I’ve been able to catch up on some TV time recently and I’m really enjoying watching The Block. Firstly, because I love renovation/home shows. Secondly, because the people on the show are really interesting. Not just from the entertainment value of laughs, but the situation they are in and how they’re all handling it.

Now you might be wondering what this has to do with counselling or human resources? So much!

Let’s set the scene. You have 5 couples, all allocated an apartment to design, build and decorate. They all got to choose their building partner. They all have the same budget. They are all competing for the same thing. And yet…don’t they all have completely different experiences while they go through this project?

Some contestants are having a ball! They love the challenge, they laugh as much as they can, stress gets to them every now and then but then they brush it off and move on.

Others are really not coping at all. The challenge is getting to them so much that they are often in tears, unable to sleep, irritable, and feeling unable to get through the task of choosing paint colour.

So why is this? Why, in the same situation, is one person breaking down and another skipping down the building site with a latte?

Because we’re all different. Our thoughts, like I touched on in Mind Over Matter, control what our experience is. This is a perfect example of that. Same same environment, very different reaction.

This can happen at work, at home, at play. Wherever we are in our world, we are deciding how to respond to a certain event or occurrence. It may not feel like we have a choice. There may be significant things that have influenced how we respond. That is normal. That’s what makes us complex human beings.

Humans are different. From each other and from other species. It’s important to remember how unique we are, especially if you start to look around and wonder why no one else seems to feel the way you do.

So when these situations come up for us, a really simple but helpful tool I have used in both work and personal situations, has been the ABC model developed by Aaron Beck in his Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) theory. It works like this:

A = Activating event (what is the situation?)

B = Belief (what am I thinking?)

C = Consequence (what happens now?)

Often we skip from A to C. For example:

Choosing a paint colour (A) makes me cry, feel despair and sadness (C).

The B, and I am totally guessing here, could be:

‘I can’t do this’

‘If I fail, I will be humiliated’

‘Everything in my future is dependent on me making the right decision here’

And you can see from these unhealthy thoughts, how the Consequence results in what it does.

Another contestant might have these Beliefs:

‘I love a challenge’

‘I trust myself to make the right decision’

‘It’s just paint, it’s just a fun show, let’s just go for it!’

And so their Consequence might be more like exhilaration, joy and satisfaction.

See where I’m going here? It’s a very simple model but the impacts of breaking down our beliefs, to change our consequent experience, can be incredibly powerful. This is a tool you can use anywhere. And if you like, I can help you go through it with your own experiences. Once you get into the habit of looking at your thoughts this way, you can start to practice it in any situation.