Self-Help Techniques: Strategies to help you move from self-defeat to rational living.
Changing the way you think is the secret to feeling better and behaving in more functional ways. But changing beliefs is more easily said than done - as the saying goes, old habits die hard. Fortunately, there are many strategies and techniques you can use to help make the changes that are in your interests.
A key technique: Rational Self-Analysis
Probably the most useful technique is Rational Self-Analysis. Doing an analysis, preferably in writing, enables you to identify and change the thoughts involved when you experience distress or behave in self-defeating ways. This helps you in the present and in the future - you deal with any current distress, and reduce the likelihood of reacting the same way from now on.
How to complete a self-analysis
The first thing to do when you are feeling or acting in a dysfunctional manner is to stop. Interrupt any self-defeating episodes. Take time out to get your brain working on the problem. Get a good-sized sheet of paper and follow this sequence:
1. Identify and write down the Activating event - the stress trigger (the 'A'). What are you reacting to? Be brief - summarise the 'A'.
2. Identify the Consequence - (the 'C') - how you felt and behaved in reaction to the 'A'.
3. Identify your Beliefs - (the 'B'). What you are telling yourself about the 'A'?
1. Look for any distortions of reality - black and white thinking, filtering, over-generalising, mind-reading, fortune-telling, emotional reasoning, personalising.
2. Even more important, identify your evaluative beliefs. Ask questions like:
- What is 'terrible'? (awfulising).
- What is 'intolerable'? (discomfort-intolerance).
- What am I telling myself must/should be (or not be)? (demandingness).
- What I am labelling myself (or others)? (people-rating).