3 2 1
It’s the same with your "musts." As a human, you’re a "must"- and
"should"-creating animal. You find it easy to take those preferences that rate as important to you and make "musts" out of them.
It’s in your genes as well as in your upbringing. You don’t have to be taught either to build plaque or to invent "musts." True, you can make the plaque build-up worse by eating junk food, and you can make the "must" build-up worse by practicing and reinforcing your "musty" thoughts.
On the other hand, you can halt and reverse the build-up of plaque or "musts" by brushing and flossing, or disputing and questioning, regularly.
As we have seen, it’s the "must" that’s making you angry, not just the lack of Jake’s admiration. If instead of a "must" you had a preference, you would feel sensibly sorry and displeased, not foolishly angry and infuriated. Thus the question becomes: "How do you eliminate the ‘must’ and thereby eradicate your anger?"
Answer: Proceed to "D." We set up a hypothesis, then look at the evidence for and against that hypothesis.
By using the scientific method, we’re merely employing a more systematic form of the commonsense method of trial and error. We do this as young children, who are always making guesses about the world-forming hypotheses-then modifying or abandoning these guesses as they get more information.
"D" consists of Disputing or questioning your "must," and involves asking "Why?" or "What’s the evidence for my MUST?" Or in our example, "Why MUST Jake admire me?"
The correct response often comes as a surprise. There’s no evidence for this MUST, or for any MUST. No reason exists that Jake MUST do other than he does, however desirable I might find it if he did. So now you have moved to:
E. (Effective new thinking): I prefer that Jake admire me, but I can survive quite well if he doesn’t.
It’s true that you find it unpleasant that Jake doesn’t admire you, that you would like it better if he did admire you, and perhaps even that it’s wrong of him not to admire you.
But the universe is not so constructed that people always do what’s right or what other people would prefer them to do. Therefore it’s unrealistic to expect that this be bound to occur, and unreasonable to demand that it MUST occur.
Furthermore, when people demand that something MUST occur, they tend to think that something terrible happens when it doesn’t occur, that this is intolerable or the end of the universe.
They express this with words like "awful," "horrible," "appalling," or "dreadful." But the plain truth is that, although you don’t like that Jake doesn’t admire you, you can survive quite well without Jake’s admiring you.
Having replaced your "B" (your irrational demand that Jake MUST admire you) with "E" (your reasonable preference that Jake admire you) you will then begin to experience:
F. (new Feeling): regret or disappointment, but no anger.
Practice, Repetition, Reinforcement
A common way to begin learning to swim is to first rehearse the correct strokes on land. That’s a useful useful preparation, but you will never become a competent swimmer by that method alone; you’ll just thrash about awkwardly in the water. When the correct habits have become ingrained, after much practice on land and in the water, then you can call yourself a swimmer.
Similarly, your facility in speaking English would start deteriorating should you move to Italy and speak Italian exclusively. Even with your native tongue, a lack of practice will make you rusty. If you don’t wish to get rusty, keep practicing.
If you just read this book through and nod your head in agreement, you may find it entertaining, and it will probably give you some slight help. But that is not applying the method of Three Minute Therapy. The big returns will come only from applying the exercises to your own problems, such as writing out the exercises, and perhaps then reading them into a tape-recorder and playing the tape back frequently.
When you learn the basics of Three Minute Therapy, it may not immediately translate into feeling and acting significantly better. But as you conscientiously practice, you’ll progress to a higher level of skill and the rewards will come. Three Minute Therapy will then become a tool for you to quickly think yourself out of emotional pain and turmoil.
People often come to therapy believing that they can be finally and permanently "cured," with no further work required on their part.
For most, this is not realistic. People are naturally inclined to irrational, demanding thinking, and it’s advisable to combat this inclination by performing the exercises indefinitely, just as it is advisable to keep on brushing your teeth. Once the basic understanding has been gained, future analysis and correction of faulty thinking will usually require no more than three minutes as the occasion arises.
View and Print an ABC Disputing Chart Here >>
By Dr. Michael R. Edelstein, Author Three Minute Therapy www.threeminutetherapy.com From THREE MINUTE THERAPY CHAPTER 1: Ending Your Self-Inflicted Pain