Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 2 ed.

Chapter 7. Developing Resiliency

You've learned that in order to shift and change your beliefs you need to tolerate the discomfort of change. Re-naming these feelings as natural discomfort and excitement may help you accept this state more easily and so not give up. Effectively, you are putting a positive spin on this feeling of discomfort.

While you are tolerating this natural state of discomfort, you also need to keep focusing on your goal and deal with any challenges that spring up along the way. You can do this by changing your unhealthy beliefs and the different types of thought they trigger, replacing them with their healthy versions. One of the things you can be sure of in this whole process is feeling and experiencing the discomfort and challenge of change. Using the cognitive skills you have learned so far, you can develop resiliency to help you bounce back from any setbacks while learning from the challenges they present.

Your mind is a reservoir of experiences, memories, learning and resources that you can put to good use to help you tolerate your emotions and remain focused on your goal. You will learn a specific, structured approach to thinking called ‘disputing’ to help you respond to challenges and strengthen your resiliency. You can use disputing skills whenever you experience emotional challenges.

You may experience a number of challenges when you want to achieve something. Some are within your control and some are not. Whether or not these experiences are within your control, it will always come down to how you are feeling about them and if those feelings are unhealthily negative.

Challenges within Your Control

Your own beliefs

On the whole your beliefs, healthy or unhealthy, are now up to you. Everyone is shaped by their upbringing, how they are nurtured and the influence of people in their lives when growing up. As a child, you may have been persuaded into your beliefs but this does not mean you are stuck with them forever, especially if they are at the heart of your problems now. You can change them.

Even if someone has been well nurtured, this is no guarantee that they will grow up with healthy beliefs about everything. Everyone has unhealthy beliefs. As an adult, you are responsible for how you wish to live. If you wish to live in accordance with unhelpful beliefs about yourself, your past, your parents, the world, then you need to accept that you choose to live this way. Your unhealthy beliefs will be triggering your emotions, behaviour, thoughts and symptoms. You may not have had a choice as a child, but now you can make a better choice for yourself. It may not be easy, but it is possible to change your unhealthy beliefs and learn to live more happily.

These beliefs may be about:

·        love

·        rejection

·        failure

·        making mistakes

·        being perfect

·        talking in public

·        blushing

·        confrontation

·        being thin or fat, tall or short

·        getting on a train, plane or car

·        being on your own

·        getting married

·        having children

·        death

·        loss

·        acceptance

·        trauma and tragedy

·        control

·        certainty

·        to name but a few.

Your own feelings (on the whole)

There are some psychological and medical conditions, illnesses and injuries that can cause problems with feelings, but on the whole it's up to you. If you can accept that generally speaking we are responsible for how we feel and act in the here and now, you can change these by changing your unhealthy beliefs.

The intensity of your disturbed feelings depends on how forcefully you hold dogmatic and demanding beliefs. The intensity of your healthy but negative feelings depend on how strongly you hold your desire or preference belief.

The stronger your ‘must’ belief, the more intense unhealthy negative feelings, like anxiety, will be. The stronger your ‘I want but I don't have to’ belief, the stronger your healthy negative emotions, like concern, will be.

Both types of feelings can be extremely uncomfortable so you need to develop resiliency and strength to tolerate the discomfort and not give up.

Your own behaviour and performance

If any problem behaviour is beyond your capability to alter at the moment and is affecting you or someone in your family, you may need to seek medical or therapeutic help. If, however, you feel that with understanding and guidance you can create the necessary change on your own, then remember that behaviour is a consequence of beliefs, we are responsible for how we behave.

Your performance will be affected when you face difficulties and challenges. For example, if you have an interview to go to but receive some tragic news, your performance would be affected. It would be totally understandable if you chose to postpone your interview.

Like the process of changing your thoughts and feelings, changing your behaviour can be uncomfortable. You need to develop resiliency and strength to tolerate this feeling in order to achieve your desired goal.

Your thoughts

On the whole, the thoughts that are involved in your emotions are provoked by your beliefs. In the previous chapters you learned how to challenge and change different types of thought. Thinking is habitual and, as you know, changing any habit or pattern is uncomfortable, so developing resiliency and strength will help you to tolerate any discomfort.

Challenges Outside Your Control

Other people

How other people feel and behave is outside your control. You cannot control what other people say, do or feel. You are responsible for your behaviour and how you talk to others and they are responsible for their response and their behaviour towards you. You can, however, learn to influence other people by first looking at your own behaviour and your own communication skills.

Some people behave passively in the face of aggressive behaviours, and this passivity is their responsibility. They may tolerate aggressive behaviour for their own reasons, for example anxiety and fear or simply pragmatism. It is their own belief systems that influence their behaviour.

No matter how skilled you are at communication, other people are outside your control. Accepting that other people are outside your control and that they can do, say and think as they wish can be challenging and uncomfortable. Developing resiliency and strength will help you to tolerate this feeling.

Certainty in everything

You may have beliefs that demand that you be certain before you can allow yourself to make a change or do something new. Unhealthy beliefs about certainty, just like unhealthy beliefs about control, are very common. They are also very unhelpful to you.

Unhealthy beliefs about certainty − which is different from likelihood − need to be changed because they will stand between you and your goal. It's important to accept that risk is part of life. There is always a risk (or chance) that something can go wrong, for you or for anyone. You cannot totally eliminate risk in order to have absolute certainty that everything will work as you want it to. If that is your goal, you will be waiting a long time and not living your life freely. You will know if you have unhealthy beliefs about uncertainty because they trigger you to feel anxiety and behave in an avoidant way. You can minimize risk and increase certainty to a point where you feel able to act, which will vary depending on how risk averse you are. In these situations you need to consider the consequences, but remember the saying ‘no risk, no reward’.

Changing beliefs that demand certainty and no risk can feel uncomfortable, and you need to develop resiliency and strength to tolerate this feeling.

Resources for Resiliency

Meta emotions

It is very important to develop resiliency and strength to help you tolerate the feelings of discomfort so that you can make a change. You can disturb yourself about any feelings you may have, whether they are healthily or unhealthily negative.

This feeling about another feeling is called a meta emotion. It's effectively having a problem about a problem. Meta emotions play a significant role in resiliency.

If you have a problem about uncomfortable emotions or about discomfort then you will have an unhealthy belief about discomfort. It means you will be making a demand not to feel uncomfortable or for change to feel comfortable.

Typical unhealthy beliefs about discomfort will be as follows:

·        I must feel comfortable when I start something new because I cannot stand feeling uncomfortable; feeling uncomfortable is horrible.

·        I must not feel any discomfort when I am doing anything because I cannot tolerate feeling discomfort – it's awful.

·        I must feel totally calm and relaxed when I do anything; feeling nervous or anything apart from calm is horrible and I cannot cope.

·        I must feel confident when I decide to do something because I cannot bear feeling unconfident – it's awful.

·        I must feel confident when I start anything new because if I don't it proves I'm useless.

·        I must feel confident when I strive for my goals because if I don't it means I'm useless.

·        I must not feel any negative emotions when I do anything related to my goals because if I do it's unbearable.

All the above beliefs are dependent on feeling comfortable, and you know that any change will naturally feel uncomfortable. The problem with demanding change to be a comfortable process is that it only increases your vulnerability to disturbance and lowers your tolerance of discomfort. You will be oversensitive in relation to feelings of discomfort, which is quite the opposite of resilience.

Examples of healthy beliefs about comfort or discomfort

·        I want to feel comfortable when I start something new, but it doesn't mean I must feel comfortable, because I can stand feeling uncomfortable even if I don't like it. Feeling uncomfortable is not horrible, it's just bad.

·        I do not want to feel any discomfort when I am doing anything but I accept that I might. I can tolerate feeling discomfort even if it's hard; discomfort is bad but not awful.

·        I'd like to feel totally calm and relaxed when I do anything but I accept that I might not. Feeling nervous or anything apart from calm is not horrible, it's just bad and I can cope with it even if I don't like it.

·        I'd like to feel confident when I decide to do something but it doesn't mean that I must feel confident. I can bear feeling unconfident even if it's hard at first. Feeling unconfident is bad but not awful.

·        I'd like to feel confident when I start anything new but I accept that I might not. Feeling unconfident does not mean I'm useless. I'm fallible and my worth does not depend on whether I feel confident or not.

·        I want to feel confident when I strive for my goals but I accept that I might not. It doesn't mean I'm useless. I'm fallible and I remain worthy whether I feel confident or not.

·        I'd really like to not feel any negative emotions when I do anything related to my goals but I accept that I might. Feeling negative emotions can be challenging but I can bear that and cope with it.

Having healthy beliefs about feelings of comfort and discomfort will increase resiliency and strength. They help you understand that change is naturally uncomfortable. Discomfort shouldn't be avoided or thought of as a sign that you are doing something wrong. It is uncomfortable when you start to change your beliefs, thoughts and behaviour and start taking action, but this is good because it means you are going through the process of change and being resilient. However, if you begin to find the level of discomfort too much, it means you have an unhealthy belief about it and you need to apply the CBT process to change it.

Use imagery work if you find it helpful

Imagine that you are getting on with taking action even though you feel uncomfortable. This will help prepare you for tolerating the discomfort when you come to face your challenges.

Challenges are temporary

If you think back to any difficulties or challenges you have experienced, you will find that most of them have been temporary. When you experience such a challenge it ‘feels’ like it will last forever and you just want it to be over. This is understandable because you experience a lot of discomfort. You now know, however, that if you seek comfort in all things, you won't do much and then even that begins to trigger discomfort.

You have the ability to learn from difficult experiences, setbacks and failures. You can learn to improve your skills and adopt healthy beliefs, so challenges are temporary because you can do something constructive about them. You can get up and have another go and this time you have learnt that:

·        A challenge or a setback is not the end of the world, it's just bad.

·        A challenge or setback is hard and frustrating, but not unbearable.

·        You remain a worthy but fallible person who can learn to do it better the next time.

·        A setback or a challenge is a temporary hurdle.

Metaphoric imagery about resiliency

Emotive imagery that's relevant to the healthy belief and goal is not only effective in promoting change but also helps your motivation. Imagery work can be either specific and realistic or metaphoric. The important thing is that the metaphor is relevant to your personal change and growth.

Metaphors have been part of meaningful human communication and storytelling for thousands of years. Sometimes a metaphor encapsulates an explanation in a very vivid and profound way. Children's stories are full of metaphors because they can be understood in childhood. For example, you can metaphorically describe the concept of ‘hope’ by saying that ‘spring always follows winter’. You can imagine yourself in the winter when the weather is cold and wet, but sooner or later spring arrives and you see subtle bursts of colour, budding plants and sunnier days.

Metaphors need to appeal to you so that you can use them emotively and vividly. A metaphor with imagery needs to trigger a positive emotional response in you for maximum effectiveness. Start thinking how you can depict resiliency in a metaphoric way with you at the centre of it. What images and pictures does the word ‘resiliency’ conjure up in your mind? What would you be doing in this metaphoric image of resiliency? The important thing is that it's meaningful to you and triggers a strong, positive emotion.

There are many ways that you can depict resiliency in a metaphoric image, some of which are suggested below.

Mountain metaphor

For example, you can imagine that you are climbing a mountain because at the top is something that you want or an object that you treasure. You start at the bottom, climbing some way and then slipping back, climbing some more and slipping back. You keep imagining yourself getting up and starting to climb again. You are sweating and out of breath from the effort, but you keep on, and you keep climbing back after each slip. You imagine that you are focused on getting to the top of the mountain and then, finally, you imagine yourself there, smiling and raising your hands up to the sky.

Boulder metaphor

This time, you are pushing a big, heavy boulder up a hill. Don't ask why, it's a metaphor. You imagine falling down and slipping back all the way to the beginning, getting back up again and starting to push the boulder back up the hill. You repeat the image of slipping and starting again until you eventually imagine yourself making the final push, the boulder is on top of the hill and you are sitting on top of it looking very pleased with yourself.

100-metre hurdle metaphor

Or you can imagine that you are running a 100-metre hurdle. You imagine yourself falling down from crashing into the hurdles and tripping, getting up and going towards the next hurdle. You fall at some but get up and jump over others, with a determined look on your face, focused on getting to the end. Finally you imagine breaking through the finish line with your hands up, a winner.

Think of your own metaphoric image for resiliency and imagine overcoming setbacks whilst remaining focused on your goal.

Positive imagery technique for developing resiliency

You can use imagery to trigger positive emotions that enable you to de-sensitize any overwhelming feelings of discomfort you may have during the change process or when you experience a setback. Using positive imagery can help you to cope by triggering positive feelings to counteract the discomfort. Both the overwhelming and the positive emotions are represented by different images. Both images are triggered by imagining them at the same time, or by imagining them fusing together. This technique should be used when you rehearse the healthy belief about discomfort; recite your healthy belief about discomfort or resiliency, and then imagine fusing the image associated with the overwhelming feeling of discomfort to the image associated with positivity.

1.     Write down your goal and healthy belief about resiliency.

2.     Sit or lie down.

3.     Close your eyes.

4.     Breathe in deeply, hold it for three or four seconds and then breathe out gently. Repeat this five or six times.

5.     Imagine that you are drifting off to your own favourite place of relaxation where you feel most at peace. This could be a place you know well, a place you have read about or a place you have dreamt of.

6.     Imagine yourself at your favourite place and let the feelings of relaxation happen naturally.

7.     Create an image of the overwhelming feelings of discomfort you experience and put it to one side of your mind.

8.     Recall a time when you have felt very relaxed, calm and at peace. Imagine that this is happening to you right now. Let the feelings of calm and relaxation flow through your body as you visualize this memory.

9.     When you feel very relaxed, recall the image that represented the overwhelming feelings of discomfort.

10. Recite your healthy belief about resiliency.

11. Let the image that represented the overwhelming feelings of discomfort drift to the back of your mind.

12. Remember a time when you felt confident and in control. It doesn't matter how long ago it was; just recall the memory, where you were at that time and what was happening.

13. Imagine yourself in this memory of confidence and control as if it is happening to you right now.

14. Let the feelings of confidence and control grow.

15. When these positive feelings are vivid, recall the image that represented the overwhelming feelings of discomfort.

16. Recite your healthy belief about resiliency.

17. Put the image that represented the overwhelming feelings of discomfort to one side of your mind.

18. Recall a memory when you felt very amused and laughed a lot.

19. Imagine yourself in that funny memory and recall who was there and what happened.

20. Imagine yourself in that funny memory as if it is happening to you right now.

21. Let the feelings of laughter grow inside you.

22. When you feel amused, bring to the forefront of your mind the image that represented the feelings of discomfort.

23. Recite your healthy belief about resiliency.

24. Let your mind go blank and then imagine yourself back in your favourite place of relaxation.

25. Recite your healthy belief about resiliency and imagine yourself dealing with the setback, focused on your goal and actions.

26. Tell yourself that you will now open your eyes and that you will be back in the present, feeling good and whole.

27. Open your eyes.

You can also record these instructions on an audio machine and follow them by listening and imagining.

The above technique is really about desensitizing you to unhealthy meta emotions. If you are anxious about discomfort, for example, this technique will help you overcome your anxiety about uncomfortable feelings and help you to increase your tolerance. For maximum effectiveness, use it while rehearsing your healthy belief about discomfort.

Cognitive Emotive Triggers

Cognitive emotive triggers are words or statements that you can use to trigger positive feelings whenever you experience an emotional challenge or setback. When this happens, some form of ‘sticking plaster’ technique may come in handy, like a cognitive ‘pick me up’.

It is important to remember that these techniques are a short-term measure, and any long-term change needs to come from working on your beliefs. Cognitive emotive triggers can take the sting out of emotional challenges and setbacks that you face in the short term.

Cognitive emotive triggers are about provoking a positive feeling when you encounter a setback. You will not feel the full intensity of the positive emotion because you will be feeling discomfort from the setback and challenge. At the same time, you can expect the negative emotion to feel less intense. Your ability to tolerate the setback and to bounce back will increase or, to put it another way, if you mix a bowl of hot water and a bowl of cold water, you have warm water.

You can learn how to do this by associating your positive feelings with a word or/and an image. You start by triggering your positive emotions and then associate the emotional state to the word and the image you have chosen. You repeat this process a few times to reinforce the association. Once you have set the cognitive emotive trigger, all you need to do whenever you feel an emotional challenge, or experience a setback, is to repeat your trigger word and quickly flash the image in your mind. This triggers the emotion that you have associated with the word and the picture.

How would you want to feel if you were to experience a setback? The best ‘sticking plasters’ are feelings of calmness and confidence. You then think of a picture or image to go with feelings of calmness and confidence. You can also think of a colour that for you relates to calmness and confidence. Then finally you think of a word or statement that is meaningful to you. You can think ‘resilient and strong’, or you can think ‘resilient and calm’, whatever words or expressions are most suitable for you. Once you have thought of these three things, words, image and feeling, you can follow the instructions below:

1.     Sit or lie down.

2.     Close your eyes.

3.     Breathe in deeply and hold it for three or four seconds and then breathe out gently. Repeat this five or six times.

4.     Recall a time when you felt calm and confident.

5.     Imagine yourself in that time when you had feelings of calm and confidence.

6.     Allow these feelings of calm and confidence to grow inside you until you feel them.

7.     Keep the feelings of calm and confidence and intensify them in your own way.

8.     Open and close your eyes quickly.

9.     Imagine or visualize your new picture or colour that depicts calmness and confidence and repeat your trigger word or statement, for example ‘I'm resilient’.

10. Repeat your trigger word or statement four or five times in a forceful and energetic way.

11. When your feeling of calmness and confidence decreases, open your eyes.

12. Repeat from 1 to 11 twice more.

Now you have a ‘sticking plaster’ to use whenever you experience an emotional challenge or setback, but please remember that this is a quick, short-term technique. If you feel stuck in the emotional challenge or setback, it means you have an unhealthy belief and you then need to do the more in-depth work of changing it, as outlined in Chapters 3 and 4.

Disputing

Disputing is a cognitive skill that involves questioning both your unhealthy and healthy beliefs. You will learn to use this skill to help you tolerate the tension you feel as you move towards your goal and when you experience a setback, to stop you from sabotaging your goal and giving in. Disputing in itself does not create a shift in your emotions, but it does motivate you to work to change them.

What do you dispute?

You dispute the four unhealthy or irrational beliefs that are triggered when you experience discomfort or a setback and you find yourself stuck as a result. As noted previously, the unhealthy belief about discomfort or setback may not include the four irrational beliefs, so you dispute the unhealthy beliefs that apply to your situation. You will recall that the four unhealthy beliefs are:

·        the demand that you ‘must’ or ‘have to’

·        awfulizing

·        low frustration tolerance

·        self-/other-damning

After you dispute your unhealthy belief about discomfort or a setback, your next task is to dispute the healthy counterpart beliefs, namely:

·        preference (I want to but I don't have to)

·        anti-awfulizing (bad but not the end of the world)

·        high frustration tolerance (difficult but I can stand it)

·        self-/other-acceptance (I am worthwhile but fallible/You are worthwhile but fallible).

What is disputation based on?

Disputation is usually based on three major arguments:

1.     Evidence that your unhealthy belief is inconsistent with reality. According to CBT there is no evidence to support any of the four unhealthy beliefs.

2.     Logic. You refer to your healthy belief and ask if your unhealthy belief follows logically from it.

3.     Helpfulness. You ask yourself to think about the effects of maintaining and believing your unhealthy belief and compare them with the effects of holding and strengthening your healthy belief.

At this point you may find it helpful to go back to Chapter 2 to remind yourself of the reasons why unhealthy beliefs are untrue, illogical and unhelpful and why healthy beliefs are true, logical and helpful to you. What you will learn now is how to apply these three arguments to both your unhealthy and healthy beliefs about discomfort and setbacks.

Go through the following exercise and then answer the disputing questions. Learn the disputing questions by heart because you can then use them whenever you want to challenge any unhealthy beliefs.

Exercise

1.     Work out your goal about the feeling of discomfort or about any potential setback. For example, ‘I want to be resilient and strong when I'm experiencing discomfort or setbacks. I want to achieve this change in three months. I want to tolerate discomfort and keep my focus on my goal.’

2.     Identify the emotion you feel about being uncomfortable or about a potential setback. For example, ‘I feel anxiety about the feeling of discomfort or possible setback when I'm applying my goal strategies.’

3.     Identify the unhealthy belief you have about the feeling of discomfort or about the potential setback. For example, ‘I have to feel comfortable when I'm applying my goal strategies. I can't stand feeling uncomfortable’, or ‘I must not experience any setbacks because that would prove that I'm useless’.

4.     Identify the healthy belief you would like to have about the feeling of discomfort or about the potential setback. For example, ‘I'd like to feel comfortable when I'm applying my change strategies. Feeling uncomfortable is challenging but I can stand it’, or ‘I'd like not to experience any setbacks but I accept that I might. If I do it never means I'm useless. I'm fallible but remain worthy regardless.’

Disputing the DEMAND …

Using evidence

·        Is there a law that states you MUST feel comfort or MUST not experience a setback?

Using logic

·        Just because you would like to be comfortable or would rather not experience a setback, does it make sense to insist that therefore you MUST feel comfort or that you MUST not experience a setback?

Using helpfulness

·        How does believing that you MUST feel comfort or that you MUST not experience a setback help you to achieve what you want in the long term?

Disputing the AWFULIZING belief …

Using evidence

·        Is it really true that it is AWFUL if you do not feel comfortable or experience a setback so bad that nothing worse could happen?

Using logic

·        Just because you find discomfort or a setback bad, does it make sense to conclude that discomfort or a setback is the worst thing that can happen to you?

Using helpfulness

·        How is believing that discomfort or a setback is AWFUL going to help you to achieve what you want in the long term?

Disputing the LOW FRUSTRATION TOLERANCE (LFT) belief …

Using evidence

·        Is it really true that you CANNOT STAND/CANNOT COPE WITH/CANNOT BEAR discomfort or a setback?

·        Is there a law that states that discomfort or a setback is UNBEARABLE or something that you CANNOT STAND/TOLERATE?

Using logic

·        Does it make sense to conclude that discomfort or a setback is something you cannot stand or tolerate?

Using helpfulness

·        How is believing that discomfort or a setback is unbearable or something you cannot cope with going to help you achieve what you want in the long term?

·        Is believing that discomfort or a setback is unbearable/ not something you can cope with going to help or hinder you in your pursuit of your long-term goal?

Disputing the SELF-DAMNING belief …

Using evidence

·        Is it really true that you are useless/weak/worthless just because you feel discomfort or experience a setback?

·        Is there a law that states you become a useless/weak/worthless person just for feeling uncomfortable or for experiencing a setback?

Using logic

·        Does it make sense to conclude that you are now useless/weak/worthless?

Using helpfulness

·        How does believing that you are useless/weak/worthless just because you feel uncomfortable or because you experience a setback help you to achieve what you want in the long term?

·        Is believing that you are useless/weak/worthless just because you feel uncomfortable or because you experience a setback going to help or hinder you in your pursuit of your long-term goal?

Disputing the PREFERENCE belief …

Using evidence

·        Is it true that you would like to feel comfort or not experience a setback, but you accept that it is possible that you might? Why it is true?

Using logic

·        Even though you would like to be comfortable or would rather not experience a setback, does it make sense to conclude that it is not possible to always be comfortable and never experience setbacks? Why does it make sense?

Using helpfulness

·        How is believing that you would like to feel comfort, or that you would like not to experience a setback, while accepting that it is possible that you might experience discomfort, or experience a setback, going to help you achieve what you want in the long term?

·        Is believing that you would like to experience comfort, or that you would like not to experience a setback, but accepting that it is possible that you might experience discomfort, or experience a setback, going to help or hinder you in your pursuit of your long-term goal?

·        How would it help?

Disputing the ANTI-AWFULIZING belief …

Using evidence

·        Is it true that it is bad but not AWFUL if you do not feel comfortable or if you experience a setback? Why is it true?

Using logic

·        Even though you find discomfort or experiencing a setback bad, does it make sense to conclude that discomfort or a setback is not the worst thing that can happen?

·        Why does it make sense?

Using helpfulness

·        How is believing that feeling discomfort, or experiencing a setback, is bad but not awful, going to help you achieve what you want in the long term?

·        Is believing that feeling discomfort or experiencing a setback is bad but not awful going to help or hinder you in your pursuit of your long-term goal?

·        How would it help?

Disputing the HIGH FRUSTRATION TOLERANCE (HFT) belief …

Using evidence

·        Is it true that you find it difficult but that you CAN STAND/COPE WITH/BEAR discomfort or a setback? Why is it true?

Using logic

·        Even though you find feeling discomfort or experiencing a setback difficult or bad, does it make sense to conclude that feeling discomfort or experiencing a setback is something you can stand or tolerate? Why does it make sense?

Using helpfulness

·        How is believing that feeling discomfort or experiencing a setback is hard, but not unbearable or something you cannot cope with, going to help you to achieve what you want in the long term?

 

·        Is believing that feeling discomfort or experiencing a setback is hard but not unbearable, and is something you can cope with, going to help or hinder you in your pursuit of your long-term goal?

·        Why would it help?

Disputing the SELF-ACCEPTANCE belief …

Using evidence

·        Is it really true that you are not useless/weak/worthless just because you feel discomfort or because of a setback? Why is it true?

Using logic

·        Just because you do not feel comfortable or because you experience a setback, does it make sense to conclude that you are not a useless/weak/worthless person?

·        Why does it make sense?

Using helpfulness

·        How is believing that you are not a useless/weak/worthless person just because you feel uncomfortable or because you experience a setback going to help you achieve what you want in the long term?

·        Is believing that you are not a useless/weak/worthless person just because you feel uncomfortable or because you experience a setback going to help or hinder you in your pursuit of your long-term goal?

·        Why does it help?

Tips

As a general rule, use the arguments that you understand most easily. You can use just one or all of them. I have found that the helpfulness argument is not only easier to grasp but also seems to work more effectively than the others.

Metaphoric disputing

Metaphoric disputing involves using imagery to prove to yourself that your unhealthy belief about discomfort and setbacks is unhelpful and that your healthy belief about discomfort and setbacks is healthy. Unlike other disputing techniques, metaphoric disputing also enables you to shift your emotions more easily because it is vivid and emotive.

Metaphoric disputing involves using your imagination to create an image of both your unhealthy and your healthy belief about discomfort or setback. The image can be whatever best represents your beliefs. The second step is to imagine yourself in your unhealthy belief, looking at the world through its eyes, then stepping out of it, entering your healthy belief and looking at the world through the eyes of your healthy belief.

In both parts you should feel the emotions triggered by each belief so you can really understand what negative feelings it causes: an uncomfortable state with the unhealthy belief and an empowered state with the healthy belief. Then you imagine burning your unhealthy belief out of your mind as finally you commit to and accept your healthy belief.

The following steps outline the technique for using metaphoric disputing.

1.     Write down your goal and healthy belief about resiliency.

2.     Sit or lie down.

3.     Close your eyes.

4.     Breathe in deeply, hold it for three or four seconds and then breathe out gently. Repeat this five or six times.

5.     Create an image that represents your unhealthy belief and an image that represents your healthy belief about discomfort or a setback.

6.     Imagine these two images side by side in your mind.

7.     Imagine stepping inside the unhealthy belief image as you recite it in your mind.

8.     Become aware of how you think and feel and how you see yourself with the eyes of your unhealthy belief.

9.     As you recite your healthy belief about discomfort or a setback imagine stepping out of the unhealthy belief image and stepping inside your healthy belief image.

10. Become aware of how you think and feel as you see yourself with the eyes of your healthy belief.

11. Imagine stepping out of your healthy belief image.

12. Imagine burning the unhealthy belief image until no trace of it is left.

13. Imagine drawing the healthy belief image and then recite ‘this is the new me now’.

14. Open your eyes.

Repeat this technique daily to strengthen your resiliency.

You have now learned how to prepare and plan for seeing yourself as resilient and strong. If you have followed all the exercises, you have done enough mental preparation, and in the next chapter you will learn about taking action.