ABC Theory of Emotions, Adjustment, Albert Ellis, Anxiety, Depression, Employment Stressors, Feeling Overwhelmed, Happiness, Healthy Patterns, Phase of life Transitions, Psychological Social Stress (PsychoSocial), Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), Stress Management, Uncertainty, Unexpected Changes
Feelings of uncertainty leaves a void. A void that quietly nudges us to fill it in the form of more information, reassurance, or by applying a rational perspective on the situation. We may feel obtaining more certainty, however small it may be, may help to ease dealing with a fear of the unknown to come. Without something, or someone to bring about this certainty, [some] of us may either exaggerate matters to be worse than what they really are by misinterpreting their experiences; only viewing the negative perspective. Or, in assuming only the worst possible outcomes.
Because of the negative emotions that can arise from this type of thinking, individual irrational interpretations surface. According to American Psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis, PhD, ABPP., a “ABC Theory of Emotions” is how he describes the process by which irrational thinking occurs and consequently impacts our emotions felt. Basically, it is our cognitive [mental thoughts] about an event that then overshadows and impacts how we feel. His theory lays the ground work for a Therapeutic Approach he founded in 1955 titled “Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).”
An alternative to this Dr. Ellis contends is to find positive ways to deal in real time with situations we face despite one’s uncertainty felt.
*** One of Ellis’s hallmark terms: “Awfulizing” …… wherein there is Mental exaggeration of setbacks.
*** Negative emotions [ Anxiety or Depression ] arise from individual’s irrational interpretations of experiences.
The alternative to exaggerated negative thinking is to apply positivity, rational thinking, in order to gain perspective. Also, it’s viewed as more than just the traditional cliché …..”Look on the bright side of things” because Dr. Ellis outlined more importantly how we can often take a situation that happens “to us” and NOT interpret this as a reflection of our worthiness as a person because this can cause unhealthy emotions such as what’s deemed Clinical Mental Health Symptoms. Specifically Anxiety [ Acute Stress] and Depression [ Sadness, feeling of worthlessness, along with a host of other symptoms associated with Depression like disruptions in Sleep, anhedonia, lack of concentration, energy, psychomotor agitation, loss or increase in appetite, and even worst, suicidal ideations].
It’s true how we think cognitively about the challenges we face impacts our emotions.
Awful in + Negative Exaggerated irrational thinking = Awful out
Simply being a pessimistic individual is another discussion, for another article, a different day.
Pessimistic individuals “never assume things will go their way” and there is information out there that Depressives may have “a world-view that makes them see more realistically situations as they really are” and this makes them Depressed. It’s called being realistic. If things are really “Bad” then yes things are “Bad” as we perceive them and yes when things go “bad” it does impact one’s quality of life. Dr. Ellis would say get a plan. It’s another valid point, yet I would argue yes there are many horrors in life occurring around us daily, perhaps even more so today then anytime in history, but there remains a lot in life that is positive and these events do not always make us individually, unequivocally, say to ourselves that we will establish for ourselves a view that “we” are unworthy because negative events are occurring in the world.
Maybe you’re a person that likes to know outcomes before they occur. We can strive for this but maybe not realistic for all situations we confront in our lives.
Negativity provoked by others is occurring around us each day but it should never define our self-worth.
Naturally, we all desire to be stress free and to not be over burdened with matters beyond our control. This is natural and normal. How we think and respond to our challenges defines our resilience.
In times of uncertainty it’s best to focus on what’s going “right” in your life.
Allow this to dominate in your thoughts at a higher proportion or percentage of the time throughout your day than to give into negative thinking. This line of thinking is heavily advocated by Psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis’s ABC Theory of Emotions as healthier than a hyper focus on only perceived pending dome that may or may not surface.
……Most find it better to not over exaggerate the seriousness of something and find ways to put problems into perspective so that not every problem is viewed as catastrophic. Measured conclusions for the situations we face.
……Allow time in your day for pre-scheduled segments of time for just strategic planning to address the challenging predicaments you face in which you can set aside time for only thoughts about problem solving on actionable steps you can take. If there is something you can take action on regarding a problem to lower stressors to resolve it, then do it then and there. If you find a resolution that is a multi-step solution, then you have a plan and date to take the next actionable step. No matter what you conclude for your unique problem, there will always be a firm recommendation to take action on it rather than doing nothing to address it. Just keep it a positive solution, constructive, manageable, and a healthy solution for you and your unique predicament.
………Plan to take concrete steps on what you can. It can be as small as looking at the problem from another perspective by requesting input from others about the problem and consider their feedback. Talk to a professional about the situation. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Going to a Psychologist may not always provide the answers you seek, or you may not consider your problem to be “Clinical symptoms” enough to seek professional attention, but at one end of the spectrum a Clinical Professional can allow the time and space for you to contemplate perhaps a side of the situation you may have not considered before and it will allow you more time to gain insight. Self-exploration of the problem. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s a much higher probability of gaining an agreeable resolution and this is the end goal ultimately. If its not so serious, maybe friends or family that you trust to confide in will do. I suspect the main goal is that one confides in someone they trust with their hardships. Trust your support network. In a modern age with so much information available on the internet those close to you will advise you if consulting a Mental Health Professional is warranted in your case.
……..A plan is needed to address the constant ruminating on that which is stressful, and thoughts that bring about sadness or undue all-consuming stressors if they are present.
….. Employment Stressors: Work place Anxieties [excessive stressors] and Depressive Symptoms for adults is on the rise based on industry reports from Insurance Companies who insure Mental Health patients, Primary Care Physicians who are often the first line of contact for those reporting increased stressors or sadness, then they refer the patient for Mental Health evaluations and services. Workplace Employee Assistance Programs ( EAP ) providers are also reporting a rise in the volume or severity of symptoms or both they are providing services to.
Demands are increasing on employees; job enlargement vice additional compensation for additional tasks. Jobs are changing, realignments, the economy, and there appears to be increased fears among employees of losing one’s job. Forced early retirement without proper finances to support it, and even the changes in the economy that makes one’s career choice disappear are issues too. How does one adapt and change if a major industry disappears overnight due to increasing technology? Economy Sharing industries based in new technology are growing and there is no stopping it. The landscape of how [we] now make a living is changing so it is all contributing to more stressful predicaments we face in the workplace.
American Psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis, PhD, ABPP., ABC Theory of Emotions
A = Activating event in the environment
B = Belief triggered in individual’s mind by event
C = Emotional consequence of the belief
Loss of Employment
Cognitive thoughts begin to ruminate that they are worthless, situation ever increasing hopeless
= Depression surfaces
Loss of Employment
Justification can be found that lost employment is not a consequence of one’s competency; worthiness, or abilities. Not a direct reflection of who they are as a person even though they loss their employment.
= No Depression surfaces
American Psychiatrist Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy (CT) for Treatment of Depression has many similarities with Dr. Ellis. According to Beck’s Cognitive Therapy Theory individuals distort experiences and maintain negative views of themselves, the world, and their future. They may be prone to minimize the positive, and only maximize negative experiences. As well as misattribute negative experiences to one’s own deficiencies perceived.
Finally, as a reminder perceived setbacks are often unavoidable. Change is inevitable but personal growth is optional. How we view them is within our individual control. We live in a fast paced ever changing global inter-connected world. The upside of this has so many advantages so the predicted path is onward. The best we can do individually for adapting is to steer into the currents strategically. Study the changing tides and adjust accordingly. With help if needed.
Photo Credit: Art Installation: Slight Uncertainty by Czech artist Michal Trpák by DIRK PETZOLD on Dec 26, 2012.
:::: Until Next time: à Donf ::::
Dr. Lawana R. Lofton, PsyD – Psychologist with one simple goal of making concepts of psychology accessible. Follow @lrlofton Read Psychological Précipice: The Psychological Pursuit To Find The Best In You on Amazon. If you have not read it yet, as you may guess, I highly recommend it.