Back on the old acronyms today on Boost, and breaking down the basics of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). I've used CBT throughout my career, and the ABC model is the basis of this strain of psychological therapy. So today I'm going to explain what the ABC model is, and how you can start using your own CBT practices at home.
The ABC model was developed in 1957 by Albert Ellis, the original developer of CBT. It illustrates how our thinking affects our behaviour, and how we can change the way we behave by changing what we think.
Here is what it means:
A- Activating Event
B- Beliefs (thoughts)
C- Consequences (behaviour)
For every 'activating event' we encounter, we have a thought about it, and that thought dictates how we behave. Here's an example we used to use in prison to illustrate.
You are in bed, and you hear a dull thump in the middle of the night (your activating event), you think "damn cats!", and roll over and go back to sleep (behaviour). OR if you have the same event, but you think "someone's in the house", you may just wake up your partner or grab a heavy object and creep downstairs. OR if you think "little Freddy's out of bed again", you'd be likely to get up and go check on little Freddy.
Here's another example! Your friend forgets to meet you where you agreed and you're left standing on your own (your activating event). If you thought "Silly old thing, I bet they've had a manic day", you'd probably give them a friendly call and see what's going on (your behaviour). But if you thought "what an asshole. How dare they forget about our plans!" you're not likely to give them a friendly call, but may storm home in a rage and leave them a nasty voicemail, possibly damaging your friendship entirely. OR if you thought "I'm a loser, even my friends don't want to see me", you might sulk home and feel sorry for yourself.
As you can see, all of our actions and reactions are based on how we think. Our thoughts are influenced by what has happened to us in the past, and we can get into some damaging patterns, where we might always assume the worst, resort instinctively to degrading other people, or immediately jump to beating ourselves up.
The idea here is, if you want to make changes to the way you behave, you have to start with your thinking. Notice patterns in your thoughts, and start to challenge these, perhaps thinking more of other people's points of view, or recognising irrational thoughts and challenging them by thinking about what evidence you actually have for it. Start noticing your 'activating events' that occur throughout your day. It could be a reckless driver, an argument, a gift from someone, all of these are little 'events' that you will need to respond to.
It will take time, but the more dedicated you are to changing the way you think, the more natural it will become.