However, what happens if the worst case scenario is not a faulty assumption? What happens if you examine all the available data and determine something which is truly dreadful is not an erroneous assumption but a fact for you to face? What do you do then? In general cognitive behavior therapy problem solving is what is then recommended. So you plot and scheme and come up with creative solutions to solve the problem at hand. You consult with smart people and you ask them how to fix or solve the problem. However, what do you do if there are only lousy solutions to your problem or if it will take a very long time to implement a solution and you have to live with the existence of the problem for a very long time? Worse yet what if there is no solution? Consider the example of when you learn you have lost your job, your wife or husband has cheated on you, you have a major health problem and will die? What can you do to help yourself cope with these real life very difficult situations?
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy has a solution. It is called the emotional solution or the philosophical solution. It rests on the idea that these dreaded events are part of life and philosophical acceptance is an available exit. This is not the same as resignation. With philosophical acceptance you are accepting what cannot be changed as you continue to look for changing what can be changed. You simultaneously choose to experience whatever pleasure still exists in life despite the existence of a significant problem. You both acknowledge the problem and stubbornly refuse to be miserable about it!
Let’s reconsider the grim scenarios I presented earlier. Thinking that your employer absolutely must not let you go because you have a wife and kids to support will not help you cope. A rigid non sequitur belief like that will produce unhealthy anger. Demanding and commanding that your lover not leave you for another person will not magically recreate love. Demanding that poor health and all the pain and suffering that may come with it absolutely should not or must not occur will not make this difficult situation go away. However, having a self-helping philosophy about these things will help you be resilient in the face of these very bad events. This is when REBT really shows its utility. REBT teaches tolerance, acceptance, flexibility, uncertainty tolerance, and an anti-awfulizing philosophy about very bad events. REBT teaches you that although you may not want to you can be flexible and accept incredibly difficult and unfair realities. REBT helps you not to sugarcoat reality and to resiliently face reality.
A Healthy Credo for Dreadful Events:
I really wish that this dreadful scenario not be occurring but sadly it is and there is no law of the universe that says this dreadful scenario absolutely must not occur. I am better off acknowledging that this dreadful scenario is occurring and that it is truly very, very bad but not awful. Awful means without limit and this dreadful scenario is clearly very bad. I can bear it even though I wish I did not face this dreadful scenario. I will bear it far better if I see it as very bad but bearable and commit myself to accepting what cannot be changed while trying to change what can be changed. This anti-awfulizing and tolerant philosophy will enable me to continue to have some degree of pleasure despite the existence of the dreadful problem. This anti-awfulizing, tolerant philosophy will help me have high discomfort tolerance as I face my very negative reality. This is a philosophy of flexibility and resiliency and is the philosophical solution to my problem which is always available for me to choose.