1. Ask what is within my control in facing this adversity or problem and what is outside of my control?
2. Focus on what is under your control. In Stoicism, this is called the Dichotomy of Control.
3. Recognize that your attitude towards an adversity is always a choice. Your chosen attitude largely is responsible for your emotional reaction, both healthy self-helping reactions and unhealthy self-defeating emotional reactions. In REBT this is called the Principle of Emotional Responsibility.
4. Then look for how you are angering yourself, depressing yourself, frightening yourself. Ask how am I angering, depressing or frightening myself?
5. Look for rigid attitudes that lie at the core of your self-created emotional disturbance. Look for:
- I absolutely must do well, very well, perfectly well in response to this challenge or adversity.
- You absolutely must treat me well, very well or exactly as I want you to treat me.
- Life conditions absolutely must be easy, unfrustrating, predictable, enjoyable and exactly as I want them to be.
- I do not absolutely have to do well, very well, perfectly well in response to this challenge or adversity. I strongly want to do well but I do not absolutely have to do so.
- You do not absolutely have to treat me well, very well or exactly as I want you to treat me. I very much want you to treat me well but you do not absolutely have to do so.
- Life conditions do not have to be easy, unfrustrating, predictable, enjoyable and exactly as I want them to be. I really want life to be as I would ideally prefer it to be but it does not absolutely have to be so.
7. Commit to completely focusing on what is under your control and remaining responsible for the attitudes you hold and the emotional reactions you create in response to challenges and adversity.
Summary: When facing adversity identify what is under your control and focus all your effort on what is under your control. Your attitudes and your behavior are largely yours to control if you use REBT and Stoicism as I have shown above. Philosophical and emotional change takes practice but you can improve if you work at it.