Tag Archives: Relationships

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.

 

shutterstock_83348110 calming

 

 

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.

 

 

  

January blues, not if we can help it!

21 Jan

Well, the festivities are over and many of us are back at work. The weather is chilly and there is a distinct lack of sunlight. Energy bills are looming and those New Year resolutions are proving very hard to keep. Oh dear, there is little doubt January can trigger the blues!

Let’s try to analyse how we can be feeling and how we can change our demeanour and state of mind.

• Maybe there was a little over indulgence and now we don’t like what the scales are telling us. This is not a major problem, if we address the problem straight away. Remember, the way we eat over the Christmas period is bound to pile on the pounds. However by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and combining a sensible diet with regular exercise, within weeks an ideal weight can be achieved. So, that is one problem that can be solved with a little effort and determination.

• Often there is a deflated feeling due to the tensions and stresses of being around relatives for a prolonged period of time. There may have been arguments and upsets between family members that still need resolving. These are better sorted out sooner rather than later and not allowed to fester. If possible, contact the people concerned and build bridges. Nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. Make amends and move forward. Another issue that is within our capabilities to solve!

• An important trigger of January blues can be returning to work after a long break, to a job we are not happy in. Try to make some changes, so your present job will be more acceptable and fulfilling. If that is not possible, you may feel that the only way forward is a change of career. Our Master Class ‘Introduction to counselling skills’ can give you an insight in to one possible career move.

• Ok, we should be feeling a lot more positive now, but we still have to discuss the issue of over spending at Christmas. This is a tricky problem but one that should not be swept under the carpet. Depending on your financial situation, make a plan on how you can ease the burden of your debts and make sure you keep to it. You may need to alter the way you spend to make your plan work. Probably the most challenging problem to deal with but certainly if you deal with it, your mood will be lightened due to the constructive attitude and actions.

Well, there are lots of things to consider but we think January is starting to look a lot more enjoyable. We will finish with an interesting phenomenon – the lack of natural sunlight at this time of year, can lead to tiredness and feeling under the weather. While we cannot change the latitude of the county, there are things we can do to increase the amount of daily sunlight we receive. Try to get outdoors during the day, maybe at lunchtime, and go for a nice, long walk at the weekend. This is also an enjoyable way to help to get to grips with that weight gain topic we discussed earlier! The wonderful thing about our climate is its distinct phases and they should be embraced and enjoyed. The more time you can spend outside, the better!

We love January with its potential to set you up for a great rest of the year and hope you do too!

Can you tame the green-eyed monster?

9 Jan

Jealousy is an age-old concept and was even mentioned in the Bible where, depending on what version of it you are reading, it either compares it to a cancer or warns that it will rot your bones.

However, you can thank Shakespeare for the literary notion of it as a green-eyed monster. He first mentioned it in The Merchant of Venice (1596); and again in Othello (1604) but, the term has probably been around for a lot longer than that.

Jealousy occurs in all cultures around the world, regardless of their ideas on relationships.

Scientists have even identified the area of the brain responsibly for it – it’s the same part of the frontal lobe that detects real, physical pain, which is possibly why jealousy hurts so much.

As an emotion, however, it can twist you into so much more than a green-eyed monster. It can make you a ruthless tyrant, a tantrum-throwing child, a paranoid schemer and more.

Jealousy shouts and accuses, plots and sulks and clings and rejects in equal measure.

Jealousy then is a human being who is holding some very irrational beliefs about the relationship they are in.

Hardly surprising though, as love is not the most rational of emotions.

Most therapies make a distinction between healthy (or rational) and unhealthy (or irrational) jealousy. Both emotions are concerned with a possible threat to your relationship.

But, what’s the difference? After all, if you are in a relationship with someone you love and are concerned that they are paying too much attention to another, or that another is paying too much attention to them, is it not quite natural to be worried?

However, it’s how you view that worry and how you deal with it that matters.

Typically, the irrationally jealous think and act in ways that has their partners treading on eggshells. They feel insecure both about themselves and their relationship and see threats (usually imagined) to it everywhere.

They feel that things are forever teetering on the brink, hear sexual and romantic overtones in the most ordinary and everyday of conversations, vividly construct images of their partner’s cheating and will descend like the wrath of heaven if their other half should so much as admit to a passing attraction to someone else.

As a result, the unhealthily jealous often indulge in all sorts of wonderfully frantic behaviours: seeking constant reassurance that they are loved; assessing their partner’s every thought, feeling and behaviour; monitoring (and even restricting) their partner’s movements; looking for evidence of cheating and usually looking for it in places that (morally speaking) they should not be looking, to name but a few.

The healthily jealous, if you’ll pardon the pun, are a much more relaxed affair.

They tend not to see threats around each and every corner (or at each and every party), feel secure in both themselves and their relationships, do not misconstrue the ordinary conversations that their other half has, aren’t constructing vivid images of their loved ones with somebody else, and accept (albeit grudgingly, sometimes), that they do indeed find other people attractive.

As a result, the healthily jealous do not seek constant reassurance, do not assess their partner’s thoughts and feelings, and do not monitor or restrict their movements – in short, they free their partner up to be themselves.

Also, you can usually trust the healthily jealous person to not hack into your email account.

In short, healthy jealousy can help you to maintain your relationship, whilst unhealthy jealousy will rip it to pieces.

As a therapist, you will encounter many relationships problems that have their roots in jealousy.

That’s why we’ve developed this master class on how to help solve one of the most destructive emotions there is.

On it you will learn how to not only profile and help the jealous person, but also help those that suffer from their jealousy; you’ll discover how to separate unhealthy jealousy from healthy and learn the roles that anger, anxiety, depression and, even, envy can play. More importantly, you will learn how to help people re-forge a happy and harmonious relationship with the person they love the most. This master class is also open to those interested in personal development.

The green-eyed monster can never be slain, but it can be controlled.

You can find out more on http://www.cbttherapies.org.uk.

Secret to a good relationship

19 Nov

Good relationships do not just happen. They are usually a combination of hard work, honesty, trust and trying that little bit harder.

So, how to achieve a successful and long lasting relationship?

Well, there are several things to remember and consider…

  • Changes will occur, so be open-minded and accept them as they happen. Try to rise above them, as no matter what, you know you still love each other.
  • Be attentive to each other’s needs and feelings.  Use kind words and give each other emotional support. It really helps, if you can stay polite, even in times of anger. Nobody likes to be found to be in the wrong but you should be able to apologise if necessary.
  • Jealousy is an emotion that almost everyone experiences in a relationship, even a good one. Problems arise when the emotion you are feeling is unhealthy jealousy. It can be a very destructive force and can completely destroy a good relationship. When you are unhealthily jealous you tend to imagine that your partner is interested in another person and twist any information to absolute beliefs, even when there is no real evidence. It is important to accept the things that are within your control and the things that are not. You can control what you believe and what you do. You are not in control of what your partner thinks, feels, imagines or does. If you have concerns about jealousy, you may find our upcoming MasterClass on the subject, of interest.
  • Don’t forget the physical side of a relationship is also very important. Try to stay connected and take times out of your busy day to do even the simplest things, such as holding hands and smiling at each other. If you feel that the physical side of your relationship is suffering, it may be time to undertake some therapy and consult an expert. Do not feel you are alone in having these sorts of problems. This decision needn’t cause embarrassment and anxiety. Therapists are aware of how anxious you might feel and will help set you at ease. Cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy can be particularly helpful and your therapist will have been trained with the knowledge and ability to communicate sensitively and confidently.
  • At times in any relationship, there will be occasions when you experience disappointment. You will feel uncared for and let down. There is no cause for worry as long as you don’t let the disappointment become the unhealthy emotion, hurt. You will need to take responsibility for your emotions and explain your feelings in a balanced way.
  • It is useful to remember we are all fallible human beings and it may be the case at some point that you need to take the responsibility for a transgression. No one is perfect all the time. The remorse you feel is a healthy emotion and enables you to make appropriate amends for your poor behaviour without making excuses. You can forgive yourself and accept that you have made a mistake, learn from it, and move on.

So, good relationships do not just happen, but they can be nurtured and maintained. What are your thoughts on the secrets to a good relationship?

 

 

Emotional responsibility and accountability

20 Mar

The headline in today’s Mirror was a quote from Dennis Waterman saying ‘I hit Rula … but clever women make men lash out’ and the inside story had another quote ‘It’s not hard for a woman to make a man hit …’

Denis Waterman with Rula Lenska (Picture from the Mirror Newspaper)

This erroneous belief is at the heart of emotional problems and behavioural problems and indeed at the heart of abusive relationships.  If it was true then the only solution to solving this issue for those men who believe “clever women MAKE men hit them” is for women to be less clever than them.

Is it true that events or people make us do what we do?

Let’s think about what we do and assume that people make us behave as we do.

Example:  A clever woman argues better than a man = Man hits her

If it is true that a clever woman ‘makes’ a man hit her, then every clever woman would experience the same physically abusive behaviour.  It would mean that every man who has relationship with a clever woman would be unable to control himself and would be hitting the woman.

10 Clever women argue better than 10 men = 10 Men hit the 10 women

100 Clever women argue better than 100 men = 100 Men hit the 100 women

1000 Clever women argue better than 1000 men = 1000 Men hit the 1000 women

Does this make sense?

The problem is that people say ‘he made me do it’ or ‘she made me lose my temper’, ‘she made me hit her’.  It is as if they have absolutely no control over how they feel or how they behave.  If we do not have a part to play in how we feel and behave then we would be completely stuck, unable to move forward or do anything useful.  Is this what we see happen to everyone around us?

So who is responsible for your feelings, attitude and behaviour? 

The simple answer is ‘you are’.  You are responsible for your feelings and reactions and they are provoked by your thoughts; the attitudes you’ve formed; the habits and beliefs you no longer question.

This is the principle of Emotional Responsibility:  “You are largely responsible for the way you feel and act”.  Largely does not mean the other person sometimes causes your behaviour.  We just mean that there are some disorders like Manic Depression or Clinical Depression that are organic in nature; meaning it’s do with the person’s biology or genetic makeup.

The principle of emotional responsibility can be difficult for some people to accept, particularly if you are going through a difficult time or have experienced a personal tragedy.  It is natural to feel angry, sad, depressed or hurt in response to accidents, illness and other challenges in life.  It is also natural to experience negative emotions when you find someone challenging, but you can change your reaction.

Different people feel and experience contrasting emotions even when they experience the same challenge or difficulty. Therefore it is not the situation or another person that makes you feel or do.

This quote is conceptualised by one of the main schools of cognitive behaviour therapy called Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy’s (REBT) ABC diagram of human disturbance.  It is not the event, but the belief or view you hold about the event, which is at the heart of emotional states and performance.  Emotions, thoughts, behaviours can be healthy and functional or dysfunctional. The event can be something that has happened in the past, something that is happening now or something that could happen in the future.  It can also be real, imaginary or internal or external.  Internal events can be thoughts, images, memories, physical sensations or even emotions.

ABC Event Belief Consequences

ABC - Event, Belie,f Consequences Diagram

ABC – Event, Belief, Consequences Diagram

Beliefs that are unhealthy have at their core explicit or implicit rigid, powerful demands and commands usually expressed  as MUSTs, SHOULDs, HAVE to’s, GOT to’s e.g. I absolutely must not be rejected.  Essentially, unhealthy demands are not based on what is possible in reality.  Therefore, certain unfavourable or undesirable possibilities are not accepted e.g. rejection.

These demands also have powerful derivatives such as “If I am rejected, which I MUST not,

a) It’s awful (i.e. 100% bad)

b) It’s unbearable (i.e. can’t survive, cope or be happy at all)

c) It proves I am a worthless person.

So REBT is about:

  1. Helping      a client understand their emotions, behaviour and goals,
  2. Identify      their unhealthy or unhelpful beliefs that are sabotaging their happiness      and goals,
  3. Challenge      them and replace them with their healthier version in order to become      undisturbed and eventually happy.

So as far as the ‘Clever women make men hit them’, it is simply untrue and does not make any sense.  The B is missing in the ABC.  The A is Clever Woman, the C is Man hitting her but the B is the Man’s unhealthy belief about the clever woman which then leads him to lash out.  His belief is his responsibility and his alone.

Self-esteem, relationships and our happiness

6 Mar

Do you know what things in life make you happy? More often than not, if we sit and think about that question, we often start to wonder what “happiness” really is…But that’s a different blog post.

Two important factors in our happiness are our own self-esteem and our relationships.

Self-esteem and relationships have a massive role in our happiness

Self-esteem and relationships, two factors of your happiness

 

The Happiness Survey

Measuring your happiness is tough, but that was something the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy and Top Sante magazine attempted to do with a jointly held “happiness survey”.  The results showed that there are many influences on our happiness, but ultimately, we feel how we think. So, when unpleasant things happen or when we experience frustration and difficulty,  we have two sets of beliefs about them. Healthy or rational beliefs about the unpleasant things provoke sadness, annoyance or even regret, while unhealthy ones provoke unhealthy negative feelings anxiety, depression, guilt hurt etc.

You can read more on the Happiness survey here:

https://thehypnotherapyteam.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/a-happy-survey/

 

Relationships

Our emotional state can have a big impact on our relationships, if your thoughts or beliefs about your partner are unhealthy, then your relationship will become unhealthy too. When it comes to relationships, we must remember that we are ultimately responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, our behaviours and the types of relationships we tolerate and or enjoy.

You can read more about investing in your relationships here: https://thehypnotherapyteam.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/investing-in-your-relationships/

Self esteem

There are many factors that play a part in our own self-esteem. In a previous blog post we explored these in more detail, see our post https://thehypnotherapyteam.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/all-about-self-esteem/

Our own self-esteem can have a positive impact on other aspects of our lives, such as our relationships and happiness, but a low self-esteem can have equally as powerful negative impact on these areas of our lives.

Throughout life we all need to use different tools to take control and deal with self-esteem issues.  This can be hard, especially if you are the type of person who struggles with low self-esteem. The College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy is running a Master Class in dealing with self-esteem issues (the previous master class was very popular). For more information on this master class and the things and tools you will learn from it, please visit http://www.ccbh.org.uk/master-classes/solving-self-esteem-problems

 

Feel how you think…

The way in which we think is ultimately the way we feel. If we feel good, then our self-esteem, our relationships and our overall happiness all benefit.

Book Review: Act with Love

2 Feb

Russ Harris, 2009, New Harbinger Publications, Oakland

ACT with Love

ACT with Love

I was looking for new ideas for helping people in the workplace to resolve their interpersonal problems, and  this book was one of those Beverley Harper included in her recommended book list at the end of the CCBH Diploma course.  I very much liked it. I was able to use some ideas to help people sort out their problems with colleagues. However, the book is more useful for improving couples’ lives together. It  is aimed at couples whose relationship is ‘in reasonable shape’ or in ‘bad shape’, people who are not currently in a relationship but want to learn what went wrong in their previous ones, or for therapists looking for ideas how to work with relationship issues.

The volume is divided into three parts. It looks at what goes wrong in relationships, what commitment means if you want to make the relationship work, what kind of partner you want to be and how mindfulness can help you to handle your thoughts and feelings better. The basic principles of ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) are used, and you are taught how to apply them to make relationships work.  LOVE is used as an acronym for ‘Letting go’, ‘Opening up’, ‘Valuing’ and ‘Engaging’.  It encourages you to develop ‘psychological flexibility’, an ability to adapt to a situation with openness, awareness and focus, and to take action guided by your values.

Since reading the book I have been very motivated to help people with relationship issues, but unfortunately haven’t found the right situation to be  able to test out the ideas yet, so cannot tell you if they work! The exercises at the end of each chapter are designed to be used with a partner (‘If your partner is willing’), but also give useful ideas for the therapist for the homework assignments for clients – with or without a partner. I agree with the book’s claim that ‘it gives realistic hope without promising too much or raising false expectations’. The language is easy to read, light hearted but doesn’t  neglect the basic principles of ACT. What I would have liked to see more is the preventative side – how to build a good relationship from the beginning, and be prepared to share your life with someone you love – not waiting for things to go wrong first!  Because of the practical aspects of the book, I think it could also be very useful as a resource with groups.

So thank you, Beverley, for your great booklist!

 

Lea Clark

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist

www.unwind.me.uk