ProcessSuccessful Happiness

Re-Learning Your ABCD’s

Do you sometimes feel like everything in your life is tainted? The day is little more gloomy, people are a little less loving, you are weighted down by feelings of failure, helplessness and negativity? Well, that’s life. Sometimes, even when you aren’t necessarily going through something major (illness, death of relative, etc.), your mood is down and life is less meaningful. But that’s okay. Because when life hands you a challenge, it’s all a matter of perspective. 


Learning your ABCD’s is easy as 123

The ABCD(E)* model was first introduced by the father of positive psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman.  

  • A for adversity: describe your challenge in detail by including the who, what, where and when. At this point, stay objective in your description (i.e. do not let your feelings creep in just yet!). 
    • “I did not get the job position I wanted.” “I didn’t do as well as I expected.” “I said something I shouldn’t have.”
  • B for belief: remember/write down how you reacted to it. How did you perceive this situation?
    • “There we go again, failing like always.” ” I’m such a loser, was and always will be.”
  • C for consequences: what were the consequences of such thoughts? Did you feel like you were digging yourself a deeper, darker hole? Did you spiral into a dark place? How did your beliefs/perception of the event affect you emotionally and mentally? 
    • “I felt so helpless that I couldn’t get myself to take action and do what I needed for the day.” “I felt stuck and lost, not being able to focus on anything.”
  • D for disputation [if beliefs lead to negative consequences]: now it’s time to prove yourself wrong. Give yourself at least 1 counter-argument to your belief.
    • “Actually, I haven’t always failed. Or when I did, it turned out to be for the better/lead me on a different path/etc.” “I am not a loser. I am just a perfectionist and I expect to always succeed on the first try. In reality, this is just a road block and I will get through this.” 

* There is an E for energy – where you state how your disputation changed your energy and your outlook concerning the adversity. I didn’t find it was a necessary/obligatory component, hence me not including it in this post.  

Let’s dig in a little deeper

We are probably all familiar with the quote “life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it”. What happens to us is adversity and how we react to it is our belief

Another popular quote is “people see what they want to see”, which ultimately determines our beliefs and perception of experiences. And that is what differentiates an optimistic and thriving individual versus a pessimistic and failing individual. Because what we choose to believe (or see) will lead to either positive consequences or negative consequences.     

“Perhaps the most delightful friendships are those in which there is much agreement, much disputation, and more personal liking”. Disputation should occur when we adopt a negative set of beliefs: it is time to reassess your perception of the events and choose to look at it in a way that is beneficial to you. Let’s break down the quote:

  • Perhaps the most delightful friendships“: although this quote concerns friendships, which is not relevant at first for the purposes of this post, we can actually use this. Pretend you are a friend to your own self. This will help you take on a more objective look at the situation. 
  • “…there is much agreement“: be true to yourself and who you are. 
  • “…much disputation“: imagine having a conversation with someone else, be the friend to the person who is reacting negatively and pessimistically. Show yourself the other side of the coin.
  • “…more personal liking“: love and take better care of yourself. 

On a final note

Sometimes life can be too much. That’s normal. It is, however, important to take a step back and remove yourself from the situation. It always seems easier to give good advice to others instead of using it for our own personal growth. Well, look at yourself as if you were someone else. What do you think about this person? Did they react in a way that is beneficial to them? Be honest in your analysis, because at the end of the day, you are the only one who can actually help yourself.

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