Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) encourages people to think in a more precise way and see that when we wrongly define our wants as absolute needs we set ourselves up for emotional upset. In REBT, we encourage you to keep your values, wants and desires. We encourage you to work hard and creatively to get what you wish for, but never to foolishly think of these things as absolute needs. If you engage in sloppy thinking and confuse your wants with your absolute needs, you will likely suffer from depression, anxiety, rage and despair when these desires go temporarily or indefinitely unfulfilled.
Fallible humans are biologically inclined to confuse our strong desires with absolute needs. There is clear evidence humans absolutely need water, air, some food, and shelter from extremes of temperature in order to survive. Without these things, we will eventually perish. However, most of the other desires we have will clearly lead to deprivation but not death when they go unfulfilled. Although fallible humans find this REBT message difficult medicine to swallow, strive toward accepting this point. The truth is we never really and absolutely need fame, fortune, approval, love, comfort, and our favorite material goods. Are there benefits to either having or someday obtaining these things? The answer clearly is yes. Sadly, life too often obstructs us and there are delays in our attainment of these strong desires. When this occurs fallible humans all too easily whine, complain, pout, and sulk. We may overtly or covertly engage in this self-pitying behavior but either way it is detrimental. The longer we do this the more miserable we become and the less we do to help ourselves move towards our goals.
The good news is that with the elegant theory of REBT fallible humans can set aside their misery and associated inertia. If you implement the teachings of REBT which mainly say to strive to be precise in your thinking and to never define what you want as an absolute need then you will only experience healthy feelings of sorrow, disappointment, concern, and displeasure when you do not have what you strongly want, desire, and value. These healthy negative feelings of deprivation are good because they will help you do what you can do to increase the probability of eventually getting what you want.
A Rational Credo to be rehearsed and internalized:
I have many personally important wants and desires but my few absolute needs are largely limited to water, air, food, and shelter from extreme conditions. When I do not get my important wants and desires fulfilled I will feel deprived, but I can stand this state of deprivation until it ends, if it eventually ends. During the period of deprivation if I sensibly define what I want as a strong wish, desire, or merely as something I strongly value I will still be capable of having some degree of pleasure despite this state of deprivation. This state of deprivation clearly is very bad for me, as I am not getting what I want. However, if I wrongly define it as unbearable, awful or terrible I will render myself unsane and go beyond healthy feelings of sorrow, displeasure, and disappointment. I will create misery and despair which will never help me tenaciously pursue what I want. As a fallible human who is biologically inclined to think in an imprecise way I will have my moments of weakness. When these moments occur, I will redouble my efforts to remain strong and rational and never foolishly define what I want with what I absolutely need or must have. When I do so, at this moment of weakness it will be my finest hour.