C (Consequences). Be aware of the emotional and other consequences of your belief about that adversity.
D (Disputation). Question whether your beliefs are the only explanation. For example, ask:
∑ What is the evidence for my beliefs?
Check out 15 Ways to Improve your EQ for ways your thinking may be distorted
E (Energization). Be aware of the new consequences (feelings, behaviors, actions) that do or could follow from a different, more optimistic explanation or set of beliefs.
Here is an example of the ABCDE model as applied to a specific situation. The train of thought went like this:
1. I didnít finish this chapter by the end of the Thanksgiving holiday as I promised my wife and myself I would do. (Adversity)
2. Iím an incurable procrastinator whoíll never meet my goals. (Beliefs: a personal, pervasive, and permanent explanation, which is therefore pessimistic)
3. I might as well abandon this project and settle for a life of less
4. Wait a minute! Lots of writers set unrealistic deadlines. Besides, my wife and I did several things together and with her parents that had a very positive impact on our relationship. And if sticking to my schedule were so all-fired important to her, she could have insisted on doing some of those things without me. (Disputation)
5. Iíll talk about my schedule with her and get her input on whether the remainder of the schedule is important to her. If not, Iíll push my deadlines back. If so, Iíll ask her assistance and cooperation in finding ways to make more time for writing. I really donít want to give up this project. Itís exciting, even if it is a little off-schedule. (Energization)
If you are a ruminator (someone who talks silently and continually to himself or herself in a negative vein, as in "Iím going to fail. Iím no good.. ."), then you need to learn more than just a more optimistic explanatory style. You need to learn how to jerk away from the hold that pessimistic thoughts have on you. Seligman suggests several distracting techniques in his book, including wearing a rubber band on your wrist (snap it when you start ruminating) and creating physical distractions (such as slapping the wall or doing isometric exercises) as ways to pop the pessimistic preoccupation out of your mind.
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