{ rethinked*annex } Using the ABCDE Model to Dispute Negative Beliefs – Adopt or Rethink ?


During the next five adverse events you face in your daily life, listen closely for your beliefs, observe the consequences, and dispute your beliefs vigorously. Then observe the energy that occurs as you succeed in dealing with the negative beliefs. Record all of this. These five adverse events can be minor: the mail is late, your call isn’t returned, or the kid pumping your gas doesn’t wash the windshield. In each of these use the four techniques of self-disputation. (98)

Do it in your daily life over the next week. Don’t search out adversity, but as it comes along, tune in carefully to your internal dialogue. When you hear the negative beliefs, dispute them. Beat them into the ground, then record the ABCDE.

  • Adversity:
  • Belief:
  • Consequences:
  • Disputation:
  • Energization:


I found doing this exercise helped me shift from being the feeler of annoyance, anger, pessimism, etc. to being the examiner of these beliefs. Doing the exercise gave me the mental space to separate from the immediacy of the feelings and take a step back. This helped contain the feeling rather than letting it take over and color my entire experience. I found I recovered from whatever negative feeling I was experiencing much more quickly than when I let these feelings be unexamined.


This was most likely due to the fact that I was in a bad mood already whenever I did the exercise, but I found it a bit annoying. I feel very lucky that the five adverse events I encountered in the week when I was doing the exercise were utterly minor annoyances which made the process of reflecting on each of them feel a bit like overkill. I could see this being a useful tool for bigger issues. In the chapter where Seligman explains the ABCDE model he takes as his example a couple having a communication breakdown that is leading to problems in their marriage. I think this would be the type of context where this exercise would be most useful, when one is struggling to see someone else’s perspective, or when one feels one’s own perspective is being ignored or misunderstood. While I will not continue to do the ABCDE model on a frequent basis, I would like to retain aspects of this exercise and I would likely do it the next time I run into adverse events that are a bit more high stakes than the minute annoyances of daily life. I really enjoyed the mental space it created to help me examine and feel my feelings without passing judgment. I would love to find a way to keep that going in the future.


Source: Seligman, Martin. Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology To Realize Your Potential For Lasting Fulfillment. New York: Free Press, 2002. Print.

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