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Monday, 18 May 2015

Of mopping and ABCs

Housewives Tarot
What is the single most important thing I can do today to improve my feelings about my life, ie, to increase my self-acceptance?

I can make my mind up: am I going to continue to sweep up the dirt, or am I ready to do some deep cleaning? When I make that choice, I will feel more balanced despite the pressures of daily life.

Actually, I am ready to change some of the irrational beliefs that have kept me trapped in certain patterns of behaviour. I am tired of sweeping up after them. I'm ready to get rid of them.

To be honest, this draw reminds me very much of the ABC analysis used in Albert Ellis's REBT therapy. You need to use analytical skills to identify irrational beliefs underlying an emotion, action, behaviour or physical symptom. Then you challenge that irrational belief and replace it with a more effective belief. (A - the activating event, B - beliefs about it, C - consequences of those thoughts about the event, D - dispute the beliefs, E - effective beliefs to replace the irrational beliefs)

I have used these techniques to combat anxiety caused by my tinnitus and dental phobia. I have used them to cope at work during my icky secondment. I even, though not consciously, used some of the techniques in coping with the first shock of what happened at the end of last year in my family situation. But I have never yet applied them to my codependency and perfectionism issues. I only thought of doing this while researching my new program, which is SMART Recovery. Well, I have toyed with it, but I haven't attacked these problems in a serious, methodical way using these techniques. I've just been sweeping up the dirt, trying to make amends to myself and others after the fact, and using recovery techniques that felt to me rather like sweeping things under the rug--or even sweeping them up in a big fat pile that I could then sit and look at while waiting for the Big Broom in the Sky to descend and sweep them up for me. Don't get me wrong -- a whole ot of those techniques have been extremely helpful, I could just never quite settle in to some of it. Not a good fit. For me. Now I would like to make a start on actually mopping the floor. Enough playing in the dust. (I'm keeping the broom, though.) 

Even after I mop up the floor (dispute and replace irrational beliefs consistently and methodically), life is not going to suddenly become peachy keen. It will still be a balancing act, like it always has been. But my redefined beliefs about it will help keep emotional collapse at bay while I'm balancing plates and being tugged in different directions.


  1. An Ace and two Twos shows (to me anyway) a commitment to your new program. Really making your mark with the Two of Wands and perhaps enjoying some of what the Two of Pentacles brings.

  2. Interesting how, in the heat of the moment, we don't think to use practices we know work for us. A new situation somehow throws us for a loop, and so we look to others for answers, rather than reapplying the answers we have already found for ourselves. It's like the way we forget to breathe sometimes when we're stressed. Weird :D Glad you are finding your way back to trusting yourself, and good luck with the "clean sweep"!

    1. The key seems to be to do reflective thinking after the fact. The ABC analysis is something I will be doing a lot of!