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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Subjectivity of Consequences

 

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) uses the ABC model to demonstrate how irrational beliefs lead to unpleasant consequences (i.e., emotions, bodily sensations, behavior, etc.). I teach clients to reduce their level of self-disturbance through use of disputation regarding these unhelpful assumptions.

 

Depending upon one’s interests and goals for a particular activating event, I invite clients to consider helpful alternatives to unhelpful beliefs. For instance, if client X’s belief about a situation produces an excruciating experience, his goal may be to work towards perceiving it as merely unpleasant.

 

If client Y’s assumption about an event causes an agonizing experience, her goal may relate to considering it as little more than uncomfortable. As well, if client Z’s self-disturbance yields a terrible outcome, he may opt to reframe it as simply unfortunate.

 

By challenging the unproductive content we maintain about an activating event, the ABC model allows us to achieve more realistic understanding about the situation. Through assignment of a more effective new belief, we can then achieve less impactful consequences of our assumptions.

 

The important takeaway lesson herein is that a consequence of an unhealthy belief is subjective in nature. As an example, what client X deems as excruciating may not be perceived the same by client Y. Likewise, what client Y considers uncomfortable may be interpreted differently by client Z.

 

Therefore, I find it useful to explore with clients their association with the meanings of their preferred consequences. I may ask client X, “What about the experience of an unpleasant situation is more appealing than one that’s excruciating?”

 

Keep in mind that when using REBT, I’m not encouraging clients to seek unrealistic consequences of their beliefs. For instance, it wouldn’t be pragmatic for client Y to assume that when she’s groped without her consent while using public transit, that she will experience unending joy.

 

However, rather than disturbing herself into an agonizing experience fueled by her beliefs about being grouped, client Y can instead achieve a manageable level of discomfort. You may wonder about the subjectivity of this distinction, and I can understand why that may be.

 

As such, I invite you to think of it in a different way. Imagine that while taking the subway client Y is grouped by a fellow passenger. The client didn’t ask to be fondled and the unwanted physical contact constitutes a crime in her state.

 

Although client Y didn’t seek out the experience, it happened nonetheless. Regarding the manner in which I practice REBT, I acknowledge that from a legal standpoint, client Y shouldn’t have been molested in such a manner.

 

I make the legal argument, because I’m aware that people have varying subjective interpretations of moral, ethical, and principled positions. Nonetheless, laws more or less serve as quasi-objective standards to which all people in client Y’s state remain subject.

 

Client Y’s belief about the event is what leads to her emotive, sensory, or behavioral consequence. Still, she can subscribe to an unhelpful victimhood narrative and disturb herself with demandingness, awfulizing, low frustration tolerance, or global evaluations about the experience.

 

However, I ask how that would impact the action of client Y having already been groped. The fact that a stranger’s hands felt up this individual is unpleasant enough. Adding metaphorical gas to the inflamed situation would likely exacerbate the inferno of self-disturbed agony.

 

Alternatively, client Y could reason:

 

While it’s illegal to sexually assault people in my state, these sorts of unfortunate occurrences happen often. I didn’t ask to be victimized by being groped, though I refuse to be a victim of my beliefs about the matter. Therefore, I consider this an uncomfortable event and I’ll ask bystanders if they would be willing to provide witness statements to police.

 

Think about an agonizing experience you’ve endured in the past. What was it like for you? How did you handle the emotional, sensory, and behavioral effects regarding your belief about the event?

 

Now, think of an uncomfortable experience you once endured. Although it wasn’t pleasing, was it preferable to agony? What was the differentiating element that led to one of discomfort over agonizing about a situation?

 

The subjectivity of consequences rests within one’s beliefs about an event—not the situation itself. You can choose to victimize yourself with unhelpful beliefs or do as client Y did, and take charge of your outcome. So, what will you choose?

 

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:

 

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Blog – Categories: Disputation. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/blog/categories/disputation

Hollings, D. (2022, October 31). Demandingness. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/demandingness

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. (2023, September 13). Global evaluations. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/global-evaluations

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

Hollings, D. (2024, January 2). Interests and goals. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/interests-and-goals

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

Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). 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. (2022, November 15). To don a hat. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/to-don-a-hat

Hollings, D. (2022, November 25). Victimhood. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/victimhood

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