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Inventory of Positive Psychology Interventions

Return to Positive Exercises

Name of intervention: Avoiding sink holes
Source: Zone Positive*

Tags: Challenging beliefs, false beliefs, negativity

Short description: Identify and deal with negative beliefs
Goal of this intervention:
This intervention is a continuation of the cognitive behavior theme and a sequel to the Reframing the situation
exercise. It delves deeper into how some beliefs are formed and what can be done to challenge these beliefs
before they lead to regrettable actions.
The goal of this exercise is to become more aware of the common traps we sometimes fall into when
situations occur (how we often internalize, explain or rationalize things). More importantly, we seek to redirect
these negative thoughts into more positive and productive cognitive behaviors.
How to conduct this intervention:
Try to complete this exercise using recent events in your daily life or things that happen to you over the next
week or two. Record examples of these events that might fit into any or all of the following categories. Here’s
an example for jumping to conclusions: my sister called yesterday and asked what I was up to. I immediately
assumed she was looking for a favor- like covering for her down at the club where she works. I could feel my
blood pressure rising- I felt like I was being backed into a corner.
Sink Hole
Jumping to
conclusions
Tunnel vision

Magnifying and
minimizing

Personalization

Externalizing

Over
generalizing

Mind Reading

Signs:
Responding impulsively to situations
before you have full information. Loss
of control over emotions.
Focusing on the negative. On
behaviors that mesh with your
thinking (negative or positive)—
ignoring data that could disconfirm
beliefs.
Collecting all the information, but
overvaluing some and undervaluing
others. Leads to self fulfilling
prophesy. Growth and change
requires a balanced, accurate
appraisal of the situation.
Reflex tendency to attribute problems
to one’s own doing. Often leads to
depression and/or guilt (because
others have been violated and it’s
your fault). You only see the internal
causes of a problem and not the
external cause. Resiliency requires
accuracy. Self efficacy requires belief
that you can change the internal
causes.
Opposite of personalizing. Problems
are rarely your fault. Protects the
person’s self esteem. Externalizers
fail to identify the problems that were
genuinely their fault and within their
control. They think everyone else
has let them down. Prone to anger.
Character assassination reaction to
problems (I’m a bad parent).
Explanatory style (me, always,
everything).
Those who jump to conclusions.

What happened?

Information helps us make better. Questions to ponder:       How many situations/examples were you able to come up with from your daily life Do you tend to fall into one or two “sink holes” consistently— or are there more? What might you take away from this in terms of understanding yourself? How do you think your mood might be affected by your sink holes? How do you feel about yourself after a sink hole reaction? For each example you give. I’m feeling good so I must have convinced them that I’m the person for the job. The Penn Resiliency Project (PRP) has done extensive research in the areas of optimism and resiliency including 13 controlled studies among 2000 participants. Reframing sink holes may challenge life-learned habits of induction (x therefore y). what might be a different way to reframe the situation? How might your response change with this reframing? Expected outcome Resilience is depleted when we take actions that are based on false or inaccurate beliefs. . Falsely attributing positive emotion. Conversely. Ask questions to understand/clarify the situation before making assumptions. Trying to reframe situations to see that there might actually be “gray” is not an easy task. This exercise may surface the fact that mistakes can and do happen—even when it disputes natural induction tendencies. Gets in the way of problem solving. It might be better for your client to practice this exercise several times (or more) before expecting it to work during an actual incident. resilience can be bolstered when we can consider problems more comprehensively-. It is not uncommon for us to see issues as black or white.with all the information that is available at hand. Cognitive therapy is based on the belief that patients learn to change their thinking to overcome depression and anxiety. more accurate judgments. Majority of these studies showed positive effects on anxiety and behavior. Drawing false conclusions about the world based on your emotional state. Is there any science to support this intervention This exercise has its roots in the cognitive therapy work originated by Aaron Beck. especially in the heat of the moment. Things to watch out for    It’s often easier to practice this skill after a situation of adversity—when emotions have died down and you have a fresh perspective.Emotional Reasoning Getting angry because others can’t read your mind and know what to do/say. But practice does make it easier.

. Prone to anger. Did anyone or anything else contribute to this situation? How much of this problem is due to me and how much is due to others? Start holding yourself accountable. How important is this one incident to the whole picture? Strive for balance. New York: Broadway Books. Ask questions to understand/clarify the situation before making assumptions. Resiliency requires accuracy. everything). Are you certain or are you guessing? Refocus yourself on the big picture. What did I do to contribute to this situation? Look more closely at the behaviors involved. They think everyone else has let them down. ask yourself what evidence you’ve based your conclusion on.Additional comments: Here are some guidelines to pass along when dealing with sinkholes. K. Loss of control over emotions. A. accurate appraisal of the situation. always. But first ask yourself: did I make my beliefs or feelings known directly and clearly? Did I convey all pertinent information? Practice separating feelings from the facts. Personalization Reflex tendency to attribute problems to one’s own doing. .D.University of Pennsylvania Return to Positive Exercises . You only see the internal causes of a problem and not the external cause. but overvaluing some and undervaluing others. Explanatory style (me. Self efficacy requires belief that you can change the internal causes. What is a fair assessment of the entire situation. Externalizing Over generalizing Mind Reading Emotional Reasoning Those who jump to conclusions. What to do about it Goal is to slow down. Externalizers fail to identify the problems that were genuinely their fault and within their control. The Resilience Factor. *Adapted from the ABC exercise.authored by Karen Reivich. Getting angry because others can’t read your mind and know what to do/say.D. Where there any good things that happened? Did I do anything well? Or. Ph. am I overlooking any problems? Is there anything that I’m dismissing the importance of? Learn to look outward. Magnifying and minimizing Collecting all the information. Drawing false conclusions about the world based on your emotional state. Is there a narrower explanation than the one I’ve assumed to be true? Is there a specific behavior that explains the situation? Learn to speak up and ask questions of others. Often leads to depression and/or guilt (because others have been violated and it’s your fault). On behaviors that mesh with your thinking (negative or positive)— ignoring data that could disconfirm beliefs. Gets in the way of problem solving. Have there been times when my feelings didn’t accurately reflect the facts of a situation? What questions must I ask to know the facts. Opposite of personalizing. Tunnel vision Focusing on the negative. Protects the person’s self esteem. Shatte. Trap Jumping to conclusions Signs: Responding impulsively to situations before you have full information. Karen Reivich Ph. Character assassination reaction to problems (I’m a bad parent). Problems are rarely your fault. Readings: Reivich. I’m feeling good so I must have convinced them that I’m the person for the job. Leads to self fulfilling prophesy. Falsely attributing positive emotion. (2002). Growth and change requires a balanced.