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S-T-P-H-F-R Paradigm of Responsibility

STPHFR 6 Steps of Feeling & Acting


Respond Well by Understanding Your Responses

  • Garden will teach you an easy and effective system of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT & REBT).

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” —Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning


Definitions for Understanding STPHFR

  • A paradigm is a model for understanding an area of inquiry or research.
  • A stimulus (S) is any event or action that elicits or causes a response. A stimulus can also be defined as anything that you consciously notice, that you pay attention to.
  • A response (R) is any reaction to a stimulus.
  • The word hearting (H) means: taking to heart or to touch with your life force.
  • S-T-P-H-F-R or STPHFR is an acronym that is pronounced just like the word “stiffer”.

Stimulus-Response (S-R) Model

  • Science is based on the stimulus-response (S-R) paradigm.
  • Scientists note some effect, some response (R) and ask why?–what stimulus (S) caused that response (R)?
  • Scientists note some stimulus (S) and try to predict the response (R) that will follow from that stimulus (S).
  • Scientists have a response (R) that they want and try to determine the stimulus (S) that they will need to gain that response (R).

The accurate prediction of stimulus-response (S-R) relations has led to the development of modern technology. We have been able to place a man on the moon because we understand how to accurately determine S-R connections, relations, and patterns.

Excited by the effectiveness of the stimulus-response (S-R) paradigm, people began to use the S-R paradigm to help them to understand human behavior and motivation. A new field of psychology grew up with the strongest adherents and developments occurring in the United States. This new field was named Behaviorism.

Despite all the promise of Behaviorism and the wealth of information gained from its research projects, Behaviorism fell far short of understanding and predicting human behavior and motivation. In order to survive, Behaviorism eventually narrowed its scope to manipulating human behavior through reinforcement and/or the denial/removal of reinforcements.

Behaviorism has contributed greatly to the human understanding of: behavior change by controlling rewards, conditioned responses, conditioning, learned behavior, motivation through reward, and unconditioning responses.

Behaviorism has had some success, but so little that few today rely exclusively on Behaviorism.

The less one thinks, the more applicable Behaviorism is, hence, young children and the mentally handicapped continue to receive the most programs and interventions based on Behaviorism.

  • In sum, the S-R paradigm is excellent for dead or nonliving things but of much less practical value for understanding and predicting the behavior of living beings–particularly human beings.

Stimulus-Thinking-Response (S-T-R) Model

  • Cognitive psychotherapies propose that the problem with Behaviorism is that the S-R paradigm is not relevant for living beings.
  • The most comprehensive cognitive psychotherapy, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), suggests a stimulus-thinking-response (S-T-R) paradigm for understanding human beings (REBT’s ABCs of Emotions).

It is reasoned that in-between the stimulus (S) received by a living being and its response (R) to that stimulus (S)–there is the mental or instinctual processing (T) of that stimulus either consciously or unconsciously.

REBT asserts that for living beings the thinking (T) part controls the response (R) part far more than does the stimulus (S) part.

In other words, your thinking (T) affects your response (R) far more than what happens (S) to you affects your response (R).

  • This model can be further simplified to sayings such as:

“If you think angry thoughts you will become angry.”

“Change your thinking and change your feeling.”

“If you think anxious thoughts, you will become anxious even if there is nothing (no outside stimulus, S) to get anxious about.”


Stimulus-Thinking-Playback-Hearting-Feeling-Response (STPHFR) Model

While the S-T-R paradigm is a significant development beyond the oversimplified S-R paradigm, the S-T-R model does not adequately account for human emotions and motivations.

  • There is more going on between S and R than just thinking.

If your feelings were simply the result of what you thought, then whenever you had negative thoughts–you would also have negative feelings. However, it simply is not true that you feel all of your thoughts. Additionally, it is also not true that all of your feelings come from your thoughts.

  • We need a more comprehensive model than the S-T-R paradigm.

The real cause for feelings is contact with the inner energy that is in the heart, the seat for the life force. When the life force, your life energy, contacts (H) anything–you will have feelings (F) about whatever was contacted.

  • Feelings (F) are sensations that are produced, energized, and amplified by the life force coming into contact (H) with some inner event. Feelings are sensations of whatever was felt or touched, including any other sensations or feelings that were touched.

Your life force can feel (touch) sensations from your outer senses (your body’s senses) or your life force can feel (touch) sensations from your inner senses.

For example, when the pleasing sensations from having a body massage are taken to heart–they produce positive feelings. For example, when the negative sensations from negative thoughts are taken to heart–they produce negative feelings.

  • Your heart can have feelings by touching sensations of: your body, your imaginary self (ego), your mind, your physical environment, your real self, your soul, and your spiritual environment.
  • Your heart can have feelings by touching your thoughts, images, or memories. You can even have feelings of feelings.

STPHFR Paradigm As Emotional Responsibility

  • Stimulus-Thinking-Playback-Hearting-Feeling-Response
  • Note the number of choice points (5) in-between the stimulus and response.

Generic STPHFR Model

S = What happened? What event or experience are you responding to?

T = What are you thinking about the stimulus (S) that got your attention?

P = What thoughts (T) are you playing back over and over again in your mind about S?

H = What thoughts (t) did you buy into, identify with, own, or take to heart?

F = What feelings are you having about what you owned (H)?

R = What is your response to your feelings (F) about (H)?


S-T-P-H-F-R Model of Emotions & Behaviors

One of the important insights needed to understand and to deal effectively with feelings is to understand what it was that was: contacted, felt by your life force, owned, swallowed, taken to heart, or touched.

  • To know why you feel the way you do–find out what you took to heart.

Your feelings (F) are part of your reactions to events (S). Feelings (F) are reactions that produce behavioral responses (R): emotion causes motion.

Your response (R) is your behavioral reaction. Behavioral responses (R) are dependent upon feeling (F) reactions.

All behaviors are motivated by feelings. All actions require energy and feelings are the energy that drives the actions of the living.

  • Feelings are one of three kinds: negative, neutral, or positive.

If you want to influence, control, or change a problem–it makes sense to concentrate on what you have the most control over that will produce the greatest change. Because of this logic, we teach you to work at controlling (1) what you think, (2) what thoughts you repeat, and (3) what you take to heart.

While you can sometimes control the stimulus (S) itself, more often you cannot. However, you always have control over what you think (T), what thoughts you playback (P), and what you take to heart (H) unless you are brain damaged, psychotic, or in a coma.

  • You must decide what to think, what thoughts to playback, and what to take to heart. No one can do that for you.

Yes, you have some bad thinking, repeating, and hearting habits that are on autopilot (subconscious or unconscious). But you can make these subconscious and unconscious habits conscious again. They were, after all, conscious before you programmed them to the point that they became habits.

Yes, you should still try to affect the stimulus (S) when reasonably possible. However, your greatest energy should be applied where you will have the greatest effect and benefit: on controlling what you choose to think (T), what thoughts you choose to playback (P), and what you contact (H) with your inner energy.

If you want to change or control a feeling (F), which is a reaction, then you need to change or control what happens before the feeling arises.

The surest way to control a feeling is to control what you take to heart (H). If you do not take something to heart (H), you cannot have feelings about it.

The surest way to control what you take to heart (H) is to control what you playback (P)–because you only take to heart (H) what you playback (P)!

Another way to understand the issue of what is affecting you is to realize that you cannot be affected by anything but your mind. All external events are interpreted and represented by your mind only after they have passed.

  • The only real stimulus (S) for you is your mind, your thinking (T).

Your reaction to your thinking about an event is either to playback (P) your thinking and so take your thinking to heart (H), or not to playback your thinking and to just let the event go, let it be.

While this is an obvious oversimplification, because not all sensations come from thinking, it is a good place for you to begin to regain your personal power: emotional responsibility as the key to your mental health.

Developing the insight and emotional skills needed to control what you take to heart and what you do not take to heart is the first step in learning to apply EUT no matter what your particular counseling issue is when you first come into counseling. Emotional skills are needed for therapy to be effective.

Responsibility is the key. You already know about behavioral responsibility. Now it is time for you to learn and to practice mental and emotional responsibility.

Unless you have a more serious condition than can be treated in an outpatient counseling setting, it is time for you to say, “Only I made me think that,” “Only I made me dwell on that,” and “Only I made me feel that way.”

Yes, others can create the occasion, the opportunity, the temptation, and the stimulus that you think about, repeat, and that you take sensations to heart about. But others cannot choose your thoughts (T) or what thoughts you repeat, playback (P). And others cannot choose to take your sensations of the stimulus or your thoughts to heart (H).

  • Only you are responsible for your choices and isn’t that wonderful! Else what would you be!? Not a human being, but a mere robot, a puppet, a figment of someone’s imagination, or a zombie.
  • Time to grow up, to become mature, and to become responsible for all of you: mental, emotional, and behavioral. Then you will be ready for the final phase of maturity: spiritual responsibility.

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Quotations from Various Sources

Organized Alphabetically

“A baby expects to be soothed, but a mature adult soothes themselves.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“A man’s as miserable as he thinks he is.” —Marcus Seneca

“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” —Francis Bacon

“Accuse not Nature, she hath done her part; Do thou but thine.” —John Milton, Paradise Lost

“Adults are expert at self-disturbance and inept at self-soothing.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“An excuse is a lie guarded.” —Jonathan Swift

“Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?” —Anonymous

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” —Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

“But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” —Galatians 6:4

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” —Mark Twain

“Each man the architect of his own fate.” —Sallust

“Either do not attempt at all, or go through with it.” —Ovid

“Every man without passions has within him no principle of action, nor motive to act.” —Claude Helvetius

“Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.” —Samuel Johnson

“I am happy and content because I think I am.” —Alain-Rene Lesage

“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” —W. E. Henley, Invictus

“If pleasure first, then pain second.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“If we have not peace within ourselves, it is in vain to seek it from outward sources.” —Francois de La Rochefoucauld

“It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.” —Agnes Repplier

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” —William Shakespeare

“Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” —Anonymous

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.” —Jean-Paul Sartre, 1905-1980

“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will—his personal responsibility in the realm of faith and morals.” —Albert Schweitzer

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” —Abraham Lincoln

“My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” —Oprah Winfrey

“No one has ever gotten to anyone.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Nothing stops the man who desires to achieve. Every obstacle is simply a course to develop his achievement muscle. It’s a strengthening of his powers of accomplishment.” —Eric Butterworth

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” —Michael Jordan

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” —Anonymous

“Some pursue happiness, others create it.” —Anonymous

“Teaching the principle of emotional responsibility can be one of the hardest tasks in REBT as clients may have habitually blamed others for their problems and now the therapist is pointing to the true source of their emotional problems—themselves.” —Michael Neenan and Windy Dryden, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: Advances in Theory and Practice, p. 43

“The ability to accept responsibility is the measure of the man.” —Roy Smith

“The fault, Dear Brutus, is not in our stars; but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” —William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

“The journey of life is inward not outward.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“The more you are willing to accept responsibility for your actions, the more credibility you will have.” —Brian Koslow

“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” —Scott Hamilton

“The U. S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.” —Benjamin Franklin

“The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.” —Joan Didion

“There is no man so low that the cure for his condition does not lie strictly within himself.” —Thomas L. Masson

“To a large extent I can control my feelings and desires and can change them so that I lead a happier existence.” —Albert Ellis and Robert A. Harper, A Guide to Rational Living, Third Edition, p. 247

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” —Carlos Castenada

“What poison is to food, self-pity is to life.” —Oliver C. Wilson

“Whatever may be, I am still largely the creator and ruler of my emotional destiny.” —Albert Ellis and Robert A. Harper, A Guide to Rational Living, Third Edition, p. 252

“While they were saying among themselves it cannot be done, it was done.” —Helen Keller

“Why is it that people are willing to take responsibility for their happiness or mild sadness but not their severe disturbance or great unhappiness?—why ego of course!” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

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