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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Distorted Inferences


 

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) uses the ABC model to illustrate how when an Activating event occurs and you Believe something unhelpful about the situation, your assumption then leads to an unpleasant Consequence.

 

As an example, someone bumps into you when walking along a busy street and angrily says, “Watch where you’re going” (Activating event). You then Believe, “People should be more considerate! I can’t stand living in the city!”

 

Because of your unhelpful assumption, you feel angry and your stomach hurts, and you furiously continue about your business while clumsily bumping into other people (Consequence). This ABC chain of events may seem pretty straightforward.

 

However, sometimes people disturb themselves not solely by what they Believe (B) about an Activating event (A), though they become upset when using distorted inferences—misleading conclusions based on illogical and unreasonable information—concerning the point of A rather than B.

 

Page 98 of The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion, invites REBT practitioners to refrain from challenging distorted inferences about A until irrational beliefs have been disputed at B. To better understanding this matter, consider the following:

 

Activating event – Someone bumps into you when walking along a busy street and angrily says, “Watch where you’re going!”

 

Belief – You might infer about A that the individual bumped into you on purpose, given that no apology was provided immediately after the event. In fact, the inference may precede your B, “People should be more considerate! I can’t stand living in the city!”

 

Still, your inference may not be sufficient enough to cause self-disturbance. Consider the inference versus the B:

 

Inference – The person intentionally bumped into me.

 

Assumption – “People should be more considerate! I can’t stand living in the city!

 

Could your self-disturbing B be applied to a separate A while still resulting in an unpleasant consequence? Suppose that while walking along a busy street on a rainy day, someone drives past you and their tires splash water onto you.

 

How about while walking along a busy street and you observe a man not holding open a door for a pregnant woman and her toddler? The self-disturbing B can lead to an unproductive consequence with or without the original inference.

 

Because your inference was A-specific, I would parse it separately from the core B. Therefore, when disputing B, I wouldn’t begin to address the inference associated with A until the irrational assumption of B is first disputed – unless there’s a particular reason to work at A before B.

 

In fact, with many cases pertaining to inferences, I would use an elegant solution by inviting you to imagine that your worst-case scenario were true (e.g., assume that the individual intentionally bumped into you). Then, I’d ask what you could tell yourself that may lead to annoyance or disappointment versus anger.

 

By practicing high frustration tolerance, you could learn to use tolerance and acceptance regarding matters over which you have no control and very little influence – which just so happens to be the overwhelming majority of matters in life.

 

Before practice of achieving healthy versus unhealthy negative emotions can take place, it’s important to properly format the ABC model. As such, it’s my hope that you now understand how distorted inferences apply to the ABC chain of self-disturbance.

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW

 

References:

 

Arantes, N. (2024, March 3). A busy street in a metropolis with lots of people walking [Image]. Playground. Retrieved from https://playground.com/post/a-busy-street-in-a-metropolis-with-lots-of-people-walking-w-cltbtbcdf0dvgs6017yx4col9

Dryden, W. and Neenan, M. (2003). The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion. Albert Ellis Institute. ISBN 0-917476-26-3. Library of Congress Control Number: 20031044378

Hollings, D. (2022, May 17). Circle of concern. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/circle-of-concern

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/fair-use

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2024, February 24). High frustration tolerance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/high-frustration-tolerance

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/irrational-beliefs

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Hollings, D. (2023, January 8). Logic and reason. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/logic-and-reason

Hollings, D. (2022, December 2). Low frustration tolerance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/low-frustration-tolerance

Hollings, D. (2022, March 24). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

Hollings, D. (2022, October 7). Should, must, and ought. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/should-must-and-ought

Hollings, D. (2022, November 9). The ABC model. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-abc-model

Hollings, D. (2023, February 16). Tna. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/tna

Hollings, D. (2024, March 18). Unhealthy vs. healthy negative emotions. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unhealthy-vs-healthy-negative-emotions

Shindman, J. (2014). Revising the “A.” Albert Ellis Institute. Retrieved from https://albertellis.org/2014/11/revisiting/

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