From A CBT Revolutionary: How Beliefs affect and give rise to our anxiety

This is an excerpt from one of Bruce Di Marsico’s lectures, in which he explained how beliefs affect our feelings. This perspective explains what causes our anxiety. Bruce created a form of CBT based on the Socratic dialogue called the Option Method that gives clear insight into what causes our negative emotions like anxiety.

I’d like to try to make clear how the belief affects the feeling. Let’s say you have a situation of a young girl going off to college. She’s out in front of her home with her mother, her father, her younger sister, and there’s a stranger passing on the sidewalk. And she’s saying goodbye to them and she’s going to college. Her mother is very distraught and very unhappy; there are tears in her eyes; she’s feeling very sad. She’s going to miss her daughter. She believes that what’s happening is really kind of bad; she can’t understand why she has to go away to school–there’s a perfectly good school in town. Why she has to leave her family, etc. And the mother sees the situation pretty much as something that’s to be unhappy about. And so she feels unhappy about it.

Her father, on the other hand, is kind of mixed. He feels that he’s going to miss his little girl a little bit and he kind of wishes she was staying home; he was just getting to know her and they were just becoming friends. But he also sees that she’s going to be off with her friends at a school that she’s very much looking forward to being at, and how it’s going to be really helpful to her for her maturity and her intellectual growth. And so in a way, he’s kind of glad, too; he’s a little sad and he’s a little glad that she’s going away. And of course the younger sister is overjoyed! She’s just imagining having the room all to herself now, and the telephone all to herself, and nothing could be better than her big sister’s going off to college. And the stranger walking down the street, he looks at the situation and he feels noth. ing and just walks by.

Now I use that to show you that there’s one event taking place: A young woman going off to college is the event. And yet there are four different emotional reactions to that. There’s a feeling good and a happy feeling about it, which the young girl felt; there’s a feeling bad or an unhappy feeling, which the mother felt; there’s a feeling good and bad, which the father felt; and then there’s feeling nothing, which is an emotional state, which the stranger felt. The one event occurred and yet there were four different emotional responses. How do we explain that? If it was the event itself and the event itself was a good event, then everybody should have been happy about it. If the event itself was a bad event, then everybody should have been unhappy about it. If it was neither good nor bad, then everyone should have felt neither good nor bad about it. We explain it by saying that the event in itself was just an event.

The feelings about the event are based on the judgments about the event. And that the feelings we have are a result of the judgments that we make. So that if we believe a thing to be good, we feel good; if we believe it to be bad, we feel bad. Now sometimes we feel that when we feel bad, we have no choice; we just simply must feel bad.
That’s in the nature of feeling bad. That’s exactly what it’s all about.

Part of feeling bad is believing that we have no choice, that we must feel bad, that we have to feel bad.

There are a number of reasons for this, which we’ll explore. What stands in the way of further growth and further happiness? There are lots of things, like lack of self-confidence, despair, and depres-sion, whatever. Almost all these phenomena are a result of some kind of judgments that we’re making.

And sometimes they’re very mistaken judgments; sometimes we assume that we have to feel bad.

We just simply assume it. And so since we assume we have to feel bad about a certain situation, we go ahead and do that. Like I said, it’s inconceivable that we could do otherwise. Once we believe the thing is something to feel bad about, we are going to feel bad about it. Once we believe the thing is something to feel good about, we will do that. But that isn’t a problem for anybody none of us are suffering from too much happiness. But a lot of us are not as happy as we’d like to be, and we never will be. And that’s part of a whole search for happiness-to be happier and happier and happier. No matter how happy we are, we want to be happier.
Bruce Di Marsico – The Myth of Unhappiness Volume 1 page 7-8

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