Change your thinking, change your feelings
Integrating Professor Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Therapy & Philosophy (REBT)
We often live by many rules in our life. These rules express themselves in the use of language we use which consists of ‘musts’, ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’. Professor Albert Ellis calls them ‘mustabatories’. He also coined the phrase awfulising. Here are some samples of both:
- I must have love or approval from everyone that I meet.
- I must perform all my tasks perfectly, making no mistakes, if I am to be worthwhile
- Because I want people to treat me fairly, they must do so.
- If I don’t get what I want, it is terrible and I cannot stand it.
- It is easier to avoid facing things than being responsible.
- Some people are bad, wicked and evil; they should be blamed and punished for this.
- My happiness is caused by factors outside of my control, so little can be done about it.
- My problems were caused by past events and that is why I have problems now.
- I should be upset by other people’s difficulties.
At times people might not be consciously thinking about these statements in words, but they respond in their emotions and behave like they do. It is only when people start to consciously think about the subject, the ‘truth’ comes out.
Having rules in our lives is not a bad thing. There are things we need to live by and uphold. It is important to understand it is when our mustabortories rules our lives that we become rigid in our way of thinking and subsequently our emotions and behaviour. It is important to be able to assess the usefulness of these rules we live by and create change by generating choices.
Rational / Irrational Pairs
Transform musts into preferences:
- I must keep my house absolutely clean and tidy and perfectly presentable at all times.
- I like to keep my house clean and tidy and presentable so I feel comfortable and proud of my house
- I can keep my house clean and tidy and presentable so I feel comfortable and proud of my house when I can or one day a week
Anti-awfulising versus awfulising
- Awfulising: It is such a disaster that I did not present myself well in the meeting; my future in this company is numbered.
- Anti-awfulising: I did not do well in presenting myself in the meeting, but that is not the end, I am capable and I am wondering if there is another way to get my points across and learn from this experience to do better next time.
Low (LFT) and High Frustration Tolerance (HFT)
- LFT: I just can’t stand failing my test, my life is ruined
- HFT: Not passing my test is hard to handle, but it is not the end of the world
We can change how we feel, create more choices and live a happy life by thinking differently.