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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Wacky Beliefs


I enjoyed visiting arcades when I was a child. Although I wasn’t particularly skillful when playing electronic games (e.g., Frogger), I excelled at gameplay whereby use of physical agility was required.


One example of such a game was Whac-A-Mole. One source describes it as:


A typical Whac-A-Mole machine consists of a waist-level cabinet with a play area and display screen, and a large, soft mallet. Five to eight holes in the play area top are filled with small, plastic, cartoonish moles, or other characters, which pop up at random. Points are scored by, as the name suggests, whacking each mole as it appears. The faster the reaction, the higher the score.



Another instance relates to Gator Panic, Wacky Gator, or other similarly themed reptile-smashing games. One source describes these games by stating, “The game plays like Whac-A-Mole but with alligators coming out of the cabinet instead of moles popping up from the cabinet.”



Money permitting, I’d spend most of my time whacking moles and gators when in arcades. As well, it didn’t take long for me to learn how to manipulate gameplay by use of a provided mallet held in one hand and whacking game pieces with my free hand.


Sometimes, I’d unintentionally injure myself by striking the simulated animals with my bare fist. As such, working myself into a frenzied state of being while pounding on moving parts was simultaneously fun and somewhat painful, though I played on as though winning was more important than the consequences of my actions.


Looking back, I view those whacky games through the lens of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Instead of walloping moles and gators, disputation is akin to the process of smashing irrational or wacky (absurdly or amusingly eccentric or irrational) beliefs.


In a way, the challenge of unhelpful beliefs may be gamified. According to one source, “Gamification is the strategic attempt to enhance systems, services, organizations, and activities by creating similar experiences to those experienced when playing games in order to motivate and engage users.”


Even though there’s a level of discomfort involved in the practice of REBT, similar to striking a metal mole with one’s bare hand, the benefit of pushing through irritation can be quite rewarding. Another way in which REBT is like a whacky game involves choice.


No one forced me to play arcade games. I chose to engage the process on my own. Likewise, wacky beliefs may be left to appear and disappear without an individual choosing to react. Might there be consequences of not choosing to smack down such beliefs?


When teaching people about REBT, I focus on the process of self-disturbance (upsetting oneself with rigid beliefs). When individuals choose not to whack their wacky beliefs, they generally disturb themselves into uncomfortable emotional, bodily sensation, or behavioral consequences.


Moreover, some people upset themselves with the fact that automatic wacky beliefs continually pop up in the first place. This creates meta-emotional problems whereby individuals disturb themselves about being disturbed about and by irrational beliefs.


Hence, there are indeed consequences to choosing not to whack wacky beliefs. An important takeaway lesson is that whether or not you opt to interact with your irrational beliefs, they’re going to keep popping up throughout the course of your life.


There isn’t some point within the future that these automatic beliefs stop appearing—not as long as you’re alive anyway. Why not gamify this mental, emotional, and behavioral process by engaging in the absurdity by whacking unhelpful beliefs?


Unlike Whac-A-Mole or Wacky Gator, it costs nothing for you to hammer wacky beliefs. You may as well maximize your experience by enhancing the activity through creation of similar experiences to those involving gameplay, so that you’ll be motivated to act in accordance with your interests and goals; or not. The choice is yours.


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




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