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Attributions are debatable. Consider an alternative explanation for your partner’s behavior.

The link between our thoughts and emotions can be understood through the ABCs: A is the Activating event; B is your Belief about the event; and C is the emotional Consequence. Let’s look at some examples of how our thoughts influence our emotions and behavior.

Example 1: Walking By

Activating Event: As Jason is walking down the street, he notices Aaron, a close associate, approaching him in the distance. Jason waves hello, as he walks by, but Aaron did not return the greeting.

Belief #1:  Jason thinks that Aaron doesn’t like him, and Aaron ignored him on purpose.

Consequence #1: Jason is upset (hurt, sadden) by Aaron’s rejection.


Belief #2: Jason thinks that Aaron didn’t see him or perhaps didn’t recognize him. He views the interaction as an mistake.

Consequence# 2: Jason os indifferent. His mood is unchanged.

Example 2: Golf vs. Love

Activating Event: Terrance and Emily had been arguing off and on for the past two weeks. Having recently moved, they hadn’t completely settled into their new home, so they were feeling a bit overwhelmed. They decide to have dinner on Thursday night, the same day that Terrance played golf with a few friends. At dinner, Terrance was uncharacteristically quiet and preoccupied. Unbeknownst to Emily, Terrance had a poor outing at golf and was feeling down about his performance. Their conversation was cordial, but less than enjoyable.

Belief #1: Emily assumes that Terrance is disinterested in spending time with her. She believes that Terrance’s love for her has decreased.

Consequence #1: Emily is concerned about Terrance’s lack of interest. She is hurt and feels the need to withdraw in the relationship.


Belief# 2: Emily wonders if Terrance is preoccupied by other matters. She knows that Terrance is passionate about golf and the move has been difficult for both of them.

Consequence #2: Emily is concerned about what preoccupies Terrance. She inquires about his golf outing. Emotionally she is neutral, yet inquisitive.