LET ME HIT YOU WITH A SLEDGEHAMMER

The following excerpt is from the self help
psychology book, Be Your Own Therapist.


I routinely initiate a conversation with my clients that goes as follows: "We often have wrong ideas about our emotional reactions. They seem automatic and we tend to think they are automatic. They are not, for they depend upon how we think about a given situation. For example, if I came at you right now with my hands overhead threatening to attack you with a sledgehammer, how would you respond?" Presume for a moment that the client reacts with fear, saying something along the lines of, "I would run out the door." We then discuss how the client immediately evaluated the situation as unsafe and responded accordingly.


Then we discuss other possibilities such as getting angry and choosing to fight, or crying in the corner thinking about all of life's unfairness. The client might just laugh at me because the client knows that even if I did have a sledgehammer, the situation set up by me was only for demonstration purposes. Each of these possibilities depends upon the thinking of the person. The angry response derives from thinking that I should not be doing that, also a likely evaluation that I am not too strong for the client to fight. The crying response typically is evoked when old feelings of hopelessness are triggered. Finally, the laughter might come from thinking about a larger idea than just "a sledgehammer is close."


Anger is ALWAYS based upon unfulfilled expectations; fully let go of the expecting, and your anger will be no more.

With this sledgehammer fantasy I am trying to make sure the client understands that our emotional responses depend upon our thinking processes much more than we think they do. Even in an immediate situation of a poised sledgehammer there is no such thing as an emotional response common to everyone.


This reasoning leads to, "If I can change how I think, I can change my emotions." Does this mean I can get rid of my discomforts, my anger, my angst, my depression, my sadness, etc. just by thinking differently? Therapists who concentrate on changing your thinking processes would say "Yes!". (Talk therapy treatments of choice these days for depression are "thinking-type" therapies, not the emotionally-based therapies that one might initially think would be most effective with depression. Changing the thinking processes that cause the depression usually is much quicker than attempting to change the emotional processes themselves.)

Next Excerpt  

If I can change my thinking about a problem, then my emotional responses to that problem will also change.
More Excerpts This Chapter
   LET ME HIT YOU WITH A SLEDGEHAMMER
   THE TYRANNY OF JUDGMENTS
   THAT IS THE WAY I AM
   YOU MAKE ME UNHAPPY
   YOU HURT MY FEELINGS- THEREFORE YOU SHOULD CHANGE
   STICKS AND STONES
   WE DIG THINKING RUTS
   SIZE AND CONTENTS OF THE UNCONSCIOUS
   NATURE VS. NURTURE VS. LIFEPLAN
   THE PERFECTION THAT YOU ARE NOW
   BE HAPPY GETTING WHAT YOU DON'T WANT
   YOU'LL SEE IT WHEN YOU BELIEVE IT
   YOU GET WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN
   HOW CLOSE CAN WE COME TO "HAPPILY EVER AFTER"?

Thinking Quiz - Cognitive Psychology Test - Behavioral Therapy Selfhelp
Book Table of Contents  
Psychology of Sex Education - Psychological Sexual Health Care

LET ME HIT YOU WITH A SLEDGEHAMMER © 1995-2004