Making REBT work for you.
people ask "so, how does this REBT stuff work? Is it a program? What do I
do? How do I get started? Don't you have meetings?" The comparison to a
larger group system is obvious: aren't there meetings? Steps? Pamphlets to
read? Weak coffee to drink?
you come to a forum board in great distress, as I did, you want a starting
point, a path, and a finish line. You bring your own notions about terms like
recovery and alcoholism, and the process may seem difficult or even impossible.
The emotions about personal relations, the remorse for previous behavior, and
the side effects of anxiety or depression make it harder to make decisions and
REBT principles are pretty simple:
control your own actions, consciously or not. Beliefs lead to actions and
behavior, and irrational beliefs can lead to unhealthy behavior.
Emotive Behavioral Therapy, the premise of which is that changing beliefs and
thoughts can change emotions and behavior. Drug use is a behavior which can be
changed, not a disease.
Well, the plan is also pretty simple.
deal with the
physical and mental consequences of that,
develop a healthier
attitude that prevents you from wanting to drink again, and move on with your
so hard? Most of the difficulty comes from:
not acknowledging that the consequences of drinking outweigh the benefits.
our perception that it is going to be impossible to quit.
not being prepared to deal with the reasons that we drank in the first place.
not having a plan in place for dealing with urges.
not changing the patterns and routines that encouraged our earlier behavior.
are tools, with catchy abbreviations that make them easy to remember.
of the most important are:
CBA = Cost Benefit Analysis. This helps us overcome the resistance to taking
that first step. It's a simple process in which you write down the costs and
benefits of substance abuse, in detail. Helpful with (1) above.
USA = Unconditional Self Acceptance. This helps us overcome the self-downing
and discouragement that make us believe we are bad, and that our drug use is a
sign of weak character or bad morals. USA is a principle: You are not your
behavior or actions. This can be an important step in overcoming (2) above. UOA
= Unconditional Other Acceptance, which is the next step: accepting that others
are not their behavior or actions.
ABC is a tool that helps us deal with emotional distress in a systematic way.
= the Activating Event that distresses us;
= the Consequences of that event;
= the Belief(s) that led to the consequences;
= how you Dispute those beliefs and make a plan of action to overcome them, and
= the new Effects of successfully disputing the beliefs.
people do this as a C-A-B-D-E, or just identify the B and skip directly to the
D. ABC's can help with day-to-day upsets involved in (3) above.
your language can be a clever way to change your beliefs. Recognizing and
avoiding absolute terms such as 'must, should, ought, always, never, need, can't'
can help you avoid the beliefs that derive from them: 'I must have that, she
shouldn't have done that, I need a drink....' Once you say that you 'prefer'
rather than 'need' something, then it's easier to do without it. Try this one
on your teenagers!
tricks about self-control, disputing irrational beliefs, coping with urges,
finding diversions, acquiring motivation--all are tools that help you make your
good example is DISARM = Destructive Self-Talk Awareness and Refusal Mode (ok,
it doesn't really spell 'disarm', but it's easier to remember than 'dstaarm'):
to identify both the rational and irrational beliefs you have that lead to
drinking, then vigorously dispute the irrational ones and reinforce the
great, simple reminder of how to make progress in the face of adversity is PPP,
which stands for Practice, Patience, and Persistence--all characteristics that
help us stay on track.
meetings at various recovery sites provide peer support, guidance from trained
advisers, and help you practice techniques. They can help you find the
motivation to quit, get you over hurdles, and build your self-confidence.
boards can also be great resources.
you don't 'have' to attend meetings forever (or at all, for that matter). You
are in control of your own sobriety.
a SMART Recovery pamphlet:
research has shown that the people who have successfully recovered, regardless
of the method, all have three basic traits:
Commitment to sobriety.
Change in lifestyle.
3. They rehearse and
plan for urges.