The ABC Model Of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

How To Use The ABC Model Of CBT To Change Your Beliefs

A year after being introduced to the idea of belief systems, I completed my education in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In the beginning, "belief" was just another word in my vocabulary. I knew its meaning and I had heard about it a lot from motivational gurus such as Tony Robbins and Robin Sharma. But it was not till I learned about rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) and CBT that I realized the true essence of beliefs. Previously, belief was just a word I used to throw out to explain my feelings and ideas. It was only after all this education that I can say I have grasped the true meaning or really understood what beliefs are and how much they influence practically everything in my life.

A Change Of Thinking

Before this enlightening experience, I used to "believe" that external events of life are responsible for my emotional states. They made me feel what I felt. I had heard enough and been preached to that it is not true—basically every motivational speaker, book, and YouTuber was saying it. But it was not something I could digest as it was not verifying with my logic and experience.

In my experience, beliefs had nothing to do with what I felt after an event of life. For example, when my crush smiled at me it was obvious to me that I felt tingling ecstasy because she smiled at me. It had nothing to do with my belief about the smile or the girl. It was the same thing with internal events, such as my thoughts. I felt certain things after thinking certain thoughts and it was obvious to me that the thoughts, and not beliefs, caused the feelings. Can you resonate with me? What has been your thinking till now? Let me know in the comment section.

Now that I have a true understanding of how beliefs play an important role in my life, I can see how ignorant I was. Truthfully speaking, I am glad that my ignorance broke after I studied cognitive behavioral therapy. It provided a framework and logical reasoning behind the infamous saying "your beliefs decide the quality of your life." I would like to share the ABC model with you now.

The ABC Model Of Cognitive Behavioral Theory

We falsely rationalize that an event (A) is responsible for how we feel or for the consequences (C). We aren't even aware that we have a rational belief (RB) or irrational belief (IRB) in between. In our ignorant minds, the model is simpler, it is the AC model. Let me give you a few examples that will hopefully help you understand it.

The first example is the belief that "in order to earn more, you have to work more." This was a strong belief of mine. You might know my story of estrangement > depression > suicidal thoughts > anxiety. Because I was going through a lot of emotionally challenging situations in my life at a very immature age, my work worsened my feelings. Because of my mental state, I didn't have enough energy to "hustle" and I was making only enough to make it through the month. So my mind was in cognitive dissonance and agony. I wanted to earn more so that I could have a financial cushion and security but my emotional state couldn't let me do it.

I sell courses for my living. It is a type of passive income, which means that even if I don't work for 3 months, my income will still be steady. So, I could take a vacation to process everything but I couldn't allow myself to do that. I thought that if I took a vacation (stop working!), I would run out of money. Reality said otherwise but my belief that "in order to earn more, you have to work more" or "you should always work to have money" always kept me running. I was always anxious.

So I used to think that it is my depression and low income that make me feel so terrible. But the truth was that I had several irrational beliefs (IRB) about my situation that made me feel terrible. Here are some of those IRB that made my life a living hell.

  • It is not okay to sleep in some extra hours when you feel low. In fact, I should be getting up at 4 to work.
  • It is not okay to skip your workdays.
  • Life is not easy, life is a struggle.

Life Is Not A Struggle

The last one is interesting. My parents had struggled a lot in their early childhood and they always used to say "Aman, life is not easy, life is a struggle." Maybe they were right. But in my experience, it is not true anymore. Life is easy and earning money is easy. A comfortable life is easily achievable.

Because I was living my life according to the belief I got from my parents that "life is not easy, life is a struggle," I was making my perfectly comfortable life a struggle. I was deluded that it was external events that were the struggle. No, my life was good and it was my belief that "life should be a struggle" that made me start seeing it that way.

The more I applied this model to my life, the better I got. I had hundreds of IRB about all areas of life. I still come across new IRBs but I am able to change them and live a good life with rational beliefs. Of course, once you understand the basics of cognitive behavioral therapy and how to use it, you can use it for any problem and not just "worry."

I hope you liked this article. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.