We have designed a way of looking at people’s challenges that we have called the ‘bubble model’.
THE BUBBLE MODEL SOME THEORY
The Bubble model is a new approach to mental wellbeing and mental health problems, based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). Instead of seeing problems with mental wellbeing and mental health as indicators of underlying disorders and diseases it postulates that misery (=problems with mental wellbeing and mental health) is the result of the way in which people do life, e.g. skills they underuse or not use.
We have identified 9 skills areas that can significantly impact on mental health and wellbeing: rational thinking, emotional communication, self-compassion, leading a meaningful life, problem solving, recognising strengths, dealing with criticism, having good sleep and being able to quieten the mind.
The bubble model is an unapologetic psychological model of mental wellbeing. In this model brain adaptive processes and learning processes are emphasised.
Learn Thinking Skills: Identifying unhelpful & problematic thinking and learning to change this! In other words people need to learn to accept that we live in a crazy world! In this crazy world good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people, in this crazy world we can all make plans (as we did in the beginning of 2020) but then life happens and disrupts all our plans (like the COVID virus did in 2020). Rational thinking skills can help in dealing with the ‘craziness’ of the world, so that we are emotionally less affected by it
Not expressing feelings
Learning to express feelings: People who regularly express feelings to other people are less like to develop problems with mental health or wellbeing. Expressing feelings is our tool to interact meaningfully with other people. By expressing positive feelings we let others know they have done something we like (and de-facto invite them to do this more often). By expressing negative feelings we let others know they have done something we did not like. You could say that by expressing feelings we mould the world to our preferences.
Not solving problems
Learn Active problem solving: Leaving a problem unsolved is like not attending to a leak in the roof of your house. After a couple of years the whole roof and more may need to be replaced. Practical problems can be really upsetting and by learning this active problem solving approach people can take the stress out of solving problems.
Not leading a meaningful life
Learn to Get out of your head and into your life: It is surprising the number of people who tell me that they are depressed ‘for no reason at all’. When I subsequently explore how they are leading their life then we discover that if I would lead such a life, I would be depressed too!
A meaningful life is a life that includes things you have to do but also things that give you pleasure and that you want to do. By leading a meaningful life we can develop a buffer against anxiety and depression.
Lacking Compassion with yourself
Learn Self-Compassion: ‘There is one person that is with you 24 hours a day, 7 days per week and 52 weeks in the year! That person is you.’ This is the first sentence I use when explaining the importance of self-compassion to clients. However instead of being supportive our inner voice is often harsh and critical. As one of my clients once told me, if I would speak to my friends the way I speak to myself, I would have no friends left!
Being terrified of criticism
Learn to deal with criticism: It is impossible to go through life without being criticised. Some criticism will be based on the facts, because we did something not right, some criticism will be given in a kind way. At other times criticism may be completely unjustified and may be given in a very nasty manner. Whatever the criticism, we have to learn to deal with it and that is what this skill is all about.
Believing you have no strengths
Learn to Identify YOUR strengths: Many people I meet in my consulting room state that they see themselves as having no strengths, no positive qualities. The fact of the matter is that all of us do a lot more things right then wrong. Additionally, all of us have much more positive qualities than negative traits. This is the skill whereby people learn to draw on these right things they have done in the past and the positive qualities they have when confronted with difficulties.
Not being able to quieten the mind
Learn Mindfulness: Many people have the experience that their mind starts to work overtime! Unfortunately, the mind is not very obedient when we then say: ‘please quiet down, I want to relax’. To have the ability to find peace and calm even in a storm is the gentle skill and art of mindfulness. Learning and practicing meditation exercises is helpful in keeping anxiety and depression problems at bay.
Sleeping is difficult
Learning good sleep hygiene: Disrupted sleep can be a real factor in maintaining anxiety and depression problems. When we start to sleep badly, we intuitively may choose to do the opposite of what is effective: we may go to bed earlier, stay in bed a lot more time then we sleep, we may take day-time naps etc. Learning how to optimise the chances of a good night’s sleep is an important skill.