You are a human being, a living process that does many things over the course of a lifetime. Humans are inclined to myopically focus on their errors and missteps missing the forest from the trees. Live in the present and learn from the past so you do not repeat missteps in the future. Do not rate, evaluate, score, or judge your dynamic self, personhood, essence, and worth. Do rate, evaluate, score, and judge what you do in the context of your goals. Ask questions about what you did and what assumptions you were operating under at the time of your misstep so you learn from your mistakes. You learn this way and bad feelings are contained to what you did or failed to do but you do not feel bad about you the person who did the mistake. Failing bad about you the person NEVER helps. Feel bad only about what you did or failed to do. We all do idiotic things we regret. No one is an idiot unless they wrongly and invalidly define their dynamic "self" as an idiot. The Romans used to say "Errare Humanum Est." Translation "To err is human”.
REBT points out that all learning which we take from our parents and culture is on top of our biology. It is our biological nature to experience inertia. When we are at rest it is easier to stay at rest than to get moving and doing something that is good to do. We prefer to keep doing things as we have always did them rather than change and do things in a better way. We easily form habit patterns whereby we avoid activity that is good in the long run simply because it is uncomfortable and unfamiliar in the here and now.
It is our biological nature to also form good and healthy habit patterns. We can teach ourselves to exercise in the morning, eat smaller portions of food, finish a book before starting another, and to not spend our money impulsively. The capacity to form good habits also extends to our thinking. We can train ourselves to say "Too bad" instead of disturbing ourselves when important matters do not go as we want them to go. We can train ourselves to accept what we cannot change.
We I was in training with Dr. Albert Ellis he would so often say "Repetition is the mother of learning." I can still hear him saying "work and practice, work and practice is what is required to change and you should run from anyone who attempts to fool you into thinking you can achieve positive change through insight alone and change in an effortless manner."
People sometimes try to argue that there has to be more to therapeutic change than effort, repetition, reflection on one's performance, and then repeating the entire sequence again. Perhaps there is a bit more but certainly these are the essential ingredients of therapeutic change.
Patients will ask "I see the logic of unconditional self-acceptance but how do I come to adopt that attitude towards myself and only rate what I do to determine if what I have done is successful in achieving my goal?" I answer that you need to repeatedly think about the truthfulness of unconditional self-acceptance and how it is invalid to rate a human being as a human, you need to think about how the concept is useful in helping you stay with changing self-defeating behaviors, you need to recognize that since you have repeatedly thought in a conditional way about your worth for many years you will have to repeatedly practice thinking differently about yourself to unlearn your conditional self-acceptance." I close by saying “You have to act in a way consistent with unconditional self-acceptance to truly internalize this very useful concept”.
REBT offers good and very sensible solutions for fallible humans. You can learn new and healthy habits of thought and action. However, this self-training takes work and practice, work and practice. Why not start right now on a new habit that will help you do better in life and become less disturbable?
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