Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Valor grows by daring, fear by holding back.
Publilius Syrus, Sentences (circa 100 BC)

Stress Management Internal Dialogue Memory Tool: Example

Rational Emotive Therapy (Ellis, 1973)

Basic axiom: Thoughts are at the origin of feelings, and vice-versa.

Human beings are not affected by reality, but by the way they perceive that reality. Irrational beliefs induce irrational internal dialogue, which are at the source of inadequate behaviors.

Rational-emotive therapy provokes changes in individuals: it allows them to clearly identify, understand, discuss and turn negative internal dialogue into more rational dialogue.

The three main categories of irrational thought and their alternatives
  • Example of Category 1 – “I am not allowed to make any mistakes; if I do, it’s terrible.”
    Alternative: “I do my best; I don’t want to make mistakes, but if I do, I can deal with it. It will be a shame, but it won’t be terrible.”
  • Example of Category 2 – “Everybody should approve of me and if not, it is horrible.”
    Alternative: “It’s nice to get everyone’s approval, but it’s ok if I don’t.”
  • Example of Category 3 - “People should be the way I want them to be.”
    Alternative: “People are the way they are: I can’t change them, but I can change the way I interact with them.”

Internal Dialogue Control (Helmstetter, 1986)

77% of our internal dialogue can be counterproductive.

According to Helmstetter, children raised in ordinary family environments are told no or that they should not do this or that approximately 148,000 times before they reach the age of 18. These messages, received by the young child, are stored in a part of their brain that in adulthood they are generally unable to choose, evaluate or discuss.

Five levels of internal dialogue:
  1. Resigned acceptance: “There’s nothing I can do about it; If only I could be otherwise…”
  2. Recognition of the need to change: “I should change the way I do things, the way I am.”
  3. Decision to change: “I will never do this again. From now on, I’ll be like that.”
  4. Improved self-perception: “Now, I am able to do this, be like that.”
  5. Universal statement: “This is the way it has to be done and the way I must be.”

Levels 1 and 2 have never helped anyone change. Level 2 opens the way to excuses, guilt, and disappointment. Levels 3 and 4 encourage change and perseverance. Level 5 corresponds to the statement of a universal principle.

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