Activating Events, Belief Systems, and Consequences
Nicole Winkler: Welcome to Lift Your Future, a podcast that teaches you coping skills through stories, methods and proven techniques to improve relationships and outcomes in your personal and professional life. I'm Nicole Winkler, a licensed therapist and executive coach. On this podcast, we'll share a relatable life experiences designed to help you grow. I will provide easy, practical ways to develop thoughts, feelings and behaviors to impact your life, both personally and professionally. My goal is simple to help you lift your future. Welcome back to lift your future. Today, we are going to talk about the ABCs and not the traditional ABCs, but the ABCs that Albert Ellis gave us in rational, emotive behavioral therapy. It's a very simple tool that we can use in all aspects of our life. So I'm excited to share it with you and to give you some real life experiences that you can use it with. So when we talk about The ABCs and this actually came about before cognitive behavioral therapy. And so what Albert Ellis realized was that our belief systems really were interchanging with our emotional responses to things. So the ABCs were developed and then after that, the D and E were added on. So I'm going to talk us through each of those elements here today and then give some very specific examples that could help you. The A is the activating event. So what happened? What was the event that happened? And really, it doesn't matter what the event is, it's actually our be our belief system about the world, ourselves and other people that induce a response in us, an emotional response from us.
Nicole Winkler: So for example, if you live in Nebraska like I do and if you're a husker fan like I am, it's a challenging time in a different way to be a husker fan. So the activating event, for example, this weekend was that the Huskers lost again a game that we could have won against a ranked team. So that's the activating event. Now, if you don't care about Husker football, then it doesn't matter to you at all. So the activating event is that it's just kind of a neutral thing. What matters is what my belief is about that if my belief is growing up in the eighties and nineties when the Huskers were amazing football team. My belief is that we still should be an amazing football team and that we are we're just not able to complete. So my belief system is what invokes the emotional response that I'm having about the Huskers losing again. So then the see is the consequence. So a activating event the Huskers lost again. My belief system, we should win and then see the consequence. The consequence is positive if it's healthy and negative, if it's an unhealthy reaction. Let me explain the C a little bit more. The C also is my thoughts about it. My behaviors after that happens. So those could also be positive or negative. Consequences in and of themselves are not positive or negative. We just tend to relate those more to negative consequences.
Nicole Winkler: So my consequence could be I am sad. I'm disappointed I might send text messages to people or call someone or say, I give up on the Huskers. I'm heartbroken. I did actually send a message to my sister that it was a little gift that had a little person like cartoon person and another cartoon person. One of them was holding a heart and the other one pushed it out of their hands and it fell on the ground and shattered. So that is that is a consequence. That's something I did as a result of my belief system about the activating event. So then if we want to take that a step further, if it's negative, if it's if it's irrational, the belief system that I have, if that's not rational, then I can go to the D, which is disputing my belief system. So if I dispute that belief system that we should have won and should as a whole belief system in and of itself should, if you should something or somebody should be doing something, then we're shutting all over ourselves. So that's irrational in itself. So the Huskers should have one. Then I can go back to that and say, OK. While my belief system is that our football program is getting stronger and that we have had competitive awesome. Football games to watch this year, and is that really such a bad thing? And so from that we go to EA and EA is the new effect or how I'm feeling now that I've disputed that belief system and now I feel OK.
Nicole Winkler: I feel pretty good about our football program going into next season. No, we're not going to make a bowl game this year. There have been some heartbreaking losses this year. However, we've not got blown out. We've almost beat several teams that are ranked opponents that are very good football teams, and I watched all the games till the very last minute this season. All of them that is saying something for where our program has been the past 10 years. That is kind of one example, and I'll use another example walking us through the A, B, C, D and E of our beat. And so another example would be I get cut off in traffic. Well, I probably feel something about that. But what is my my belief about that? Well, it could be you're not driving safe. You put other people at risk. It could just be I. I waited all this time. Why are you cutting me off? I've been waiting. It's like when you are in a line of traffic and there's two lanes and it goes down to one lane and the people at speed pass to you just to cut in front of everybody else. It's like, Hey, wait, your turn. And so that would be kind of my belief system. Wait, your turn. That was not fair. Something being unfair is a belief system, so that's not fair. Well, OK, then what's the consequence of that? How do I feel? I might get road rage.
Nicole Winkler: I may cuss at them. I might honk my horn, I might flip them off. I might just dispute that belief and say, You know, I've done it too. Maybe they're in a hurry. Maybe they're later than I am. And then the new consequence or the new feeling that I would have would be understanding compassion and I can move forward with my day. But if I don't dispute that belief system, I can get to work and be in a pretty crappy mood because somebody cut me off in traffic. Another example is applying for a job, applying for a promotion, starting a business. Things like those, those sorts of things. Your beliefs are really important when it comes to that. If you believe you can do it, then more than likely you can. Maybe you need more tools or resources, but the belief system is super, super important. And with this theory of therapy, The ABCs of rational, emotive behavioral therapy research tells us that when people link their thoughts and their feelings to their belief system, they have a better understanding of themselves. Depression decreases, anxiety decreases, self-esteem increases. We feel more in control of ourselves. So another example would be something nonverbal. So I've given some kind of examples of things that have been nonverbal. Also, verbally, if somebody says something to me, I can respond to certain way, or even if I overhear someone say something to someone else and I have a response about that, my belief, I'm trying to think of an example of top of my head.
Nicole Winkler: Actually, this did happen at a Husker football game several years ago, but I was there and our players were playing really hard and there was a dad there with probably a seven or eight year old son sitting right next to us. And he was saying, Oh, they're pathetic and they're awful, and I can't believe they did that. Who makes a play like that, who calls a play like that and the whole time? So this is my activating event. The whole time my blood pressure is going up and I'm thinking, Oh my gosh, why would you talk about people in that way? One, they're college athletes. They're not professionals. Even if they were professionals, why would you talk about someone in that way? That's awful. And then to what are you teaching your child about just people in general that they mess up or they miss a tackle or they don't complete a pass, that they are worthless, that they are awful, that kind of belief system. So it was really what was my belief system about that, that these are college kids that are playing football is entertainment for us that we shouldn't take it that seriously. What kind of things are we teaching our kids without even necessarily teaching that to them? And so the consequence? So that was I was feeling very uncomfortable and very uneasy. I wanted to say something, but it's not my place to say something.
Nicole Winkler: And so I had to remove myself away from the situation so I could calm down a little bit and come back and enjoy the game. But it was. I had to dispute that belief that it was not my place. That was kind of the disputing part was it's not my place to say anything here, but I'm also feeling sad and I wish that I could pull that kid aside and say, These are kids that are playing this game, the young adults that are playing this game, they are going to college too. They are working really hard. They're not doing this on purpose. So I almost wanted to kind of parent him and it was not my job. I didn't even know this person or this child. So but we can get upset about those things as well. Something else that activating event. I see a ring on your finger. Oh, you're married, it's on your ring finger. Well, you know, maybe in America, that is pretty standard. That is kind of a symbol for being married. But the assumption is, oh, you're married to the person of the opposite sex. Well, is that true? So if I say, Oh, what is your husband think or what does your wife think? And they say, I'm married to my wife or my husband, somebody of the same sex. So making those kind of assumptions? That's my belief system, is that assumption. So I tried to be very careful about that and say, Oh, what is your spouse do or your partner and kind of leave that open ended? And that's a way for the consequence of that could be feeling embarrassed or feeling like I have to backtrack or something like that, which is not a place that I want to put myself in, nor somebody that I'm having a conversation with in.
Nicole Winkler: And so that's another example. Another activating event. We set a goal for ourselves and we don't accomplish it. What's my belief system associated to that? It could be of a few different thoughts. It could be. I can't do this. I never accomplish my goals. This always happens. Well, I would, you know. Ok, let me go through the ABCs. Sorry, before I get ahead of myself. The activating event is I set a goal and I did not achieve my goal. The belief system is either. I can't achieve my goals. I'm not able to or I always set these lofty goals and I never can do it. I'm not good enough is a very common belief system that I work with with clients. And so the consequence of that is lower self-esteem. I'm less likely to set goals for myself in the future. I may believe that goals don't work, that people can't really achieve their goals, or at least I can't. And I'm going to have feelings associated with those things and behaviors. I'm not going to strive to do more than what I'm actually doing. I'm not going to set any more goals for myself.
Nicole Winkler: I'm going to be negative about those things. Well, then I would challenge you at that point to d dispute it. What is that belief system? How did I set my goals? Did I set smart goals which are specific and measurable and attainable and reasonable and time sensitive, and I set a time limit for those and break those apart? Well, if I didn't set smart goals or I don't know how to set smart goals, then it is hard to achieve a goal. A lot of times we have this big dream, this big vision, and we want to see it come to fruition, but we don't necessarily know how to get there. And that's the part of breaking it down into objectives and making it very specific and very time measurable and setting a date to have that accomplished by all these small things leading up to this big goal. So that's the part of disputing that I want to go back to that belief system. Ok, well, no, it's not that I'm a failure. No, it's not that I can't do this. It's that I haven't done it yet. I will do it. But I need to change my belief system about it to have a different end game or end result. And so I go back, I refine that. I'm generally going to feel happier. I'm going to feel more accomplished. I'm going to have more confidence going into that the next time. And so the D is super important when it's an irrational belief system.
Nicole Winkler: So we have no shortage of opportunities to practice the ABC D's in our life. We have constantly, you know, there's not a day that goes by that I don't have an activating event. Now the ones that are positive beliefs that I don't need to dispute those I don't need to do anything about. I may also be having a bad day and there might be some. Thing that creeps in like, whoa, that really got me today, inactivity. It could be an email that comes through or a text message. It can be getting some news that you weren't expecting to hear, but really the activating event is not. It is triggering. It can be triggering, but it's only triggering because of the belief that you hold about that situation yourself. The other people or the world around you. So I really want you to. Next time you experience an activating event, I want you to kind of assess what is my belief about this? What am I believing at the core? For example, my sister hates when people are late. I am notorious for being five minutes late if it's not for work. So that's something that if I'm late to her, that belief is it's it's personal. Like, I'm not. I don't respect her time, and I understand that I do completely understand that my belief system is, well, if it's not a work thing and it's a social thing, then it's OK to be five minutes late.
Nicole Winkler: But the reality is, I have to know my audience and I have to know who I'm going to go see. I have friends that are notoriously late by five, 10, 15 minutes. That's I know that. I know that about them. So I kind of recalibrate that. And then next time I meet with them, I'm probably five minutes late and they're probably five minutes late, too. But when it comes to other people that are very timely, it is very disrespectful to be late. So the belief system, you have to take other people's belief systems into account, too. When you're talking and processing through information about that, another really kind of silly thing, but how you load the dishwasher activating event, I load the dishwasher a certain way that I can optimize the space and get more dishes clean. Now, when somebody else in my house loads the dishwasher, they just put dishes wherever they see fit. That doesn't make any sense to me. So that is very activating. My belief system is you should load the dishwasher a certain way, be efficient. And so my consequence when I see somebody doing it a different way is I. I feel like I need to do it and that doesn't get done right. Well, if I go back and that's unhealthy, by the way, for me, that's very unhealthy. So if I go back and I dispute that belief that it has to be done in a certain way or my way is the best way. And they say, is it really, though, because isn't the end result that I just want it to get done? And I have clean dishes at the end of the day, that's what I want.
Nicole Winkler: And so we're working together here, and if I can dispute my belief system, then I'm not upset. I don't care how it gets loaded as long as it gets done. And all in all, everybody's happier. So that kind of to summarize our podcast today, we talked about a hour activating Event B, our belief system that ties into it. See the consequence. And if the consequence is negative, then we want to go D. Dispute our belief system. And once we dispute our belief system, then we can go to E. What's the new effect and kind of what is the outcome of that? And we may go through that iteration multiple times. And trust me, I have had my same beliefs for a very long time. And those are usually my first thoughts, my first belief, like come through those initial belief systems. So I'm I'm trying to refine that always like, OK, dispute this. Ok, dispute this. Ok, dispute this. It's going to take more than one try at this. So I encourage you to try try again. Let me know if you have any questions and I really appreciate you tuning in today. Once again, thank you so much for tuning in today. Please like and subscribe. We are wherever you get your podcasts, and we are also on Facebook and Instagram.
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