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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Changing our negative thought processes- Part 2

In the last post we looked at changing our negative thoughts and we used the ABC- Model to help us understand how we can change our thoughts.

In this post we will focus a little more on the “B” of the ABC Model.

B- Belief system

Now according to Albert Ellis who put forth this model, “people largely disturb themselves by thinking in a self-defeating, illogical and unrealistic manner.”

He stated that within the B-Belief system people look at situations or events in 2 different ways:

1. Irrational Appraisals are made- or in other words, irrational thought processes or beliefs about a particular event or situation is used.

2. Rational Appraisals are made- or, rational thought processes/ beliefs about an event or situation are made.

When people make irrational appraisals their lives are more likely to be negative and they are more likely to feel the burden of the events in their lives.

On the other hand, when people make rational appraisals, then they are more likely to have positive lives and a positive outlook on the events that happen to them. (Weiten, 2005)

Below is an example to illustrate this:
Scenario A

Activating Event: You are walking down the street and you see a friend but she does not stop to greet you.

Irrational Beliefs: “She is angry at me”, “She’s being gossiping about me”, “She thinks she’s better”... etc.

Possible Consequences: You become angry at her and maybe tell another friend who might in turn tell someone else and if the person in question comes to hear about it, there’s conflict between the two of you, and since the other friends got involved they also become part of the conflict, have to take sides etc.. The gossiping and conflict continues and the friendship bond may even break.

Scenario B

Activating Event: You are walking down the street and you see a friend but she does not stop to greet you.

Rational Beliefs: "Maybe she didn’t see me, she may have been occupied with other thoughts. I should have greeted her instead of waited for her to greet me, It’s a small thing, she usually greets me I am going to let it go"...etc.

Possible Consequences: You remain friends, there is no gossiping, no conflict occurs and you continue having a positive friendship with this person, your friendship with your other friends also remain positive and your life in general is more positive and peaceful.

In the example above can you see the huge difference that our belief system about certain events can make? This is just one small example, see what happens when you apply this to your life.

Think about your life, are you more commonly making use of Rational or Irrational Belief systems. Think about some recent events in your life and whether your beliefs about these were rational or irrational. Consider how this is impacting on your life. What do you think would happen if you began to make use of rational belief systems more often? Do you think that this will be difficult to do?
It makes sense that we should be using rational beliefs and appraisals of things in our lives as this will help us to be happier and positive individuals.

This fits in with Islamic ideas of positive thinking as well. Suspicion of others is not good at all and we are told in a hadeeth something to the effect that a Muslim should make 72 excuses for his brother before suspecting him of doing things. Islam encourages us to always see the good in every situation and person!

May Allah Almighty make all our difficulties easy and help us to live positive lives!

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