Instead REBT teaches you that it would be best to replace conditional self-esteem with unconditional self-acceptance. This would enable you NOT to experience emotional disturbance when you do not live up to your potential in school because you are not devoting sufficient effort to developing your talents. You could accept yourself as a fallible human and then direct your ratings and evaluations to the effort you give your studies. When you do not give a good effort and your grades reflect this you could feel disappointed with regards to the effort you gave. Then you could use that healthy negative emotion of disappointment to address your problem in making a better effort next time.
REBT argues that humans cannot be validly rated as humans but when you use the concept of self-esteem you are attempting to do what is invalid and attempting to make a rating of yourself, your personhood, your essence. Why is it invalid to rate a human? Simply because as a human you possesses almost an infinite number of characteristics and do an uncountable number of deeds over the course of your lifetime. Therefore, the only valid way to rate you, the person, would be to do a thorough inventory of all these characteristics and behaviors. So if you wish to do this “valid” rating you would have to wait till the end of your lifetime simply because much behavior and human evolution lies ahead of you. You are a process and are so complex and in a state of development esteeming yourself is both invalid and very counterproductive. Such invalid ratings only lead to emotional disturbance which does not help you change the characteristic that underpins your behavioral problem of not giving your studies a good effort.
Now that I hopefully have shown you the merits of unconditional self-acceptance let me also address your problem of discipline and effort. It is likely that your problem here is with what REBT calls low discomfort tolerance or discomfort intolerance. Even when we have talent the effort required to develop that talent tends to feel a bit uncomfortable. We have to set aside time to study, then focus our concentration and avoid distractions, and then we have to reflect on the work at hand. You likely hold rigid and extreme attitudes that block you from giving a good effort and doing this on a consistent basis, which is called discipline. There are many attitudes that produce discomfort intolerance but here are a few to give you an idea of what some of them look like:
1. Life conditions must be easy, simple, and ideal and conditions are unbearable when they are not this way.
2. It is too hard to expend energy to master the material I have to study.
3. It is unbearable to turn off my phone and stop monitoring social media while I focus on my homework for three hours at a time.
REBT would teach you to attack these self-defeating rigid and extreme attitudes and expose how they are not helpful to achieving your goals, not true, and illogical. This process of exposing these characteristics of one’s attitudes is known as disputing of your irrational attitudes. REBT psychotherapists teach their patients how to spot and then dispute their irrational attitudes. Some people teach themselves how to do this by reading the numerous REBT books or listening to the audio or watching video I present on my website. In the end the process of disputing will help you create more useful rational attitudes that are flexible and non-extreme such as:
1. I want life conditions to be easy, simple, and ideal but unfortunately they do not have to be so. When they are not this way I will be uncomfortable but this is not unbearable. I can tolerate conditions that are difficult, complex and less than ideal. When a particular task is worth doing I will be more than willing to bear the discomfort involved in doing it so that I am able to reap rewards in the long run for my effort at doing the particular task. I am going to do this as I very much want to achieve my personal goals.
2. It is hard to expend energy to master the material I have to study but not too hard. If it were too hard I would perish in the struggle but surely I know that won’t happen! No one ever died from giving a good effort and expending energy in the process!
3. It is difficult and uncomfortable but not unbearable to turn off my phone and stop monitoring social media while I focus on my homework for three hours at a time. I can tolerate the struggle to focus my complete attention on my studies for three hours. The struggle of such focus is worth doing as I wish to develop my talents and get better grades. I am going to bear the discomfort that comes with turning off my phone and ceasing to monitor the social media stream while I focus on my homework for three hours at a time.
In summary REBT would encourage you to accept both yourself AND the discomfort involved in expending effort to develop your talents. Will this be easy for you to do? No it will not be easy simply because you are a human and well-practiced at rigid and extreme thinking. REBT theorizes that humans have an inborn tendency to rate both their characteristics and deeds and to then go beyond this helpful set of ratings and to rate their complex and ever evolving self. This rating of the self leads to esteeming and not esteeming the self. Secondly, REBT theorizes that humans often rigidly demand to remain comfortable and will seek to do so even though they may very well be aware that some degree of discomfort is necessary to achieve their personal goals. Then REBT points out that you have probably practiced the self-defeating attitudes for many years. What this all means is that you are capable of change and growth but you had better accept that you will have to work hard and repeatedly in order to change your longstanding and inborn ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. You can bear this struggle and from my personal perspective it is well worth it! Give it a try yourself.