In 1955, a psychologist called Albert Ellis developed Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). It is a precursor for what we now know as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). The Albert Ellis model was known as the ABC Theory in which “A” represents an action or event, “B” represents the belief about the action, and “C” represents the consequence. He suggested that for most of us, we think A causes C — an action causes a consequence or response. But he explained that jammed in between the two and happening in a nanosecond is the belief about the action, and that this is what causes the consequence.
Take, for example, a woman who grew up in a home where there was a lot of violence, disrespect and abuse. She saw her father hit her mother regularly. She had siblings who hit one another. It was the same with members of their extended family.
She grows up and has a boyfriend. One day, he slaps her. She is momentarily upset but doesn’t say anything. She excuses him just as her mother excused her father. She doesn’t like it but she accepts that this is just the way things are. She does nothing in response to the assault. Or the many others that follow.
Now let’s look at a woman who grew up a home where everyone was loving and kind. There were never any physical attacks on anyone. Her parents were loving and affectionate with one another and if there was ever an argument or a disagreement, even a heated one, there was never a hint of physical violence.
The woman grows up and has a boyfriend. One day, he slaps her. She is shocked, hurt, furious and can’t believe he did this to her. She rings the police and she presses charges. She tells him to take a long walk off a short pier and she is finished with him.
What is the reason for the two different consequences from that initial action? It is what each of these women believes about it. The slap did not cause the first woman to stay in the relationship or the second woman to leave hers. It was that the first woman believed it was normal to be hit and the second one believed it was not.
Did either one of them stop to think about the belief between the action and the response? No. It was just there instantly, an automatic response that triggered “C,” the consequence or reaction.
In this one simple example, you can see how easily beliefs can direct the course of a life and it will only be changed if the beliefs are changed accordingly. In the above example, the first woman is headed for a lifetime of toxic relationships and unhappiness unless she changes her beliefs about what is normal and acceptable between partners. The second woman is much more likely to find happier, healthier relationships because in her world, it would be unimaginable to settle for anything less.
Our beliefs shape our choices. And our choices shape our lives. If we can change our beliefs about ourselves, and our situations, then we change our choices, and ultimately, we change our lives. As a hypnotist, I’ve seen astonishing changes through the years when working with people who want to change their beliefs about longstanding emotional wounds, trauma, even anxiety or nerves about things like going to the dentist. People even have surgical procedures done with absolutely no anaesthetic, using only hypnosis and suggestions that are planted about not feeling anything in the affected area at all.
The power of the mind is incredible and every single thought, response and behaviour is directly related to the beliefs that cause them.
When you’re struggling with unpleasant emotions, perhaps it will help you to back up and look at the initial event or situation that led to those feelings. Examine your beliefs about the situation. Some of them might be so automatic that even if they are no longer serving you well, they might still be adversely impacting your life. If you can change what you believe, and put a more positive spin on it, you may well find that you begin to feel better.
It doesn’t happen overnight; this does require time and practice, unless you choose to use powerful meditations and affirmations, or hypnosis, which is the most direct route to access the subconscious and “insert” desired beliefs that counteract the destructive ones.
Go on. Take a deeper look at your beliefs and how they are affecting you. And in the comments below, let me know what happens. Please.