The Missing Defensive Game Plan
In Health Education
The helpful advice and information we give young people is very much like an offensive game plan in team sports. It’s what we want young people to think, think about, and say and do in some crucial situations where important behavioral and lifestyle choices need to be made. The problem is we don’t give them a defensive game plan against what Dr. Albert Ellis called “automatic irrational beliefs” that pop into their minds at crucial times, and there are often many of them.
It helps to think of the mind as being like a computer. (Actually it’s the other way around) A computer’s hard drive can store vast amounts of text, images, videos, etc on it’s hard drive. That “data” can pass across a computer’s screen so fast that we may not be able to read it. But there can only be a limited amount of it on the screen at any given moment. Likewise, we can fill young peoples heads with all kinds of good advice and information, and thoughts can fly across their “screens” so fast that they often aren’t aware of them. It’s why they often say “I don’t know” when we ask them what they were thinking when they did something. But there can only be one thought on their “screen” at a time, and the ones that are will determine how they feel, and what they do. The problem is that their automatic irrational beliefs too often end up dominating their “screens”, and there is no room for the advice and information we give them, or even morals and values they get from parents and religion, or possible consequences, or their own or others’ relevant experiences.
Dr. Ellis developed a step-by-step process by which to help people identify what those automatic irrational beliefs might be, and to help clear their “screens” of them so they can better access and act on advice and information they’ve been givem, consider consequences before acting, take their own morals and values into account, learn from their own and others experiences, and respond to situations in the best possible way rather than react to them as people so often do.
To return to the sports metaphor, Step B of his process is like “scouting the opposition”. Steps D (Disputing) and E (Effective Coping Statements) are like the missing DEfensive game plan in health education.
You can learn more about Dr. Ellis’ work at www.itsjustanevent.com
Or you can purchase a copy of “A Mental and Emotional Tool Kit for Teachers, Students and Parents”.
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