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  • Writer's pictureJaclyn Hall

Learn How to Silence Your Inner Critic with these 4 Disputing Questions

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint’, by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”  – Vincent van Gogh  

At Keys to Counseling in Tampa, FL, I specialize in a specific type of therapy called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Established by Dr. Albert Ellis in 1955, REBT is an active, directive, solution-focused, and goal-oriented approach to counseling and it is recognized as the pioneering form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Today I challenge you to dispute your inner critic and any stubborn irrational beliefs that you are holding onto that may be preventing you from fully enjoying your life and accomplishing your goals! As a reminder, irrational beliefs are false, illogical, and unhelpful attitudes that generally produce poor results in our relationships, our professions, and our psychological well-being, as the consequences of irrational thinking are unhealthy negative emotions and dysfunctional maladaptive behaviors. 

Irrational Beliefs Exist In The Form Of:

· Demands (rigid and extreme thought patterns)

· Awfulizing (thinking that something is truly horrible, a catastrophe, and the end of the world, as opposed to it being bad, but not the end of the world)

· Low Frustration Tolerance (a belief that you cannot tolerate being or feeling uncomfortable)

· Global Depreciation Attitudes (rating your entire worth as a human, as well as another person's entire worth and/or the worth of life in general, as opposed to evaluating a specific behavior or aspect of life)

Irrational beliefs and attitudes defy logic, sensibility, and practicality, so by disputing your irrational beliefs and attitudes, you will gain clarity and insight into why your irrational beliefs are actually irrational, as well as learn how to formulate effective rational alternative beliefs. Disputing is the D in REBT’s ABC(DE) Model of Emotion, and replacing irrational beliefs with Effective New Beliefs is the E. Without formally working with a REBT-based therapist to accurately apply the ABC Model to your own life, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what irrational beliefs you possess regarding a specific adversity within your life. For the purposes of this article, my suggestion is to think about whatever issue you are currently facing within your life, and ask yourself: 

What about this is most distressing to me? 

Once you have the answer, figure out exactly what you are telling yourself about your challenging circumstances. Most importantly, look for any demands that you are holding! Remember, demands are present in EVERY irrational belief; therefore, the other irrational beliefs (awfulizing, low frustration tolerance, and global evaluations of worth) are derivatives of demandingness. Demanding beliefs are found in thoughts and language that contain words such as: I must, I absolutely should, I ought, I’ve got to, I have to, and I need to. Once you figure out your demand, ask yourself:

4 Disputing Questions:

·  For a logical dispute, ask: does my belief or attitude make sense? 

·  For an empirical dispute, ask: is there evidence to prove that my belief or attitude is true? 

·  For a pragmatic or functional dispute, ask: is my belief or attitude helping me? 

·  For a behavioral dispute, ask: how would I act differently if I was not holding onto this particular belief or attitude?

Finally, after answering the above 4 disputing questions, ask yourself:

·  How can I transform my irrational and unhelpful ways of thinking into rational and effective new beliefs? 

·  What can I tell myself to yield results that help me to live the way I would prefer to live and to achieve my life goals? 

The final two questions above pertain to cultivating rational and effective new beliefs, which follow disputing in REBT’s ABC(DE) Model of Emotion. That being said, disputing is truly my favorite aspect of REBT. This article is only a basic introduction into disputing, but if you truly accept this challenge and aim to dispute and transform your irrational beliefs, I am confident that you will begin to see a positive change in your own mental health and wellness within a very short time period! Through REBT, you can truly learn to silence your inner critic and cultivate an attitude for living that you truly enjoy!

What do you have to lose by trying disputing?! You will lose absolutely nothing (other than your unhealthy negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, hurt, shame, embarrassment, guilt, jealousy, envy, and anger), and you will surely create the potential to gain emotional freedom for yourself by learning how to take emotional and behavioral responsibility for your life! 

REBT is truly a philosophy for living and I am passionate about sharing it with the world! Through REBT, you will learn how to identify, dispute, and replace your irrational beliefs with rational effective new beliefs (the antithesis of irrational beliefs)! 

Rational Beliefs Are Rooted In: 

· Non-Dogmatic Flexible Preferences (as opposed to rigid demands that treat desires as absolute needs)

· Anti-Awfulizing Attitudes (the ability to acknowledge that conditions can be very bad, without being the end of the world)

· High Frustration Tolerance (the psychological fortitude to withstand that which makes you uncomfortable, so that you do not allow potential discomfort to dictate your life goals)

· Acceptance (the ability to acknowledge the reality of the complex and fallible nature of humanity, as well as life itself, with its positive and negative attributes)

Rational beliefs will help you to live a life where you unconditionally accept yourself, surrender your judgements of others, and find pleasure and enjoyment in life, despite its adversities, as hardships are inevitably a part of the world, yet they are not the entire world. Therefore, REBT teaches you how to silence your inner critic, how to transform your self-defeating and self-sabotaging thought patterns into flexible, adaptive, and functional attitudes, and ultimately how to become your own most powerful source of support and happiness throughout your lifetime! 

At Keys to Counseling in Tampa, Florida, my mission is to promote healthy living through rational thinking! I provide both individual and couples counseling, and I would be honored to cognitively, emotively, and behaviorally accompany you on your journey to living, loving, being, and staying better! 


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