Positive emotions about the future include faith, trust, confidence, hope, and optimism. Optimism and hope cause better resistance to depression when bad events strike, better performance at work, particularly in challenging jobs, and better physical health. If you are interested what your scored in optimism ask your treatment manager.

 

Cultivating Optimism

 

There is a well-documented method for building optimism that consists of recognizing and then disputing pessimistic (negative) thoughts. Everyone already has the skills of disputing, and we use them when an external person accuses us falsely of some shortcoming. When, however, we say the same accusing things to ourselves, we usually fail to dispute them-even though they are often false. The key to disputing your own pessimistic thoughts is to first recognize them and then to treat them as if they were uttered by an external person, a rival whose mission in life was to make you miserable.

 

Here is a short course in how to do this. Once you recognize that you have a pessimistic thought that seems unwarranted, argue against it using the ABCDE model.

A - stands for Adversity

B – the Beliefs you automatically have when it occurs

C – for the usual Consequences of the belief

D- for your Disputation of your routine belief

E – Energizing that occurs when you dispute it successfully

 

Here is an example:

A - Having a nicotine fit/jonsing for a cigarette and staff won’t give me a draw for a pack of smokes

B - Believing I deserve a draw at an inappropriate time

C - Pestering staff, feeling sorry for myself

D - Realizing I should plan ahead better, not give out cigarettes to others, or quit

E - I am motivated to quit smoking and avoid this sort of Adversity in the future

 

By effectively disputing the beliefs that follow an adversity, you can change your reaction from dejection and giving up activity and good cheer.

 

It is essential to realize that your beliefs are just that-beliefs. They may or may not be facts. The first step is just knowing your beliefs warrant dispute; the next step is putting disputation into practice.

 

Learning to Argue with Yourself

 

There are four important ways to make your disputations convincing: evidence, alternatives, implications and usefulness.

 

Evidence

 

The most convincing way of disputing a negative belief is to show that is factually incorrect. If you got a bad grade and believed it the worst in class, you should check the evidence. Did the person sitting next to you get a lower grade? Learned optimism is about accuracy. One of your most effective techniques in disputation will be to search for evidence pointing to the distortions in your catastrophic explanations. Most of the time, you have reality on your side.

 

Alternatives

 

Almost nothing that happens to you has just one cause; most events have many causes. If you did poorly on a test, all of the following might have contributed: how hard the test was, how much you studied, how smart you are, how fair the teacher is, how the other students did, and how tired you are. Pessimists have a way of latching onto the worst of all of these causes. Ask yourself, is there any less destructive way to look at this? It is your job to undo this destructive habit by becoming skilled at generating alternatives.

 

Implications

 

But the way things go in this world, the facts won’t always be on your side. Reality may be against you, and the negative belief you hold about yourself may be true. In this situation, the technique to use is decatastrophizing.

Even if the belief is true, you say to yourself, what are its implications? It was true that the dinner was not romantic. But what does that imply? One bad dinner does not mean breakup.

How likely, you should ask yourself, is the worst-case scenario?

 

Usefulness

 

Sometimes the consequences of holding a belief matter more than its truth. Is the belief destructive? Some people get very upset when the world shows itself not to be fair. What good will it do me to dwell on the belief that the world should be fair? Another tactic is to detail all the ways you can change the situation in the future.

 

  1. Optimism and hope cause better _____________ when bad events strike, ________________________, particularly in challenging jobs, and __________________________.

 

  1. The key to disputing your own pessimistic thoughts is to first ______________ them and then to treat them as if they were uttered by an _______________ person, a rival whose mission in life was to make you miserable.

 

  1. What does each letter stand for in the ABCDE model?

 

  1. There are four important ways to make your disputations convincing: __________, ___________, _______________ and ____________________.

 

  1. Give an example of a negative thought or event that has happened to you recently. Next, list a negative belief that you had when this thought or event occurred.

 

  1. “One of your most effective techniques in disputation will be to search for evidence pointing to the distortions in your catastrophic explanations” Give an example of how you could gather evidence to dispute the belief you had in question 5.

 

  1. “Almost nothing that happens to you has just ___________ cause; most events have ________________.”  Using the example in question 5, can you think of alternative reasons for why this bad thought/event happened? Or how you could find a better (more positive) belief that could lead to a better outcome?

 

  1. What does decatastrophizing mean to you? Give a situation recently where you decatastrophized a situation you could have made worse. 

 

  1. What are some current beliefs you have that you believe are negative or pessimistic? What are some ways you can change these believes to be more optimistic?