Change your thoughts to change your life 

We all hold beliefs about ourselves. Some hold us back and stop us from pursuing our goals. Banish self-limiting beliefs using your thoughts, easy as ABC. 

You might have heard of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)? It’s a popular form of talking therapy and it can be great at helping us dispel our self-limiting beliefs. CBT looks at how the way we think, feel and behave interacts together. It maintains our thoughts determine our feelings and behaviour. When we alter the way we think about and react to situations, it helps us change for the better. 

Our beliefs shape our view of the world and can be grounded in facts, life experience and emotions. They fall into two categories:  

Rational beliefs: Flexible, logical and consistent with reality. 

Irrational beliefs: Extreme, rigid and inconsistent with reality. 

The ABC model is a form of CBT. It helps us to distinguish between irrational and rational beliefs, proposing that: 

A is the ACTIVATING event that happens to or around somebody. 

B is the BELIEF that is caused by the event and this can be rational or irrational. 

C is the CONSEQUENCE that happens as a result of beliefs, rational ones lead to healthy/productive consequences and irrational ones lead to unhealthy/unproductive consequences. 

CBT helps us to question and challenge our beliefs, thoughts and perceptions as well as our emotions and actions. It’s an internal thing we can do regardless of our external environment. Take this example: 

Sam is upset because the scales didn’t go down this week. 

Activating event: the scales didn’t go down. 

Belief: she’s worthless when she is fat. 

Consequence: Sam feels depressed and worthless. 

This is an irrational, false belief. We can challenge irrational thoughts and reframe them in a more realistic light. At this point, we add steps D and E. 

D is for DISPUTATION, questioning a thought. In this case, Sam asks herself, is she really worthless when she’s fat? No. Has she made other health gains in terms of nutrition and fitness? Yes. Is weight loss linear? No. 

E stands for NEW EFFECT. Sam accepts her long held belief isn’t true and there’s other ways to track progress than with the scales, replacing a negative thought with positive ones.  

By using the ABC model, we can develop coping strategies to help us. Why not try using CBT and the ABC model to empower yourself and help banish negative thoughts — they don’t define us and can be changed and replaced with positive, productive thoughts.