You lost your face mask again. Your partner is grumpy. You are still waiting for your supervisor’s feedback. Your computer crashes. There is hardly any progress on your analysis. And you so don’t want to check that text again, after having revised it for the 15th time.
And all of this on the same day….
Is steam coming out from your ears yet?
We all know what it is to be frustrated.
Dr. Albert Ellis has found the solution. Not only did he find the solution for frustration, but for everything that causes you to be miserable. Just to let you know, he is known as the second most influential psychotherapist. Sigmund Freud is the third on the list.
How to ensure you won’t feel frustrated anymore?
According to dr. Ellis it is fairly simple. Imagine, you get stuck analyzing your data. If you adopt the thinking pattern: ‘That’s OK, you can’t get analyzing right in just one go’, then you are on the right track. You will try again, take another step and continue.
However, when you are thinking: ‘This analysis needs to be perfect the first time round’, you have a problem at hand.
The situation hasn’t changed, your expectations have. Your feelings are affected by the way you react.
You come across a 4-year-old screaming its head off. You tell it to stop but it won’t listen. It’s a 4-year-old so no point getting frustrated.
A different scenario: I am screaming and you ask me to stop and I won’t, you for sure will be getting really angry. I am an adult, I need to behave and stop.
Back to the mask you still can’t find. If you adopt the thinking pattern: ‘There you go, I am always losing everything and I really, really need that mask right now’ you will get a desperate feeling. Once you realize that you have several masks stacked in different places in the house and you will definitely come across one, once you start looking, the frustrating feeling ebbs away.
The situation is the same, the thoughts are different, the outcome as well. The way you think decides how you feel.
Okay, but how do I change these expectations?
Ellis proposed the ABCD method.
A stands for Activating Event or Adversity, like getting stuck in your analysis.
B refers to one’s irrational Belief about A: I should get it right the first time round!
C stands for the Consequences: you are getting angry, frustrated, depressed. That @#$% PhD! I can never get it right!
D stands for Dispute. Dispute your own irrational beliefs. ‘Oops. Is this right? Did the Universe promise me that it was going to be an easy and smooth ride? I have experienced it before, that I was stuck with my analysis and it will happen again for sure. I can take it!’
Ellis invites you to reflect on your beliefs. Review, challenge and avoid using the current beliefs that hinder you. A handy tool to use is to look out for the words: should…, always, never or have to that pop up in your thoughts. They will cause trouble.
And, of course, you would like all things running smoothly and that your first analysis will be almost perfect in one go. But you can’t expect the universe to hand out everything to you on a silver platter.
When frustrated, angry, or disappointed, start looking for the irrational beliefs
My supervisor should always immediately have time for me when I reach out to him/her. Really, I don’t think so.
My analysis should be done in one go. Yes, of course, keep dreaming……;-)
The entire process of my PhD has to be without any obstacles. Well, you certainly will be the first PhD student ever to achieve this!
Will everything change immediately once you start reviewing your irrational beliefs?
No. But as soon as you start to dispute them, you will notice how your expectations gradually change.
It is not immediately obvious which of your thoughts are irrational. A bit of digging around will go a long way. According to Stoic philosophy, external things are not the problem, it is the assessment of these things that causes disruption.
Shakespeare exclaimed in Hamlet: There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
You won’t be able to change the world. You are able to change your thoughts, though. Get some inspiration from Super Mario.
Change your thoughts, it will make you happier!