How We Think: The ABC's of Thought
All of our thoughts originate around goals. Each and every one of us has goals for what we want to happen in our lives. Things we desire in order to live happily. We want our kids to grow up happy. We want to find love. We want to be liked and admired by others. We may desire to be wealthy, or to travel around and experience the world. Some of these goals are almost purely instinctual; others are of our own creation.
Then something happens.
An activating event occurs, and it causes us to form perceptions about the impact of this event on our life and our desires. You lose your job. Someone insults you. Your child is abused. A family member dies. Your boyfriend breaks up with you. All of these are examples of activating events which will cause you grief, because the events are believed to interfere with your goals or disrupt your livelihood.
So you proceed to form beliefs about this event. This is horrible. Life will never be the same again. My child has been traumatized. Her innocence stolen. Oh Lord, how are we ever going to get through this? These beliefs are usually impulsive, and forged from the numerous factors that influence our perception, as discussed earlier. Some of our beliefs about the event may be rational, but most are largely irrational. For instance, it's rational to want to shield your child from abuse or keep them from harm. But it's irrational to believe that they will never be harmed in their life, or that it's horrible and devastating that such an event has occurred.
Finally, those beliefs lead to psychological consequences, whether healthy or unhealthy. Consequences are the interpretations we form about how this event will affect our lives and alter our goals. It's our resulting decision about what this event will be, and how it will matter. It's also what determines our emotional state going forward, and whether or not this event will cause you or your child any further suffering. These are the ABCs of thought. To review, an Activating event causes us to form Beliefs about that event, which ultimately leads to psychological Consequences for you and your child.