the endless sweat pouring out of his palms and so on, until the
fantasy becomes crazy and funny.
Taking a different view --turning the undesirable into the
desirable and other ways of challenging irrational ideas.
A sense of humor helps here too. Think of how you can
make an already bad situation much worse. At least think of
ways to give up resisting the unwanted habit. Or, think of ways
to stop trying to change. Examples: Instead of constantly
dieting, occasionally try to gain two pounds in three days. If
you have been arguing with someone a lot, try to pick even
more arguments (hopefully some of the comments will be
rather silly and funny making the situation lighter). If you
swear too much or spend money (small amounts) carelessly,
tell yourself that cussing is healthy, cathartic and honest
communication or that shopping is good, inexpensive treatment
This paradoxical redefining the problem as being something
tolerable is clearly reflected in the RET saying, "It ain't awful, it
is lawful." Or, in some cases a fear can be turned into a wish.
Patients have turned feared panic attacks into wishes that the
heart will beat wildly which stops the panic (Frankl, 1985).
More examples: when an obnoxious teenager argues and fights
about everything, especially homework and chores, and you
think the situation is hopeless, try to see the situation as one in
which the young person is preparing to become an independent
adult or attempting to get love and attention. This is called
"reframing" (see chapter 15). Most of the techniques in method
#3 of this chapter are paradoxical, i.e. one learns to think
differently. Some paradoxical therapies promote valuing
contradictions and prizing an inquiry into the many mysteries
and paradoxes that exist in the world.
Think of ways to confront or contradict an idea or behavior,
perhaps you can switch roles with a friend and practice arguing
against your own irrational ideas. Perhaps you can carry your
irrational ideas to an extreme and, thus, see that your thinking
is faulty (and relationships unreasonable). Example: if you
believe that people are always responsible for their own
problems, then try proving that being born retarded, deformed,
poor, schizophrenic, or with an alcoholic parent was the
person's own fault.
McMullin (1986) provides several examples of "self
flimflam," i.e. fooling one's self. This might be someone who
exaggerates how important it is that he compete and win (for
praise and ego inflation), exaggerates how tolerant he is of a
lover exploring another relationship (so he will look kind and
self-sacrificing and she will feel guilty), or over plays how
unhappy he is--the "poor me" role--(to get comfort and