide to drive to the countryside every month or two. There are many alternatives, so be creative.

Anxious at the thought of taking time out?

If however, you become anxious at the thought of taking time alone or even being alone, then you need to explore what’s at the heart of your anxiety.

REBT, the philosophical CBT, has a simple explanation about why we feel anxious. It states that we feel anxious because we hold unhelpful or unhealthy beliefs and thoughts about something. There are four types of unhealthy beliefs that can trigger anxiety.

1) Absolutist thinking e.g. I must have feeling of excitement when I’m alone, I must not be bored, I have to be busy

2) Exaggerating the badness if the internal demand is not met e.g. it’s horrible to be alone, it’s terrible not to be busy

3) Low frustration tolerance if the demand is not met e.g. I can’t stand being alone, I can’t bear it if I’m not busy

4) Damning the self if the demand is not met e.g. If I’m not busy it proves I’m lazy and worthless

Such beliefs would trigger anxiety and most people have a tendency to avoid situations or states like solitude if it triggers anxiety.

Solution to anxiety about taking time out?

The solution is change the above beliefs by reflecting and realizing that they are not based in reality and that they are unhelpful if you want to make solitude a personal goal.

1) So accept that you don’t always ‘have to be busy’ for example

2) It’s not horrible or terrible even if you don’t want to do it often

3) You can stand it and bear it

4) You are not worthless if you take time alone

Initially as you practice solitude you may feel uncomfortable but keep thinking in the helpful and realistic way above and sit with this discomfort. After practicing this a few times you will become accustomed to solitude and from then on you will begin to have feelings of comfort and positivity about it. Your mind will then be free to just be, or to reflect.

People with anxiety disorders must first see their GP and perhaps consider therapeutic help.

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

Emotional Blog Series #5: Hurt and Disappointment

23 Aug

Another common emotion we have all experienced and experience from time to time is hurt.  Hurt is an unhealthy negative emotion provoked by holding an unhealthy belief about being treated badly, let down or betrayed by someone (and you think you do not deserve such treatment).  It can also be provoked by unhealthy belief about someone who appears to hold your relationship less dearly than you thought.  Disappointment is the healthy version of hurt and is provoked by holding a healthy belief about being treated badly, let down or betrayed.

Disappointment is the healthy version of hurt

You feel hurt or disappointment when you have an emotional connection to another person.  They can be felt within different relationships such as family, friendships, intimate, special interest group and work relationships.  They are emotions associated with lack of care.  It is less common to experience hurt or disappointment towards a stranger.

When you feel hurt, you tend to exaggerate the unfairness of the other person’s behaviour towards you and you think the other person doesn’t care about you.  You will see you yourself as someone who is uncared for and you will recall other times when you have been hurt.  Your mind will also be focused on how the other person should put things instead of you.  As a result, you will tend to sulk and shut down communication as well as criticise the other person without telling them that feel hurt.

Disappointment is the healthy version of hurt.  When you feel disappointment, you will be more realistic in your judgement about the other person’s behaviour.  You won’t automatically jump to the conclusion that you are uncared for.  You will tend to judge the insensitive behaviour rather than personalise it.  You won’t see yourself as alone and uncared for and you won’t think of other times when you have been hurt.  You will explain to the other person how you feel and won’t shut down communication and criticise them unnecessarily.  So the mind set and behaviours that trigger disappointment are more balanced, realistic and assertive.

An emotion often associated with hurt is anger.  This combination is known is Anger-Hurt.  Hurt is directed towards the self because the person thinks they are alone and uncared for and anger is directed towards the other person and the other person is damned as bad.  The anger emotion is the most obvious and the most expressed emotion out of the two.  Hurt tends to be held under the surface emotion of anger.

 

Tips

  1. Take responsibility for your emotions and explain how you feel but do not make the other person the cause of your feelings.  Use expressions like ‘I felt hurt when you ignored me’ rather than ‘you hurt me when you when ignored me’.
  2. Ask but do not demand change from the other person.
  3. Do not pay the other person back by being overly critical about other things they are doing.  Express your feelings in a balanced way.
  4. Focus on the incident that you felt most hurt about and refrain from bringing past hurts into the same conversation.

Emotion Blog Series #4: Guilt and Remorse

2 Aug

Guilt is an unhealthy emotion

Guilt is the fourth unhealthy negative emotion in our Emotions series.  We experience guilt when we hold unhealthy beliefs about transgressing our own moral code, do not live up to our moral code or hurting the feelings of a significant other.

 

Guilt is mostly created by the rigidly held beliefs that you “absolutely shouldn’t have” thought or done something or that you “absolutely should have” done something.

For example, you may believe “I have done something morally wrong and I absolutely should not have done that wrongdoing and I am a bad person for doing that”

You can feel guilt about many things.  You may feel guilty about being depressed believing “I shouldn’t be depressed, it’s wrong to feel this way when I have so much, I should be grateful for what I have”.  This belief would lead to the self damning belief “I am a bad person” which perpetuates the cycle of guilt and depression.  You may experience guilt about some behaviour, for example infidelity, telling lies, getting unhealthily angry with a loved one, keeping secrets and so on.

 

Remorse is the healthy negative emotion that partners guilt, which occurs when you hold healthy or rational beliefs about breaking your own moral standards or about hurting the feelings of a significant other. For example, a healthy belief would be “I have broken my moral code and I wish I hadn’t done that wrongdoing and I accept that I have done something I perceive as morally wrong. I accept myself as a worthwhile and fallible human being even though I have done something wrong.  I will make amends and ask for forgiveness for what I have done.”

 

How do you know if you are guilty or remorseful?

When you think you are guilty you believe you have committed the sin and you tend to take all the responsibility for the transgression and tend not to think others have any responsibility.  For example, imagine you had promised to record your best friend’s favourite programme whilst she was away on a business trip and you failed to do so.  If you hold an unhealthy belief that, “I absolutely should always do what I am say I am going to do” you will disturb yourself over this failure to act in accordance with this belief.   You may tend to over apologise or compensate by buying a disproportionately extravagant gift to make amends or you may try to avoid contact with your friend.

If you held the healthy belief that” I strongly prefer to act in accordance with what I say I am going to do but I don’t absolutely have to” then you will experience remorse and will more than likely apologise  for your failure to your friend without begging for forgiveness.

When we experience guilt we also believe we will be punished in some way for that sin.

To escape the pain of guilt we try and escape the feeling in self defeating ways, avoiding situations or people so you are not confronted by your feeling of guilt, you may use alcohol or recreational drugs to suppress the feelings

When we feel guilty we may feel like begging for forgiveness and agreeing to never commit the sin again, we may even feel like punishing ourselves taking physical penance or by acts of deprivation.

If you are experiencing the healthy negative emotion of remorse you will be able to think of your behaviour in context, with an understanding and self acceptance as a “fallible human being”.  With remorse you do not think there will be some kind of retribution for your sin and you are able to keep perspective and recognise your responsibility as well as others in the given situation.

When feeling remorseful you make appropriate amends for your poor behaviour without making excuses and face up to the healthy discomfort.  Instead of begging for forgiveness as in guilt you ask for forgiveness and have no desire to punish yourself or become defensive about your actions.

 

TIPS

  • Become and remain aware of your values and the moral code you wish to apply to your life but don’t hold your values rigidly.  No one is perfect.
  • Take responsibility for your actions and acknowledge any transgression and then ask for forgiveness, make amends and learn from it.

 

If asking for forgiveness or making amends is no longer an option, then forgive yourself and accept that you are a fallible human being who has made a mistake.  Learn from it.