Saturday, April 29, 2006

How To Argue Well...

...with yourself.

The problem with depression is that there is this voice in your head that keeps on discouraging you and accuses you. Even worse, when it becomes a continuous tape-recording playing over and over again, it becomes strangling and unproductive ruminations.

How do we deal with it?

Marty Seligman provides the ABC's and the DE of fighting this:

A: Adversity - The adversity is the trigger.

B: Beliefs - The thoughts that are triggered.

C: Consequences - What happens because of your beliefs.


Adversity: I borrowed a pair of really expensive earrings from my friend, and I lost one of them while I was out dancing.

Belief: I am so irresponsible. They were Kay's favourite earrings, and of course I go and lose one. She is going to be so absolutely furious at me. Not that she doesn't have every reason. If I were her, I'd hate me too. I just can't believe how much of a klutz I am. I wouldn't be surprised if she told me she didn't want to have anything to do with me anymore.

Consequences: I felt totally sick. I was ashamed and embarrased, and I didn't want to call and tell her what happened. Basically, I just sat around feeling stupid for a while, trying to muster up the guts to call her.

There are several D's that are provided to help you fight this:

  1. Distract Yourself. - Remember, saying "I will not think of Pink Elephants" only causes it to be enhanced. Start thinking of "Purple Alligators". Or look at an object and start describing it to yourself.

  2. Dispute Yourself. - Use:
    • EVIDENCE. Fight "My grades are the worst!" (Check are you sure? Find out anyone else who has worse grades.)

    • ALTERNATIVES. Does he really hate me? Perhaps he's just busy. Maybe he's stressed out from other things.

    • IMPLICATIONS. Just because I broke my diet once doesn't mean I'm a glutton or have no self-control.

    • USEFULNESS. What use is it to believe this accusation? Distract, or delay yourself and concentrate on your task now.

  3. Delay Yourself - Kill ruminations by writing your thoughts down and saying you will deal with it later. Often case, when you come back to it, it wasn't a big monster as you thought.


Disputation: Well, it is really unfortunate that I lost the earring. They were Kay's favourites [evidence] and she probably will be very disappointed [implication]. However she will realize it was an accident [alternative], and I seriously doubt she will hate me because of this [implication]. I don't think it's accurate to label myself as totally irresponsible just because I lost and earring [implication].

Write a diary of your thoughts and categorise your thoughts into ABC then apply the D which leads to the E which is to Energize! and react with positive action or positive inaction.

Energize: I still felt bad about losing her earring, but I didn't nearly feel nearly ashamed, and I wasn't worried that she would end the friendship over it. I was able to relax and call her to explain.

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