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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

The Formula

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

The D.O.C.

One of my favorite members of N.W.A was The D.O.C., whose 1989 album No One Can Do It Better lived up to its name at the time—and arguably since then. The joint featured a track, “The Formula,” that had 13-year-old Deric critically thinking as well as bobbing my head to the beat.

The D.O.C. is the first lyricist I recall using the term “rhythmic American poetry” (RAP), though others may’ve said it before then. To me, he was unlike any other member of the hip hop supergroup and I was proud that a Texas native was receiving critical acclaim.

However, as life happens, and per one source, “Less than six months after that album was released, the MC was involved in a Ventura Highway automobile accident that nearly cost him his life, and forever altered his vocal cords.”

Thinking of the famed album, I’ve recently begun to conceptualize a technique I use with clients—a mathematical formula of sorts. When employing this method to reduce suffering, no one can do it better than the one who uses the tool.

The REBT formula

When practicing Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I encourage clients to consider the wisdom of Stoic philosopher Epictetus who stated, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

To demonstrate how this occurs, REBT uses the ABC Model. This allows one to dispute irrational beliefs which lead to self-disturbed consequences.

The ABC Model is framed as follows:

(A)ction – What occurred

(B)elief – What you told yourself about (A) that resulted in (C)

(C)onsequence – What you felt (emotion or bodily sensation) about what happened and what you did (behavior)

(D)isputation – How you might challenge (D) what you told yourself (B), which led to (C)

(E)ffective new belief – What (E)ffective new beliefs you can tell yourself rather than using unhelpful or unhealthy narratives (B).

REBT maintains that rather than an A-C connection we disturb ourselves with beliefs—B-C connection. If we tell ourselves narratives which lead to needless suffering, we can in turn dispute this nonsense in order to improve our lives.

In the current blog entry I won’t get into the nuances of how disputation works. If you would like more in-depth understanding about my approach to REBT disputing, I invite you to review blog entries listed under the Disputation portion of my blog.

Noteworthy, Albert Ellis, creator of REBT, is noted as having stated, “There are three musts that hold us back: I must do well. You must treat me well. And the world must be easy.” In my blog entry entitled Should, Must, and Ought, I expand upon these self-disturbing demands.

In another blog post, entitled Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I expound upon the nuances of this psychotherapeutic method. Herein, I’ll focus solely on how to set up the formula, as follows:

Action + Belief = Consequence ÷ Disputation = Effective new belief



As a child, I was often required to show my work when learning the dreadful study of math. I suspect that when teaching about the ABC Model, a brief demonstration of how the formula works may be useful.

Whether instinctively or a learned behavior, we tend to think in A-C terms. Something happens and as a result we experience thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, or we exhibit behaviors accordingly.

Action – People within close proximity cough loudly and without covering their mouths.

Consequence – You become angry, your head feels warmer, and you scold the person for apparently putting your life in danger.

The A-C connection makes sense from a Newtonian perspective. Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion posits that “for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction;” therefore, thing A occurs and thing C results.

However, the complexity of human behavior cannot always be materialistically simplified using straightforward laws of physics. Accordingly, the inner-workings of the mind are worthy of consideration.

Therefore, unlike forces within nature which tend to adhere to fixed rules, REBT highlights the role of the B-C connection. Just as I learned to sing my ABCs as a child, I can learn to properly order the action, belief, and consequence chain.

Action – People within close proximity cough loudly and without covering their mouths.

Belief – You think, “People ought to cover their mouths when coughing, as not to spread germs which could cause illness, and if they fail to look out for my safety they’re putting my life in jeopardy!”

Consequence – You become angry, your head feels warmer, and you scold the person for apparently putting your life in danger.

This is the proper formula that highlights how we disturb ourselves. Again, I will not delve into the role of disputation herein. The purpose of this blog entry is simply to highlight the relationship between our beliefs and resulting consequences of these beliefs.


The D.O.C. taught me the importance of being bold enough to stand out from others. From that lesson, I was able to exercise the unique ability to add value to my life in a manner by which no one could do it better.

His song, “The Formula,” helps me to spread this message through my clinical practice. The formula (A+B=C÷D=E) is simple though takes sustained effort through practice in order to achieve the desired results.

When we understand that our suffering is formulaic—that we get in our own way and disturb ourselves perhaps more times than not—we can work through the equation in a rational manner. In so doing, we no longer should, must, or ought to be bound to irrationally emotive misery.

If you knew better, you’d better. And no one can do it better than you.

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, 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


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